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Many people predicted USSR's collapse

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Soviet cogitations: 4381
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 17 Jun 2013, 15:26
There is a very high probability that Alexander Yakovlev, the chief ideologue of glasnost and "finger in every pie" adviser to Gorbachev, was a CIA agent. However, it's also very probable that Yakovlev's motivations were personal, rather than externally set. The man was driven by a pathological hatred of not only the USSR, but of Russia as well. He has written as much in the 1990s and early 2000s, and some of his work has been translated into English, and can be found in any academic library.

Whatever the CIA's involvement, it was not decisive. Those Soviet politicians, including Gorbachev, Yakovlev, and Shevardnadze, who may have been working in the interests of the West, did so more out of personal conviction, not out of greed. Some amount of psychological manipulation did undoubtedly occur, for example in the way Gorbachev was made to feel whenever he took a trip to the West, but this type of thing was outside the direct purview of any intelligence agency.

It was not a single person's treason that led to the collapse of the country, but the treason of a person at the top, combined with a system lacking checks and balances. Something else that should be considered is that motivations for the defense of socialism are usually ideological and moral, rather than based purely in conceptions of self interest, as in capitalism. In other words, calling on the public to come to the defense of socialism is more difficult to organize than the defense of capitalism by capitalists. The former must be convinced, indoctrinated, spiritually inspired. The latter simply act out of self interest.

On the matter of the bureaucracy's role, I have to agree with OP-Bagration. While elements of the bureaucratic elite did opportunistically switch sides, they were not the initiators, nor the key players in any sense, in events. They did not, and could not, force the leadership to do anything. They were, as the saying goes, "sitting on the fence, waiting to see which way the cat would jump." In fact, Gorbachev's decisions to rip the party out of economic planning, and to introduce a new legislative organ in the form of the Congress of People's Deputies, were based on bureaucratic resistance to the 'deepening' of perestroika. Ellman and Kontorovich show quite convincingly in their analysis of the economic sphere that managers and bureaucrats were very often just as confused and demoralized as the rest of the population through the course of the destructive reforms.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 17 Jun 2013, 16:07
Quote:
In other words, calling on the public to come to the defense of socialism is more difficult to organize than the defense of capitalism by capitalists. The former must be convinced, indoctrinated, spiritually inspired. The latter simply act out of self interest.


That's a false dichotomy. Socialism equals the rational self-interest of all workers, peasants, and progressive intelligentsia. In World War II, the Soviet people were prepared to fight with superhuman commitment to protect their nationalized planned economy from the fascist hordes. Under no circumstances would they allow the fascists to rebuild the yoke of capital that they had thrown off 20 years earlier. What had changed by 1990? Why weren't they prepared to do the same anymore? I don't think there was any less "indoctrination" 50 years later. I think the reason they didn't want to defend "socialism" any longer was because what was offered to them as "socialism" (or even more absurdly, "highly developed socialism") by the bureaucracy just didn't seem very appealing anymore. That is not a problem of the masses, it's a problem of the bureaucratically deformed transitional society that labeled itself socialism.

Quote:
On the matter of the bureaucracy's role, I have to agree with OP-Bagration. While elements of the bureaucratic elite did opportunistically switch sides, they were not the initiators, nor the key players in any sense, in events. They did not, and could not, force the leadership to do anything. They were, as the saying goes, "sitting on the fence, waiting to see which way the cat would jump." In fact, Gorbachev's decisions to rip the party out of economic planning, and to introduce a new legislative organ in the form of the Congress of People's Deputies, were based on bureaucratic resistance to the 'deepening' of perestroika. Ellman and Kontorovich show quite convincingly in their analysis of the economic sphere that managers and bureaucrats were very often just as confused and demoralized as the rest of the population through the course of the destructive reforms.


Of course. But you'd expect revolutionary Marxists (and that's what the bureaucracy was supposed to consist of, after all) to behave differently, right?
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 17 Jun 2013, 16:09
OP-Bagration wrote:
This is Marxism comrade Mabool. A bureaucracy isn't a class, it's a political structure, part of the state, and the state has a function. Anti-Marxists attempt to reify the bureaucracy.


