Discussion in 'Military History' started by Wolfy, Jul 12, 2009.
Those are generalizations off the top of my head. The Soviet system was an utter failure.
So other then "generalizing" you cant really elaborate on anything which you posted?
Failure how? In what way? Compared to who? In what time frame?
what is "The Soviet System" ??
Could it be The Soviet System of Control??
The Soviet System of Control
From The Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago: William Benton, 1968). “'In our state, naturally, there can be no place for freedom of speech, press, and so on for the foes of socialism,' wrote Andrei Vishinsky in The Law of the Soviet State.
Are you trying to tell me the Soviet system failed in the above mentioned issue? Or was it Gorbi who failed in upkeeping the Soviet System of Control?
And BTW what does this have to do with the thread Understanding Prussia and European Militarism that lead to the World Wars - which you posted/started?
No, I can, but I would have to make a very lengthy post explaining what amounts to common sense. Are you actually disputing this?
I would think that the events of 1991 would be a fairly good example.
Like this Forum, I believe the time-frame we are supposed to be talking/comparing things about is the 1900's - 1945.
Probably the best example.
However, I was under the impression that we were discussing this...
So I must ask once again, how is it and in what way or ways did the communist organization/structure violate or deprive countless of economic and philosophical practicalities to the "excellent pool of scientific and engineering human capital", by failing to provide material and flexibility ultimately preventing them from achieving their potential???
So is it going to be about:
Understanding Prussia and European Militarism that lead to the World Wars
In case of the last topic being the case, is it going to be restricted to the period of 1900 - 1945??
This frankly a strange comment, as you are not stating your case at all. Or clearly stating whether or not you have a completely contrarian view.
My original response was a generalized comment about Communist economics directed towards Macker's statement about Mein Kampf. The success of soviet scientists and engineers in their work was intrinsically reliant on the efficiency of their organizations and the inputs they could acquire from their economic system. Too many aspects of communist ideology was simply in violation of economic philosophy.
1. Soviet planning commissions had to set tens of millions of prices, always at a deadweight economic loss, rather than allow prices to fluctuate according to supply/demand. The impossibility and insanity of this task consumed vast quantities of human capital in the Soviet state. Goods were always at artificially high prices.
2. Bureaucratic inflexibility- Russian administrators had to answer to their higher ups..and failure to do so could see them thrown from their careers and sent to prison/gulags. Meaning that they would often expend resources inappropriately. There were always severe wastage due to tendency for Russian bureaucrats to over consume due to fear of inadequacy and general lack to conserve: (ie. Govt orders 2,000 Type X generators built for project X, but when project X in underway, only 1,500 are needed. If 1,400 X generators are ordered, Bureaucrat A goes to prison for "criminal" negligence).
There was simply little human incentive to conserve in many Soviet projects like there would be in a competitive (victory or death) private sector organization. If they needed more, they just took some more capital/monies from the people. But of course there was a limit to this. This is why there were warehouses and warehouses of unused product in the Soviet union (and excessive amounts of product that were destroyed).
3. Communist ideology was disdainful of "capitalists" and "capitalism" in general and refrained from educating or business management/administators in an adequate manner. In this way Russian project organization were badly run and the quality of their human capital in management was inferior to American leaders and organizational teams, who were experienced and generally what was left of the "survival of the fittest". Who were Soviet Government project teams competing against? There was no free market, and they were often by themselves. And moving at their own pace.
Economically yes, but scientifically???
The scientists and mathematicians who were credited with building the first ICBM's, satellites and then flying into space (way before the "capitalistic" juggernaut; The United States) were given anything they wanted or needed for work.
Perhaps an "Utterly failed system" might not be the best terminology used when describing the Soviet Union's scientific ability or her ability to provide her science and math pool with the proper materials needed?
I consider communism an utter failure. Economics is all about trade offs. It is about utilization of scarce resources. These weapons, ICBMs, satellites, and space innovations came at an awful, tremendous cost to the Russian people. It robbed Russia of its civilian infrastructure and its potential standard of living. Generations of scientists and engineers were devoted to researching, designing, producing these weapons at the cost of innovations and products that should have went into improving Russia's ability to produce and trade desirable consumer technologies and goods.
