communism


Accounts of the Great Depression (1929 to the late 1930s) usually use terms such as ‘worldwide’ and ‘global’. Trade declined by 50%, heavy industry came to a virtual standstill, unemployment went as high as 33% and so on. Obviously, for such accounts the USSR was not part of the ‘world’ and ‘globe’ at the time. The first and second five-year plans had an extraordinary effect, industrialising a ‘backward’ economy in a way that makes every other industrial revolution pale by comparison. Agriculture was mechanised and collectivised, and output, employment, and standard of living grew by staggering proportions. While many at the time prophesied the imminent economic collapse of the Soviet Union – ‘mediaeval fossils to whom facts mean nothing’ (Stalin) – others were willing to give honour where honour was due. For example, the English capitalist, Gibson Jarvie, president of the United Dominion Trust, wrote in 1932:

Now I want it clearly understood that I am neither Communist nor Bolshevist, I am definitely a capitalist and an individualist …. Russia is forging ahead while all too many of our factories and shipyards lie idle and approximately 3,000,000 of our people despairingly seek work. Jokes have been made about the five-year plan, and its failure has been predicted. You can take it as beyond question, that under the five-year plan much more has been accomplished than was ever really anticipated. … In all these industrial towns which I visited, a new city is growing up, a city on a definite plan with wide streets in the process of being beautified by trees and grass plots, houses of the most modern type, schools, hospitals, workers’ clubs and the inevitable crèche or nursery, where the children of working mothers are cared for. … Don’t underrate the Russians or their plans and don’t make the mistake of believing that the Soviet Government must crash. … Russia today is a country with a soul and an ideal. Russia is a country of amazing activity. I believe that the Russian objective is sound. … And perhaps most important of all, all these youngsters and these workers in Russia have one thing which is too sadly lacking in the capitalist
countries today, and that is—hope!

Talk about unleashing the forces of production! Obviously, the USSR did not experience the Great Depression. All of which leads me to ponder whether there was not a connection between that Depression and the huge and disruptive processes underway in the Soviet Union. Such a massive shift in a place like the USSR was bound to have an effect globally.

Five-Year Plans 02

Five-Year Plans 06

Stupidity should not be confused with revolutionary spirit (Stalin, Works, vol. 9, p. 260).

Many critics seem to assume so, for some strangely polemical reason. Saint Joe simply points out:

Nobody in our Party is absolutely “infallible.” Such people do not exist. (Works, volume 9, p. 78).

Intriguing what unites people across the political spectrum: the deeply corrupt decision to cut the railway line to Newcastle. The corruption is obvious: the line is supposed to be cut by two stations, a total of about three kilometres. It will be replaced by a light rail line. The total cost is currently put at about $250 million. Add a ‘secret council’ that included the former lord mayor, politicians and developers, who are set to reap millions from the move. So we were out in force today, thousands of us expressing the view of the vast majority of people in town:

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An allusion to the clunky slogan of the corrupt state government:

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This one is a reference to the former lord mayor, who liked to dole out brown paper bags stuffed with cash. He described himself as both Mother Teresa and a walking ATM:

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To put an end to it, the unions were out in force:

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But the most heart-warming sight was the CPA flag:

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A wonderful piece of advice from Comrade Stalin on the practical wisdom of peasants:

To illustrate how tactlessly the peasants are approached sometimes, a few words must be said about anti-religious propaganda. Occasionally, some comrades are inclined to regard the peasants as materialist philosophers and to think that it is enough to deliver a lecture on natural science to convince the peasant of the non-existence of God. Often they fail to realise that the peasant looks on God in a practical way, i.e., he is not averse to turning away from God sometimes, but he is often torn by doubt: “Who knows, maybe there is a God after all. Would it not be better to please both the Communists and God, as being safer for my affairs?” He who fails to take this peculiar mentality of the peasant into account totally fails to understand what the relations between Party and non-Party people should be, fails to understand that in matters concerning anti-religious propaganda a careful approach is needed even to the peasant’s prejudices. (Works, volume 6, page 323)

Connected is a proverb Stalin liked to quote: It needs thunder to make a peasant cross himself.

Lenin and Stalin 01

Stalin and peasants 01

A new article of mine is up at Philosophers for Change: The ‘Failure’ of Communism.

Update: I am told that this article has taken off somewhat, with more than 1,000 ‘likes’ on the facebook page for Philosophers for Change.

As Lunacharsky once pointed out, Trotsky never did anything without looking in the mirror of history. Or, more fully, in Revolutionary Silhouettes:

Trotsky is undoubtedly often prone to step back and watch himself. Trotsky treasures his historical role and would probably be ready to make any personal sacrifice, not excluding the greatest sacrifice of all – that of his life – in order to go down in human memory surrounded by the aureole of a genuine revolutionary leader.

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