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United States Imperialism

Doug1943

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So .. our goal should be to nurture the Cuban Gorbachev. Behind the scenes, offer the the Polish Deal, not what we did to the Russians in the 90s.

What was the Polish Deal?
Geoffry Sachs was one of our top economists, sent to advise the Russians on how to make the transition in 1992 or so. (My then-wife, also an economist, was also there and knows him -- she's a Russian speaker and edited something called, in Russian, The Economic and Social Newsletter. We both lived there for a few months in 1985, in Kharkov, Ukraine. She was a Fulbright Exchange Scholar.)

Anyway, the short summary is: a country going from socialism to capitalism -- where previously-subsidized goods are suddenly subject to market prices -- is going to have a hell of a time for a while. [There are some books on this I can recommend if you (or anyone else) is interested. ]

So, it was in our interests to support, financially in varous ways, such countries. We did for Poland. But our rulers had other plans for Russia, which they did not want to see emerge as another, this time capitalist, rival on the world stage ... or so some think.

Sach's whole article is well worth reading, especially the graphs showing the difference between what happened in Poland, and what happened in Russia. (Sachs is a liberal, Counterpunch is a hate-Amerikkka leftwing radical publication. I suppose he couldn't get published in a more centrist site.)

[ The First US Onslaught to “Weaken” Post-Cold War Russia. ]
 

Doug1943

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Capitalism cannot but rob and deceive. I hope that the sad example of the USSR will serve as a warning example for the Cuban comrades
Well, facts are stubborn things. Let's agree that capitalists act in their own self interest, unlike moral people such as you, who give away to the poor anything you have beyond what's needed for your bare subsistence.

We then have to ask, what is the result? China experienced a great revolution in 1949, driving out the colonialists, and getting national independence. The new revolutionary government did many good things for the Chinese people. (Yes, my fellow rightwingers, I know this sounds like blatant heresy. If you know something about China, we can argue about it. If you don't, just listen for a while. Here's the test of whether you know anything about China: how many people died during the Taiping Rebellion? Round to the nearest five million.)

And they adopted socialism: the economy in the hands of the state, and a national plan.

Twenty-five years or so passed, as did Mao. Richard Nixon, as we were losing the war in Vietnam, sat down with Kissinger and did the math: Soviet Union: ICBMS with nuclear bombs, X-dozen crack armored divisions, heavy industry, occupying half of Europe, submarines and bombers ... China: three million guys in tennis shoes with rifles. Where's the real threat?

So he recognized China, agreed that Taiwan was part of it ... and a couple of years later, no longer facing direct American hostility and with Mao in the grave, the Chinese leadership sat down, looked at each other ... until someone said, 'Errr... about this socialism ... you know, it's really a European idea ... but it's not how those round-eyes got rich ... they got rich through capitalism... so .. how about we...

And bingo! Put Mao's pals -- the "Gang of Five" -- into the pokey, let the peasants decide (mostly) what they wanted to grow and how much to sell it for (the'household responsibility system'), and ... well, here's the Wiki article with a quote from the Premier at the time:

By 1984, agricultural production had boomed following the institution of the household responsibility system, which replaced collective farming Then-Premier Zhao Ziyang wrote in his memoirs that in the years following the institution of household responsibility system, “the energy that was unleashed … was magical, beyond what anyone could have imagined. A problem thought to be unsolvable had worked itself out in just a few years time … by 1984, farmers actually had more grain than they could sell. The state grain storehouses were stacked full from the annual procurement program.” As the government raised prices for grain and cotton and stimulated the growth of township and village enterprises, household income surged and poverty decreased from 1980 to 1985. Life improved for billions of people in rural China.
[ Household responsibility system - Wikipedia ]

There is still plenty of state ownership in China, and plenty of national directives for private enterprise -- as there is in all the Asian 'Tigers'. If you want to call it 'market socialism' or 'state capitalism' or 'socialism with Chinese characteristics', go ahead. It looks like capitalism to me, though.

Capitalism has pulled up the whole world where it has been allowed to flourish. Take Hong Kong, for example:

... which is the world’s freest economy according the EFW report. In 1941, journalist and travel writer Martha Gellhorn visited the city-state with her husband, Ernest Hemmingway and notedthe real Hong Kong…was the most cruel poverty, worse than any I had seen before. Worse still because of an air of eternity; life had always been like this, always would be.” But just a few years after Gellhorn’s visit, the surrender of the Japanese in 1945 meant that British rule returned to the island and with it came a largely laissez-faire approach to the city’s economy.


