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Was life in the East depressing?

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Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 07 Sep 2013, 16:58
A friend of mine presented me with the argument that life in the Communist Bloc must have been depressing. His argument was that if the government provides you with everything, your job, your house/apartment, your healthcare, your retirement pension, then what is left to strive for? My friend contends that under capitalism there is a vitality to life that could never exist under communism.

I am not sure what to make of this argument. Many rich countries seem to have severe unhappiness problems. Japan, for example, is host to many disturbing social trends such as hikikomori. See this article from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23182523

On the other hand, Zsuzsanna Clark, who grew up in communist Hungary, paints a rather positive picture of life in Hungary before the transition to capitalism. See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... -life.html

I am especially interested to hear what comrades from the East have to say about this issue since they probably experienced both systems first hand.
Soviet cogitations: 2051
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 07 Sep 2013, 17:40
11% of Americans take anti depressants.

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db76.htm

26% of adults suffer from a mental disorder

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publicat ... ndex.shtml
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
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 07 Sep 2013, 17:48
I don't think the Block countries had particularly high rates of depression ( except maybe Hungary as it's a national disease there ) but life could certainly be quite depressing in the East. There might be some truth to the Western stereotype of ( both pre and post 1989 ) E. Europe as a grim, depressive and oppressive place.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 07 Sep 2013, 18:07
I find those types of arguments the weakest and in some sense the most evil. I can get into a debate about the utilitarian grounds of which is more economically efficient socialism or capitalism.

But what I really hate are the Nietzscheans, who say well yes maybe your little Utopia can work and all can be equal and prosperous, but man has a drive to dominate, to be better than others, to put down the weak, and if you take that away you take away the human spirit. Its basically a sadist complaining that there wont be anyone weaker than him for him to lord it over and gloat over. There needs to be pain and suffering or life will lose its spice. But these wannabe Ubers always imagine the pain on their lessers, and the glory for themselves.
Kamran Heiss
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 07 Sep 2013, 18:23
heiss93 wrote:
I find those types of arguments the weakest and in some sense the most evil. I can get into a debate about the utilitarian grounds of which is more economically efficient socialism or capitalism.

But what I really hate are the Nietzscheans, who say well yes maybe your little Utopia can work and all can be equal and prosperous, but man has a drive to dominate, to be better than others, to put down the weak, and if you take that away you take away the human spirit. Its basically a sadist complaining that there wont be anyone weaker than him for him to lord it over and gloat over. There needs to be pain and suffering or life will lose its spice. But these wannabe Ubers always imagine the pain on their lessers, and the glory for themselves.


Yes, isn't this basically the argument of many supporters of social biology? They contend that humans, as animals, are naturally competitive and the stronger will always seek to dominate the weak in any human society. Attempts at building communism are as futile as trying to build communism in a pride of lions. As E.O. Wilson said about Marxism: "Wonderful theory, wrong species."
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 07 Sep 2013, 19:22
I don't see how this is supposed to invalidate Marxism. Obviously the ruling class is the strongest one, and right now the capitalists are stronger than the working classes, otherwise we wouldn't be living in capitalism. But the working class is perfectly capable of owerthrowing the bourgeoisie, it's only a matter of time and of course struggle.
That humans are naturally competitive doesn't contradict with communism, where the emancipated men would be completely free to compete in anything they want, from arts to sports to science.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 07 Sep 2013, 20:06
If we weren't capable of building Marxism we wouldn't be capable of formulating it from the onset.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 07 Sep 2013, 20:18
Just to be sure, I do not support the position that communism is biologically impossible. I was just stating the position many followers of social biology take regarding Marxism and communism. It related to heiss93's post on why some people are opposed to communism on the grounds that it somehow reduces the human spirit, and particularly the spirit of those who wish to do "great things." This is essentially the position Ayn Rand and others take and it ties in with the stereotype of the Eastern Bloc as a grey, depressing dystopia.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 07 Sep 2013, 20:40
Arguments of biology are somewhat spurious, since collective organization is a major factor in human survival, and has been the corner stone of every inch of human development.
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.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 07 Sep 2013, 20:43
Piccolo wrote:
As E.O. Wilson said about Marxism: "Wonderful theory, wrong species."