The truth of the matter is, American innovation- whether in the military or in the private sector was just simply far more efficient in human capital and industrial materials. Yes, Americans did lag behind the Russians in certain technologies here and there during the Space Race. But it was a matter of allocation, desirability, and incentives on the part of the Americans, not a sign of Soviet excellence. Americans were enjoying their lives and enjoying the highest standard of living in the world during the Cold War. For a long time, they were even fighting an expensive war in Vietnam while doing so. The Russians weren't.
Surely you don't think that ALL of Russia's scientists, Physicists and engineers worked on these projects.....? Just like in every country (including the U.S.) the best of the best work on the most top secret, prestigious and delicate assignments. Would life in the U.S. be better if the professionals working in NASA did something else? Especially considering how many more resources the United States invested into her space program??
To claim that life in Russia or life for the average Russian would have been any better if they had not worked on these projects is quite startling.
I have many family, and friends who live in Russia currently, and at the time of the first space launch. All would frown upon at such a shallow view. These events in history marked a new era for mankind and the Russian people couldn't be any more proud, as they were the ones who started it, the space age.
The most difficult and technologically impressive feat that a country can show the world especially in her quest for becoming #1, is her ability to fly into space. The ability to do this first and to do so in an "utterly failed system" as you claim, should be even MORE impressive. The neglect of such a monumental task, project or achievement by any country does not only not diminish Soviet Union's impressive achievement but also doesn't excuse the other country's apathy.
The bread lines in Russia would not have disappeared had the scientists stopped working on these projects and I too do not believe in communism.
Did the best and most capable men always get the job in Nazi Germany? Are you arguing that selecting politcal/military/economic officers by standards of racial purity, faith in the official state ideology and servility to the great leader is efficient instead of arbitrary? Does having a leadership that prepetuate itself by brute violence and utterly unaccountable to the people really advantageous for the state?
While this topic obviously arouse some pretty powerful emtions, there are historians who believe that certain Prussian peculiarities in state and society did lead Germany to Nazism. Chief among those are Bismarckian Germany's prevailing ideology of the organic harmony between Volk and state, absense of a theory of natural law or social contract in political thought, a strong central government that dominated society, weak civil institutions that could challenge to the state, and the Prussian ideal that liberty is found in service to the common good instead of personal autonomy.
There are strong and weak forms of the argument. The latter holds true that Prussia had nothing inherently evil about its state, society and social attitudes, but some aspects of its character was more susceptable to Fascism or had become perverted by Hitler through skillful propaganda and politics. The strong form of the argument advanced by Fritz Fischer states that the sonderweg of Prussian modernization--industrialization without the emanciation of the masses--essentially doomed Germany to the Nazis.
Now, I shall quietly fix logs over the lip of my foxhole for overhead protection against artillery fire and erect the warning sign that I am merely attempting to describe certain trends in modern historiography of Germany.
Few historians would argue that state socialism is the ideal or even good configuration of economics, but we should not overlook the historical context of Lenin and Stalin's communism. It was derivitive of the commuist experience of the Russian Civil War, which the party was able to survive only by its ability to find, ruthlessly exploit and centrally allocate vital resources in the midst of virtual anarchy in a vast nation denuded of infrastructure while fighting a war of life and death. The Russia that Lenin inherited in the aftermath of the war was effectively a blank slate and everything must be rebuilt from zero; the Russians were little deluded by the hope of perpetual peace after the Great War and they were keenly aware of the danger of Japan and Germany. Rebuilding for the lost time of the Civil War and catching up with the modern industrial economies therefore encouraged the communists to adopt a centrally planned economy. In the '30s, many Russians viewed Stalin favorably, often in spite of their clear understanding of his brutality, because they percieve a possitive improvement in the standard of life, industrialization and social mobility. Stalinist Russia was what it was because no other form of government could extract Russia from the total catastrophy of the Civil War--part of which, admittedly, was the communist party's own doing.
Hello Triple C,
The German Dachshound is famous for going after Foxholes
Please keep in mind that "national patriotism" was the rule in the 19th and 20th century history.
The Prussians were not less or more involved in this raising and proclaiming of patrioism then any other country.
