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Old 08-08-2012, 06:20 PM
 
Location: interior Alaska
5,760 posts, read 4,080,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure View Post
This certainly describes the Soviet Union on its last stage, but not in the previous years. The state/government was firmly in control, be that enforced ideology or resources to keep the system going.
Yes. And since this thread is about the breakup of the USSR later stages are relevant

I think maybe I was not clear enough about the ethnic states, as I am trying to translate terminology I don't use in English to English. The relevant thing is not that they were ethnic, although old prejudices and grudges didn't help the situation. The relevant thing was building up local leadership and sense of identity and autonomy. (Look at the US civil war...US states were not ethnic.) You could do this around other things but Lenin went with ethnic states. The core of the USSR is still a country, and it is not coincidence that most of what stayed with Moscow is the parts dominated by ethnic Russians and is now called the Russian Federation.

Last edited by Frostnip; 08-08-2012 at 06:31 PM..
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:28 PM
 
Location: interior Alaska
5,760 posts, read 4,080,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
While I took the time to describe the one couple in detail, what I didn't expand on was that I'd had a fair amount of contact with others in their community due to the wife's job ... the two of them were always pressing me to come by for a meal, perhaps a drink at the place where she worked.

So I got to meet about 100 more of their recent compatriots. I got to listen to their exploits ... to the extent that I could because they were generally speaking a hodgepodge of their native language and yet trying to communicate with me in English, practicing their skills. I got to hear of many similar tales to what I'd experienced as the fellows would express their concern over being able to pay bills because they'd been fired from yet another job and needed money. Generally, because I was made known to them as the "boss" of their friend, they were looking to me to come up with money or a job or whatever would ease their situation. They universally expected that I was connected enough that I was going to be able to get them a job that paid well for as little work as possible.

The only time I saw any initiative out of this group was when I was moving my shop to a new location, and needed manual labor to get the job done. I hired a group of 10 to do this in a weekend, and they were pretty good at organizing how to do this as long as I was standing there and directing what was to be moved and where. As you can understand, I couldn't be in both shops at once. My wife commented later that when I wasn't there, the guys were generally on a smoke break (all very heavy smokers!) and moved in slow motion, if at all. If a truck was loaded and I wasn't there to direct the driver to head over to the other shop, the guys stood around and waited for the next task. One of them was a bit more on top of things than that, playing the role of "straw boss" ... but it became apparent that the role was to be his way of not having to do the heavy lifting.

I can only relate what I know for fact and experience with a sizable group of people that came to my town.

If you've got other contact and personal experience that's different than mine, post it. I'll enjoy reading another perspective about how life in the Soviet economy was for these people.
Maybe you are just a bad supervisor?

Your description of people from the former USSR is not recognizable as 95% of the people I know from the RF and the former Soviet states. Of course there are lazy former Soviets but I don't see it in greater percentage than the lazy birth Americans I know. Anyway, like I said, to judge peoples based on emigres is a bad idea. This is especially in the case of somewhere like the USSR where people who were permitted to emigrate were often the ones the government didn't want around.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:30 PM
 
19,258 posts, read 15,959,852 times
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Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
It is unbelievable how he caught Soviet reality by observing just one Russian fellow. In Soviet Russia everybody was stealing, people generally did not make much money so stealing from an employer was a socially approved way of sumplementing your income. Also typical for the Soviets lack of work ethics. Unbelievable.
Your statement doesn't make much sense.
While the type of people/behavior described by Sunsprit are definitely reflective of part of Soviet culture, it obviously doesn't present the WHOLE picture. Because if everyone in the Soviet Union was busy stealing and ditching the work, there would be nothing built, there would be no break-troughs in scientific research, no world-class musicians, no academic achievements, no sport, no culture and anything else in the society that was keeping the US on tippy-toes for quite some time.
The truth is, that mercantile interests are not the only driving power behind human behavior, and Russians ( well part of them) being as spiritual as they are, were either sincerely believing in ideology, or were interested in their jobs, particularly when they've had creative part to it. Money is not the only incentive to make people work and to have decent work ethics. So you obviously can't paint the whole picture with one stroke; Russians in general are more unruly and controversial bunch, and they have more distinct personalities than Americans, so whoever said here that "Soviet citizenry had limited number of styles of clothing to choose from, for example, but there were millions of Non Prosaced styles of personalities wearing those limited number of styles. They could afford their personalities, they had the right to exist" was basically right.
Another thing needs to be mentioned, that the most mercantile-oriented part of Russians, the type that was described in Sunsprit's post, heard one time too many how "life is so much better in the West," and that "even the unemployed are receiving from the government more money than what you make in your whole life in the Soviet Union," I guess once they've made it to the US and were put to work in McDonald's and other menial jobs, with supervisors breathing down their necks and when the bill payment ( that was practically nominal only back in Soviet times) became essential part of their lives, they might have reconsidered their philosophy. It could be a case - just guessing.