No. No, this is plain idealism. You're taking your ideal blueprint of how a state is supposed to work, superimpose that on reality, and think it's an explanation. It's not. You're saying that the bureaucracy can only ever protect the state because that's what it does in your ideal, and when it obviously does the opposite, you deny reality.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 2293
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 17 Jun 2013, 19:08
I'm just using Marxism. I'm not saying that it's an explanation, I'm saying that it's not an explanation. Or at least it can't be the main explanation. If the bureaucracy did the contrary, then Marxism is wrong. If facts do not agree with the theory, then the theory is wrong. It doesn't mean that the bureaucracy had no role in the Soviet collapse, but it means, first, that the bureaucracy couldn't act as a whole against the Soviet state, and secondly, that a great part, and even most of the bureaucracy, must have struggled to keep the state alive. And that's what happened, as Soviet78 explained. Thus bureaucracy, and the lack of "democracy", are not enough to explain why the USSR collapsed.

Since we are Marxists, we must see through ideology and political positions, through Gorby itself, in order to see the main material causes. We must make the difference between the superstructure and the infrastructure, and between the structure and the situation. I would be interested to know more about Ellman and Kontorovich's analysis.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
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Soviet cogitations: 981
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Aug 2011, 22:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Komsomol
Post 18 Jun 2013, 18:39
soviet78 wrote:
Something else that should be considered is that motivations for the defense of socialism are usually ideological and moral, rather than based purely in conceptions of self interest, as in capitalism. In other words, calling on the public to come to the defense of socialism is more difficult to organize than the defense of capitalism by capitalists. The former must be convinced, indoctrinated, spiritually inspired. The latter simply act out of self interest.

I would see this as failure of (past) leadership to create a (socialist) system which the vast majority would love to perpetuate. So, it may be that the system itself was inherently wrong for at least half a century at the point when Gorbachev took power.
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Soviet cogitations: 4381
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 18 Jun 2013, 19:05
EdvardK wrote:
I would see this as failure of (past) leadership to create a (socialist) system which the vast majority would love to perpetuate. So, it may be that the system itself was inherently wrong for at least half a century at the point when Gorbachev took power.


I have no way of proving otherwise, except to say that when analyzing old tv programs (including for example the famous 'Space Bridges' between the USSR and the USA from 1985-91), the manipulation of Soviet mass consciousness just oozes from the screen. If from 1985 to 1987-88 Soviet people stand up firmly for their country's social and political system, from 1989 and up you can just see their conceptions of their country crumbling before your eyes, as a result of the never-ending 'revelations' about formerly revered symbols and figures, nationalist 'stop feeding x republic' agitation, and empty store shelves, all blamed on the KPSS. Social surveys show likewise, as Vladimir Shlapentokh demonstrated in his clunky but choke-full of facts book A Normal Totalitarian Society.

Hence if in 1985 the vast majority of the population 'would love to perpetuate' Soviet socialism, with all its faults, by 1989 and up, the majority of the mass intelligentsia did not. A shift in their consciousness occurred. In capitalism, from bankers on down to most small shop owners, there is a 'natural' desire to keep what you have and make more. Moreover, these groups have the financial and social resources to propagate their views against most forms of agitation to the contrary. In socialism, if Left parties and the state does not constantly work to convince and inspire the masses, no 'natural' outburst of progressive energy can sustain itself for long. Worse yet, if the socialist state does a 180 degree turn and starts peddling anti-socialist propaganda, the country is doomed to reverting to capitalism.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Aug 2011, 22:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Komsomol
Post 18 Jun 2013, 20:26
soviet78 wrote:
I have no way of proving otherwise, except to say that when analyzing old tv programs (including for example the famous 'Space Bridges' between the USSR and the USA from 1985-91), the manipulation of Soviet mass consciousness just oozes from the screen. If from 1985 to 1987-88 Soviet people stand up firmly for their country's social and political system, from 1989 and up you can just see their conceptions of their country crumbling before your eyes, as a result of the never-ending 'revelations' about formerly revered symbols and figures, nationalist 'stop feeding x republic' agitation, and empty store shelves, all blamed on the KPSS.

Do you think that in earlier feeds the people on TV were more pressed by the omni-present KGB or even selected by them, whereas later this practice was abandoned?
Reagan enjoyed telling Soviet jokes which were supposedly picked up by the CIA from the Moscow streets - wouldn't you say (if that was true) the Soviet man was rather cynical about the system already much earlier?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 18 Jun 2013, 20:53
I don't think they were specially selected. Actually this very question was asked by an American high school student during a special 'High School Students' edition of the space bridge, resulting in a great deal of laughter from the Soviet counterparts. Damn, I wish I could find English versions of these broadcasts. Right now I'm only able to find them in Russian, and then only through torrents with a couple seeders. They are really an interesting sociological time capsule, and I myself was surprised by how vigorously the supposedly drab and tired Soviet people defended their system.

