Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

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Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Egalitarian on Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:44 pm

What are your thoughts on them? Are they true socialist/communist states as the media portrays them? Could we do better with syndicalism? Would Marxism or any other variant of realistic socialism be much better in practice? Would you prefer them over the West? Why did they collapse? Why were they corrupted? Many questions need answers. . . Embarassed

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by RedSun on Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:11 pm

Egalitarian wrote:What are your thoughts on them? Are they true socialist/communist states as the media portrays them?

Yes, but they were state socialist. It's important to make it clear that socialism can but doesn't have to be like the USSR and its satellites.

Could we do better with syndicalism?

I think the experience of syndicalist states confirms this, but I don't know enough about Revolutionary Catalonia to say. Yugoslavia certainly did better (freer, more prosperous), apart from its awkward hybrid of state socialism and syndicalism which forced dependence upon borrowed money from the West.

Would Marxism or any other variant of realistic socialism be much better in practice?

Marxism is more the theory, the critique of capitalism, than the method for creating change. Almost any communist state could be said to be 'Marxist'. What does 'realistic socialism' mean?

I'm afraid I don't know enough to try to answer the others.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Celtiberian on Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:35 pm

Egalitarian wrote:What are your thoughts on them?

For an Eastern bloc state, I think they performed relatively well considering the limitations inherent in the state socialist model.

Are they true socialist/communist states as the media portrays them?

It really depends on how one chooses to define true socialism. Some socialist critics characterize(d) state socialism as having been a manifestation of "state capitalism," but I feel there's little basis for equating the two—aside from their shared authoritarian structure of the workplace. "True" socialism is a subjective notion. In my opinion, state socialism is but a variety of socialism, and not one which I particularly care for.

As for communism, that's another matter altogether. Many people interpret communism as representing an economic arrangement wherein people produce according to their abilities and consume according to their needs. Thus far, such a system has only existed on a relatively small scale during certain moments in history. I'm sure that many of the communist party bureaucrats in East Germany sincerely felt they were working toward that goal, while others were mere opportunists.

Could we do better with syndicalism?

I believe so, yes. The theoretical and empirical evidence suggests so, anyway.

Would Marxism or any other variant of realistic socialism be much better in practice?

As RedSun mentioned, Marxism is a method of analysis.

Would you prefer them over the West?

I actually would prefer to live within a state socialist regime when compared with capitalism.

Why did they collapse? Why were they corrupted?

East Germany collapsed for the same reason the rest of the Eastern bloc states did: betrayal by the party elite. The nomenklatura stood to personally benefit by introducing the liberalization of their economies, and that temptation proved irresistible over time. Most of them weren't ideologically committed to socialism and viewed their nation's means of production as their own personal property to sell. I suggest reading David M. Kotz's Revolution From Above: The Demise of the Soviet System.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by RedSun on Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:40 pm

Celtiberian wrote:"True" socialism is a subjective notion.

I think 'socialism' is more a set of goals than a method. State socialism is a (poor, in my opinion) way of achieving the goals of socialism. As is syndicalism. Therefore, if one fails, it simply means that another method must be tried, because regardless of the methods' failings, the goals remain desirable.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Altair on Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:35 am

Egalitarian wrote:What are your thoughts on them?

I abhor the concept of state socialism as an end.

Would Marxism or any other variant of realistic socialism be much better in practice?

Realistically, a socialist society would not be confined by strict definitions, but would rather be one that combines multiple principles and be able to adapt and grow in accordance to the needs of the people and the environment. It must have a deep connection with the Earth itself, a concept usually overlooked by capitalists and socialists alike. The exploitation of the Earth is as real as the exploitation of the worker.

Why did they collapse? Why were they corrupted?

The "Right deviation" (especially within the German Communist Party) was a topic discussed rather extensively by Stalin himself. It is worthwhile to read about, and may illuminate your understanding of the issue.

The meat of the problem was that those deviants were willing to allow what was normally considered to be capitalist policy into a socialist nation, which would in turn open the theoretical floodgates and make it easier for the seeds of capitalism to be planted once more.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Mithr4ndir on Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:03 am

Egalitarian wrote:What are your thoughts on them? Are they true socialist/communist states as the media portrays them? Could we do better with syndicalism? Would Marxism or any other variant of realistic socialism be much better in practice? Would you prefer them over the West? Why did they collapse? Why were they corrupted? Many questions need answers. . . Embarassed

- USSR told how to lead Eastern Europe. I don't know if the names are the same in english, however, the creation of the Kominform in 1947, the CAEM and the COMECON a year later (I think), created an unilateralism between USSR and the six concerned countries. Warsow pact in 1955 officialy ended bilateralism. In june 1948, Jdanov proclaimed the USSR as the leading role, in the east anti-imperialist edge. According to this, the "socialism" in the "satellites" of the USSR can't be real socialism. It has nothing to deal with it but the original Idea, that means a strong state. Politically, economically and militarly speaking, the USSR had to be followed, and the six eastern european countries had to follow it, whitout being allowed to adapt to the country. It's a very important point, indeed, in the 50s, when these measures were taken, Tchecoslovaquia and DDR, were industrialised while Roumania for example was very rural and so under-industrialised.

