Nostalgia For Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe

From the video, we see the following startling figures taken from recent surveys:

Slovakia, 2003 (Public Relation Institute, Bratislava): 66% said that they lived better under Communism than they do now. Only 8% said they live better now than they did then.

Russia, 2005 (New Russia Barometer Survey): 48% and 85% of those age 73 said that things were better before 1985 than they are today. 49% said they were better off economically before 1990, 28% said they are better off now, and 23% said it is the same.

East Germany, Nov. 2007 (Forsa Institute): 73% supported socialism as a concept but believed it had been poorly implemented. 90%+ said they had better social protection under the GDR.

Bulgaria, Dec. 2007 (Mediana): 33% said they wanted to return to Communism, up from 29% in 2004. 50%+ believed that public property acquired at fire sale prices under privatization since 1990 should be renationalized.

Romania, May 2007 (BERD): 50%+ said the economy was better under Communism than it is now.

Romania, Nov. 2007 (Soros Foundation): 48% said that they lived better under Communism than they do now. 45% still believe in Communism.

Romania, Feb. 2008 (World Bank): Only 20% thought that the economy is better now than it was under Communism.

Hungary, June 2008 (Gfk Piackutato): 62% said thing were better under János Kádár in the period before 1990 than they are now. 14% said that the period since 1990 had been the happiest time of their lives, while 60% said it had been the most miserable time of their lives.

There are a lot of commenters on this site who oppose socialism and Communism for a variety of reasons. I am wondering how these folks can reconcile these figures with their views.

I imagine that most of these folks feel that Communism and socialism are failed ideologies that simply don’t work in practice, however noble they may be conceived. If it’s really true that they fail so miserably and obviously, why do so many of those who have lived in the same nation under both Communism and capitalism feel that Communism was better and capitalism was worse?

Are these people simply so insane that they can’t figure out that things are obviously so much better now than they were back then? If their views are not insane, how do you reconcile their opinions with your view that Communism has been a miserable failure?

A common line among anti-Communists is that Communism inevitably starves people and enslaves them. If this is true, and I say it’s not, then are these people simply masochists who enjoy being starved and enslaved? How can we account for their behavior?

Most of you feel that capitalism is obviously superior to Communism. If it is, then why do so few of those who lived in the same nation under both systems agree with you?

Is there any way for you folks to account for the opinions of these folks. Are they simply lazy people who don’t want to take risks and enjoy being coddled and taken care of by a cradle to grave welfare state?

Keep in mind that by 1989, the socialist systems of most of these states were highly heterodox, with lots of collective and even limited private enterprise alongside public property. Censorship laws had been relaxed in most states and there was considerable freedom of speech. In places like Hungary, Goulash Communism or market socialism had created a quite high standard of living.*

*However, in Romania, a terrible Secret Police had instituted a terror state, and this in addition to a ferocious austerity program was the main reason for the violent overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu. In the few years before the Revolution of 1989, Ceauşescu had instituted brutal austerity measures in order to try to pay off the nation’s foreign debt.

While this made him very unpopular, I don’t see why anti-Communists, deficit hawks all of them who never been an austerity program too savage for a capitalist state, should object to Ceauşescu putting Romanians on a diet, as Thomas Friedman and his globalist buddies like to quip. Ceauşescu had also created a ridiculous personality cult and blown huge amounts of money on lavish construction projects dedicated to himself.

16 Comments

Filed under Capitalism, Economics, Eurasia, Europe, Germany, Hungary, Left, Marxism, Regional, Romania, Russia, Socialism

16 responses to “Nostalgia For Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe

  1. patrick

    Robert what is the best book to read if I want to understand communism? Is it Das Kapital?

    • That shit is hard as Hell to read. Try Blackshirts and Reds by Michael Parenti.

      • patrick

        Thanks, ill check it out.

        • Paul Grenville

          The Enigma of Capital by David Harvey is just out. Here’s an amazon review:

          Excellent. Essential reading on the current crisis., 10 May 2010
          By Germinal (St. Ives) – See all my reviews

          This review is from: The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism (Hardcover)
          David Harvey has produced an excellent study of capitalism, the current economic crisis and the way the Left could respond to it.

          Harvey deals with the current economic crisis in chapter one and gives a clear, concise account of what went wrong and why.

          As for the current crisis, that is pretty much it in this book. What Harvey is concerned with is the fact that the current crisis is just the latest of many and Harvey is most concerned with demonstrating that crises are innate and necessary to capitalism.

          Harvey presents his re-working and re-theorising of Marx’s analysis of ‘Capital’ to show how capitalism uses crises to reform, renew and revitalise itself. This Harvey accomplishes brilliantly. Harvey explains complex ideas in an easy to understand way.

          Harvey theorises that capitalism may have reached a point where it cannot get over crisis and get back to a compound growth rate of 3% PA as the amount of capital that needs to be invested is simply too huge. Hence the growth of the financial sector and financial crises.

