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« Small Wonders | Main | Friday Ephemera »

October 08, 2009

Comments

AntiCitizenOne

Socialist want a prison with them as head warder and everyone else a prisoner.

I think Socialism and Sociopaths have a common root.

James S

Don't mention the Stasi, the de facto imprisonment, the people murdered trying to escape, etc. Paradise must be protected from imperialist slurs!

Anna

"By the 1980s around 80 per cent of the population was able to go on some form of holiday, although most of these would be taken in the GDR itself." LOL

Karen M

"For some, such egalitarianism was not amenable."

It's not even funny. It's sick.

mlrosty

"Don't mention the Stasi, the de facto imprisonment, the people murdered trying to escape"

Or the suicide rate.

David

Karen,

“It’s not even funny. It’s sick.”

Yes, it’s a tad grotesque. But the contortions of our esteemed comrade do provide some inadvertent humour. Perhaps it’s the inevitable understatement: “Of course the GDR had a whole number of serious shortcomings and in terms of individual rights and democracy left a lot to be desired.”

Regarding those non-existent “existential fears,” this seems relevant:

“We all knew [the Stasi] could know everything. But we didn’t understand what that meant until that moment. Suddenly it was palpable.”

http://www.wired.com/politics/security/magazine/16-02/ff_stasi?currentPage=all

tehag

"This lack of large wealth differentials and class privilege made for a more cohesive and balanced society"

I have to admit the appeal of an income-controlled society in which entertainers (actors, musicians, athletes, dancers, writers, musicians, singers, etc.) are paid (and cannot earn more than) minimum wage. Imagine! at last every Hollywood actor and actress gets exactly what they are worth.

I'd smile.

sk60

"Pay differentials between different groups of employees were minimal so that even top managers or government ministers were hardly wealthy in Western terms"

Translation: training and skills weren't rewarded and I'd have been paid about the same as the guy who empties the bins. And this is a good thing?

David

“And this is a good thing?”

Ah, but it’s all in the cause of a “more cohesive and balanced society.” Society is all, remember. You are but a tick upon its fur.

mlrosty

"For some, such egalitarianism was not amenable and the lure of higher salaries and business opportunities in the West remained strong. This led to a steady haemorrhaging of skilled workers and professionals before the wall was built in 1961."

Funny we didn't get any haemorrhaging from the West to this socialist paradise.

carbon based lifeform

Every other sentence is hilarious. Half the comments too.

"The Stasi repression of anti-socials was definitely popular."

David

“The Stasi repression of anti-socials was definitely popular.”

Heh. You’ll notice there’s no definition of what was deemed “anti-social”. And the popularity of the Stasi and their informers might have been easier to determine if there’d been, you know, democracy, free elections, that kind of thing. Still, there’s grim entertainment to be had watching people rationalise a totalitarian fetish.

Anna

Don't forget that other great GDR achievement: The Trabant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmIKbjpeTZw

tehag

"training and skills weren't rewarded"

Yes. The name of this policy is: "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."

tehag

"such egalitarianism was not amenable and the lure of higher salaries and business opportunities in the West remained strong'

Translation: socialism must govern the entire world, so nothing may be contrasted with its "success." There must be no outside.

That the (probable) majority of our elites have fallen for such nonsense is appalling.

Brian H

It's like a 1970s common room over there. Some students just can't grow up.

Chris S

What always impresses me is the simple fact that just about every person who is convinced that these places are utopian paradises, has never lived in a society structured that way. People who lived (or currently live) in these socialist paradises, can't wait to get out of there.

Simen Thoresen

Mlrosty,

"
Funny we didn't get any haemorrhaging from the West to this socialist paradise.
"

True. I wonder if the reason is that those who would benefit materially from living under such a policy (the poor, unskilled and lazy) are not the same as those for whom such a policy itself seems more 'right' (the over-educated, leftist intellectuals).

It seems to me that those who would advocate a socialist society essentially think that it would be better for 'the rest of the people', or alternatively, that they think it would be better for all of the people, provided they themselves are on the top.

There seems to be some hypocrisy there as well.

A question I've tried to ask these intellectuals, is at what point it becomes apparent that these socialist or communist regimes have strayed from the true path and taken the (imperceptible yet huge) step over to fascism and become dictatorial tyrannies instead of beacons of progress.

So far, the question remains unanswered, although I'm clearly informed that the Chavezes of today in no way are going to be the Pots or the Honeckers of tomorrow.

-S

Wm T Sherman

Beatrix Campbell. I didn't know she was still around. Man, that rabbit book of hers is a classic. Talk about existential fear. Mr. MacGregor came this close to pitchforking that reckless bunny in the garden shed. Little Peter learned that transgressing Big Momma's well-intended rules to live by had consequences - just like the East Germans learned. I remember those Cold War era photos of those East Germans who ended up face down in no-man's land, pitchforks vertical in their backs. The wages of fleeing the warm benign safety of socialism, for the chaos of the West.

SG

"Basically without being elitist they have never understood Marxism. Socialism is democracy, Communism as and when the state withers away completely will be total democracy. The ideas of having umpteen political parties (for what purpose?) is facile and useless to a socialist society."

HAHahahahahahaHAH.

"what history has taught is that capitalism will go to any lengths is deems suitable to destroy the creation of free and socialist societies down to the tiniest degree."

Total. Fucking. Projection.