In 1950, the average citizen in Hong Kong earned just 36 percent of what the average citizen in the United Kingdom earned. But as Hong Kong embraced economic freedom (according the EFW, Hong Kong has had the most capitalist economy every year bar one since 1970), it became substantially richer. Today, Hong Kong’s GDP per capita is a whooping than 68 percent higher than the UK’s. As Marian Tupy, editor of HumanProgress.org, notes, “the poverty that Gellhorn bemoaned is gone – thanks to economic freedom.
[ Anti-Capitalism: Trendy but Wrong - HumanProgress ]

There is plenty of horrible injustice in the world. But destroying economic growth and prosperity for the masses is not the way to fight it.
 

Unkotare

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..... The new revolutionary government did many good things for the Chinese people. ...
Like killing many, many millions, fomenting terror among the survivors, stripping the land down to the bone, destroying the artifacts of thousands of years of history, vilifying faith in anything but the state, eradicating the very notion of freedom, and sapping the populous of motivation or inspiration?
 

AZrailwhale

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Well, facts are stubborn things. Let's agree that capitalists act in their own self interest, unlike moral people such as you, who give away to the poor anything you have beyond what's needed for your bare subsistence.

We then have to ask, what is the result? China experienced a great revolution in 1949, driving out the colonialists, and getting national independence. The new revolutionary government did many good things for the Chinese people. (Yes, my fellow rightwingers, I know this sounds like blatant heresy. If you know something about China, we can argue about it. If you don't, just listen for a while. Here's the test of whether you know anything about China: how many people died during the Taiping Rebellion? Round to the nearest five million.)

And they adopted socialism: the economy in the hands of the state, and a national plan.

Twenty-five years or so passed, as did Mao. Richard Nixon, as we were losing the war in Vietnam, sat down with Kissinger and did the math: Soviet Union: ICBMS with nuclear bombs, X-dozen crack armored divisions, heavy industry, occupying half of Europe, submarines and bombers ... China: three million guys in tennis shoes with rifles. Where's the real threat?

So he recognized China, agreed that Taiwan was part of it ... and a couple of years later, no longer facing direct American hostility and with Mao in the grave, the Chinese leadership sat down, looked at each other ... until someone said, 'Errr... about this socialism ... you know, it's really a European idea ... but it's not how those round-eyes got rich ... they got rich through capitalism... so .. how about we...

And bingo! Put Mao's pals -- the "Gang of Five" -- into the pokey, let the peasants decide (mostly) what they wanted to grow and how much to sell it for (the'household responsibility system'), and ... well, here's the Wiki article with a quote from the Premier at the time:


[ Household responsibility system - Wikipedia ]

There is still plenty of state ownership in China, and plenty of national directives for private enterprise -- as there is in all the Asian 'Tigers'. If you want to call it 'market socialism' or 'state capitalism' or 'socialism with Chinese characteristics', go ahead. It looks like capitalism to me, though.

Capitalism has pulled up the whole world where it has been allowed to flourish. Take Hong Kong, for example:


[ Anti-Capitalism: Trendy but Wrong - HumanProgress ]

There is plenty of horrible injustice in the world. But destroying economic growth and prosperity for the masses is not the way to fight it.
China was the only country where communism worked. That was simply because communism was better than the warlord is, corruption and totalitarianism that preceded it.
 

Toddsterpatriot

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Perhaps I should have said China was the only country where the people accepted communism working.

man-Chinese-line-tanks-Beijing-demonstrators-Tiananmen-June-5-1989.jpg
 

Tom Paine 1949

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Geoffry Sachs was one of our top economists, sent to advise the Russians on how to make the transition in 1992 or so. (My then-wife, also an economist, was also there and knows him -- she's a Russian speaker and edited something called, in Russian, The Economic and Social Newsletter. We both lived there for a few months in 1985, in Kharkov, Ukraine. She was a Fulbright Exchange Scholar.)

Anyway, the short summary is: a country going from socialism to capitalism -- where previously-subsidized goods are suddenly subject to market prices -- is going to have a hell of a time for a while. [There are some books on this I can recommend if you (or anyone else) is interested. ]

So, it was in our interests to support, financially in varous ways, such countries. We did for Poland. But our rulers had other plans for Russia, which they did not want to see emerge as another, this time capitalist, rival on the world stage ... or so some think.

