Weak Become Heroes

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17 Responses

  1. Freddie says:

    This is a smart post. Unfortunately, this is a blog, and this is the Internet, and I think there is a chance some commenters won’t actually understand what you’re really saying.Report

    • Jamelle in reply to Freddie says:

      And as it turns out, you were completely right.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jamelle says:

        Imagine, if you will, someone who wished to discuss the past *ACCURATELY*. Dispassionately. We understand that there are a lot of emotions involved but we are all adults here and wanted to discuss one of the pieces of “pro-liberty” American propaganda against Nazi Germany.

        Surely you’ve read a paragraph that begins with such a sober and reasonable request in the past, have you not?

        For the most part (let’s say 9 out of 10 times), however, what did those essays turn into?

        There are a number of people out there who have read essays that discuss “pro-capitalist” propaganda and go on to discuss things that the US didn’t fully appreciate regarding the USSR/Russia. 9 out of 10 times, they turned into something.

        This essay is not, in fact, one of those 9 out of 10 essays. This is a mark in its favor.

        That said… there are those out there whose response to an essay that discusses “pro-capitalist” propaganda and misunderstandings of the US of the USSR/Russia is not likely to respond as dispassionate adults when entreated to look at some facts soberly and reasonably.

        Surely they’ve ingested too much “pro-capitalist” propaganda.Report

  2. Bob Cheeks says:

    “Or, put another way, if the Soviet Union hadn’t joined the war effort, its safe to assume that most of Western Europe would have ended up as part of a greater Germany.”
    Well, the Soviets were attacked by their erstwhile allies the Nazi’s (Operation Barbarossa) and Western Europe was already conquered by the Nazis.
    The USA should have sat back and watched while the two totalitarian states destroyed each other, then nuked the winner! But then FDR wouldn’t have been able to lick the boots of his boss, Uncle Joe!
    A dead Communist, is a good communist!
    Kumbaya, My Lord, kumbaya!Report

  3. Charles Schirra says:

    It’s interesting that they’re bringing up the same basic fears as in the ’50s, Socialism is out to get you. Is that because socialized medicine works better in certain respects than we’ve been led to believe?Report

  4. wetsteint says:

    Actually, Freddie, it’s not a smart post, but a dumb post.

    First, any economic history of the USSR short enough to leave out the numerous shocking and spectacular disasters associated with the Soviet economy is useless. Useless, that is, to everyone but propagandists and I guess bloggers, who after all kind of traffick in reduction.

    Second, I love how even “smart” Americans can’t seem to completely process that the Soviet Union was not exclusively Russian. This dude does better than most: for example, he mentions the “Soviets/Russians,” whereas he could have just mentioned the Russians. But then there’s this from him:

    “calling them “contributions” doesn’t come close to doing the Russians justice; Germany unleashed the vast majority of its military might against the Soviet Union, sending nearly 80 percent of its combat divisions to rampage across Russia.

    Sure dude. Tell the Buryats, Tatars, Belarussians, Azeris, ethnic Poles, Ukrainians, Azeris, Georgians, Armenians, Chugash, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, etc. etc.Report

    • Jamelle in reply to wetsteint says:

      Again, what is it about commenting on a blog that leaves you unable to simply ask if I knew whether the Soviet Union was multi-ethnic, instead of assuming that I’m an idiot. In case you’re wondering, I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out what language to use when describing Soviet casualties, and I ended up using the less inclusive language (Russians) because they suffered the bulk of casualties and the majority of the fighting took place in their territory.

      With regards to the first part of your comment, I’m not extolling the virtues of the Soviet system. I’m simply pointing out that the Soviet Union had some pretty impressive growth rates for nearly two decades (shocking and spectacular disasters included), and from the perspective of U.S. policymakers, this was terrifying.

      That said, if assuming I’m an idiot makes you feel better, than by all means, please do.Report

    • grandmute in reply to wetsteint says:

      bloggers, who after all kind of traffick in reduction…

      … as opposed to blog commenters, who are paragons of nuance.

      Tell the Buryats, Tatars, Belarussians, Azeris, ethnic Poles, Ukrainians, Azeris, Georgians, Armenians, Chugash, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, etc. etc.

      I will tell the Azeris twice, per the expert’s instruction.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to wetsteint says:

      Actually, Freddie, it’s not a smart post, but a dumb post.

      We have a commenting policy. Please abide by it.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    Waiter, I ordered an omelette!Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    Quisling newspaper Pravda is running this for some reason (neocon influence?):


  7. Good post.

    One thing that often gets overlooked in discussions of command-and-control economies is that they can do quite well in the short run and sometimes even in the intermediate run, and they can do very well to the extent they focus on a handful of specific areas. The problem with this is that in ordinary times, this can and will result in overproduction in those areas and a not-terribly diversified economy. At just about all times, it will result in varying intrusions upon civil liberties, and often truly abhorrent intrusions.

    The result is that at times command-and-control economies can appear exceedingly threatening to other nations, with their combination of economic growth and disregard for civil liberties. Moreover, in the long run such economies need to expand their physical boundaries by leaps and bounds in order to compensate for the lack of gains from trade (IIRC, Marx himself largely recognized this) and their inability to achieve a diversified economy.

    This makes such economies particularly fearsome in a war situation, when they have the ability to pivot to a full-scale military economy on a dime.

    Beyond that, and since I’ve just finished reading up on WWI, any discussion of Russian/Soviet behavior in war should probably mention the way in which Russia as a culture has a long history of using strategies that Western European nations and Americans would find intolerable. Specifically, Russia (and later the USSR) has long used its massive geography and open space, combined with its overwhelming numbers to make up for its industrial disadvantages. It is willing to concede wide swathes of land and expend large numbers of soldiers in order to force the enemy into battles of attrition with overextended supply lines.

    Last but certainly not least, there is the issue of how the Germans treated the Soviet lands, people, and soldiers that came under their dominion during WWII. Savagery doesn’t even begin to describe it.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      One of the reasons they seemed to do so well was through the help of such free speech pioneers as Walter Duranty. When the deaths of millions are covered up and explained as little more than lying propoganda in the place where you get your news, yeah. Of course it seems to do well.

      This strikes me as uninteresting. If you ignore the stories in Mansfield Park and Uncle Tom’s Cabin as propaganda, you might come to the conclusion that the plantation model worked for the most part.

      Back to Solzhenitsyn’s Russia, if you ignore the fact that people were shot for trying to leave, shot for the rumor that they might be thinking about leaving, shot for having a tailor who left, and so on, you might be impressed by the polls that showed that people where thrilled to live there.

      The fundamental point of the horror of 1984 was not that Soviet Style government wasn’t sustainable and would eventually collapse but that everyone thought that it might be sustainable and that it might work and that Room 101 might eventually leave your heart filled with nothing but love for Big Brother.Report

  8. Bob Cheeks says:

    Excellent, Mark!Report