--> If USSR can be called a socialist state, then I'd rather call it Leninist, then Stalinist one, cause USSR tried to apply the marxist idea, but this try doesn't mean there is no other way to reach marxism, communism or whatever, the six countries under USSR' trusteeship, do not deserve this name at all, even the soviet specialists didn't call these countries socialist ones !!

- Concerning syndicalism, I have no idea, cause I am not sure of what syndicalism is. I can only say that I believe the people isn't able to know what's good for him, and only state can, thanks to the education. The only way people can influence the state is when the latter asked the needs of the population, influencing the production.

-As said, marxism isn't really a manual that you have to read and apply. You must interpret what is said.
I do believe an authoritarian regime is a necessity, but totalitarianism must be avoid. The people has to be able to tell what's wrong in the regime, and the government has to take it into account.

- The poverty was extreme, and on grounds of a heavy industry production based on, everybody lacked of everything, so I would have preferred to live in the West at that time. With a more human society, where the major needs would be satisfied, I would accept to live with a lot less than today, if everyone could live correctly.

-Why did they collapse ? Very simple, the USSR rigidity. But it's understandable. The "démocraties populaires" as they are called in French, which were under USSR's Trusteeship, embodied the ideological success of the USSR, and so, the USSR couldn't let these countries become independant. It permitted to the USSR to show how universal its model was. They legitimated USSR's existence, no more less, because they were for the USSR, the proof the October revolution and soviet socialism wasn't an accident.

If you need any precision, please ask Smile

Theo.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Celtiberian on Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:20 pm

Mithr4ndir wrote:Concerning syndicalism, I have no idea, cause I am not sure of what syndicalism is.

Simply put, syndicalism is direct workers' control of the means of production and distribution. If you're interested in how such a system would function, I suggest viewing this thread.

I can only say that I believe the people isn't able to know what's good for him, and only state can, thanks to the education.

I consider this position to be highly paternalistic and unwarranted. What is the state if not merely people operating within institutions of governance? In other words, if people are innately incompetent, why would it be advisable to appoint other people to lord over them? Moreover, if such a pessimistic view of humanity were correct, it would condemn the species to an eternity of instability, crisis, and war. Fortunately, I've not read any irrefutable evidence which would vindicate this Hobbesian notion.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Leon Mcnichol on Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:49 pm

Mithr4ndir wrote:- The poverty was extreme, and on grounds of a heavy industry production based on, everybody lacked of everything, so I would have preferred to live in the West at that time. With a more human society, where the major needs would be satisfied, I would accept to live with a lot less than today, if everyone could live correctly.

I have to disagree with this statement, based on first hand accounts from polish citizens i heard. To quote what was told to me "everybody had a lot of money during the 'communist' times, there just wasn't as much variety of products to buy as there is today in capitalism. But now we have no money to buy big things, like tractors."

This was told to me by a farming family.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Mithr4ndir on Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:56 pm

My grandparents lived in Poland before, and after it came under USSR domination.
My grnadmother described me the situation as following : Before the USSR, It was okay, we lacked of nothing. We didn't even have the tickets (I don't have the correct word, the paper that permitted you to get products, but in a restricted quantity). When USSR came, it changed, it was harder, but the health was free.
However I have no doubt what you say is true, I may explain thanks to the fact that the concerned family lived after the riots in Poznan (while my grandparents who fled Poland to come into France did before the riots), I don't remember the year, but around 1955-56 I think, that permit to the polish to get more liberties concerning their domestic policy. (Which at that time didn't recognize the USSR as the leader anymore, thanks to these riots). Why USSR didn't intervene ? Because Poland stayed in Warsow pact, and that it didn't ask for its independance, but a bit of autonomy.

Maybe should I precise my thoughts concerning this "I can only say that I believe the people isn't able to know what's good for him, and only state can, thanks to the education.".
I absolutely agree with you, but I badly expressed my thoughts. The unability of the people to lead themselves is not innate to me, but actually, the situation is such that they wouldn't be able to lead themselves, and only the education could correct this. I hope I have been understandable...

I apologize to you for this misunderstanding, my bad, sorry.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Celtiberian on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:20 pm

Mithr4ndir wrote:Maybe should I precise my thoughts concerning this "I can only say that I believe the people isn't able to know what's good for him, and only state can, thanks to the education.".
I absolutely agree with you, but I badly expressed my thoughts. The unability of the people to lead themselves is not innate to me, but actually, the situation is such that they wouldn't be able to lead themselves, and only the education could correct this. I hope I have been understandable...

