Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I found this to be really a good read, and enjoyed it.  It's long, so I'll comment on a couple of the sections in different posts.

The idea of somehow looking back fondly, romanticizing, upon a period of history that resulted in so much death and destruction seems somewhat strange to me.  Perhaps it's just a process of acceptance, as after all, it's done and can't be changed.  Your post summarizes some of the tragedy fairly well, though, IMHO perhaps skipping a little too lightly over the death of millions and the poverty the system created.
*    First was the abandonment of the ideals of communism and the revolution.

What came after could be termed state capitalism - with the Party members, being the effective owners, acting as capitalists. What came after could be termed state capitalism - with the Party members, being the effective owners, acting as capitalists.
It seems a tragedy in and of itself to abondon the ideals of the Manifesto, and morph quickly into a brutal dictatorship.
*    Second, don't you treat the gulags and mass murderers, the terrorizing KGB, a little too lightly?
the first gulags (in which the inmates' deaths were planned in) were created along the White Sea Canal under Lenin,,,,,
Aren't the death of millions, the gulags, the repression of free speech, the torture worth a few comments?
*    Third, and what of the lack of personal freedoms?  The inability of people of the lower and middle classes to better themselves economically?
*    And all of this led to the current situation of being a very poor, less developed country, as you point out.
The decrepit wooden houses in those villages reached by no paved road have electricity and flowing water. Pension is not much, public transport crappy, but neither existed 100 years ago.

*    Compared to Western Europe, wasn't this just a total disaster.  Obviously it wasn't smooth sailing in Western Europe, but they made different choices that have led to more freedoms for individuals and higher standards of living.  "What were the alternatives?"--well it seems there were perhaps better ones not taken.

Overall it just doesn't seem to properly treat an incredibly dark period of history, that I think in your view (if I interpret you correctly) and others, was just an incredible human tragedy.

by wchurchill on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 11:22:05 AM EST
Not my interpretation.  My interpretation of this post, which admittedly lends itself to a lot of it, is that: 1)history is never over and it does not take place in a vacuum, that we are still feeling the repercussions of the October Revolution, etc.; and 2)we can learn a lot from the past only if we cease looking at it through a black/white narrative and recognize the mistakes, and in this case, downright evils, as well as the accomplishments in both the West and the Soviet Union.  Good v. Evil is a great frame for politicians, but all of reality won't fit nicely into it.  And if we are to learn from the past, we need to look at all of it.

I will let the author respond point my point to your comment, but I hardly found this post to be an apologia for the atrocities committed in the Soviet Union.  Not at all.  Just a challenge to the narrow views that 1)The Communists were the only bad guys, (or) 2)Lenin was a great lefty and it was Stalin who really fucked things up, 3)If there had been no Revolution there would have been no atrocities and everything would have been fine, 4) Absolutely nothing good came about as a result of the Revolution, 5)and that absolutely nothing bad has resulted from the end of that regime.

It does seem to me, an American, that Europe is now sincerely searching for an "alternative" in which the socialization of services and a reasonably fair distribution of wealth and opportunity is balanced with a free market economy and the protection of civil rights.  

The US is still firmly trapped in the false dichotomy of Cold War propaganda.  So I found this post especially refreshing.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 12:25:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hardly found this post to be an apologia for the atrocities committed in the Soviet Union
 I didn't find it to be a defense either, but this one line
Lenin wasn't the purity whose legacy got corrupted by Stalin - the first gulags (in which the inmates' deaths were planned in)
seems to represent all of the death, torture, etc, and didn't seem an appropriate balance to me, just my opinion.  I don't see it black and white either, good vs. evil.    Western Europe was clearly far from perfect, as I think I said--but it's pretty clear to me who ended up better by the close of the last century.
by wchurchill on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 01:28:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a politician or BBC commenter to 'balance' everything on a pharmacy scale. I thought ET readers are educated enough to know the broad history of the 20th century well enough, so that I don't need to deviate from my message to a general history lesson. (And I certainly didn't just mention the gulags anyway.)

You must excuse me, I will answer your post in more detail when I have more time (I don't have much this week, preparing for a French exam - I even wrote this post in advance, and right now I comment at the expense of sleeping time...), but I will say that poemless got those five points dead right.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 7th, 2005 at 07:08:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the above rant was intended to be a more provocative version...
I found your diary interesting and provocative, and in fact commented in three posts--this one, one supporting Migeru's point, and one on the last 3 subtitles.  so you caught my interest.
by wchurchill on Tue Nov 8th, 2005 at 02:17:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series