Communism [split]

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Jurgen Wullenwever
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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2011-06-18, 9:33

loqu wrote:Well they call/called some of their countries 'democratic' (GDR, DPRK e.g.) and were they? You got the answer. I can call myself whatever I want, but the reality is another one.

Were they really less democratic than our western countries, in terms of choosing the leaders. Sweden is said to be a democracy, but the ruling class does whatever it wants, and we can do nothing about it. You might say that we could shift our votes in the next election, but it is not as easy as that. The government has its cadres of "vote cattle", and the media is under heavy pressure from above, so any change would be very hard to achieve. Usually in the election, there is no alternative, you just have to pick either a bad party or a worse party. And the government still causes trouble for honest folks.

Draven wrote:I hope the fully adult future me will have the courage to fight for democracy in Vietnam,

The question is how much better it would be, if democratic (see above).

Polonus wrote:I understand you, Lada. I really do.

The cozy life behind the iron curtain. :)

Hunef wrote:I was in a local kids' rifle club in the early 90's shooting with .22 caliber rifles (i.e., a "saloon rifle"). It was only a summer or so, though.
But was that military in any way?
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.
(Ovanstående var förut, nu försöker jag minska sockret och saltet.)

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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Tenebrarum » 2011-06-18, 10:06

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:
Draven wrote:I hope the fully adult future me will have the courage to fight for democracy in Vietnam,

The question is how much better it would be, if democratic (see above).

The point is that there's little chance it can be worse than a dictatorship. Democracy at least provides you with a framework to be heard, and to struggle. Unlike Sweden, Vietnam is not a rich Western country so used to democracy that it gets bored out of its ass and starts becoming disillusioned. Like they say, people tend to take the things they have for granted.

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:Were they really less democratic than our western countries, in terms of choosing the leaders.

Yes. Answering otherwise is just plain offensive to people living in authoritarian regimes, sorry. They might tell you their oppressed countries are not less democratic than anywhere else, but that's because they're brainwashed and don't know anything better. I used to be so angry at Vietnamese youths who say Vietnam is a democracy, but today I just feel sad. Now it's people who say "the Party has done a lot for Vietnam, life is just fine under the Party; Western democracy is decadent" that send me into rage mode in the shortest amount of time (along with "homosexuality is immoral, not compatible with the Vietnamese way of life, and some kids just fake it to attract attention" - they are utterly vile stuff I can't get over, and I don't see why I should). I don't expect you to understand this, but that's how it is.

JackFrost wrote:I'll just store a .pdf copy in my camera memory card and you could still print it and bind it.

I'll notify Minitrue personnel if you ever set foot in Saigon. They might not speak too much English, but I'm sure they recognize TAF just fine. :twisted: I think I'll find a electronic copy on the internet somehow, but I still want a hardcover print copy.
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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Polonus » 2011-06-18, 11:13

I see that the tread of members' ages has changed into a kind of contrastive analysis between communism and capitalism (understood of course very generally) so let me contribute with some loose remarks on it.
Much anticommunist as I may be, now that I looked at it with my life experience I can see some "positives" of the communist/socialist system. (That's why i wrote I understood Lada). Poland, though, was not a very communist country. We were different, but it's another story. Anyway and however, the old system gave you a feeling of security and social order.
Hooliganism was a rarity. You were not afraid of walking down the streets of your town after midnight, if you did not criticized the Party and its system openly you could live quietly on your small salary, basic food products - as Churchill called it - it was a kind of equal distribution of poverty - a small plate of rice to everyone. I you had a sense of humour you could easily put up with the fact that in spite of the Heavy Industry, Steel Plants and Shipyards the toilet paper was a an un-obtainable curiosity.
It was a funny system as long as your consciense was not bothered with censorship, political prisoners, secret police, indoctrination, servilism to Moscow, lack of human rights, bad housing conditions, red bourgeoisy, and the omnipresent greyness.
Well, that's about all unless you want to know sth more.

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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Oleksij » 2011-06-18, 11:25

cliche wrote:Hooliganism was a rarity.

I never bought that one. I have no doubt that there was just as much crime in communist states as there was on 'capitalist' ones, if not more, it was just not publicised as openly for the reasons we, people from former communist countries, understand.
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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2011-06-18, 11:33

As far as Yugoslavia is concerned, it is true. There really wasn't as much crime in Tito's era, due to the whole utopian country thing we were into, even the cops and criminals worked together. Convicted criminals could get passports quite easily, so they would go and do business in EU so they just didn't have the need to commit crimes in Yugoslavia. Apart from eliminating their rivals.

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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Oleksij » 2011-06-18, 11:34

Yugoslavia wasn't a communist country. Nowhere near it.
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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2011-06-18, 11:54

Oleksij wrote:I never bought that one. I have no doubt that there was just as much crime in communist states as there was on 'capitalist' ones, if not more, it was just not publicised as openly for the reasons we, people from former communist countries, understand.

If there was less to steal, less to buy, and the state control of society was stronger, would it then not be reasonable to have less criminality?

