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Was Soviet culture superior to Western culture?

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 20 Aug 2013, 09:12
Western popular culture (in its best days, now largely passed) was a beacon of rebellious individuality for the rest of the world. You have to remember, even Europe in the pre-WWI days was a straight laced, very prim and proper, society. Scandals were hushed up and the aristocracy treated commoners like foot stools and bought and sold them at will.

Hollywood brought characters like John Wayne, the Marx Brothers, Bogart, Mae West, etc., on to the world stage. These were characters that didn't kowtow to ancient authority, whether the aristocracy, the religious authorities, or, in some cases, even the patriarchy. These were characters that defined "individuality", consequences be damned.

A figure like Charlie Chaplin who appears in town, causes mayhem and havoc, saves the day while making a mockery of "high society", then tramps off on his merry way, is a very powerful and symbolic figure, especially in places like Iran (to this day) where such freedom of choice and expression is very much frowned on.

Levi jeans, long hair, loud rock music, etc., for better or worse, was a rallying symbol for millions of people who simply wanted the freedom to express themselves, regardless of whether they had actually anything to say. The authorities in most countries in the world were taken aback by this development, and their reaction was completely clueless.

Bottom line: Western culture would never have been so seductive and so "subversive" if the freedoms it expressed were commonly available (to the point of being a complete non-issue) in the rest of the world.

Let's put it this way: as much as I love the Soviet "TROLOLOLOLOLOL" guy, I'd trade him and a million of his ilk for one Jimi Hendrix. And that's not because I hate Socialism. It's because Socialism needs figures like Jimi a lot more than it needs cookie cutter Sovkultur drones.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 20 Aug 2013, 17:18
Loz wrote:
I think that Hollywood had better movies both quality and quantity wise.


Taking the period from the 1960s to the early 1980s, I'd like to challenge you on that assertion 100%.

Loz wrote:
What's worth of Soviet cinema was and is recognized in the West and elsewhere.


That's just plain wrong. Western film snobs (i.e. the ones who knew anything at all about Soviet cinematography) chose what to recognize, for the most part. Even that meager morsel never reached the masses. That's not mentioning the fact that over 20 years after the Soviet Union collapsed, most Westerners still have no idea of Soviet cultural production, and given the power of their own commercial media machinery, especially that of the United States, who could blame them?

Loz wrote:
Censored art is at best castrated art.


You are exaggerating the degree of censorship a great deal. Those artists that had something critical of Soviet society said it. The problems in the cultural sphere had more to do with propagandistic authors and artists and their hollow and obtuse production than with repression of everyone else. That's why Soviet films of all sorts continue to be played today; the vast majority is beloved even by depoliticized and/or anti-communist viewers.

Loz wrote:
But that has more to do with complete and total cultural and every other degeneration of the f. USSR than with removing the state-imposed bans of certain themes in cinematography.


I can't say I agree completely. If you've familiarized yourself with some chernukha garbage of the late 1980s like Taxi Blues and Malenkaya Vera you understand that the absence of state imposed themes meant shock films and simplistic criticism of socialism and of life in general, to the point where people simple stopped attending the once-vibrant Soviet movie theatre system.

Loz wrote:
The Soviets for some reason never made anything similar to Reds, or the movies about Spain in the 30s and so on and so forth.

The most famous Soviet films, aside from B. Potemkin perhaps, don't even deal with revolutionary themes per se, but rather focus on WW2 and Russian etc history or everyday life and life dramas.


Regarding films about the revolution and Spain in the 1930s, what you say simply isn't true. Perhaps it's just not the type of the material Western film critics are interested in, or which Russian translators haven't gotten around to translating yet, but I assure you that many such films exist. As for films about the WW2, that's natural; the war was the ultimate legitimization of Soviet power, and an event that shook the whole of the population for decades to come, all the way into the present.

Loz wrote:
Orthodoxy, one of the pillars of "Russianess" for example had almost died out by the 70s.


What is the Codex of the Builders of Communism if not an edited and modernized version of the ten commandments?


...

CG wrote:
Let's put it this way: as much as I love the Soviet "TROLOLOLOLOLOL" guy, I'd trade him and a million of his ilk for one Jimi Hendrix. And that's not because I hate Socialism. It's because Socialism needs figures like Jimi a lot more than it needs cookie cutter Sovkultur drones.


I'd say you need a more complete education on Soviet culture before you can make such broad statements. The Soviets had their Hendrixes, but the 'Sovkultur drones' were truly beloved, and are respected to this day, even by apolitical types I assure you. As someone who loves the gems of both Soviet and American culture equally, what you and Loz are saying sounds more like preference based on exposure and surroundings than a fair judgement based on deep understanding.
"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.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 20 Aug 2013, 18:47
Soviet78 wrote:
I'd say you need a more complete education on Soviet culture before you can make such broad statements.

