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Old 12-27-2013, 05:04 AM
 
Location: Somewhere on this 3rd rock from the sun
546 posts, read 788,177 times
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My knowledge in the question I put forth is vague but I'd like to hear opinions. My question also isn't exactly a historical query(though it is in the same vein). It is philosophical in nature.

The space race has fascinated me. Astronomy fascinates me. I believe that one goal of every human being should be the pursuit of the improvement of the human race be it through art or goodwill or science. And astronomy- the frontier that might solve all of our collective quandaries is one of them.

Back in the day Russia had a great space program. But was the ultimate goal of going to space or launching man into orbit selfish? Nationalistic reasons? Or was it a genuine passion for the bigger picture?
I had an American teacher in my school in Canada who was a fantastic lecturer and a fine human being. He was also hugely patriotic. He said that the reason Americans won the space race was because America's goal was universal; Kennedy when said "we must land on the moon" it was a case of the pure quest for the betterment of mankind. Whereas Russia always had a nationalistic, competitive approach to the same. It was all about showcasing their nationality's prowess; everything else secondary.

This is the reason they lost the space race and collapsed under the expectation of their own mentality. Whereas the west went from strength to strength.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:08 AM
 
Location: Minnysoda
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The reason we "won" the space race was because we had captured better German scientists after the war adn were willing to dump billions into it..........
OperationPaperclip.info
As for the "fall" of Communisim? Lots of opinions I'm sure.....Did RR outspend them in '80's...or did it merely implode because it non-sustainable? Is it still there in a lesser form?
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:10 AM
 
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I would say more or less, the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight, and its own ideology. The USSR was Russia plus 14 other "republics". In my opinion, "Russia" didn't collapse, the USSR did. It would the same reason the French, British, and Portuguese empires collapsed. Think of it was more or less a form of colonialism. The peoples of the 14 other "republics" were desiring independence. Many other nations under the Soviet satellite system were tired of Communism. I would say the USSR losing the space race was more one of the general collapse that was taking place. It wasn't just the fall of an ideology. It was the fall of an empire. And it revealed more going on then meets the eye.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:30 AM
 
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Gorbachev gave his people more political freedom. A lot of resentment and anger came to the surface especially with a bad economy. Many nationalities that were under Soviet control took advantage and began seeking autonomy. At the end of 1988 Gorbachev announced he would not honor the Brezhnev Doctrine and not use force to interfere in other block countries. Consequently many Eastern European countries began to express themselves as well.

Last edited by jobseeker2013; 12-27-2013 at 07:51 AM..
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:36 AM
 
18,094 posts, read 15,421,350 times
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"Back in the day Russia had a great space program. But was the ultimate goal of going to space or launching man into orbit selfish? Nationalistic reasons? Or was it a genuine passion for the bigger picture?"

Tsarist Russia never had a space program, the Soviets did, and the Russian Federation (Russia) today does.

The goal was all of the above; military was always the objective, but influential designers within the system influenced non-military objectives as well, and the gov took advantage of the propoganda acheived from this. There were several scientists in the Soviet system who had a genuine interest in space flight. (yes, very short summary).

"He said that the reason Americans won the space race was because America's goal was universal; Kennedy when said "we must land on the moon" it was a case of the pure quest for the betterment of mankind. Whereas Russia always had a nationalistic, competitive approach to the same. It was all about showcasing their nationality's prowess; everything else secondary."

Who said the Americans won the space race against the Soviets? If anything, it was a tie, and society benefited greatly from this. The Americans and Soviets accomplished their objectives, the moon race was hardly the only objective.

"This is the reason they lost the space race and collapsed under the expectation of their own mentality. Whereas the west went from strength to strength."

Again, they did not "lose" the space race, I do not even know where this silly idea comes from. I guess if the end of the race is the Moon, sure, they lost, but I do not think hardly anyone would declare the Moon as the finish line. My opinion it was a tie due to the fact both countries accomplished their objectives, and I give an edge to the Soviets due to the many "firsts" they had.

And in short; the USSR (please stop saying Russia, Russia was one of the 15 republics of the USSR) collapsed because the system from the start could never last. Heck, it was amazing it even lasted that long, but I give credit to the West led by the US for helping it last that long. There is no way to shortly summarize the reasons why the USSR failed other than give lessons on economics and international affairs. But had nothing to do with the space race.

Please tell me a teacher is not spewing this stuff out, but it would not surprise me.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:45 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rishi85 View Post
He said that the reason Americans won the space race was because America's goal was universal; Kennedy when said "we must land on the moon" it was a case of the pure quest for the betterment of mankind. Whereas Russia always had a nationalistic, competitive approach to the same. It was all about showcasing their nationality's prowess; everything else secondary.
.
In that there was nothing in particular about landing on the moon which would make mankind better, we have to view it as a stunt and that stunt was primarily motivated by the desire to perform it before the Soviets did.