If everyone has low-wage jobs would they not be less likely to steal, than if some of them are completely without income, while others have a lot of money?

Oleksij wrote:Yugoslavia wasn't a communist country. Nowhere near it.

I once heard a lecture by a Swedish sociologist who went to Yugoslavia in the 70s (?) to see what socialist child upbringing was like. While there, she only saw traditional behaviour, and realised that Sweden (back then) did have a modern socialist culture, and Yugoslavia did not.

Draven wrote:Unlike Sweden, Vietnam is not a rich Western country so used to democracy that it gets bored out of its ass and starts becoming disillusioned.

I do not think that Sweden is rich. In my conscious life, the post-1980 period, there have always been severe cutbacks in the public economy, and never any money to do anything. The future old age pensions for my generation will be almost negligible for a large part of the population, and is not very pleasant to consider, so one might have to die early instead. :(
Last edited by Jurgen Wullenwever on 2011-06-18, 18:22, edited 1 time in total.
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.
(Ovanstående var förut, nu försöker jag minska sockret och saltet.)

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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby Polonus » 2011-06-18, 11:57

Oleksij wrote:
cliche wrote:Hooliganism was a rarity.

I never bought that one. I have no doubt that there was just as much crime in communist states as there was on 'capitalist' ones, if not more, it was just not publicised as openly for the reasons we, people from former communist countries, understand.


You are right, partly right. I did not say it did not exist. You know, young people were different, there was an authority of parents, teachers... When I was 18 I had to be back home by 10pm. 11 pm required a special permission.
Moreover, what could you steal? A packet of cigarettes from a kiosk? And they were cheap, veru cheap and always obtainable without any limitations, let alone their quality. :) So was alcohol. The working class had an unlimited acsess to it. It wasn't expensive either. - get drunk, be happy and don't criticise the regime.

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Re: Members' ages thread

Postby BezierCurve » 2011-06-18, 12:22

Yep, this rule seems to work universally: the cheaper alcohol the worse situation in a country.

EDIT:

Argh, I find it so annoying when people say this

It is. One might say that "westerners" have never experienced that, but understanding it is a completely different matter.
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Oleksij » 2011-06-18, 15:20

Polonus wrote:get drunk, be happy and don't criticise the regime.

Crime is not just theft (and there was plenty of theft, regardless, at least in the Soviet Union). Getting drunk would often mean getting drunk shitless, sometimes to the point that it evolved into violence and, possibly, manslaughter/murder.

When I was 18 I had to be back home by 10pm. 11 pm required a special permission.

Ironically, parents did that for safety reasons as... you guessed it, walking around a dark alley could get you in trouble.

Whichever way you look at it, there is no logical backing for why life under communism was objectively better - it was not (a great deal worse, in fact).
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby loqu » 2011-06-18, 15:26

Most of the things related to public safety you guys are mentioning are not inherent to communism but to dictatorships in general. Most old people around here say the same about Franco dictatorship.

In Franco times we lived better, we were safe, not scared of being mugged
Well, there was nothing to be stolen.
Except for soldiers or religious people, they had money. But don't get in trouble with them.
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Oleksij » 2011-06-18, 15:30

People who say 'there was nothing to be stolen' are likewise delusional. Thieves don't steal because they just like it and target specific makes of watches and/or mobile phones (for the 21st century) - most of the time they steal because of desperation, and for that reason, they steal just anything, even if it's just your wallet with whatever small amount of money you have there (although chances are you also carry something else inside, like and ID card).
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Oleksij » 2011-06-18, 15:33

Also, the 'best in the world and free education' myth annoys me - it's complete bullshit.
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Polonus » 2011-06-18, 17:25

Oleksij wrote:Also, the 'best in the world and free education' myth annoys me - it's complete bullshit.


Don't be so hasty with your bullshits, Oleksij.
Here, as regards education I agree with Lada. Whether you like it or not the education was free, an its standard of teaching was higher. As an ex teacher I knew the sytem quite well and having spent some time in the West high schools and colleges I had a chance of comparison. The graduates of Polish secondary schools (in the 60, and 70) were better educated than their American or British counterparts. Now that we have adopted the western norms our level of education has dramatically dicreased.
One more thing - the so called "access to knowledge". Many a poor and illitarate Polish peasent's son (with the suport of the Party) could study and graduate from a university and now he may be a minister or professor. These days if your father is jobless and you come from a remote poor village you stand no chance of a good education. Sad but true.

To sum up; I am not defending communism. It was a bullshit. But it had some advantages and some social aspect of it were better.

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Re: Communism [split]

Postby linguaholic » 2011-06-18, 17:35

One more thing - the so called "access to knowledge". Many a poor and illitarate Polish peasent's son (with the suport of the Party) could study and graduate from a university and now he may be a minister or professor. These days if your father is jobless and you come from a remote poor village you stand no chance of a good education. Sad but true.


Yeah, but many a rich and/or educated intellectual's son was denied entrance to university, because higher education was reserved for "the proletariat". As a child of parents who weren't allowed to go to university because of their families' association to the church (in the GDR), reading about the "equality" in communist/socialist systems makes me get kind of cynical.

