There has been a lot of discussion here which seems to focus a great deal on life in the Soviet Union 1950s onwards. However is there any information on what life was like for the average Soviet citizen during the years of Stalin's reign? For example, I have heard that because the country was not as industrialised as it was in later years families had to live in communal apartments and even share individual units. Supposedly it was not until Kruschev that people were able to have their own individual apartment for their families. Were medical care and education well developed during these years and was there a shortage of basic consumer goods? Of course it goes without saying that the 1930s saw the Stalinist terror and purges while the 1940s were the years of the Second World War, both of which would have dramatically reduced living standards.
Happiness is in your ability to love others. - Leo Tolstoy
Actually some horror stories put communal apartments and the 1937 together: apparently, some people tipped off the NKVD about their neighbors' dissent (which sometimes was outright slander) just to get rid of them and claim their space and possessions.
As for the education and medical care, it was improved rather quickly after the Civil War, and the access to it was no doubt broader than in any other country in the world at the time. That's not because the communists are such nice guys, but because they believe that healthy and educated people work better making the economy grow faster. Health care and education are not commodities, but productive forces.
It would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet. - Hugo Chavez
My history textbook, in the section concerning Stalin's rule in the USSR (under the topic of authoritarian regimes), has a joke about the fear of the NKVD taking away people. I quote...
It's said that "as no evidence was needed for an arrest, anyone who had a grudge could get rid of another person by denouncing him to the NKVD."
As someone who generally believes that both the Stalin period and what came after were overall positive and necessary experiences in Soviet history, I'll still say that personally I would not have liked to live in that time. The stories about cramped living conditions, long hours, dangerous and difficult working conditions, and the possibility for wrongful arrest are all true (though the last affected many more bureaucrats and professionals than ordinary workers or peasants). These facts have long been commonly cited by anti-Soviet politicians, journalists and commentators in Russia and abroad as evidence of the terrors and injustices of totalitarian socialism. I would urge people attempting to make their judgement to consider, without forgetting these injustices, what was at stake at the time, and what the country had to undergo to modernize, industrialize, and prepare for the coming global conflict. In my view, Stalin's foresight to note in 1931 that the USSR must compress fifty or a hundred years of development into ten years "or be crushed" made it all worthwhile. I am endlessly grateful to my ancestors who worked and lived through this period, who, as it happens, worked to ensure the very existence of future generations. That is the reason that I become infuriated when those 'sixtiesnicks' Russian liberals of the postwar generation spit on this period and their parents' accomplishments. That the tremendously accelerated process of industrialization undertaken by the Soviet Union should have been somehow softer or easier toward ordinary people than the British industrialization of the 19th century is a sign of bias to me. In fact the urge to pass judgement on what happened then by comparing it to how we live and think today is something I would encourage people to avoid, as difficult as that may be.
Taking into account the very real difficulties of life, I would also note that there was also a tremendous real sense of enthusiasm for the future, especially among youth. You have to keep in mind that these were mostly uneducated peasants or the children of peasants, who, after 1917, were taught en masse how to read and write, were encouraged to get a technical education, were able to move to the city for the first time or to work in a brand new industrial plant. In the 1930s they could literally see a new world coming to life before their eyes. There was a famous little comic I was trying to find about a landscape painter painting a scene, and getting angry because each time he looks up, there's some new building, factory, farm or road for him to have to incorporate. It's also valuable to consider that during this time pretty much the entirety of the developed capitalist world was suffering from the Depression, which meant mass unemployment, hunger and unrest throughout the world. Tens of thousands of communists and communist sympathizers were coming to the USSR to describe the problems in their own countries, taking great interest to report on the goings on in the USSR. Thousands of European and American specialists were also coming to the USSR to build the new factories and train their workers. Of course the Soviet propaganda apparatus naturally tended to exaggerate the very real effects of the Depression, thus making it appear obvious to the millions of politically interested Soviet people that bourgeois democracy was bankrupt, that fascism was a reactionary evil, and that the Soviet socialist way was the pioneering way for the rest of the world. In other words, it was simultaneously a difficult, fearful, and tremendously exciting time, if that's something we can come to comprehend.
"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
The masses should had gotten used to Stalin's crude behaviour. It was the type of behaviour typical of any soldier whether from the bourgeois establishment or social democracy. As a soldier, I was made to march 18 long hours while rain was pouring. I was ordered to make 300 pushups. Well, at least Joseph Stalin never ordered these but it was a simple case of respecting authority the way capitalists worship money. They were never rude to money. Take the case of a man selling peanuts on the streets. You show disrespect to him by abasing him for his lowly profession, I am sure you will end up in a morgue. And critics of Stalin were worse than these kind of troublemakers. They slander his name in the papers endlessly like Lev Trotsky. What do you suppose are you going to do when you're threatened with diplomatic tussles with America and Mexico combined? I too were to pull the trigger to save my life. Politics is useless without Machavellian conspiracies.
Going back to the point that no evidence was needed for an arrest, i do not see how Americans can critisize the short Stalin period, when that sort of behaviour was happening to black people from the abolsion of slavery right up to the 1960's......
“It is better to die standing than to live on your knees.“-Che Geuvara
LONG LIVE JOE!
An army expert once argued that the Red Army officer corps, whose origins came with Lenin’s benediction and Lev Trotsky’s methodological manner of thinking and management, was, for the most part, unprofessional throughout its existence and that this deficit of professional ability left it unable to defend itself during Stalin’s terror purge, caused the failure to conquer Finland, had disastrous consequences in the first year of the German invasion of the USSR in 1941-42, and contributed to the large number of casualties throughout the war. Its unprofessional nature compounded the debacle of Afghanistan and was the most significant cause of the public’s loss of faith when the military came under scrutiny during Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform era in the mid-1980s.