Sach's whole article is well worth reading, especially the graphs showing the difference between what happened in Poland, and what happened in Russia. (Sachs is a liberal, Counterpunch is a hate-Amerikkka leftwing radical publication. I suppose he couldn't get published in a more centrist site.)

[ The First US Onslaught to “Weaken” Post-Cold War Russia. ]
An excellent comment. The Geoffrey Sachs material you link to defending his role in Russia is especially interesting to me. I agree with his criticisms of the U.S role at that time. I wish he also further addressed the domestic cultural, imperial / chauvinist and even ethnic and geo-economic reasons for the disaster in Russia’s transition, factors that simply didn’t exist in the same way e.g. in Poland, which we ought to be very aware of, as they now are taking on particularly obnoxious forms.

I also disagree with Sachs on his view of Putin’s recent invasion. I read Sachs carefully and understand, I think, the tragedy of Ukrainian nationalism & Russian hostility to it, but Sach’s present view seems to me too apologetic to Russian chauvinism. Just my opinion.

In any case, I appreciate your comments here. Most of them I share fully.
 
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Doug1943

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China was the only country where communism worked. That was simply because communism was better than the warlord is, corruption and totalitarianism that preceded it.
That's about it. If Mao had not been so utopian, if he had not tried the 'Great Leap Forward', and then the destructive 'Cultural Revolution' ... that is, if he had done in the mid-fifties what his successors did in the late 70s -- they'd be the dominant power in the world by now. Not that that would be a good thing, unless they also gave up the single-party state. How to deal with China is our main foreign policy problem right now.
 

Doug1943

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An excellent comment. The Geoffrey Sachs material you link to defending his role in Russia is especially interesting to me. I agree with his criticisms of the U.S role at that time. I wish he also further addressed the domestic cultural, imperial / chauvinist and even ethnic and geo-economic reasons for the disaster in Russia’s transition, factors that simply didn’t exist in the same way e.g. in Poland, which we ought to be very aware of, as they now are taking on particularly obnoxious forms.

I also disagree with Sachs on his view of Putin’s recent invasion. I read Sachs carefully and understand, I think, the tragedy of Ukrainian nationalism & Russian hostility to it, but Sach’s present view seems to me too apologetic to Russian chauvinism. Just my opinion.

In any case, I appreciate your comments here. Most of them I share fully.

Thank you for the kind compliment.

You're absolutely right about Russian chauvinism as a factor. I was shocked by what has happened to Medvedev. But ... all the Russians I know, mainly 'liberals' in the Russian context, support the war. They're not yearnng for empire, I think ... it's just a repeat of what happened at the start of WWI, when all the inspiring pledges of the Socialist International not to fight each other, to call a general strike, etc evaporated over night. The French feared the Kaiser, the Germans feared the Czar, and quickly, as Rosa Luxemburg said, you could fit all the internationalists in Europe into one stage coach.

Yes, Putin blew it when he invaded Ukraine. People who would have been sympathetic to Russia's problem now have been pushed towards the pro-war camp. It's like being told to take over a badly-played (by your side) chess game at the 15th move. "What? You don't support the Ukrainians defending their homeland?"

Governments often don't try to influence public opinion in other countries in the way they should, by putting their case well to the population. When you see the video's of his press conferences ... they're impressive. He puts his case to the assembled journalists very persuasively. But in the US ... the Russian presence is glavset trolls trying to start violence, or buy a corrupt Congressman. Idiots!

Putin will no doubt say, I was provoked, I had no choice, etc. But firing the first shot puts you at a huge moral disadvantage. I recall reading, I think in Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August (about the start of the First World War), that after the Versailles Treaty was signed, the German delegate sighed and said, "Gentlemen, whatever will history say of us?" and the French delegate snapped back, "Well, whatever she says, she will not say, that Belgium invaded Germany!"
 
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Doug1943

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People "accept" lots of things at the point of a gun with mountains of corpses all around.
This is not wrong, but men pointing guns, surrounded by mountains of corpses, is very common in the world. America has been lucky to have avoided this on a mass scale, except for once.

Shanghai beheading.jpg

A communist being beheaded in Shanghai, 1928.

But those men are often overthrown -- Chiang Kai Shek had guns, and wasn't shy about making corpses of his enemies. The Communists appealed to the masses of people -- you can say, deceitfully if you wish, but that they had a lot of support cannot be denied.

I believe the US had a chance, right after WWII, to pull the Communists away from Stalin. (And the same with Vietnam.) Instead, we chose to support the old order. A bad idea.

