- Capitalism and Alternatives -

This post will get me into trouble

Posted by: David ( USA ) on March 02, 19100 at 11:04:39:

In Reply to: In defense of the U.S.S.R. posted by Barry Stoller on February 29, 19100 at 22:31:24:

: No criticism of the U.S.S.R. ever failed to mention that the history of the Soviet state was characterized by the restriction of individual freedom, imperialism, mass violence / terror, and slave labor. Who am I am to deny all this? It's all true.

Well, that was certainly cathartic. Those tens of millions of dead can now rest easy. (Sorry Barry, feeling a tad righteous. I know you'll reprimand me anyways so I might as well make it good).

: I would nevertheless like to remind critics of the Soviet Union that the 'beacon of world democracy,' America, has in its history nothing less shameful. America's history is characterized by slave labor (Africans), ethnic genocide (Native American), rampant imperialism, and the restriction of individual freedom (indentured servitude, lack of political representation for women, etc., etc.).

Yeah, it is a fucking shame, isn't it? I don't condone the massive amounts of human rights violations this country has committed, not only in it's infancy but also in recent history. What I do condone however are the multitudinous freedoms and rights that are afforded to Americans, that is, the ability to condemn those violations that have gone on in our history with out being persecuted. America derives its strength from the freedom of people to criticize its government and speak freely. It keeps the politicans in check and brings issues to light.

Speaking internationally, democracy came into the world by anything but democratic means. That has been the nature of all social revolutions.

But Barry, aren't you glad that it is here?

: 'But America's crimes are all in the distant past!' cry defenders of America (and capitalism). What else could they invoke as justification?

WARNING: Please keep all open flames away, this straw man is quite dry and liable to catch fire.

: But WHY did the 'distant past' produce the atrocities that we find so repellent today? Some people say it was the 'values of the times.' But what does that mean? Where did those values come from?

Oh Barry, I absolutely love your rhetoric. If your views were more socially palpable, you would a good politician. Anyways, my spider senses tell me you already know the answer and that answer is a morality subject to dialectic materialism; that is, the mode of production and social relations of a given epoch.

: I strongly suggest that those values came from the technical immaturity of social production.

Well, I was pretty damn close.

: And in time, the social forces of production increased, permitting abundance to flourish. This, in turn, permitted more abundance to go around. The widespread material comfort, in turn, produced political revisions which allowed less repressions and exploitatations.

Dare we hope this trend continues?

: In short: the higher the level of production the higher the level of political (and cultural) freedom.

Alright Barry, for arguments sake, I am going to cite ancient (democratic) Athens as an example of an underdeveloped free nation.

: Note how long it took America to get from feudalism (1776) to where it is today.

I think it took 224 years for America to get from 1776 to 2000. (Sorry Barry, I don't mean to be a smartass...I really don't. Besides, I figure if your vanguard and its subsidiaries are going to force me to do shit work, I might as well excercise my banal wit while I still have the chance).

: By capital's standards, it took centuries to get from slave labor, ethnic genocide, and political repression to universal suffrage. By all accounts, the Soviet Union got there within a few decades.

However Barry, I would argue that the end product was not of the same quality. Certainly they got their faster but in the end, it turned out, quite simply, to be gold plated. Now, to invoke the name and wisdom of capital's dominatrix, Ayn Rand, she wrote a nice little article on what she called the "Monument Builders," those people -- monarchs, pharohs, despots, and emperors -- who's reign constructed massive monuments to their greatness and the prestige of the nation. She likens those great monuments to mausoleums and claims they are not monuments to greatness but to desparity, because they were built by slaves. She claims the great monuments are those like the sky scrapers of New York that were built by individuals for their own glory.

: Yes, things were terrible in the Soviet Union (especially between 1923 and 1955). If you were a black man in America (around 1850), however, you might say the Soviet Union was one hell of an improvement!

I think another item to point out is that the U.S. government did not enslave people, it was the plantation owners that enslaved them.

: What I'm trying to draw attention to is the historical fact that ALL economic forms are characterized INITIALLY by the worst human rights violations conceivable. Who is to say that the Soviet Union would not have experienced the SAME sort of liberalism as America did after a long, bloody beginning? Why did we always compare the progess of the U.S.S.R. after only 70 years with the U.S. in the 20th century? It would have only been fair to compare the progress of the U.S.S.R. after 70 years with the U.S. at the time of 1846 (a time of slavery and ethnic cleansing)!

Not really Barry, the U.S.S.R. had the advantage of being established AFTER the industrial revolution, while, America in 1846 was at the infancy of industrialization. Barry, the only way you can ever compare the two on equal ground is to start them at the same time with the same initial conditions and then stop them at the same time and then compare. That is impossible. We therefore can only rely on the data thus far and draw our own conclusions. Personally, I will always bet on republicanism and capitalism.

: Now, here's the punch line.

(I think I missed the joke)

: A lot of quasi-socialist quacks in this debate room would rather defend a good (i.e. technologically abundant) capitalism against a bad communism (i.e. peasant underdevelopment).

Damn Barry, you are SO right! Those quacks, what fools they are for choosing to defend a system that has the greatest amount of individual rights and freedoms and offers its populace the highest standard of living ever seen. Where even the poorest of the poor are in luxurious conditions compared to those poor bastards in Burkina Faso where 80% (10 million) engage in subsistence farming and there is a 77% illiteracy rate.1

:(especially if the capitalists weren't trying so hard to bankrupt them*).

Oh come on Barry, that is a really naive statement. You try to make it sound like the U.S.S.R. was some poor abused little kiddie on the block who is always getting beat up.

: Anyone who disagrees will be happy to know there's yet another chance to vote for some crook again this November. But remember this as well: OVER HALF the country is no longer buying the illusion. What's in the (long-term) future is anyone's guess.

Kind of like in Burkina Faso, where only 44% of eligible voters actually voted in 1995 election.2

: Workers of the World Unite! Down with the Capitalist Enemy!

Hey, with an attitude like that you can't fail to oppress!

: _______________

1U.S. Department of State
Burkina Faso Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998

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