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What were the Soviet Union's flaws?

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Soviet cogitations: 3711
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Jul 2006, 04:49
Ideology: Juche
Old Bolshevik
Post 11 Dec 2007, 07:51
Well, I was just thinking about the Soviet Union and how this forum gives a refreshing experience from the Anti-Communist propaganda one sees all the time, but lately, I've been thinking about this topic:

What are your criticisms of the Soviet Union from a Socialist Prospective?
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Soviet cogitations: 114
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 Dec 2007, 14:21
Unperson
Post 11 Dec 2007, 08:04
As a former socialist, with current socialist sympathizings, I was never much of a supporter of the USSR.

When any one political party has too much power, it's akin to a company in the West like Wal-Mart possessing a near-monopoly. How can you compete against them?

Banning of other political parties is, well, pretty fascistic if you ask me. You'll never find a society with unanimity (sp?) of thought and belief, a democratic society, that is. In the States, there will always be some people who want more traditionalistic values and fundamentalist values and etc, and they need representatives. Banning their representative party because you disagree with it is not the democratic way.

Government ownership of the means of production isn't worker ownership of the means of production. Collectivizing businesses and giving the factory to their respective worker union is something I think isn't such a bad idea. However, replacing thousands if not millions of factory agendas, plans, etc, with a single organization, how is that less tyrannical? There's a quote by someone during the American Revolution that goes something like this, "Why should I fight against a tyrant 5000 miles away just so I can give up my liberty to 5000 tyrants a mile away?" Reverse the statement, and it makes much sense.

The USSR focused on heavy industry, ignoring light industry which produces consumer products.

I don't know much about the reasons for why the Soviets invaded Afghanistan from the Soviet perspective, but from the perspective of just about every nation in the world from that time to now, it was completely unprovoked, unless there was a secret Afghani invasion of the USSR I don't know of.

I could name some other things, but I think those are my major "as a socialist, I see the USSR as not being socialist due to this and this" points.
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Soviet cogitations: 4415
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 11 Dec 2007, 09:01
I don't know if it's a critique strictly from a socialist perspective, but for me probably the biggest institutional criticism was that the General Secretary had the immense power that he did through selection of candidates for the Central Committee. This led to Stalin's centralization of power, to Khrushchev's solidification of power in the attempted coup of 1957, and to Gorbachev's buildup of support in the mid-to-late 1980s. Obviously, the outcome of one person wielding this massive power got progressively worse as time went on, allowing for whatever Stalinist excesses are out there, for an opportunist like Khrushchev to solidify his position over other, perhaps more loyal and effective communists that happened to disagree with his position on Stalin (for one thing), and for a social democrat idealist like Gorbachev to take over the CPSU and to work to dismantle it from the inside.

...

NumberUnknown:

Quote:
Banning of other political parties is, well, pretty fascistic if you ask me. You'll never find a society with unanimity (sp?) of thought and belief, a democratic society, that is. In the States, there will always be some people who want more traditionalistic values and fundamentalist values and etc, and they need representatives. Banning their representative party because you disagree with it is not the democratic way.


Marxist-Leninists don't believe in the representation of those who would work to oppress them. Central to the idea of class conflict is that one group will try to oppress the other. The historical experience of the late Soviet Union proves the failure of attempts to create western style democratic 'competition' in a socialist system -the newly legalized opposition simply turned to destroy the system.

Quote:
Government ownership of the means of production isn't worker ownership of the means of production. Collectivizing businesses and giving the factory to their respective worker union is something I think isn't such a bad idea. However, replacing thousands if not millions of factory agendas, plans, etc, with a single organization, how is that less tyrannical? There's a quote by someone during the American Revolution that goes something like this, "Why should I fight against a tyrant 5000 miles away just so I can give up my liberty to 5000 tyrants a mile away?" Reverse the statement, and it makes much sense.

The USSR focused on heavy industry, ignoring light industry which produces consumer products.


Centralization of production and focus on heavy industry was necessary for the Soviet program of industrialization, which accomplished what most modern states accomplish in 200 years in less than 20. Admittedly by the 1980s the system was outdated and increasingly inefficient, and in need of an overhaul, perhaps all the way down to the organizational level, although the impact of modern computer technology has shown the possibilities for successful technocratic management of the economy at a highly centralized institutional level.