          This leads to the final section on what the Left should do to tackle the crisis. For capitalism can solve it’s problems as long as it makes people pay the price of it’s crises: lost jobs, lost pensions, destroyed environment, wrecked public services and vast amounts of capital destroyed in wars.

          Harvey argues for a uniting of the Left across a broad range of struggles and across the globe. A necessary yet difficult task. Harvey’s focus seems to be to look beyond the traditional labour movements which seems to contradict many of his arguments about how capitalism works – Harvey doesn’t seem to see the working class as central to a socialist challenge to capitalism. That may prove contentious. Harvey’s book deserves to be widely read and a focus for debates on the Left as to how to respond to the current crisis.

  2. Das Kapital is hard to read because of it’s attempt to push a system that doesn’t work with a myriad of concepts wrapped in fluffery and enigmatic language.

    Because Capitalism was invented by Marx as a derogatory term, State-capitalism (Merchantilism) and Free-market Capitalism is often conflated by collectivists like Robert Lindsay.

    There is however a clear and fundamental difference between the two: one is reliant on violence and oppression to succeed while the other relies on the lack of aggression and natural exchange between humans.

    To answer Robert’s simple charge that anti-communists can’t reconcile the nostalgia by people from former communist nations is to simply answer that once again he shows he can’t identify the difference between Communism (the ideal), and Socialism (the reality).

    If the numbers Robert is posting are true (which I doubt), all he’s proving is that people in these countries don’t like the form of Socialism they have now over the older (and probably more homogeneous kind). I suspect a lot of the problem being something Robert talks about all the time: multiculturalism (which he likes to call Racism) at fault for a lot of this nostalgia.

    In other words, these Socialist states worked more efficiently with homogeneous small groups of people, but with the increase in population and culture and thought mixing, more unrest and rebellion against the violence and tyranny of the state causes unrest.

    If, as Robert has said time and time again man’s natural inclination is to be selfish, then so is there natural inclination to exchange. All human action is exchange. But, whenever a government is introduced in to a market, there is necessarily regulation and more importantly VIOLENCE. The consequence is that as more ideas are introduced into this regulated market, the more VIOLENCE must be used to enforce one political ideology over another. Socialism, Communism or any other form of welfare imperialism state is against human nature.

    • patrick

      What’s wrong with being a collectivist? Wouldn’t you rather be with people than be alone?

      • Collectivism is what leads to things like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I don’t deny man is a social animal and that we need each other. But if you don’t approach the world in individualist terms, methodologically, you can have huge terrible consequences.

        In other words, while the government of Japan attacked military bases of the US government, most of the women and children that died in the explosions of the A-bomb were innocent and had nothing to do with the war.

        All human action is done by individuals. Groups cannot act. That would be like saying that when “American Dropped the A-Bomb on Japan” all Americans condoned the action. I’m sure there were many that did not.

        There’s a lot of problems with supporting Collectivist tendencies.

  3. I’ve always been deeply intrigued by all things USSR. It’s like Atlantis or some other ancient buried civilization, except instead of being around in 6000 BC, it was around in 1989. Did you know there’s a spot in Antarctica which is classified officially as the “most inaccessible place on Earth”, and guess what’s there– a statue of Lenin, put there by the Soviets and never torn down because it was so inaccessible. It’s like finding the ancient burial tombs of the pharaohs…

  4. Paul Grenville

    Hi Robert

    Why don’t you give some sources for your figures?

    One of the most startling things that is happening in Russia since the fall of communism is the fall in population. People’s lives are so insecure they can’t be bothered to reproduce – a pretty damning verdict on Russia’s version of capitalism.

  5. patrick

    A guy who works at a sub shop near me lived in the sovet union. He said it was less stressful ans that he came here due to the fall of communism. He likes the soviet union better than the usa. He said ther wasn’t all these bills to worry about due to centralization and he said there was job security so people just relaxed and had fun.

  6. Paul Grenville

    Thanks Robert. Yeah I found the channel on youtube. The comments are in Romanian. Romania was about the poorest example of communism in the Eastern bloc. Here’s another great video from the the same user: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ugazpHH62Y&feature=channel
    Capitalism is exploitation and consumerism

  7. Paul Grenville

    http://www.youtube.com/user/aferreira1958#p/f/10/jeK6spOIVro

    Tragic, tragic. Here’s you’ll find a great series of videos on Russia’s demographic crisis, and the decline in the standard of living since the fall of Communism. Russia has been losing half a million people a year! Abortions outnumber live births. Ten million people are infertile due to poor health. And Moscow has more billionaires than any other city on the planet…oh that’s something good , then….

  8. Pingback: Can We Please Put an Anti-Communist Lie to Rest? « Robert Lindsay

  9. Pingback: Communism Doesn’t Work; Socialism Doesn’t Work | Beyond Highbrow - Robert Lindsay

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