Despite the autocratic situation in this time, Germany managed to bring up some of its finest artists and scientists in this period - as a counter reaction to the industrial revolution and emerging of capitalism it was also people such as Marx and Engels that countered these certain developments.
It wouldn't be right IMO to simply forward that the Northern Ireland situation till the 90th was a result of the hegemonial policy of the English in the 20th century and as such the English character is more susceptable to Fascism.
Nationalism was rampant in the XIX and XX centuries in most countries not just Prussia.
It takes a special combination of a set of values that puts individual rights at the top and lack of outside/foreign interference for a healthy democracy to develop, if the first is lacking the "checks and balances" will be tilted in favour of the government and you will just get a new ruling class, without the second you will either have a corrupt goverment that answers to foreign interests rather than the people or fanatical nationalism as a reaction.
Post 1918 Germany lacked both and had a strong socialist party that scared the middle class and made thing worse, the reasons Weimar failed are there rather than in Prussia's legacy, Hitler took only coreography out of the Prussian heritage.
IMO the politicians create the ideology not the other way round, propaganda doesn't need to be truthful to be effective.
The "the individual serves the state" theory is fairly harmless if not taken to extremes by a leadership that, like Luis XIV, thinks "I am the state".
A "social contract" with it's implied checks is a better foundation for democracy but it's unglamorous, and most people don't understand it anyway, so it will be swept away by the first rabble rouser with an effective propaganda chief that comes along.
Do I now need to rent space in some abandoned cold war nuclear shelter ?
He is not disparaging the poeple themselves, but rather the conditions underwhich they worked. You say you do not believe in communisn, but that is the very thing he is criticizing. An utterly failed system could be accurately applied to the government that ruled that part of Europe and Asia.. It is not a stab at the people or their abilities; it is a commentary on the government as it existed. You cannot deny that failure in the Soviet Union under Stalin had far greater consequences than failure in the free world. That would supply great impetus for me to do whatever it took to ensure success in what I was doing. With Stalin's contempt for the average man, I would have no doubt that any program director would work to finish his task at the expense of the workers involved. As long as he got the job done, what would it matter how the workers subsisted?
Ask your father, were there ever homes available for non-party officials like what he saw when he first moved here? Were there the goods and services available to the common man in the SU that were available in the US, in abundance, then? What choices did you have in cars and could you just go somewhere, buy it and drive away that day?
The building of rockets and intricate tools of war are good indicators of the potential of what could have been accomplished by the people had the governmental system allowed resources to be allocated to consumer items, which would have allowed for a greater quality of life for the average person.
In a free country, the best don't necessarily work on governmental or military projects, they work where they can earn the most satisfying living. If that means directly supporting the goals of the country, then they work for the government. If that means earning a substantial living designing widgets for the consumer, then they go where the money is. I would not doubt that Microsoft and Google capture their far share of the brain market and they are not government entities and that scenerio is repeated throughout the US.
If that is what was being meant then there is no argument from me.
I for one would not have liked to live in Soviet Russia or even worse while under Stalin.
To kind of return to Wolfy's original supposition. Nationalism was already a force in Europe before the 19th Century. Germany, through Prussian leadership, came rather late to the concept, not becoming a true nation until 1871. Most of the military, economic, and social traditions that became part of Germany derived from Prussian values, first under Bismarck's influence, then under the influence of Wilhelm. After WW1, with the dissolution of the German Empire, German society was splintered. Socialists, nationalists, the freikorps, communists, etc., all vied for a place in the new Germany. Each group clung to a portion of German culture that appealed to it, or, in the case of the communists, looked to replace all of bourgeois culture. With the weakening of Weimar, what Hitler proposed for Germany was a new version of the empire. He borrowed from any period of history that suited his purpose. Since much of his original officer corps was Prussian trained, that became the standard of the army. By insisting on an oath of alllegiance to him, not the state, Hitler overroad the traditional Prussian military independence.
Politically and socially, Hitler's vision of Germany had little to do with Prussia. He himself was Austrian, and traditionally, Austria and Prussia were long at odds with each other.
In short, I don't believe there was much to tie Prussian values to Nazi values. Nationalism can almost be discounted, since it was common throughout Europe in the 19th Century.
I'm not touching on the other sruff having to do with the SU. Urqh took his tin hat and I have no protection.