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Was the Eastern Bloc Necessary?

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Soviet cogitations: 4510
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 09 Jun 2009, 02:19
I'm wondering what comrades here think about the creation of proletarian dictatorships in Eastern Europe after the Second World War. I think we could almost all agree that the Second World War was a step backwards for Communism in many ways.* I believe Stalin's decision to support communist uprisings and coups in the late 40s was based on the intensification of the Cold War, and that initially he meant to leave the Eastern European countries as buffers of the sort that Austria and Finland eventually became (this is explicit with respect to Germany when considering the famous 'Stalin notes' and his talk about the Germans not being ready for socialism). Having said that, was it a mistake for the socialists and communists to abandon their post-war coalition governments and to take over their states (and for Stalin to have supported them)? From their inception to the collapse, most of these states suffered a great deal of unrest, and nationalist sentiment concluded that the Soviet Union was an occupying force in some ways not unlike the Nazis. With the collapse of socialism, this powerful sentiment of being held back from 'civilized Europe' by the Soviets and the feeling of national victory over the occupiers have helped to stiffle the development of the socialist movement in these countries. It doesn't help that the Soviets had a great deal of unsolved political and economic problems (like an outdated planned economy and the onset of corruption) which further alienated Eastern Europeans from socialism -heck it alienated the Soviet people.

So to restate: Were the revolutions and coups of the late 1940s in Eastern Europe a big mistake? Was there any alternative? Could these nations have become governed by whatever political ideology they pleased while maintaining a foreign policy neutral to the USSR? And another difficult question: Was the incorporation of the Baltics and Western Ukraine into the USSR a mistake due to these regions powerful nationalism and the unpleasant way in which they were incorporated?

Thanks a lot for your replies.



*It killed a lot of the finest and most enthusiastic revolutionaries, and destroyed much of what the Soviet people had worked so hard to build in the 1930s. At the same time it got the United States out of the Depression.
"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: 6887
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2007, 08:37
Unperson
Post 13 Jun 2009, 04:20
Hard to say. At that point the socialist project was severely derailed.
banistansig1
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Jan 2007, 06:42
Komsomol
Post 13 Jun 2009, 20:56
Quote:
the creation of proletarian dictatorships in Eastern Europe after the Second World War.

Just a technical point, they weren't proletarian dictatorships. Stalin specifically detailed this point when he wrote on the subject of "people's democracy." Because the Eastern European countries did not undergo a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism by the proletariat, the model diverged from what happened in the Soviet Union.

Quote:
So to restate: Were the revolutions and coups of the late 1940s in Eastern Europe a big mistake? Was there any alternative? Could these nations have become governed by whatever political ideology they pleased while maintaining a foreign policy neutral to the USSR? And another difficult question: Was the incorporation of the Baltics and Western Ukraine into the USSR a mistake due to these regions powerful nationalism and the unpleasant way in which they were incorporated?


Technically sure. These nations could have been pluralistic with neutral or even friendly relations with the USSR; but at the time this probably wasn't the ideal scenario given the falling out between Washington and Moscow. The creation of the 'Eastern Bloc' had significant political importance for the safety, security and development of the USSR. Namely, it was the USA that began the Cold War by throwing an ultimatum at the USSR through the Marshall Plan (if you want aid, you have to liberalize your economy). If the Eastern Bloc countries would have been left pluralistic in their political composition, they most surely would have gone down this route and become allies of the United States. This would have been a strategic defeat for the USSR - losing important trading allies and the much-desired "buffer zone."

As for the Baltics & Western Ukraine, I don't think incorporating these nations were a mistake. This move wasn't without its historical precedence, and (at least in the Baltics) fierce nationalism was in some instances coupled with popular support for inclusion into the USSR.

So while the creation of the Eastern Bloc states was not "ideal," it was the best option at the time and given the material conditions dictating Soviet foreign policy - I would argue it was indeed correct.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 13 Jun 2009, 21:17
Quote:
Just a technical point, they weren't proletarian dictatorships. Stalin specifically detailed this point when he wrote on the subject of "people's democracy." Because the Eastern European countries did not undergo a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism by the proletariat, the model diverged from what happened in the Soviet Union.


Could you elaborate on that? What is the exact difference between a people's democracy and a proletarian dictatorship?

Quote:
Were the revolutions and coups of the late 1940s in Eastern Europe a big mistake?


Yes. With the exception of the GDR and Yugoslavia, most of these countries never got very far in their development of socialism, their living standards were ridiculously low, and it paved the way for people like Ceausescu to enter the scene.

Quote:
Was there any alternative? Could these nations have become governed by whatever political ideology they pleased while maintaining a foreign policy neutral to the USSR?


Yes. The countries of Eastern Europe could have been simply left alone, under the condition that they maintain a foreign policy neutral to the USSR. However, if Poland had not been part of a mutual defense pact with the USSR, I'm not sure the Oder-Neisse line would have withstood German imperialism.

Quote:
Was the incorporation of the Baltics and Western Ukraine into the USSR a mistake due to these regions powerful nationalism and the unpleasant way in which they were incorporated?


Most certainly.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
[+-]
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Jan 2009, 10:32
Pioneer
Post 13 Jun 2009, 23:54
On the subject of Western Belarus and Ukraine, what alternative existed besides annexation into their respective SSRs?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 31 Aug 2009, 07:21
Komsomol
Post 07 Sep 2009, 09:28
Quote:
On the subject of Western Belarus and Ukraine, what alternative existed besides annexation into their respective SSRs?


I agree had many of these territories been abandoned by the U.S.S.R., those countries may not have had a stable government for a number of years, and this could have resulted in another European conflict.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Nov 2005, 17:55
Party Bureaucrat
Post 31 Oct 2009, 23:27
It depends on perspective, of course.

In the short term, for Soviet citizens of the time, maintaining the buffer zone on the country's western border was an absolute must, given the degree of suffering inflicted on them during the war. Stalin always had that in mind as he maneuvered his way diplomatically with the US and UK throughout the Allied conferences. I would agree with Besoshvili's point about the extension of the Marshall Plan to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania, and the potential dissolution of the buffer zone that Stalin had worked to hard to establish. The governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia were about to attend the Marshall Plan conference, and the projected election results in Hungary and Romania suggested future coalitions willing to enter into the Marshall Plan, so Stalin had to act, in the interest of his own citizens at the time.

However, it backfired in the long term. I'm sure most of us would agree that workers' revolution must always be nascent and should always remain nascent. However popular and organic the original rise of communism was in Eastern Europe ex-USSR, Stalin's marginalizing the coalition governments removed from the people of Eastern Europe a certain sense of ownership of their new social and economic systems.

Conquering the Baltic States was an unconditional bad idea, but WEstern Belarus and Western Ukraine were fine; Poland has never since claimed rights to those territories, although Western hacks always mention those acquisitions.
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"History is a set of lies agreed upon."
--Napoleon Bonaparte
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Soviet cogitations: 4510
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 05 Nov 2009, 10:06
Thanks guys for your comments. I agree with all your perspectives and commentary, except for yours TRL because I don't agree with that assessment. I suppose this is one of those tragedies of history type things -rational and perhaps inevitable at the time but which is somewhat depressing to think about looking back.
"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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