Fair enough. But I think you may have missed my point here. I wasn't really commenting on the overall quality of every aspect of Soviet culture. I was mostly remarking that, before the USSR existed, official, i.e., highbrow culture throughout the Old World tended to stress conformity and aristocratic morality. Think of the medieval legends of chivalry, honor before God and King, etc. Only in peasant folklore were outlaws and renegades sometimes celebrated, and the official attitude of the European court toward such ballads was hardly anything beyond utter contempt.

The Soviet Union redressed this balance partially, but not completely. The death of Lenin, followed by the ascension of the more conservative Stalin, and then the need to unite all segments of the country against Hitler, put a stumbling block in front of some much needed social developments that were only finally addressed in a halting manner by Brezhnev and his successors (not counting the traitor Gorbachev and his clique).
Soviet78 wrote:
The Soviets had their Hendrixes, but the 'Sovkultur drones' were truly beloved, and are respected to this day, even by apolitical types I assure you.
Likely true as well. I admit my failure to grow up in the old country does deprive me of some very intimate knowledge regarding its culture. That being said, the combination of electric guitar and amplifier trumps any Bolshoi opera you care to name, and I'll fight anyone who claims different.

Soviet78 wrote:
As someone who loves the gems of both Soviet and American culture equally, what you and Loz are saying sounds more like preference based on exposure and surroundings than a fair judgement based on deep understanding.

I would never make light of the giants of Russian and Soviet culture. I know more than my share of them, even if only in translation. I've learned a great deal about the culture of my people by taking the trouble to actually go and see them in the old country. And I realize full well that Russia and the Soviet Union have produced more than their share of weighty giants, some of whom are destined to outlast 99% of all Western competitors.

That being said, Russia could never have been the birth place of rock and roll, or anything like it, in the 20th century. Czarism existed only to crush the individual underfoot. Afterward, the Soviet Union found itself in a perpetual grey area, trying to assert the true worth of individuals without tipping over into the libertarian-style egotistical excess that finally consumed the West. It was this lack of proper equilibrium that allowed the clique of traitors led by Gorbachev to gain the victory for the modern Boyar oligarchs.
Last edited by Comrade Gulper on 20 Aug 2013, 19:08, edited 1 time in total.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jun 2006, 02:14
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Politburo
Post 20 Aug 2013, 18:50
Loz wrote:
Let's not even mention the fact that Soviet movies were censored, and had to be approved by the authorities.

Same happened (and happens) in Hollywood. Specially dealing with topics such as sex, religion or politics. Check this out.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
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Philosophized
Post 20 Aug 2013, 18:55
Che Burashka wrote:
Same happened (and happens) in Hollywood. Specially dealing with topics such as sex, religion or politics. Check this out.

A modern example would be Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, which had to have 5 minutes' worth of Messianic blood and gore trimmed out before theaters would release it.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
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Soviet cogitations: 59
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Nov 2009, 17:36
Pioneer
Post 20 Aug 2013, 19:08
Loz wrote:
A lot. Censored art is at best castrated art.

Depends on your view of art.


Quote:
True. But that has more to do with complete and total cultural and every other degeneration of the f. USSR than with removing the state-imposed bans of certain themes in cinematography.

It is not only that. A lot of bad movies are made by the same directors who made good movies before.


Quote:
If a movie is recognized in the West it's usually recognized in the whole world. I think it's safe to say that f. ex. most Indian ( and India makes more movies than any other country ) movies are crap no one outside that country can relate to. Real art knows no borders.

And BTW i've watched most of the important Soviet movies, even some of the more obscure ones like Taxi Blues and Malenkaya Vera from the 80s. Most movies on this list worth anything are at least heard of in the West, and those that aren't, i'd dare to say, aren't heard of for a reason.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_ ... #1960s-70s

I would say that is very ethnocentric, but you are not even a Westerner...
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 20 Aug 2013, 21:33
I can understand why so many people here enjoy Western rock music and other aspects of Western pop culture. I also like many aspects of Western culture. But can we really say much good about where Western culture has ended up today? Reality television, pop music that is little more than the product of computer software, comedy that is increasingly nasty (see the prevalence of rape jokes in the United States) are all major aspects of modern Western pop culture.

And besides, didn't the individualism of the counterculture of the '60s turn into the yuppie ethos of the '80s? Plenty of baby boomers went from hippie to yuppie and the transition was not very hard to make.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 20 Aug 2013, 21:40
It's because capitalism knows no limits. It can't recognize any boundaries, natural or unnatural, because its entire raison d'etre is growth for growth's sake.

What Socialism can do in the 21st century is to recognize the basic worth of the individual - i.e, that we are human beings, not cogs in some faceless machine - but still set some limits at the place where untrammeled individuality becomes unrestricted bullying.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
Soviet cogitations: 2051
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 20 Aug 2013, 21:43
90% of everything produced is crap in most cases.

