Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Comisario, Aug 4, 2013.
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"Stalinism" as I see it happens when communist party becomes a single party of power where lefty rhetoric is just another tool that helps with holding that power. It also includes, totalitarian system hell bent on controlling every miniscule of everyday life and cult of the leader.
In short it's a totalitarian system where leader is focused on expanding his own (and country's) influence and Marxist rhetoric is a tool for that goal.
But in this case I believe the ideology was a mean to an end - acquiring and retaining power in Hoxha's hands. It matters not whether Albania was actually in the Soviet sphere of influence or not as Comrade Hoxha got his share of the cake.
If that's your opinion, then that's all good. I'd hate to be a preachy Marxist and try to convince you otherwise, haha. I must be more sympathetic to Stalin.
I don't think Hoxha was as power hungry as you believe. I mean, almost all of his actions throughout his leadership of Albania were done in favour of the people and the state. He forfeited his own political stability and power by not accepting Khrushchev's overreaching hand in Albania's affairs so as to effectively industrialise and become self-sufficient.
Basically, Hoxha gave Khrushchev's cake away so that everyone in Albania could share in a huge cake...
... now I really want cake!
I'm not that familiar with the Spanish Civil War, but I'd like to know what happened to a few people:
-Norman Bethune- Canadian Communist medical doctor. Created the first bloodmobile in the Spanish Civil War OTL. OTL he died in China serving with Mao. What path would his career take in a Communist Spain?
-George Orwell- British Socialist and writer. Served with the POUM Anarchist militia. Would he make it out or get purged? How would it affect his career?
-Edward A. Carter, Jr.- African-American soldier. Fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Accused of Communism later in life- but he also fought with the Kuomintang before this (they sent him away later since he was only 15). He's not political, but he's eager to fight. How might he fare?
I think the right term Comisario that RosoMC like to say, from a Marxist perspective, is a more democratic and libertarian socialist path which is more of an Orthodox Marxist and Impossibilist path in between a Trotskyite commitment to permanent world revolution, which Spain unfortunately is still a bit unequipped in being its proper ground base, and Luxembourgist left wing communism, with its commitment to real democracy in soviets and workers' councils that were organized in revolutionary spontaneity to challenge the capitalist ruling class. Red America in Jello Biafra's timeline is something like this, under a cover of "Marxism-DeLeonism" with DeLeon's thesis being partially implemented at the end of getting a successful democratic mandate in the 1932 elections and the Ultra-Left's actions prompting a full social revolution after the far-right organized a putsch, not accepting the electoral results.
SRB, like the UASR, borrow some Marxist-Leninist rhetoric and its commitment to democratic centralism in organizational strategy; but it seems to be that it is more in rhetoric than in practice. The British Revolution is very syndicalistic, and more fitting for an industrial feudalistic society, in the words of John Dewey.
Interesting timeline you got going on here. I will follow this.
Very interesting. Keep up the good work. TLs in the Modern Century certainly do require more research and citations, mostly to the wealth of information available.
You've just highlighted three people whose fates will be properly explained, along with other prominent international volunteers. If you can wait another few updates, you'll have your answers.
Thank you very much, don't forget to take the political split poll!
Thank you for the interest. We'll see the next update soon, though I am having a tiny bit of writer's block. Mostly because of the challenge of adapting all this research into a serious timeline.
Thank you for the information on the variants of communism and socialism in other timelines, but now I'm afraid I'm a bit confused. I was just talking about the redundancy of the term "Stalinist" from a Marxist viewpoint.
But, to digress a bit, I don't think a syndicalist Britain would inevitably arise from a worse 1926 General Strike. My great-great-grandfather was a prominent Marxist in East London and was thrown into prison for agitating socialist revolution. Many other communists were imprisoned for the same thing, leading me to believe that democratic centralism and Marxism-Leninism would be more integral to the new British state after the aforementioned general strike.
Well, whatever is my viewpoint on Marxism it would be sad to see Spain ending up one big concentration camp like Soviet Union in 30's-50's - which almost certainly won't happen with the Soviet-Spanish split. I believe that Titoist Yugoslavia was much nicer place to live than Warsaw Pact countries.