Yes he said that after he supposedly read the Communist Manifesto, which is such BS, since the Manifesto has nothing to say about humans all being perfect little altruists working together like an ant colony. Its all about historical materialism and the development of capitalism and says virtually nothing on socialism.
Kamran Heiss
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 07 Sep 2013, 20:58
runequester wrote:
Arguments of biology are somewhat spurious, since collective organization is a major factor in human survival, and has been the corner stone of every inch of human development.


Yes, I agree, there are many problems with social biology and indeed, one could even develop a left-wing social biology as Peter Kropotkin attempted to do. That being said, many people are skeptical of communism because of the idea that it is somehow impossible or undesirable because it runs against the grain of the "human spirit." Whether one expresses that concept in a biological, religious, or other form, the argument is essentially the same.

Personally, I would think that living under capitalism would tend to be more depressing, with the exception of some wealthy or affluent people who might be better off under capitalism.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 07 Sep 2013, 22:33
Quote:
But what I really hate are the Nietzscheans, who say well yes maybe your little Utopia can work and all can be equal and prosperous, but man has a drive to dominate, to be better than others, to put down the weak, and if you take that away you take away the human spirit. Its basically a sadist complaining that there wont be anyone weaker than him for him to lord it over and gloat over. There needs to be pain and suffering or life will lose its spice. But these wannabe Ubers always imagine the pain on their lessers, and the glory for themselves.


That was great. 10/10 would read again.

Quote:
That humans are naturally competitive doesn't contradict with communism, where the emancipated men would be completely free to compete in anything they want, from arts to sports to science.


Unless you believe that private property is an essential element of human nature, and that its accumulation is an essential component of human activity. If you refuse to conceive of wealth as being anything other than individual, it follows that naturally competitive human beings will also have to compete in terms of individual wealth. Of course, this is tantamount to denying that men are social beings. Thatcher expressed this clearly when she said, "there is no such thing as society."

This psychopathic perspective is, of course, also the premise of the Nietzschean argument.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 758
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 08 Sep 2013, 01:23
I would also add that those who worship the creativity of individualism are usually conformist hacks in their actual lives. Ayn Rand worshiped Victor Hugo, who was a great Jacobin Socialist, and I think it is impossible to separate Les Miserables as Romanticist literature from Hugo's collectivist politics. But if we look at the great thinkers of history from the Philosophes of the French Revolution, to the Victorian Fabian intellectuals, the Popular Front artists of the 1930s, Albert Einstein, to even the Hollywood liberals of today we find that those with a truly artistic, creative, scientific spirit usually tend towards collectivism and see their individual greatness as connected to social struggle. Those who celebrate so-called individuality are the first to denounce the degeneracy of bohemians, intellectuals, and weirdos, anyone who is different.

Those atomistic individuals who cut themselves off from society, usually produce works of trash, valued only for their political propaganda. Those who make a cult out of individuality are usually the least interesting individuals. The individuality of the 'human spirit' that capitalism celebrates, is that of the American teenager to be the first on the block to have the newest sneakers or I-Pod. It is a purely quantitative measure of individuality, in which one is 'unique' by possessing more shiny rocks than anyone else.
Kamran Heiss
Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 08 Sep 2013, 02:35
Haha, that was very well said, but Nietzsche wasn't exactly a boring conformist hack. I'm not even saying you're wrong, just that there are exceptions.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Soviet cogitations: 12389
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 08 Sep 2013, 17:32
Nietzsche tried his hand at epic soldiering, and failed. He then volunteered as a stretcher bearer so he could be closer to the battlefield. His legendary case of syphilis (if that's what it was) kept him from continuing on as a professor of classical subjects, so he dropped out. He then spent the rest of his sane years wandering around Italy and Switzerland. He lived the life of a lonely boarding house bachelor. If anything, his attempts to advise princes and Chancellors on "grand politics" was a desperate attempt to stay relevant, and remind himself that he existed, and had a part to play in social discourse. Nowadays, Nietzsche would be an ultra-conservative Monarchist or Libertarian media figure, probably with a blog, attempting to get his spot on the European equivalent of Fox News.