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I don't know much about the reasons for why the Soviets invaded Afghanistan from the Soviet perspective, but from the perspective of just about every nation in the world from that time to now, it was completely unprovoked, unless there was a secret Afghani invasion of the USSR I don't know of.


The USSR acted to prevent counterrevolution in Afghanistan. In 1978 a Marxist coup took place, and a defense and cooperation pact was signed with the Soviets. Failure to act would have been a failure of the USSR's internationalist obligations, not to mention a security threat, as Afghanistan would have degenerated into anarchy, Islamism, or the American sphere of influence.
"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.: 09 Dec 2007, 14:21
Unperson
Post 11 Dec 2007, 09:06
Quote:
Marxist-Leninists don't believe in the representation of those who would work to oppress them. Central to the idea of class conflict is that one group will try to oppress the other. The historical experience of the late Soviet Union proves the failure of attempts to create western style democratic 'competition' in a socialist system -the newly legalized opposition simply turned to destroy the system.


I understand that. I'm an American who believes hateful comments should be made illegal (racist, prejudicial to the point of open discrimination, etc, example: www.godhatesfags.com should be removed and its owners put on trial for hate crimes.

However, I have to recognize what I want to do is not democratic. Are you saying the suppression of ideologies antithetical to Marxist-Leninism is democratic in any definition of the word?

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Centralization of production and focus on heavy industry was necessary for the Soviet program of industrialization, which accomplished what most modern states accomplish in 200 years in less than 20. Admittedly by the 1980s the system was outdated and increasingly inefficient, and in need of an overhaul, perhaps all the way down to the organizational level, although the impact of modern computer technology has shown the possibilities for technocratic management of the economy at a centralized level.


I doubt government, not worker, ownership of the means of production is the only way to industrialize.

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The USSR acted to prevent counterrevolution in Afghanistan. In 1978 a Marxist coup took place, and a defence and cooperation pact was signed with the Soviets. Failure to act would have been a failure of the USSR's internationalist obligations, not to mention a security threat, as Afghanistan would have degenerated into anarchy, Islamism, or the American sphere of influence.


Then obviously it was okay for the Americans to impose dictatorships and regimes loyal to us because it prevented that nation from becoming a security threat, degnerating into anarchy, or the Soviet sphere of influence?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 11 Dec 2007, 09:33
Quote:
Are you saying the suppression of ideologies antithetical to Marxist-Leninism is democratic in any definition of the word?


In my belief, if Marxism-Leninism is the path by which the working class can advance to a system where they don't face a capitalist siphoning off the fruits of their labour, and other ideologies don't explicitely call for that or work extensively to crush any attempts at it, then it is acceptable to suppress them. The trick of western style liberal democracy is that it appears to promote the interests of everyone by allowing for a range of choices, while ignoring the fact that each of these choices accepts as a given the hegemony and dominance of private capital.

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I doubt government, not worker, ownership of the means of production is the only way to industrialize.


Perhaps not, but it certainly is the quickest.

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Then obviously it was okay for the Americans to impose dictatorships and regimes loyal to us because it prevented that nation from becoming a security threat, degnerating into anarchy, or the Soviet sphere of influence?


I understand where you're coming from, and perhaps take too manichean a position, but I happen to believe that the USSR fought in the interests of the working class internationally, while the US did not and does not. Perhaps deep down I'm just a realist on the Soviet side of the coin, though I'd like to hope that I haven't degenerated to that level of cynicism yet.
"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.: 09 Dec 2007, 14:21
Unperson
Post 11 Dec 2007, 09:38
Quote:
In my belief, if Marxism-Leninism is the path by which the working class can advance to a system where they don't face a capitalist siphoning off the fruits of their labour, and other ideologies don't explicitely call for that or work extensively to crush any attempts at it, then it is acceptable to suppress them. The trick of western style liberal democracy is that it appears to promote the interests of everyone by allowing for a range of choices, while ignoring the fact that each of these choices accepts as a given the hegemony and dominance of private capital.


Do you believe the Soviet Union and its allies were not state capitalists? Since the government, not the workers, own the means of production, isn't the government just siphoning off profit from the workers while masquerading as the worker's liberators? I just see a lot of hypocrisy and scary stuff.

