Tag Archives: Soviet Union

Jeff McMahan

The main reason for thinking that nuclear war would be worse than Soviet domination where future generations are concerned is that nuclear war could lead to the extinction of the human race, and it is considerably more important to ensure that future generations will exist than to ensure that, if they exist, they will not exist under Soviet domination.

Jeff McMahan, Nuclear deterrence and future generations, in Avner Cohen & Steven Lee (eds.) Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity: The Fundamental Questions, Totowa, New Jersey, 1986, p. 331

Anna Funder

The Russians ran the eastern parts of Germany directly until the German Democratic Republic was established as a satellite state of the USSR in 1949. Production was nationalised, factories and property turned over to the state, health care, rent and food were subsidised. One-party rule was established with an all-powerful secret service to back it up. And the Russians, having refused the offer of American capital, plundered East German production for themselves.

They stripped factories of plant and equipment which they sent back to the USSR. At the same time, they required a rhetoric of ‘Communist brotherhood’ from the East Germans whom they had ‘liberated’ from fascism. Whatever their personal histories and private allegiances, the people living in this zone had to switch from being (rhetorically, at the very least) Nazis one day to being Communists and brothers with their former enemies the next.

And almost overnight the Germans in the eastern states were made, or made themselves, innocent of Nazism. It seemed as if they actually believed that Nazis had come from and returned to the western parts of Germany, and were somehow separate from them—which was in no way true. History was so quickly remade, and so successfully, that it can truly be said that the easterners did not feel then, and do not feel now, that they were the same Germans as those responsible for Hitler’s regime. This sleight-of-history must rank as one of the most extraordinary innocence manoeuvres of the century.

Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, New York, 2002, p. 161

Jon Elster

Because it is often easy to detect the operation of motivated belief formation in others, we tend to disbelieve the conclusions reached in this way, without pausing to see whether the evidence might in fact justify them. Until around 1990 I believed, with most of my friends, that on a scale of evil from 0 to 10 (the worst), Communism scored around 7 or 8. Since the recent revelations I believe that 10 is the appropriate number. The reason for my misperception of the evidence was not an idealistic belief that Communism was a worthy ideal that had been betrayed by actual Communists. In that case, I would simply have been victim of wishful thinking or self-deception. Rather, I was misled by the hysterical character of those who claimed all along that Communism scored 10. My ignorance of their claims was not entirely irrational. On average, it makes sense to discount the claims of the manifestly hysterical. Yet even hysterics can be right, albeit for the wrong reasons. Because I sensed and still believe that many of these fierce anti-Communists would have said the same regardless of the evidence, I could not believe that what they said did in fact correspond to the evidence. I made the mistake of thinking of them as a clock that is always one hour late rather than as a broken clock that shows the right time twice a day.

Jon Elster, Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences, Cambridge, 2007, pp. 136-137, n. 16

Noam Chomsky

One of the issues which has devastated a substantial portion of the left in recent years, and caused enormous triumphalism elsewhere, is the alleged fact that there’s been this great battle between socialism and capitalism in the twentieth century, and in the end capitalism won and socialism lost—and the reason we know that socialism lost is because the Soviet Union disintegrated. So you have big cover stories in The Nation about “The End of Socialism,” and you have socialists who all their lives considered themselves anti-Stalinist saying, “Yes, it’s true, socialism has lost because Russia failed.” I mean, even to raise questions about this is something you’re not supposed to do in our culture, but let’s try it. Suppose you ask a simple question: namely, why do people like the editors at The Nation say that “socialism” failed, why don’t they say that “democracy” failed?—and the proof that “democracy” failed is, look what happened to Eastern Europe. After all, those countries also called themselves “democratic”—in fact, they called themselves “People’s Democracies,” real advanced forms of democracy. So why don’t we conclude that “democracy” failed, not just that “socialism” failed? Well, I haven’t seen any articles anywhere saying, “Look, democracy failed, let’s forget about democracy.” And it’s obvious why: the fact that they called themselves democratic doesn’t mean that they were democratic. Pretty obvious, right?

Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, New York, 2002, p. 145

MTD de Solano y Colectivo Situaciones

[Y]o no sé si el fenómeno comunista ruso fue alguna vez comunista, sino más bien la reproducción del capitalismo. Porque de última terminó siendo tan gorila y tan hijo de puta como el propio capitalismo. Porque cuando hay alguien que piensa por vos, se está reproduciendo el capitalismo. Es un verso más, aunque le pongas el título que le pongas. Porque estás cambiando el nombre de “capitalismo”, nada más.

MTD de Solano y Colectivo Situaciones, La hipótesis 891: más allá de los piquetes, Buenos Aires, 2002, p. 76

Beatriz Sarlo

A partir de ese momento, en la fracción de la izquierda revolucionaria donde milité durante muchos años—seis o siete años muy intensos, históricamente plagados de acontecimientos—, aprendí a razonar contra todas las evidencias. Porque razonar desde esa secta marxista-leninista era hacerlo contra todas las evidencias, no las que podían ser construidas por un observador objetivo de la realidad, sino también contra las que se le aparecían a cualquiera de los compañeros que se levantaba y leía los diarios cotidianamente, que leía La Nación. Lo que había instalado el partido en todos nosotros no era la desconfianza frente a las informaciones burguesas sino, simplemente, otro sistema de datos que reemplazaba al que venía de los diarios, de los libros y de la gente. Ese partido razonaba contra todas las evidencias y por eso terminó—ese fue el momento en el que yo me fui—caracterizando al golpe de Estado del ’76 como un golpe prosoviético; fue la culminación de un razonar contra toda evidencia.

Beatriz Sarlo, in Javier Trímboli (ed.), La izquierda en la Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1998, p. 226