Back to topic: central Europe has a very snowy climate. Rainy summers, dark, cloudy winters. So it's always going to be a bit depressing, no matter what economic system prevails. Plus, Communism in these areas was founded by very hard nosed, no nonsense, materialists who weren't overly fond of frivolity. And it's hard to laugh when you can walk a few miles down the road into the forest, and come across the remnants of a Nazi death camp. So these were all countries whose national sense of humor needed a few more decades to fully recover.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 09 Sep 2013, 14:17
Comrade Gulper wrote:
Back to topic: central Europe has a very snowy climate. Rainy summers, dark, cloudy winters. So it's always going to be a bit depressing, no matter what economic system prevails. Plus, Communism in these areas was founded by very hard nosed, no nonsense, materialists who weren't overly fond of frivolity. And it's hard to laugh when you can walk a few miles down the road into the forest, and come across the remnants of a Nazi death camp. So these were all countries whose national sense of humor needed a few more decades to fully recover.


Good points. Perhaps I should have phrased the question like this: "How do rates of depression and other mental illnesses in the post-communist space compare to the communist period?"

It looks like even in the People's Republic of China, which has become richer instead of poorer like some of the post-Soviet states, people are not becoming happier: http://news.usc.edu/#!/article/34943/ch ... e-chinese/
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 12 Sep 2013, 16:11
Maybe life in the east was depressing. I doubt it could have been as depressing as contemporary Western life though.
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 13 Sep 2013, 14:35
Political Interest wrote:
Maybe life in the east was depressing. I doubt it could have been as depressing as contemporary Western life though.


I agree. Contemporary Western life is depressing. At least under communism there was a guiding philosophy that made sense of the world and had some positive values. The modern West is nihilistic.
Soviet cogitations: 12389
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 14 Sep 2013, 05:39
Millions of people lived happy, full lives in the East without ever concerning themselves with what they were "missing" in the West. Likewise, plenty of people are perfectly content to live in North Dakota, regardless of the fact that there are thousands of more "exciting" places they could inhabit. Some people are miserable in places like England because of the constant overcast weather. Others love the constant rain. "Happiness" consists in your ability to accept and adapt to your surroundings. In essence, you're happy anywhere that you can comfortably "fit in".
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.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 16 Jul 2014, 22:05
Sorry for being rude, but comunists need to know the theory, else our struggle will be much harder.

Any argument, question, whatever, that compares ideal entities is ideology and should be rejected as such.

That question compares ideal persons living in ideal circunstances under an idealized model of capitalism and socialism.

You can only compare hard, real events.

For one :

At what time period ?
In wich country ?
Under wich circunstances ?
Wich job ?

etc.

For example. Here in Brazil there are a lot of favelas. We live in a capitalist country, and i believe i would be pretty depressed if i had to live in one of those favelas even for a week.

Another point to argue against the question is that it makes a lot of presumptions.

1 - That in a socialist system - an ideal one - the state runs everything. Thats wrong.
2 - That the human being can only be driven by materialistic demands. IE.: if you have a house, food, car etc, you having nothing else to strive for. What happens to love, spiritual development (in the sense of finding answers to profound existential questions etc) ?

The soviet system, derived from a bolchevique model of revolution, exacerbated by the consequences of the civil war (where most of the middle class of the former russian empire died) became an state aparatus where the free thinking was refrained.

In a true - at least, as idealized by Marx - socialist state, everything is run by the assemblies (soviets), wich becomes the center of the intelectual life of a socialist country. IE.: you dont concentrate in egocentric activities as demanding the best car, or best house to show your opulence to your peers, but, you strive to win arguments, to convince and be convenced of new ideas. You take part, your small part, in the building of socialism, by voting, by discussing ideas, etc.

Your life becomes full of vitality, because instead of the fetiche of the marchandising (dont know how to translate that to english : "Fetiche da mercadoria") you have a true, direct link, to reality and to politics. You are not opressed, either materially nor intelectually, because the yoke of ideology is removed, and you deal with your peers, not as competitors (because thats what happens in a developed capitalist country) but as true peers, constructing a new world order.

So, basically, if you want to compare ideal things, you should first know what are those ideal things that are being compared.

The ideal capitalist model is a kind of never-ending social darwinism, while the ideal socialist model is a construction made by friends, brothers, peers.
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