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Perhaps not, but it certainly is the quickest.


It might indeed be the quickest, but at what price?

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I understand where you're coming from, and perhaps take too manichean a position, but I happen to believe that the USSR fought in the interests of the working class internationally, while the US did not and has not. Perhaps deep down I'm just a realist on the Soviet side of the coin, though I'd like to hope that I haven't degenerated that far yet.


Just for the record, despite you not implying or saying I did, I don't support a democratic America's policy of imposing undemocracy throughout the world. My point was in pointing out the Soviet position was just as rhetorical as the American one.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 11 Dec 2007, 09:56
Quote:
Do you believe the Soviet Union and its allies were not state capitalists? Since the government, not the workers, own the means of production, isn't the government just siphoning off profit from the workers while masquerading as the worker's liberators? I just see a lot of hypocrisy and scary stuff.


Well for one thing, I don't think it can be simplified to that degree (ie that the working class was powerless to state control of enterprises). Secondly, I don't view the state/bureaucracy in the case of a socialist country as an entity or class separate from the rest of society. Apart from corruption (some of it admittedly institutionalized) I don't believe the Soviet Union reached a level where state officials became owners in the traditional sense, taking advantage of spoils to the extent that owners are expected to. They officially remained designated as public servants, and could not for example sell off an enterprise and fire all its workers, or operate enterprises only in the interest of profit.

Quote:
It might indeed be the quickest, but at what price?


Well a conception of the cost depends on the above -whether government control amounted to a separate class of government bureaucrats 'owning' the means of production. I can name one important price of not having done it in the way historically accomplished: the Nazis would have very likely overrun a country without the capacity to build up a defense.

Quote:
Just for the record, despite you not implying or saying I did, I don't support a democratic America's policy of imposing undemocracy throughout the world. My point was in pointing out the Soviet position was just as rhetorical as the American one.


I understand. That's why I acknowledged my potential for realism-based cynicism.
"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.: 09 Dec 2007, 14:21
Unperson
Post 11 Dec 2007, 10:07
Quote:
Well for one thing, I don't think it can be simplified to that degree (ie that the working class was powerless to state control of enterprises).


So the workers owned the means of production through the state? Isn't that a little like the Party in 1984 sharing power collectively? I mean, back to reality, when a government owns the means of production directly, since when did the profits become evenly split? There's been discrepencies in income for Soviet citizens. Why?

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Secondly, I don't view the state/bureaucracy in the case of a socialist country as an entity or class separate from the rest of society. Apart from corruption (some of it admittedly institutionalized) I don't believe the Soviet Union reached a level where state officials became owners in the traditional sense, taking advantage of spoils to the extent that owners are expected to. They officially remained designated as public servants, and could not for example sell off an enterprise and fire all its workers, or operate enterprises only in the interest of profit.


Who watched the watchers? How many times were there public movements to impeach their leaders, or bureaucrats, or politicians? I think my point is what was the check and balance on a government that had no competition?

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Well a conception of the cost depends on the above -whether government control amounted to a separate class of government bureaucrats 'owning' the means of production. I can name one important price of not having done it in the way historically accomplished: the Nazis would have very likely overrun a country without the capacity to build up a defence.


I didn't realize the British were Communists who implemented government control over industry and business and agriculture.

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I understand. That's why I acknowledged my potential for realism-based cynicism.


We're all cynical in some way.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Nov 2006, 19:28
Pioneer
Post 11 Dec 2007, 12:23
From around 1927/8, Marxists characterised the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers' state. The isolation of the revolution, which in the end cane down to the lack of existing revolutionary organisations with the calibre and program of the Bolsheviks, the pressure of the civil war during which advanced Russian workers (who were essential to the functioning of workers' democracy) were eaten up by the front, and the subsequent exhaustion of the soviets as organs of workers' control led to the rise and consolidation of the rule of a bureaucratic caste, based on the interests of privileged layers of the state apparatus, many of whom remained from the old Tsarist state machine, who found in Stalin their most able and consistent representative.

The bureaucracy based themselves of the gains of the Russian revolution ie: the planned economy and proletarian property forms, but were hostile to thedevelopment of socialism, which holds workers' democracy as a pre-requisite. The bureaucracy weren't reliable defenders of the Russian revolution as was seen at the colllapse of the USSR, when quantity turned into quality and the now super-privileged caste decided their power could be better protected and enhanced when built of bourgeois property relations.