The question that concerns me is, would Lev Trotsky have made it a professional army if he had been in power? When the military situation deteriorated, Stalin effectively took control of the army. This was the sort of power of leadership the revolution required to survive, but it was a challenge to Trotsky, who had created the Red Army with the help of so-called ‘military experts’ - ex-tsarist officers. Stalin distrusted these ‘useful’ renegades and shot them whenever possible.
Always take note that Lev Trotsky had all the chances to stand up for Stalin, but instead turned him into a foe. Given the foreboding of a counterrevolutionary coup d’etat approaching and carried out by former tsarist officers, one cannot blame Joseph Stalin for arranging a massive purge that overwrought the whole chain of command, from top to bottom.
He opposed Stalin impertinently on all issues. The former tsarist officers were a real menace, but still Lev mollycoddled them under the expedient that an army is in need of military specialists in order to make it professional. Brushing off Stalin’s argument of political or ideological purity in the army, he insisted on contradicting him in all matters.
It might also be surmised that Trotsky had not anticipated a power struggle once Lenin died, despite Stalin’s malicious moves to shuffle or remove his appointed generals and commissars. Lev did not take the necessary precautions. He was good in political posturing and manoeuvres. But he did not expect a bloodbath, with Stalin as the executor.
Stalin, then, knew better. Trotsky was turned into a political mediocrity who should have known what to do, given his Machiavellian instincts in the realm of Soviet politics and totalitarianism. He was not in touch with reality.
Despite heavy losses during the war against Finland and the German invasion, the Soviet army was indeed a professional army. It was able to defy all the odds and it came to equal the United States of America in the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, etc. The Soviet army was the most feared among democratic-capitalist states. The invasion of Yemen, the arming of North Vietnam, etc, proved not only its military stamina, but also its capability to subvert any country it chose.
Today we have Trotskyites and Stalinists in our midst. They come from all walks of life. The only difference between the two contending factions is that the latter always succeed in dominating the leadership of all recognised communist parties of the world and their central organs. The Trotskyites are justifiably condemned and persecuted because they denied Joseph Stalin the chance to explain himself or rebut their allegations. Without Koba, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would not have been a superpower. Long live Joseph Stalin!
Angel Formoso, Member, CPUSA; Member, CPCanada; Member, PKPilipinas
The idea that the Red Army wasn't professional is pretty ludicrous, especially in the case of Afghanistan or WW2. Also that's a weird tone change. They blame the military's lack of professionalism as the agent that made Stalin's purge of it (in a successful attempt to crush any lingering trotskyist elements) possible but then comes out in favor of it. Well I guess it isn't a waver at all it's just shitting on Lenin and calling him an idiot for putting the Jew-dog Trotsky anywhere but a grave. Not explicitly of course.
RAH RAH STALIN! Maybe if you chant it enough you can ward off the devil Trotsky and his counterrevolutionary tendrils.
لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله - يا عمال العالم اتحدوا
To everybody who wishes to know how life was under Stalin ruling i recommend the reading of "The standard of living in the Soviet Union, 1928 - 1940" and "Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution" both written by ROBERT C. ALLEN. These works show us how much the USSR's standard of living improved during Stalin era. The numbers are absolutely overwhelming to say the least.
I will transcript an exert from the book "Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution" which resumes the extraordinary improvement in soviet life during the thirties: "By the late 1930's, urban residents and industrial workers, teachers and bureaucrats had economic reasons for supporting the Soviet State". This written by an american author and Oxford professor acquires a special meaning and says it all about the question if Stalin improved the living conditions of the soviet people, leaving little space for debate.
Just to give you an idea someone working in the education sector was earning 633 rubles annually in 1928. Nine years later was earning 3442 rubles annually. The same applies for all sectors of labor activity (administration for instance: 1928- 790 rubles; 1937- 3937 rubles).
"If I could control Hollywood, I could control the world." -Joseph Stalin
Dagoth Ur wrote:
Oh, how I wish it was that easy!
I'm definitely going to get a hold of those books soon, thanks JAM!
Партия всегда права.
Die Partei hat immer recht.
The Party is always right.
Man In Grey wrote:
You're welcome Man In Grey! I only found this books myself very recently via internet and it's easy to know why. Any book that talks positively about Stalin is condemned to be marginalized, specially if the book is written by someone neutral and with some scientific background. That is horrible for some people.
But if you write some negative stuff about him it's certain that you'll have your book highly promoted, you'll receive the most prestigious prizes one after another and the money in your bank account will skyrocket. Financially writing trash about Stalin is very compensating.
"If I could control Hollywood, I could control the world." -Joseph Stalin
Of course that's what they do. Even if it is backed up with concrete evidence, facts and statistics. The right wingers in particular don't care about statistics but just emotions, and capitalists in general don't care about them when it comes to demonizing communism. (Nor do they care about negative statistics applied to them, either.)
Партия всегда права.
Die Partei hat immer recht.
The Party is always right.
Stalin was not imperialist. Trotsky was by way of his theory of propagating socialism all over the world and subverting capitalist states. Stalin was for "socialism in one country, USSR" or however it is said. Joseph Stalin is a child of God! (according to my good, liberal, sophisticated God who does not mind divorce as long as you do not kill Him (God))
Just because I have a quote on this topic, I will post on this thread. Sorry for reawakening this thread.
Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Scribner's, c1990, p. 244
And since I posted that, I might as well post life expectancy and infant mortality as well.
Life expectancy and infant mortality of the Soviets:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography ... viet_Union
Deaths per 1000
http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archiv ... ussr2.html
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