There was a side benefit in that the technology developed for getting to the moon and back provided us with tools useful in other forms of space exploration and exploitation, but that technology could have also been developed working on other projects.

Going to the moon and getting there first was a very direct, in your face challenge to the Soviets and as such, was every bit as nationalistic as anything the Soviets did. If the great space rivalry had not existed within the atmosphere of the Cold War, it probably would have been very difficult to get Congress to fund a lunar landing project. War, even Cold War, loosens the national purse strings in support of science like no other phenomena can.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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The best bit I have heard, from a guy who lived under the soviet system for the first 40 years of his life.......

"We pretended to work, and they pretended to pay us for it. ".

The other one he told me........ The professors at Moscow University knew that Communisim didn't work, but that fact didn't make it to Harvard.

It is human nature to be jealous of those who "get more stuff " than we do, even if the stuff was a crappy Lada car. Add to that the ingrained "informer network " that had the neighbours reporting on each other, to the political police, and the system had to crack , eventually.

Jim B.

Toronto.
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Type 0.7 Kardashev
10,576 posts, read 7,842,642 times
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The centrally-planned Soviet economy simply was not up to competing in the modern, technological late-20th century. It served well enough when wrenching Russia and its vassals from its backward early-20th century state to an industrial society (albeit at horric human cost, though a good portion of that was not inherent to the communist system but to securing the positions of the leaders, particularly the paranoid ones).

The intense fervor of the early days eventually faded. This is a common aspect of maturing ideologies. Once much of the emotional impetus was gone, the system couldn't function, much less thrive.

When Gorbachev eased back on the repression and allowed more freedom of speech, this led to nationalism and factionalism that could only be put back in the box through intense repression and bloodshed. There simply wasn't sufficient will throughout the system at that point to accomodate this. That nationalism might never have reared its head had the system properly provided for the people, but the unworkable economic system created stresses that manifested themselves in tensions between different peoples. The union ceased to be functional when it wasn't held together by force.

It all boils down to the fact that the Soviet-style/communist socio-economic system - a market that attempts to remove almost all, if not all, entrepreneurship - simply performs very poorly alongside markets that embrace aspects of capitalism. And I don't mean to present this as a stark choice between communism and a lassaiz-faire system - indeed, the Scandinavian countries and Post-WWII Britain, for example, while more 'socialist' than, for another example, the United States, still created far more functional and productive socio-economic systems than did the Soviet Union. Incorporating some degree of economic competition (how much, the sweet spot, is endlessly debateable and variable) simply gave the West an advantage over the East. The fruits of the system did not justify the obligations to it, and the peoples under the system discarded it.

We can see this even today. Where does communism remain and thrive? Nowhere. China and Vietnam are, at best, communist in name only. The ideology serves as a sort of state religion, and raison d'etre for the ruling oligarchies. And the other 'communist' countries? There's Cuba, which is a mess, and North Korea, which can only dream about improving itself to the mess that is Cuba. It just doesn't work.

As for the success of the Soviet Space program, this was was largely a function of the country being large enough to produce the human and material capital necessary, and possessing a political will to throw enough money at it. It's not like Canada couldn't have put a man in orbit decades ago, or France couldn't have put one on the moon - they just didn't see the purpose of those sorts of expenditures. The Soviet leadership did (and didn't have to answer to the people when they did so).
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:17 AM
 
Location: New York City
4,037 posts, read 9,320,014 times
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Both countries had ulterior motives: both military (technology could also be used for ICBMs, etc.) and nationalistic (propaganda over whose system was better). I’m sure there were some “pure” scientists who were doing it for the sake of general knowledge—but the funding came from governments.

The Soviet Union collapsed due to the economic inefficiencies inherent in its system—ironically exacerbated by the space and arms races. It’s a less extreme example of where North Korea is now: pumping all its (very limited) resources into missiles and the military while the general economy withers away.
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:21 AM
 
2,612 posts, read 5,003,762 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canadian citizen View Post
The best bit I have heard, from a guy who lived under the soviet system for the first 40 years of his life.......

"We pretended to work, and they pretended to pay us for it. ".

The other one he told me........ The professors at Moscow University knew that Communisim didn't work, but that fact didn't make it to Harvard.

It is human nature to be jealous of those who "get more stuff " than we do, even if the stuff was a crappy Lada car. Add to that the ingrained "informer network " that had the neighbours reporting on each other, to the political police, and the system had to crack , eventually.

Jim B.

Toronto.
I lived in the USSR at the time of the collapse, and this pretty much sums it up. I'd add another saying too, from another soviet citizen, regarding the lack of private ownership: Sometimes when everyone is responsible for something, no one is responsible for it.
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