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If Beria had gained power

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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 29 Aug 2012, 02:34
From what I've read a few months ago in Court of The Red Tsar, Beria wished to normalize relations with the west and sought political and economic reform within the Soviet Union. What would have happened if Lavrentiy Beria gained power after Stalin's death instead of Khrushchev?
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.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 29 Aug 2012, 07:22
The Soviet Union would have turned into a bureaucratic regime that would, at first, have tried to uphold "domestic" socialism to the best of its abilities while trying to prevent open confrontation with imperialism via peaceful coexistence. In the meantime, the revolutionary spirit of the masses would disappear entirely and after a while, when it became safe to do so, the bureaucracy would decide that it would be better for them to switch to capitalism for personal gain. This would then happen, possibly unter the pretext of "restructuring" and "openness", about thirty-five years later.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
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Post 01 Sep 2012, 19:07
That is what happened.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 May 2008, 14:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
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Post 01 Sep 2012, 23:57
I think that's what he's getting at. Nothing would change.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
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Post 02 Sep 2012, 03:47
Indigo wrote:
I think that's what he's getting at. Nothing would change.
I know Marxists don't like the idea that an individual can greatly influence history, but I just don't buy it on this occasion.

We might as well say things would have been the same if Trotsky had succeeded Lenin or that Lenin living longer would not have made a difference or that the USSR would have fallen apart even if someone like Andropov had lived for a decent length.

As far as the OP question goes it's all hypothetical but there are reasons to believe that he would have gone considerably further in de-Stalinization than Khrushchev ever did. There have been hints that he was prepared at allow for the re-unification of Germany and was interested in resolving the Cold War conflict much sooner and indeed this seems to have had a fair bit to do with his downfall... some have taken these non-confrontational attitudes as evidence that he wanted to allow a capitalist restoration.

Of course we have to go by his own statements for this sort of thing and given what a Machiavellian strategist he was it's difficult to take anything he said at face value. It might have been some elaborate ruse to draw out some of his rivals which backfired badly.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Oct 2007, 15:55
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
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Post 04 Sep 2012, 02:03
Shigalyov wrote:
some have taken these non-confrontational attitudes as evidence that he wanted to allow a capitalist restoration.


From what I've read he wasn't a true communist, just a Stalin loyalist. I use the term loyalist loosely, he was an opportunist. I believe he would've created an oligarchy ala Yeltsin, while he was installed as a President for life. But alas, we will never know.
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.: 09 May 2008, 14:59
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Post 04 Sep 2012, 03:14
Shigalyov wrote:
I know Marxists don't like the idea that an individual can greatly influence history, but I just don't buy it on this occasion.


Mabool himself has claimed that he believes that idea does in fact apply in a socialist society. If that is the case, I take it to mean that he believes Beria's rule would not be significantly different from Stalin, or at least not different enough to alter the outcome.
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Red_Son: Bob Avakian is the Glenn Beck of communism.
"Le prol├ętariat; c'est moi." - King Indigo XIV
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 03 Nov 2013, 01:14
I'm a bit late to this one, but it is worth pointing out that one significant difference would have been the bloodbath of the Politburo and Supreme Soviet that would have taken place had Beria been able to move to solidify his position.
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
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Post 03 Nov 2013, 10:34
I don't know guys; a lot of dirt has been thrown on Beria since he was deposed, his sexual habits being the most gruesome example, constantly upgraded over the years in a game of broken telephone from a) a rumor that he raped his mistress, to b) that he drove around at night finding and raping women, to c) that he took interest in raping underage girls, to d) that he raped and killed the women he picked up and hid their bones in the walls...

Otherwise he wasn't any worse than Khrushchev, who was up to his elbows in blood in the Stalin period and more of a Stalin sycophant than most of the rest of the Politburo. On the contrary, Beria came in to put an end to the purges of 1937-38, and quickly took initiative to give amnesty to thousands of prisoners after Stalin's death. The idea to unify Germany was Stalin's; it wasn't in the West's interest to see a neutral Germany in central Europe, so Beria's initiatives here wouldn't have led anywhere, and the Cold War would have continued. As for internal programs, it's hard to imagine things turning out worse than they did under Khrushchev with his self-serving, unscientific destalinization campaign, whose goal was more to solidify his own power than to critique the real excesses of the Stalin period. Perhaps Beria would have done the same, thus undermining the communist movement abroad and support for the party at home, and planting the seed of 60s dissidence that would flower in the 80s as it did in our timeline. However, I don't think we have enough information to make this judgement.

As for the idea that he would try to dismantle socialism and institute a personalist dictatorship, I don't think this was possible at the time; the true believers in the party, and ordinary peoples' ideological convictions were just too strong at the time for someone to pull a Gorbachev/Yakovlev/Yeltsin.
"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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