Speaking of Spanish Civil War - could you please also advise what is the fate of Robert Capa, the war correspondent. OTL he survived the Civil War, the WW2 (he was in the first wave of American troops during D-Day) only to die in Indochina in 1953 by stepping on a landmine.
If I recall correctly he lost a lover during the war. She was crushed by a tank or truck, but for all that is holy I can't remember this woman's name.
The Soviet Union wasn't "one big concentration camp" during that era. It's a common cliché that sadly few people ever want to challenge.
Tito is often admired by capitalists, which I feel is strange. Then again, he did experiment with capitalism like the Warsaw Pact countries did later on. Anyway, Yugoslavia was by no means a socialist success story.
Capa will feature prominently in the future and his fate will be explained alongside all of the other internationalists who fought for, reported on, or supported the Spanish Republic.
By the way, the woman was Gerda Taro. ITTL, there was no tank to be crushed by, so she still lives!
Well, certainly it wasn't. But it was a sad and poor place to live.
Believe me, in Poland we had "real socialism" Soviet Union style and it wasn't fun at all. There was even a joke: - What is the definition of infertility? - 50 years of relations with Soviet Union.
Well, it's economic situation was much better than Warsaw Pact countries due to the fact that they could freely do bussiness with Italy, Austria and Germany.
Fall of Yugoslavia was caused by ethnic strife which Tito himself used maintain balance and keep power.
Cool! I read his biography which I later borrowed to someone so I can't look it up, but IIRC he wasn't the type to settle down for one woman, if you catch my drift.
That is somewhat true. But, had the Soviet Union not been there to alleviate so much poverty and depression, things would have been much worse.
That's quite funny, actually, haha. But that kind of bastardised "real socialism" was Khrushchev's doing. I mean, his whole idea was to turn the Warsaw Pact nations into areas of specialised production for the USSR. He even tried to do the same with Cuba, though Che Guevara was opposed to the island becoming some sort of beach resort for Soviet functionaries.
It was somewhat better, that's true. But Tito borrowed insane amounts of money from the IMF and Yugoslavia's subsequent debts played a large role in the collapse of the country. It's sad really, but by trying to improve things in the short-term only made it harder in the long-term.
He was friends with Hemingway, so I'd expect nothing less. With all these promiscuous internationalists, Spain is going to be full of illegitimate children!
"Real socialism"? Soviet Union style? What is "real socialism"? Eastern Europe doesn't have real socialism. Any socialist nations that showed up in the 20th century with very few exceptions did not have the right conditions to establish a functioning socialist society in the long run. The Zapatista experiment is one contemporary functioning society, but isolated in a capitalist sea. Anarchist Catalonia and the Ukrainian Free State are the only other experiments. Bolshevik Russia from October, 1917 to January, 1918. The Israeli kibbutz, but they are also islands in a capitalist sea. Thus, the reason why "real socialists" would talk about spreading the world revolution as much as possible and making sure that an industrialized country would fly the Red flag (which didn't happen at all OTL). "Real socialists" would also talk about "democracy is important for a planned economy as much as the human body needs oxygen". Did Poland have a democratic society from 1945-1990? Even the Illyrian model of workers' self-management is a total farce, thanks to the one party state and bureaucratization. Yugoslavia is also an isolated island between the Soviet and capitalist seas that started as a backward agricultural nation, not exactly the right country that could make the model work.
On the other hand, there are certain admirable features of the Soviet Union, for all its flaws, that post-Soviet Russia would not be able to duplicate. This is in the same way that there are many features of New Deal era America that postwar American society would never duplicate. And Comisario is right that the USSR is not some one big concentration camp, Oceania 1984 style. I am not going to act like an apologist for Stalinism though. This image that is being used to describe the USSR though is quite exaggerated, especially if it is going to be compared to capitalism represented by the First World and ignoring the Third World's conditions completely.
I agree with so much that you said. Although, I don't feel that socialism ceased in Soviet Russia after 1918. Sure, there were divergences from developing socialism in the short-term, but they were necessary to develop socialism in the long-term. Although, socialism never truly developed to its full extent. When the Soviet Union seemed close to completing socialism's development, it soon was derailed by capitalist elements.