As for the quality of (elementary and secondary) education itself, according to my parents the level in maths and science was quite high, but language teaching was pretty bad (apparently, Russian was all about writing letters about how great being a pioneer was to USSR peers, English about explaining how bad capitalism was to the occasional Western visitor), as was, of course, history and politics.
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Tenebrarum » 2011-06-18, 17:36

Polonus wrote:It was a funny system as long as your consciense was not bothered with censorship, political prisoners, secret police, indoctrination, lack of human rights [...]

This. There was an analysis on the Arab Spring that gave me a perspective on this. It says there are implicit costs to living in a dictatorship (conscience and dignity get hurt the most), and when these costs exceed the benefits (usually centering around stability) by a large margin, people revolt.

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:I do not think that Sweden is rich.

I understand that there are financial woes and fear for the future everywhere on Earth, but if you cast your eyes beyond Europe, you'll see that many countries can only dream of what Scandinavia has.

Polonus wrote:But it had some advantages and some social aspect of it were better.

It has advantages in crushing people's spirit, twisting their soul and winning wars.
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Oleksij » 2011-06-18, 17:36

Polonus wrote:Whether you like it or not the education was free, an its standard of teaching was higher. As an ex teacher I knew the sytem quite well and having spent some time in the West high schools and colleges I had a chance of comparison. The graduates of Polish secondary schools (in the 60, and 70) were better educated than their American or British counterparts.

Communist education was very theory-oriented, unless one purposefully embarked on a vocational route. A student from a(n) (ex-) communist country might have done much better in standardised tests in mathematics than a student from, let's say, the US or Britain, but his actual level of applicable knowledge was not higher.. in fact, probably the opposite. I've tried both systems, so I can compare.

A good indicator of how good an educational tradition is in practice is the development of innovation in medium to heavy industry in the state - although with regards to weapons the Warsaw Block states certainly excelled, how many civilian-related inventions and innovations can you remember that come from that part of the world after 1945? That's right, virtually none. All the things that were discovered and created after 'ze war' with regards to consumer's and average person's well-being come from the capitalist decadent West, and made our people drop their jaws at the stuff that they saw after the leashes were gradually loosened after 1989 or so.

Yugoslavia was of course, an exception to this, more or less - it was listed as a capitalist country in Soviet authorities' manuals.

These days if your father is jobless and you come from a remote poor village you stand no chance of a good education. Sad but true.

Nor were you back in those days. Everything supposedly 'better' about the old times that most people ever bring up is entirely subjective, non-quantifiable POV. In other words, most of it was pulled out of the ass.
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Varislintu » 2011-06-18, 17:57

Polonus wrote:As an ex teacher I knew the sytem quite well and having spent some time in the West high schools and colleges I had a chance of comparison. The graduates of Polish secondary schools (in the 60, and 70) were better educated than their American or British counterparts. Now that we have adopted the western norms our level of education has dramatically dicreased.


I wonder, though, if one can speak about "western norms" in education, as education systems differ so much in the Western world. Take the Finnish education system, for example. It's not as rosy as the BBC paints it to be in the clip, but it is very different from Anglo-Saxon systems in that there is very little testing on students and competition between schools, and it differs from Central European systems in the "freedom/trust/self-responsibility" or lack of discipline as some might call it.
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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Polonus » 2011-06-18, 19:25

linguaholic wrote:
1)Yeah, but many a rich and/or educated intellectual's son was denied entrance to university,2) because higher education was reserved for "the proletariat".


1) True, could be, not always, it happened ocasionally.
2) Exageration. Because of nepotism, corruption, bribery, "the proletariat's" sons and daughters may have had problems with being accepted to the university. I was accepted to the elitarian "Department of English Studies" and only later did I realize that I and my friend were the only sons of the working class people in our course. The rest were the kids of local doctors, lawyers, clerks and party officials. I think they accepted us for statistics. (I'm talking about Poland 1965).

As for the level of language teaching - you are right - it was bad.

(Sorry I don't know how to quote patricular sentences, hence the mess)

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Re: Communism [split]

Postby Polonus » 2011-06-18, 20:07

Oleksij wrote:Communist education was very theory-oriented, unless one purposefully embarked on a vocational route. A student from a(n) (ex-) communist country might have done much better in standardised tests in mathematics than a student from, let's say, the US or Britain, but his actual level of applicable knowledge was not higher.. in fact, probably the opposite. I've tried both systems, so I can compare.



I can agree with this.

Again, I have no intentions whatsoever to defend the communist/socialist system, but it had some (what 10%) of positive aspects. Now that I see some of my ex-students working at gas-stations or performing jobs for 400 euro a month, or going abroad to wash dishes in London restaurants,... I am beginning to have some mixed feelings.
Better or worse - everything is subjective. We have a saying in Polish; "Punkt widzenia zależy od punktu siedzenia." = Your point of looking at things depends on where you sit."


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