All in all the Soviet union didn't frall because of subjective mistakes, but due to the objective impossibility of building socialism in a backward country encircled by imperialism.
“The question of the relationships between the party, which represents the proletariat as it should be, and the trade unions, which represent the proletariat as it is, is the most fundamental question of revolutionary Marxism.”
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Soviet cogitations: 1533
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Oct 2007, 15:55
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Party Member
Post 11 Dec 2007, 16:52
Quote:
Do you believe the Soviet Union and its allies were not state capitalists? Since the government, not the workers, own the means of production, isn't the government just siphoning off profit from the workers while masquerading as the worker's liberators?

Well if they were siphoning off the profits of the labor, what member of any government isn't? I don't believe any General Secretary/Premier would do that. It would be too easy to see. The only people in my opinion who would do that really are lower level party members like mayors etc.
We have beaten you to the moon, but you have beaten us in sausage making.- Nikita Khrushchev
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 23 Feb 2004, 22:46
Party Member
Post 11 Dec 2007, 18:42
The USSR's flaws should really be divided into 2 parts: the flaws of the Lenin & Stalin administrations and the flaws of the state-capitalist Soviet Union from Khrushchev to Gorbachev.

The best thread discussing the flaws of the USSR under Lenin & Stalin can be found here: http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/viewt ... =stalinism

The best thread discussing the flaws of the capitalist USSR can be found here:
http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/viewtopic.php?t=32496

Hope you learn something from them, Misuzu!
Comrade Andrei Mazenov
2007 Winner of Soviet-Empire's A View to Kilt Award

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 Dec 2007, 18:33
Pioneer
Post 12 Dec 2007, 01:11
Quote:
What are your criticisms of the Soviet Union from a Socialist Prospective?


There are many faults, even in the time of Lenin. The first was Lenin's choice to make the Soviet Union a State of Soviets, rather than a transition period of democratic Soviets. The first huge mistake was not correctly executing a dictatorship of the proletariat and abolishing the governing body.

Lenin must have decided late in his life that he was some form of State-Socialist, as we can observe from The State and Revolution and other works such as What is to be Done? , Lenin was no fan of Statism and never actually declared otherwise. All in all, the Soviet Union being a State of Socialist (not Communist) Soviet Republics.

Next, was the rise of Stalin and the downfall of Trotsky and the real Leninists in general. Even if you are a Stalinist, you have to realize that Stalin was a State-Socialist with some sort of Leninist flare, but just a little. He, of course, believed in a strong government and basically Imperialism as far as conquest; we can see these conquests were forceful when Tito forcefully counter-resisted in Yugoslavia.

Next, there was the state-capitalist transition of Khrushchev, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin, who enforced free-marketeer policies and led to the Soviet Union's breakup in 1991. However, I do have a little bit of insight on this based on historical studies in Marx's works:

The Soviet Union, as a State and therefore a failed attempt at Communism by the people, and based on historical cycles mapped out by Marx that you should already know about so don't ask me, perhaps when socialism was executed by communism wasn't, the cycle itself had to revert back to the former stage; capitalism. Perhaps it needs to be tried again, with the right principles. Perhaps history has shown us the Soviet Union for humanity to learn from it's mistakes; perhaps revolution is not far away. Not specifically in Russia, anywhere; I believe that revolution is not unrealistic even now, Marx has told us history will bring us communism; I believe it tried to in 1917 and it wants to try again.

As a Socialist and in conclusion, I view the Soviet Union as a positive idea at its core and in the beginning, but a sad failure as the only shot so far at true Marxist-Leninist society.

More upon replies, if they come.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 23 Feb 2004, 22:46
Party Member
Post 12 Dec 2007, 01:20
You make no sense, ShineML. Are you saying that the socialist state is not a Marxist-Leninist idea? Are you sure you're not confusing M-L for Anarchism?....
Comrade Andrei Mazenov
2007 Winner of Soviet-Empire's A View to Kilt Award

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Sep 2004, 16:21
Politburo
Post 12 Dec 2007, 01:33
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Marx has told us history will bring us communism; I believe it tried to in 1917 and it wants to try again.