I believe that the Soviet Union's positives outweigh its negatives. There is a huge void in inspiring the working-class now that it is gone. If somebody was going to take the stick for "Stalinist apologism", I suppose it would be me. I believe there is a hugely clichéd caricature of the Soviet Union and its leaders that doesn't really add up to historical fact. Hell, Stalin spent half of his time apologising for things he had little to no control over. Therefore, apologism is redundant. Although, I do recognise the flaws and mismanagement in the Soviet system. You are also correct that comparing the Soviet Union with other states and systems is flawed. Russia and its neighbouring states were completely distinct in culture, economy and history.
"Real Socialism" was a name used by the Communist establishment at the time hence I use it as well. You completely missed when I said that lefty rhethoric was only a useful tool for holding power for the bureaucratic establishment. Communism in Warsaw Pact was not the ideology. It was a regime dedicate to holding power at all costs which used bloated bureaucracy and security apparatus to hold it. I can't stress it enough.
If that was the case it would still be around today. Too many people died because of Soviet Union - it's own citizens - to dismiss their suffering and death so lightly.
Yes, Soviet Union was distinctly Russian beast that arose from the system of opression and continued system of opression. I don't know how it could have inspired working class at all. What about people sent to Siberia? What about those so called "enemies of the state" beaten to death in the basements by NKVD? Is their pain and death something to be dismissed?
I am the last to call Soviet Union the land of evil - this privilege is reserved for Nazi Germany. I also admit that Soviet Union produced some brilliant minds and marvelous technologies (rockets!), but it's fall and lack of any fondness the Central Europe feels towards it is indicative enough. I for one I'm glad it's gone and their jackboots are off my back. It was long overdue.
You are forgetting the outside pressure of the capitalist Western nations that was hell-bent on destroying the Soviet Union from its outset. Eventually, when the capitalists had infiltrated Soviet society to the extent that peaceful coexistence turned to defeatism. I mean, there was a Soviet poll held in 1990 that said that over 70% of the population did not want the union to be dissolved. Many people died for the Soviet Union as well. People suffered in the Soviet Union, of course. In all nations, in all periods of history, large amounts of people have suffered. But, the suffering in the Soviet Union was not caused through malicious or even murderous intent, which were two important causes of suffering all across the world. I do not wish to dismiss suffering, I just don't want the causes and solutions of such suffering to be dismissed.
A "distinctly Russian beast"? I don't believe that the Soviet Union was dominated by Russian culture or Russian ideas. Promoting one culture in the Soviet Union over another was a "crime against society". It was plain social chauvinism and was treated as a subtler, though no less damaging, form of cultural supremacist ideas. It inspired the working class because it came into being through working class actions and it was propped up by working class actions. The Soviet Union was, in differing degrees throughout its history, in support of the rights of the working class. No other nation in the world could claim to do the same.
Hundreds of thousands of people went to gulags. But, hundreds of thousands of people left them as well. Death rates were low, sentences were at a maximum of 10 years and the only time death rates went above 5% was the period between 1940 and 1946. There was a war on in this time period, so medical care for murderers, terrorists and subversives was not a priority. I'll admit, the NKVD were a harsh group of agents who did very little positive work. But, blaming an entire state for the work of one government agency is misplaced blame. The NKVD was the autonomous organ of the state. Stalin and the Soviet state condemned their actions and usage of physical force on political prisoners.
It is true that the Warsaw Pact was an uneven agreement. Central Europe certainly was not as autonomous as it should have been. But, when you say that Central Europe does not remember the days of communism with fondness, I feel that is a generalisation. There is a certain nostalgia that is prevalent amongst the people of the post-Cold War states of Central and Eastern Europe, even if those new states condemn their communist predecessors. You may be glad the union is gone, but its legacy remains.
As lovely as this political discussion has been, I feel that it might get out of hand if continued. So, I'd like to say that my writer's block is gone and a new update will be ready by tomorrow morning at the latest!
We're coming very close to ending the first book of this timeline, as I'm sure you're all becoming aware. Just another three or four chapters left!
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