Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Communism delivered industrialisation and huge advances in social and gender equality

"For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality...Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination." Seamus Milne, the British Labour Party's Executive Director of Strategy and Communications.
Please discuss, making reference to the value of social and gender equality, freedom of expression and movement and property rights.

Seamus Milne was educated at Winchester, where he stood in a mock election in 1974 as the Maoist Party candidate, and Balliol. His father, Alasdair Milne, was Director General of the BBC. He began his career, in what in Russia was the Brezhnev era, as a contributor to the British Communist Party publication, Straight Left.


  1. I agree with the correlation regarding industrialisation, mass education, and gender equality. Maybe I agree too with the correlation with social equality.

    I am not sure though if this correlation between communism and the cited transformations is also a causation.

    I think that we should not forget the economical, educational and social development level reached by communist societies at the moment they "adopted" communism. Russia barely reached 50 years since the abolition of serfdom when it switched to communism. The industrial revolution was still in its infancy there and I suppose that illiteracy was enormous. Cambodia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, Angola, Tanzania should more or less match the same pattern. Notable exceptions could be the short-lived republics of Béla Kun in Hungary and the Soviet Republic in München, both of them having appeared in the chaos following a lost war. In my opinion, there were no developed nations that adopted communism. In my opinion, the more developed, educated, and industrialised a country was (Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, as opposed to Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania) the stronger the resistance to communism was.

    So, the communist period was contemporary with huge advances in industrialisation, education, and gender equality in undeveloped countries, but these countries came from very low, there was huge space for improvement. Somehow, I have the feeling that left on their own, the less developed South-Eastern European countries would have reached comparable improvements in the frame of their own parliamentary democracies. It would just have been in the air of times, ideas would have spread by contact with Central and Western Europe. Trade and industrialisation would have built a larger middle class. That's why I say that maybe communism was not the cause for these transformations. It is true that it had an ideological drive, that it drove these transformations programatically.

    About equality: The social equality that communism strove for was not desirable. It imprisoned the economic and intellectual elites and established a sort of idiocracy, the rule of the simpletons, perhaps not on the very top, but more or less everywhere else. On the other hand, I think that a South-American style of inequality is a huge development and welfare obstacle. And I suppose (without having studied the period) that agricultural Romania had South-American levels of inequality between social classes (peasants vs rest, rural vs urban people). So pulling them out of illiteracy was desirable. But then, how it was done, by positive discrimination, barring the "bourgeois" classes from higher education, etc was violent. It was as well desirable to upgrade the infrastructure and living standards (running water, bringing electricity, roads, railroad to the villages etc) but then again, most were of bad quality, probably because of the state-controlled economy and no free enterprise.

    Regarding gender equality: I think that women joining the workforce, being free to pursue the studies they want and being free to pursue all jobs and being payed the same amount as men for the same job it a good thing and really a value that a society has to strive for.

    Regarding freedom of expression and movement and property rights, it's easy to discuss: in communism there was none of that. Apparently when people have the choice between having them and not having them, they choose the former. I don't know of a democracy that bars its people from leaving the country if they choose so, but there's almost no communist country that allows it. So much about whether these freedoms are valuable or not.

    Somehow I feel so insulted when someone finds positive aspects of communism as a Jew would be when someone would say that Hitler, notwithstanding his defects, was a good painter or lover of animals.

  2. Well, sure. And that Mussolini fella got them trains running on time too! And, of course, Hitler created the autobahn.

  3. Oh yes,behold the wonderland created by women abandoning their duties to their husband and children and joining the hallowed workforce! See the amazing big mouthed Betty who never shuts her feminist yap! She never ceases to torment her coworkers and family with her virtue signalling. Not to mention all those wonderful murders committed during the holodomor. What's not to love about Marx and EngelsEngels.

  4. 1. Mass education: when life choices are reduced to either having a factory job with a dismal but livable income vs life in a 'work camp' (cooperatives), the choice is simple. That led to very few people left to work the land, and in time, to food shortages. Crops were picked up by University students. But we did have 'mass education'.
    2. Women's rights: people in communism had virtually no rights, so indeed, both women and man enjoyed the same treatment. The same stands for income.
    3. Welfare standards? After 1989, many remarked that communism fell from within, as the 'elites' noticed that their standard of living were lower than a 'poor' person's in the West, and they helped topple the eastern regimes.
    4. Inequality? What level of inequality is higher than having special stores for the party leaders, where regular citizens do not have access?
    5. The only point that may be true is the boosting of anti colonial movement, but it was all done so that the 'Communist International' would advance. Even there, communists lacked heavily in efficiency. As far as western global domination, it survived Communism, and will end only as the West tricked itself into committing suicide, as it is quite discontent with the world it has built.
    The plague of the last 300 years is the complete departure from reality, and the ultimate paradox is that it was all done in the name of realism. It was decided that nature is too harsh and too unforgiving so it has to be rejected and a new 'world' be built instead, based on scientific knowledge and methods. But this 'new world' is quite divorced from reality, by design. The paragraph cited above is an excellent illustration: in theory it sounds faultless, but it never existed.

  5. I've often thought if Stalin was in charge today rather than Trump, Stalin would find a way to build the Keystone XL pipeline and Trump's Wall simultaneously using you know who for labor