Last edited by erasure; 08-08-2012 at 07:46 PM..
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:23 PM
 
19,258 posts, read 15,959,852 times
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Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
And not the fact that communism, from Russia to North Korea and China, is a totalitarian utopia withouth any chance for success ?
To begin with, I wouldn't put Russia and China/North Korea in one sentence in this context, because even under supposedly the same Soviet system, life somewhere in Uzbekistan was different from life in Russian Federation or Georgia. Every ethnicity interpreted and implemented system according to their own culture, abilities, and century-long traditions. Uzbekistan ( as it became known later) was running its own prisons, where personal enemies of those in power were thrown to rot indefinitely, Georgia became a hub of private entrepreneurship with Georgian merchants making money out of air by all legal and illegal means, and neither one of them brought forth the world-class scientists or technological break-throughs as they didn't do it centuries before. Russians on another hand were either drinking or getting busy with all kind of space projects, inventing anything in-between, with their inventions being shelved by their own bureaucracy as it was centuries before that.
So since I don't know much about China or North Korea, their history, culture or the reasons behind their acceptance of communism, I'll be talking about things I am more familiar with.
There was really nothing "utopian" about Soviet society starting from the 1930ies I'd say, because all the truly "utopian" ideas took place in the beginning of the century to probably mid-twenties. Stalin's' ideas were already quite pragmatic, concentrated on mass industrialization and creation of the socialist state. Since I don't see anything particularly "utopian" about socialism, other than inability of Soviet leaders to make rational decisions ( but then again "rationality" is not the strongest Russian national feature - let's put it this way,) I'd say Soviet society definitely had a chance for success in the long run, had Russian leaders used more common sense already back in the 60ies-70ies.

Last edited by erasure; 08-08-2012 at 08:30 PM..
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:51 PM
 
2,920 posts, read 2,502,210 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure View Post
Your statement doesn't make much sense.
While the type of people/behavior described by Sunsprit are definitely reflective of part of Soviet culture, it obviously doesn't present the WHOLE picture. Because if everyone in the Soviet Union was busy stealing and ditching the work, there would be nothing built, there would be no break-troughs in scientific research, no world-class musicians, no academic achievements, no sport, no culture and anything else in the society that was keeping the US on tippy-toes for quite some time.
The truth is, that mercantile interests are not the only driving power behind human behavior, and Russians ( well part of them) being as spiritual as they are, were either sincerely believing in ideology, or were interested in their jobs, particularly when they've had creative part to it. Money is not the only incentive to make people work and to have decent work ethics. So you obviously can't paint the whole picture with one stroke; Russians in general are more unruly and controversial bunch, and they have more distinct personalities than Americans, so whoever said here that "Soviet citizenry had limited number of styles of clothing to choose from, for example, but there were millions of Non Prosaced styles of personalities wearing those limited number of styles. They could afford their personalities, they had the right to exist" was basically right.


I can't imagine one nation having more distinct personalities then other and specifically for Russianw as they for a few generations were taught that individualism and any independent thinking is evil.

I think you are just one of the people guilty of romanticizing the Communist regime... LOL. I suggest a little refresher trip to North Korea.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:53 PM
 
2,920 posts, read 2,502,210 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure View Post
To begin with, I wouldn't put Russia and China/North Korea in one sentence in this context, because even under supposedly the same Soviet system, life somewhere in Uzbekistan was different from life in Russian Federation or Georgia. Every ethnicity interpreted and implemented system according to their own culture, abilities, and century-long traditions. Uzbekistan ( as it became known later) was running its own prisons, where personal enemies of those in power were thrown to rot indefinitely, Georgia became a hub of private entrepreneurship with Georgian merchants making money out of air by all legal and illegal means, and neither one of them brought forth the world-class scientists or technological break-throughs as they didn't do it centuries before. Russians on another hand were either drinking or getting busy with all kind of space projects, inventing anything in-between, with their inventions being shelved by their own bureaucracy as it was centuries before that.
So since I don't know much about China or North Korea, their history, culture or the reasons behind their acceptance of communism, I'll be talking about things I am more familiar with.
There was really nothing "utopian" about Soviet society starting from the 1930ies I'd say, because all the truly "utopian" ideas took place in the beginning of the century to probably mid-twenties. Stalin's' ideas were already quite pragmatic, concentrated on mass industrialization and creation of the socialist state. Since I don't see anything particularly "utopian" about socialism
Well if you don't see anything wrong in totalitarian system characterized by lack off basic personal freedoms and elimination off private ownership than I can't really help you... Keep on dreaming your dream LOL
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:12 PM
 
19,258 posts, read 15,959,852 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
I can't imagine one nation having more distinct personalities then other and specifically for Russianw as they for a few generations were taught that individualism and any independent thinking is evil.
Define your understanding of "individualism" first, as much as "independent thinking..."

Quote:
I think you are just one of the people guilty of romanticizing the Communist regime... LOL. I suggest a little refresher trip to North Korea.
I don't romanticize it, I simply learned to be more objective with time. Besides, everything is learned in comparison (I am talking about post-Soviet Russia in this case.)
And as I've said, I don't know much about Korea to begin with; I suspect I wouldn't feel comfortable in South Korea either.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Chicagoland
317 posts, read 800,790 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
Well if you don't see anything wrong in totalitarian system characterized by lack off basic personal freedoms and elimination off private ownership than I can't really help you... Keep on dreaming your dream LOL
The problem with your view is that not all communist countries were characterized by that. There were (still are) wide variations in practice. Hungary for instance had "goulash communism" from the 1960s, characterized by a certain amount of private enterprise, relatively open borders and relaxed censorship. Poland didn't collectivize most of its agricultural land, so there were private farms, and it also had a black market that was allowed to flourish because the state sector was so inefficient. And of course China today is undergoing the biggest capitalist revolution in history. North Korea represents a puristic extreme.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:34 PM
 
19,258 posts, read 15,959,852 times
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Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
Well if you don't see anything wrong in totalitarian system characterized by lack off basic personal freedoms and elimination off private ownership than I can't really help you... Keep on dreaming your dream LOL
You've missed my point all together; one of their big mistakes was not the absence of private ownership so to speak, but prohibition of hired labor ( other than by state.). That's where they had to adjust their policies and allow private sector to play its part, while keeping the natural resources/heavy industry under the state control.
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:13 AM
 
5,190 posts, read 4,379,283 times
Reputation: 1103
How did one become a party member in the SU, back in the day?
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