The fundamental wisdom of conservatism is suspicion of proposals for radical change, especially those that assume a universally-benevolent human nature. If there is to be change, which is inevitable, we want it to be tentative, slow, not giving huge powers to central authorities, honoring what has worked in the past. Absolutely right.

But then we have situations where the people in charge of the existing order don't want such change. People giving our counsel are ignored. Then the radicals get their chance.
 
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Doug1943

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Capitalism has raised more people out of poverty and misery than any other economic system in the history of mankind.
There is no comparison at all. Our advance from hunter-gathers was painfully slow, taking thousands of years. Someone would learn how to smelt metal ... someone else would get the idea f of a canal ... someone else would find a new plant that could be cultivated ... but in fact, the huge majority of mankind continued to live in what we would see as extreme poverty, century after century.

And then ... capitalism! And in 300 years, we're getting ready to put a colony on the moon.

And any intelligent person knows this. Here's what a couple of smart young fellows said, in praise of the capitalists ('the bourgeoisie'):

It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes.

Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.

All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood.

All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe.

In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production.

The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate.

It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.

Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.

Whoa! Good thing those fellows are dead. Can you imagine the fury of today's radicals, reading about "barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones". White surpremacy at its worst! And not a word about ecology! They'd be lucky to escape with their lives from some American campuses.

And who wrote these terrible lines? A couple of Germans just out of college, named Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, a hundred and seventy-five years ago.
[ Communist Manifesto (Chapter 1) ]

How far down has our Left fallen!
 

Doug1943

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Like killing many, many millions, fomenting terror among the survivors, stripping the land down to the bone, destroying the artifacts of thousands of years of history, vilifying faith in anything but the state, eradicating the very notion of freedom, and sapping the populous of motivation or inspiration?
We could have a good discussion about the Chinese (and other) revolutions. Most of them were tragedies, but human history is largely a history of tragedy. And yet we advance.

To understand any country's revolutions, you need to understand the background -- what they were revolting against. Everything you say ... mass killings, mass destruction, no liberty of thought, extreme poverty ... was present in China before the revolution.

If you want to condemn the Communists, you have to present an alternative ... a revolutionary alternative that could accomplish all the good things they did, without the bad things.

Such an alternative may have been possible, but in the event, it did not emerge in China.
 

Unkotare

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If you want to condemn the Communists, you have to present an alternative ... ....
No I don't. A failed and inherently evil ideology is a failed and inherently evil ideology regardless.
 

Toddsterpatriot

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We could have a good discussion about the Chinese (and other) revolutions. Most of them were tragedies, but human history is largely a history of tragedy. And yet we advance.

To understand any country's revolutions, you need to understand the background -- what they were revolting against. Everything you say ... mass killings, mass destruction, no liberty of thought, extreme poverty ... was present in China before the revolution.

If you want to condemn the Communists, you have to present an alternative ... a revolutionary alternative that could accomplish all the good things they did, without the bad things.

Such an alternative may have been possible, but in the event, it did not emerge in China.

We could have a good discussion about the Chinese (and other) revolutions. Most of them were tragedies, but human history is largely a history of tragedy. And yet we advance.

How's that advancement going in North Korea?
 

Tom Paine 1949

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No I don't. A failed and inherently evil ideology is a failed and inherently evil ideology regardless.
Let me assure you that the masses of peasants and even intellectuals fighting in the Chinese Revolution weren’t fighting “for an ideology.” They were fighting against Japanese imperialists, or perhaps Guomindang warlords, or maybe just for land and bread against landlords. Intellectuals were above all motivated by modern ideas like nationalism and science, and they were above all fighting for China to get back on its feat.

Of course Mao and different factions of the CP had their own unique interpretations of how European Marxist “ideology,” or more especially the USSR under Stalin, could be utilized. They were products of a hard and bitter Civil War following a century of dynastic collapse, invasions, and natural / economic / political disasters.

As we saw later, even for cadre like DengXiaoping, “ideological factors” were ultimately disposable, though one party dictatorship — culturally rooted in imperial Chinese culture — was NOT. As I think you already well know, Mao had been inspired as much by “bandit” heros from Chinese historIcal novels as from any formal “Marxist ideology.” His primitive economic ideas, paranoia and megalomania, certainly did bring untold suffering onto the Chinese people after the Revolution during the failed “Great Leap Forward” and even more destructive “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.”
 
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