Reagan's jokes were real, yes, but that is more a sign of Soviet Russian culture's love of satire than of a great and lingering hatred for their country's system. The population was educated, life wasn't perfect, and these jokes were just a great way to blow off some steam. Brezhnev himself constantly asked his barber, who is rumored to have been a master joker, to tell him the latest political joke going around.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Soviet cogitations: 981
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Aug 2011, 22:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Komsomol
Post 18 Jun 2013, 23:21
soviet78 wrote:
Damn, I wish I could find English versions of these broadcasts. Right now I'm only able to find them in Russian, and then only through torrents with a couple seeders. They are really an interesting sociological time capsule, and I myself was surprised by how vigorously the supposedly drab and tired Soviet people defended their system.

I believe there is some space on S-E to put some files in, and you could use it to upload one of those episodes even if they're in Russian only? I'd love to see it.
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Soviet cogitations: 224
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Sep 2011, 11:23
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 19 Jun 2013, 18:23
Some may say that the USSR did not collapse.
It was just overthrown buy those capitalist inside the soviet state (and a vast majority within the party) that inherited all capital.

It was just the formal transfer of power, getting rid of all restrictions that the revolution had once gained.

Transformation of the ussr from socialist to capitalist did not happen in one night and not only during gorbachov. Ofcourse this observation brings in a difficult position those who insist that "soviet beurocracy" is not a class itself.


Nina Andreyeva gc of "All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks" and former member of the cpsu cc, has the guts to describe it as "Soviet bourgeoisie"

http://www.mltranslations.org/Russia/andreeva.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhQKmixO8MA
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Soviet cogitations: 2293
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 20 Jun 2013, 01:22
Quote:
Some may say that the USSR did not collapse.

Yes, because it's still alive in my heart.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 224
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Sep 2011, 11:23
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 20 Jun 2013, 11:39
OP-Bagration wrote:

Yes, because it's still alive in my heart.

hahah yeah ok,in mine too


But seriously that USSR "collapsed" it's a convinient (for imperialistst) myth. There was counter-revolution.
Even trotsky what really predicts is that this beurocracy will transform to a ruling class that will overturn the dictatorship of the proletariat. No "collapse" predicted, and no "collapse" actually happened.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhQKmixO8MA
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Soviet cogitations: 716
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Aug 2007, 23:25
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 02 Dec 2013, 00:34
"USSR, The Velvet Counterrevolution" by Ludo Martens actually states that the USSR is clearly about to fall, and it was written before the collapse of the USSR. Granted, the book was printed in 1990, so not much before. But still
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"Communism is more about love for mankind than about politics."
Me
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Soviet cogitations: 4465
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
Ideology: None
Forum Commissar
Post 02 Dec 2013, 01:17
While I don't agree with a lot of what he has to say Andrei Amalrik's essay from 1969 Will The Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? is an interesting read on this topic.

I'm not sure whether it's something I can post on SE, but the essay can be found here:
Part One
Part Two
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 02 Dec 2013, 02:25
Marxism-Leninism seems very susceptible to “revolution from above” as many of the former socialist states have gone through capitalist restorations brought about by their own ruling elite. This seems like a major systemic problem for Soviet-type systems. Perhaps this is why so many people nowadays seem attracted to decentralized forms of socialism.
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Soviet cogitations: 208
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 May 2009, 19:37
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 28 Jan 2014, 14:03
I think the reason the USSR collapse is some what same as Paris Commune, that they (both the Party and the people) underestimated the aggressiveness of their enemies.

After World War II, the people of USSR believing that under the leadership of Party, the USSR will be invincible, they have nothing to worry about, they need not to be active in politics, just let the Party handle everything. The Party thinking that with the power of people, no one can defeat socialism and the USSR, the remaining capitalist countries will inevitable become socialist by revolution, and now we can enjoy life. They also thought that old man Stalin is too paranoid, the capitalists are dying, why need to afraid of them?

In other word, no one is doing "the hard work". The people believed that the Party will do "the hard work" (a.k.a revolution), and the Party also thought that: "Let the people do the hard work". Therefore, the working class was losing class consciousness and the Party was losing class characteristics.

That is my ideas about the collapse of USSR. It explain why the collapse happen so quickly and easily. The people were in shocked that the Party betrayed them and the remaining communists in the Party was shocked that the people didn't fight again the counter-revolution. Any criticism?
"Stalin brought us up — on loyalty to the people, He inspired us to labor and to heroism!" Soviet Anthem 1944.
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