David

“Communism as and when the state withers away completely will be total democracy.”

Yet somehow the state never quite gets to the “withering away” stage. Instead, it grows more brutal and deranged, as it must. Maybe next time, or possibly the time after that.

“Total. Fucking. Projection.”

Unrealism, denial, fantasy and projection. And it’s a learned dishonesty too, chosen and rehearsed. It does give some insight into the contortions expected by the Communist Party of Britain, Respect, SWP, etc.

TDK

"Pay differentials between different groups of employees were minimal "

According to Robert Conquest (Dragons of Expectation pp53-54):

"It is interesting to note that in the 1968 Czechoslovak liberalisation, it was revealed that in the great nationalised factories like Bata, workers' pay was proportionally less than it had been under capitalism, while managerial bureaucrats were getting a bigger share than the capitalists had (and the shoes were worse). After the demise of the Soviet Union, it similarly emerged that the workers' proportion of a factory's finance was the lowest in the industrial world."

It's hard to imagine the East German experience was measurable different.

David Gillies

One of the more florid hallucinations in Campbell's panegyric to totalitarianism is the claim, oft-repeated in the 70's and 80's, that the GDR was an economic powerhouse that demonstrated how socialism could be effective. It was sufficiently plausible at the time that many in the West, including some in intelligence organisations, fell for it. Of course after the Wall came down, it was revealed to be a fantasy. Everything we know about socialist economies tells us it must necessarily be so. COMECON's figures were a tissue of lies. To still be claiming some kind of Sov-bloc Wirtschaftswunder is to engage in equal parts foolishness and knavery. Germany is still paying for the catastrophic gulf between East and West at the time of reunification. As P. J. O'Rourke (PBUH) said, only communism could make a nation of Germans poor.

Rob

These people are mad, aren't they? I mean, actually mad.

Note to Campbell and the other posturing tossers - Ulrike Poppe is an actual radical, with more credibility than you, your friends and all of your fellow tosspot travellers in bourgeois socialism.

David

“These people are mad, aren’t they? I mean, actually mad.”

I used the term “pathological unrealism,” so I guess that qualifies. Those afflicted may be overtly bonkers only regarding Communism - they may be perfectly lucid when talking about literature or cheese. But the belief in Communism is often fetishistic or quasi-religious in nature and tends to involve habitual bad faith. It’s the high tolerance of dishonesty – including dishonesty with oneself – that makes it so impervious to correction.

Simen Thoresen

Isn't there a similar certainity to religious people as well? The truth of their premise is given, so any arguments that would weaken it are necessarily false or founded in misunderstanding or ill intent.

I see this more as a basic coping-mechanism to protect a world-view that the person has invested something (time, peer-respect etc) in than insanity as such.

Of course, I'm not sure how much in line here I am with current cognitive research.

-S

David

Simen,

“I see this more as a basic coping mechanism.”

Yes, I’d say that’s what it is. It’s defending a non-rational commitment. But it’s dysfunctional in terms of realistic discussion and a person’s probity. In my experience, it isn’t just a matter of misapprehension because it typically persists in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. It’s also about being willing to say things that one knows to be absurd or untrue. Which is itself a standard feature of Communist societies - it’s a practical consequence of the blueprint. To quote Theodore Dalrymple:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/11/emasculated-lia.html

If you follow the comment thread over at Socialist Unity you’ll see the kind of thing I mean. The key claims of the post are refuted one by one, largely or in full - but none of that inhibits the stream of subsequent claims and disingenuous dodges. At one point we’re supposed to believe that the alleged “lack of class privilege” weighs favourably against the appalling downsides - the pervasive censorship, lack of privacy, the intimate horrors of the Stasi, mass demoralisation, etc. We’re even told, “The Stasi repression of anti-socials was definitely popular.” Though we’re left to guess who or what was deemed “anti-social”. (As one of the sane commenters points out, the obligation to “participate” rather throws doubt on any claim of an approving public. The degree of collusion merely indicates a population fearful of the state, the Stasi and its army of informers, which was after all precisely the objective. I somehow doubt that telling the Stasi to bugger off was an entirely viable option.)

But what else could be expected from people who want us to believe that a society in which paranoia was deliberately cultivated - and which people risked their lives to escape - was “largely free of existential fears”?

Simen Thoresen

I think I've found the Dalrymple-quote before, and I believe I also remember Orwell mentioning the concept of having people state clear untruths as a means of conditioning. To me this whole thing is so abhorrent that I've been unable to grasp the pure disregard for humanity in it. It's a lot easier to pretend that the communists were corrupt or tried to do as best they could with a counter-factual world-view.

I have my most recent anti-socialist backing from Hayeks Road to Serfdom, and while he also touches on the repression of the human mind, he's less detailed about how this would be utilized to break people. Perhaps this is a second-generation socialist -thing, where the post-revolutionary socialists figure out how do to better than what their mass-murdering yet still unpopular elders did?

-S

AntiCitizenOne

Do you think someone should post this http://reason.com/archives/2009/10/12/the-unknown-war on Socialist Lunacy ?

SG

Anticitizenone -it's a good article.

"There have been more Hollywood hagiographies of the revolutionary communist Che Guevara in the last five years than there have been studio pictures in the last two decades about the revolutionary anti-communists who dramatically toppled totalitarians from Tallin to Prague…"

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