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Old December 30th, 2017, 07:22 AM   #121

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Agreed, steady and progressive reform is always much better than revolution. The trouble with France and Russia is that there had been stasis within an absolutist system, and as soon as the mouldering system was pushed over, forces were unleashed that were beyond rational control, because there was nothing secure to build on and everything had been placed under question. Both revolutions started as liberal revolutions, but could not be reatrained within those limits; free institutions have to evolve over a long period of time. It took the French the greater part of a century, and the Russians haven't arrived there yet.
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Old December 30th, 2017, 07:31 AM   #122

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Agreed, steady and progressive reform is always much better than revolution. The trouble with France and Russia is that there had been stasis within an absolutist system, and as soon as the mouldering system was pushed over, forces were unleashed that were beyond rational control, because there was nothing secure to build on and everything had been placed under question. Both revolutions started as liberal revolutions, but could not be reatrained within those limits; free institutions have to evolve over a long period of time. It took the French the greater part of a century, and the Russians haven't arrived there yet.
The French had a tradition of dissent with established and case hardened thinking from Voltaire onwards and even earlier. The established thinking and views were always challenged e.g.Victor Hugo taking up cudgels on behalf of the Jewish officer Dreyfuss in the French Army accused of spying . No such dissent was seen in Soviet Russia because of repression. Democracy begins with and thrives upon dissent.

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Old December 30th, 2017, 08:27 AM   #123

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I have a copy. It is very detailed and shows the extent to which the author has researched before writing this prize winning book .
But it is a gloomy book, one feels like putting down the book and go out to look at the brilliant blue sky, even after reading a couple of pages. Not an easy read, in any case .
Yes exactly, same happened when I was reading KL: A History by N. Wachsmann. Very grim stuff.
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Old January 30th, 2018, 12:59 PM   #124
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Final result was a world scale disaster called socialism.
It would be more accurate to say that the final result was a world scale disaster called dictatorship. Socialism had little or nothing to do with it.
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Old January 31st, 2018, 10:16 AM   #125
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The French had a tradition of dissent with established and case hardened thinking from Voltaire onwards and even earlier.......Democracy begins with and thrives upon dissent.
The latter statement is correct. The right of rebellion is fundamental to any democratic government.

The former statement is debatable. The French Government had form for excessive syphoning off of revenue earned by your average Frenchman/woman, which in principle is no different to serfdom. And, Voltaire learned what he knew from John Locke. He wasn't an original thinker.
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Old January 31st, 2018, 10:29 PM   #126

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The latter statement is correct. The right of rebellion is fundamental to any democratic government.
Are you for real? Please show me the law of your state that allows you to make a rebellion. But the contrary is what we see in the European democracies - La guerre de Banlieues (the French riots of 2005) which can be called "rebellion". Those riots were supressed by police in accordance with the Law of the country.
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Old February 1st, 2018, 12:38 AM   #127

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The right of rebellion is fundamental to any Man ,
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 10:07 AM   #128

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This anniversary helped to prompt my latest reading choice. I've spent this month steadily devouring the first two volumes of Stephen Kotkin's magisterial biography of Joseph Stalin: Paradoxes of Power (1878-1928) and Waiting for Hitler (1929-1941).

I cannot recommend them highly enough for anyone interested in this area of modern history. It's undoubtedly one of the best multi-volume biographies I've ever read - although "biography" as a descriptor doesn't really do justice to the scale of the geopolitical, social, and ideological perspective that Kotkin weaves into his account of Stalin's life.

The sections in the first volume dealing with the Russian Revolution are worth the price of admission alone. It was a genuine revelation to me that the course of events was so heavily dependent on the personalities of Lenin and Trotsky. It may have been more or less unavoidable that a leftist regime was going to supplant the Provisional Government, but the fact that it was the Bolsheviks who gained control of Russia was pretty much the opposite of inevitable. As Kotkin writes, the history of the 20th Century could have been altered out of all recognition with just two bullets.

Reading that history, I was also struck by certain aspects of continuity between the travails of the early Soviet Union and the old Tsarist regime. The Russian Revolution basically grew out of Imperial Russia's desperate need to modernize - economically, militarily, politically - in order to keep up with their European rivals, only to find that "modernization" badly undermined the historic power structure of the country. Tsar Nicholas II was an absolute fool, but many of the statesmen who served him were truly brilliant. But even the best of them couldn't devise a modernizing formula that didn't inflame the appetite of the masses for social changes that couldn't be satisfied without totally changing the character of the government. The best solution the Tsarist regime could come up with was mass political repression and trying to slow the pace of reform - but that just exacerbated the original problem of making Russia vulnerable to its geopolitical rivals, and brought the whole thing crashing down.

In the end, after the Bolsheviks had consolidated their rule, the dilemma was even more acute: it was imperative for them to modernize a peasant country, that was encircled by hostile capitalist powers. Enter Stalin, whose "solution" was to utilize the powers of totalitarian dictatorship to enforce the transition to fully collectivized industrial economy in the space of a decade, no matter how many lives were lost in the process. There was absolutely no reason except for sheer ideological madness that collectivization and industrialization had to be achieved simultaneously, and Stalin's fanatical refusal to deviate from his chosen course of action almost destroyed his government, and Russia. He was saved by the onset of the Great Depression, which made the Western powers so desperate for lucrative new partners for trade and investment that they were willing to bury the hatchet with one of the most evil regimes in the world.

The consequent "success" of Stalin's economic policies exerted a tragic influence over history, as subsequent Communist dictators - most notably including Mao - sought to emulate his example in the belief that the millions upon millions of deaths he had caused were a necessary, in fact desirable, part of becoming a (Marxist) great economic power.

It's strange to consider that if someone other than the Bolsheviks had wound up in control of Russia after WWI, Karl Marx might have become an obscure and relatively unimportant figure in the history of ideas. Instead, the chain of events and personalities that caused a party of fanatical ideological devotees to his creed to gain control of one of the great imperial powers of modern history, created a butcher's bill that defies calculation.
Thanks Iulius. This morning by chance I came upon a book review of the second volume of this bio that I'd cut out of a newspaper. Your comment gives me more impetus to read the series.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 11:42 AM   #129
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Are you for real? Please show me the law of your state that allows you to make a rebellion. But the contrary is what we see in the European democracies - La guerre de Banlieues (the French riots of 2005) which can be called "rebellion". Those riots were supressed by police in accordance with the Law of the country.
Well, when I said: "rebellion", I didn't mean running 'round the streets smashing things up. Damage to private property is quite rightly a crime.
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