'History' will not bring us communism; the working class will bring us communism. 'History' did not try anything in 1917; the Russian working class, under the leadership of Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, tried to establish world communism in 1917. And 'history' will not try anything again. 'History' is an abstraction, a personification of certain processes in the concrete world which is no less absurd than believing that thunder and lightning are caused by Thor's hammer striking the clouds. Your 'Marxism' seems to be more Hegel than Marx, more idealism than materialism....
"Comrade Lenin left us a great legacy, and we fucкed it up." - Josef Stalin
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Sep 2004, 23:23
Party Bureaucrat
Post 12 Dec 2007, 02:35
I'd say that the USSR was a jolly good try. It's beginnings were an inspiring example, and it may have been going somewhere. However, after Lenin's death, all it was really good for was destroying the Nazis, getting into space, standing up to the US, and providing aid to any developing country that felt like calling itself socialist. All very commendable, but not necessarily a good guide for building communism. Basically, I think it showed that a socialist revolution could succeed, at least in the short term. Also, it inspired others to become socialist, leading to greater advances for the movement. It also helped to protect these advances by countering the US's actions and protecting (some, not all) revolutions from outside invasion and enforced counter-revolution.
Whoppee for Comrade Sergei.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 Dec 2007, 14:21
Unperson
Post 12 Dec 2007, 02:37
Quote:
I'd say that the USSR was a jolly good try. It's beginnings were an inspiring example, and it may have been going somewhere. However, after Lenin's death


Believe it or not I agree with you.
Soviet cogitations: 2775
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Sep 2004, 23:23
Party Bureaucrat
Post 12 Dec 2007, 02:42
Interesting...I don't usually agree with myself...
Whoppee for Comrade Sergei.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 Dec 2007, 18:33
Pioneer
Post 12 Dec 2007, 02:53
Quote:
You make no sense, ShineML. Are you saying that the socialist state is not a Marxist-Leninist idea? Are you sure you're not confusing M-L for Anarchism?....


Since when was Anarchism the only stateless ideology? Communism is classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production. Moreover, Lenin did not advocate the socialist state; try reading The State and Revolution... it's quite critical, bro. And it uses the words of Marx and Engels both, and I daresay this proves that Marxism entails no State and nor does Lenin's extension.

Quote:
'History' will not bring us communism; the working class will bring us communism. 'History' did not try anything in 1917; the Russian working class, under the leadership of Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, tried to establish world communism in 1917. And 'history' will not try anything again. 'History' is an abstraction, a personification of certain processes in the concrete world which is no less absurd than believing that thunder and lightning are caused by Thor's hammer striking the clouds. Your 'Marxism' seems to be more Hegel than Marx, more idealism than materialism..


Didn't I say this observation was based on Marx's historical thought? Of course the working class brings about revolution, but not because it is what they ought to do, because they would be inevitably forced to do it. Marx has always thought in this way. History is epochs of class struggle, I'm sure you know this. I simply meant by "History will bring us..." that the rise of the socialist proletariat is of historical necessity, that is at the core of Marxist thought and I'd hope you'd have known that.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Aug 2006, 17:30
Party Bureaucrat
Post 12 Dec 2007, 02:57
1. Reconnection with the capitalist finance markets (eurodollar markets)
2. Underinvestment in consumer goods
3. Apolitical civil society, which made the rise of a liberal caste in Leningrad possible.
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Ideology transforms human beings into subjects, leading them to see themselves as self-determining agents when they are in fact shaped by ideological processes. L. Althusser
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Aug 2006, 17:30
Party Bureaucrat
Post 12 Dec 2007, 03:00
Quote:
'History' will not bring us communism; the working class will bring us communism. 'History' did not try anything in 1917; the Russian working class, under the leadership of Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, tried to establish world communism in 1917. And 'history' will not try anything again. 'History' is an abstraction, a personification of certain processes in the concrete world which is no less absurd than believing that thunder and lightning are caused by Thor's hammer striking the clouds. Your 'Marxism' seems to be more Hegel than Marx, more idealism than materialism....
Not Hegel. Lenin used Hegel to defeat that kind of hollow teleological determinism of the IInd International.
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Ideology transforms human beings into subjects, leading them to see themselves as self-determining agents when they are in fact shaped by ideological processes. L. Althusser
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