If you take everything produced culturally in any country, the majority is crap. We just remember the good parts.
Soviet America is Free America!

Under communism, there is no freedom; you are not free to live in poverty, be homeless, to be without an education, to starve, or to be without a job
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 20 Aug 2013, 23:29
Quote:
pop music that is little more than the product of computer software


I wonder why that is a problem. Electronic music is the future.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jun 2006, 02:14
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Post 20 Aug 2013, 23:51
Comrade Gulper wrote:
What Socialism can do in the 21st century is to recognize the basic worth of the individual - i.e, that we are human beings, not cogs in some faceless machine - but still set some limits at the place where untrammeled individuality becomes unrestricted bullying.

Cool, now you're talking like a real peronist


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
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Post 21 Aug 2013, 00:43
If "Peronism" boils down to modern, New World-adjusted, humanistic Socialism, then I'm on board with that. I've always held that a true grasp of democratic procedure (not the sham we see in most of the West) is essential for a "Socialist" state to be worthy of the name.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 21 Aug 2013, 16:59
Peronism is Argentinian fascism, and furthermore a personal sponsor and friend of some of the worst fascist butchers who escaped punishment after WW2. No surprise that, when he was chased out of his own country he was given refuge in Franco's Spain.
To say that Peronism has anything to do with humanism or recognizing the worth of the individual is obscene.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jun 2006, 02:14
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Politburo
Post 21 Aug 2013, 20:41
What's obscene is you ignorance on Peronism. Read the Doctrina Peronista first, and then we'll talk.

We can discuss it on another thread, because it's not related to Soviet culture.

I guess that what's wrong with this thread is that there is no culture superior to another. They're different, each with good and bad elements.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 21 Aug 2013, 22:12
Quote:
What's obscene is you ignorance on Peronism. Read the Doctrina Peronista first, and then we'll talk.

I don't care what he said. I care about what Marxists wrote on him, and what he did in practice.
Reading Mussolini's speeches from the RSI would make you think he was a hard-core republican and a pro-working class radical.

Quote:
I guess that what's wrong with this thread is that there is no culture superior to another. They're different, each with good and bad elements.

Nonsense. Obviously a feudal, backwards culture can't be in any way superior to a capitalist culture. Lenin wrote about this exact issue.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Nov 2013, 10:47
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Post 04 Dec 2013, 14:12
Brodsky wasn't allowed to live and work in Soviet Union because no one wanted to understand that poetry is a respectful thing to do. They wanted him to work at the factory and be of a practical use. How can we talk about the development of the culture with such an approach?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Post 10 Dec 2013, 04:07
You know that basically every major Marxist also wrote poetry right? Even Stalin, hater of all art!
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Soviet cogitations: 12389
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
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Philosophized
Post 10 Dec 2013, 07:41
Henry84 wrote:
Brodsky wasn't allowed to live and work in Soviet Union because no one wanted to understand that poetry is a respectful thing to do. They wanted him to work at the factory and be of a practical use. How can we talk about the development of the culture with such an approach?

Here's the thing: you can work a day job, and create plenty of art in your spare time. You can contribute to society in a material way (making sure essential goods get produced on time and in sufficient numbers) and in a creative way (barfing up syrupy Stakhanovite poetry if that's your thing). You can do both, and it's best that artists do both. Letting them live in a million dollar mansion, doing nothing all day, and completely forgetting their roots just encourages them to become malicious reality show hacks with a monstrously inflated ego and sense of entitlement. Who needs it?
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 10 Dec 2013, 07:44
Henry84 wrote:
Brodsky wasn't allowed to live and work in Soviet Union because no one wanted to understand that poetry is a respectful thing to do. They wanted him to work at the factory and be of a practical use. How can we talk about the development of the culture with such an approach?


Dude. Relative to their GDP, the stalinist states typically spent at least thrice as much on education, arts and culture as any European state.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
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Post 10 Dec 2013, 09:44
Anybody remember that quote about poetry being more highly regarded in the USSR than anywhere else, because nowhere else could you end up in the GULAG for a mere private reading of a poem?

Osip Mandelstam wrote:
We live, deaf to the land beneath us,
Ten steps away no one hears our speeches, But where there's so much as half a conversation
The Kremlin's mountaineer will get his mention. His fingers are fat as grubs
And the words, final as lead weights, fall from his lips, His cockroach whiskers leer
And his boot tops gleam. Around him a rabble of thin-necked leaders -
Fawning half-men for him to play with. They whinny, purr or whine
As he prates and points a finger, One by one forging his laws, to be flung
Like horseshoes at the head, the eye or the groin. And every killing is a treat
For the broad-chested Ossete.
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