So you're contending that people will have to undergo some educational process in order to be competent enough to govern their lives? If so, I agree to an extent—since they've hitherto operated within predominantly authoritarian institutions—but such a process wouldn't require an authoritarian state. During the transition from a socialist market to a full planned economy, syndical schools should be established in order to prepare individuals for the task of workers' self-management, as well as to equip them with a basic knowledge of participatory planning.

I apologize to you for this misunderstanding, my bad, sorry.

There's no need to apologize, comrade.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Mithr4ndir on Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:53 pm

I personnally have not a lot to add, I agree with you comrade.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade Tito on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:45 pm

Poverty was almost zero in Eastern Bloc states, just the living standard was not as high as in the West. And Eastern Bloc states were never a part of the USSR more than West Germany or France was a part of USA. I am from Slovakia and I know how life in socialist Czechoslovakia was from parents and older people. Poland and Romania were poor because they got into heavy debt. In the 1980s, Czechoslovakia was the least indepted socialist state. There was no shortage of food (my father still fondly remembers pancakes, fries, meat etc. that his mother [my grandmother] cooked him). The average caloric intake in the CSSR was above 3500 kilocalories, 8th biggest in the world. There were some waiting lines in the shops through, and foreign fruit like oranges or bananas was almost impossible to get outside of 1st May and Christmas. The real shortages were not in food or basic necessities, rather, cars, bicycles color TVs etc. Food was subsidized and very cheap, but electronics very expansive. You would not encounter bread lines outside of small villages, but you'd see plenty of lines for bicycles, jeans etc. Very few people had color TVs until the mid 1980s (half of the population had color TVs in 1989 - although all the others had BW TVs which were normal household items since the 1960s). Practically everyone had a radio by the end of 1950s.

Overall? I'd say it was much better than today, many people earn 350 Euro/month today and we have higher than German prices here, drugs, violent attacks on the street.... Everybody had housing before 1989. Kids were having fun in Pioneer camps (basically a communist version of the Scouts) instead of taking drugs and loitering. Having a job was guaranteed by the state, and social parasites were punished by a prison sentence. 2/3 of the price of food, toiletries and housing was paid by the state. Young families were given sums of money "for a good start" since the 1970s.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade_Joe on Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:12 pm

Comrade Tito wrote: just the living standard was not as high as in the West.

The living standard in some eastern countries was higher than in some western countries like Portugal, Spain or Greece. The Human Development Index was also higher. Even the Baltics as a part of USSR were performing better than those countries and the GDP per Capita was indeed higher in Estonia than in other eastern bloc country. I can provide some figures if someone want it.
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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade Tito on Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:23 am

True, but then, these 3 countries were agricultural, fascist dictatorships during a big part during the Cold War. People just think of them as advanced because they lie in Western Europe, 1970s Portugal had 30 percent illiteracy and child mortality almost as bad as many third world countries. All of the socialist bloc countries had very low child mortality and practically no illiteracy.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade_Joe on Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:07 pm

Comrade Tito wrote:True, but then, these 3 countries were agricultural, fascist dictatorships during a big part during the Cold War. People just think of them as advanced because they lie in Western Europe, 1970s Portugal had 30 percent illiteracy and child mortality almost as bad as many third world countries. All of the socialist bloc countries had very low child mortality and practically no illiteracy.

Yes, but they remained western capitalist countries didn't they? I said this because when we talk about the West we cannot just referring to the wealthiest countries as the capitalists like to do but all of them, regardless its political and economic conditions. And they were not more agricultural than some of the eastern economies.
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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade Tito on Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:22 pm

Comrade_Joe wrote:Yes, but they remained western capitalist countries didn't they? I said this because when we talk about the West we cannot just referring to the wealthiest countries as the capitalists like to do but all of them, regardless its political and economic conditions. And they were not more agricultural than some of the eastern economies.

True, but people in Slovakia when they hear West they think "Austria or Switzerland" instead of "Portugal and Spain". And while eastern economies had huge agricultural sectors, this was because we didn't import almost any food from cheap labour countries. CSSR or GDR could not afford its citizens to all become lawyers, doctors and "service sector" jobs. However, unlike Salazarist Portugal or Francoist Spain, Eastern Bloc had a huge industrial sector.

I am not arguing they were not western capitalist countries, they totally were, just pointing out that people here during communism knew western capitalism only from movies shown on Austrian TV (it is a neighbour country), thus it lead them to have idealistic view of it.

By the way, it makes me facepalm that in one of the "Similiar topics" titled "Why do YOU think the Soviet Union fell?" on worldforum somebody says that famine during the 1980s was a factor, even through the USSR had no famine since 1948. Do people really think queues mean famine? Why it is that big queues in 1980s USSR supposedly are famine when the average caloric consumption was over 3000 Kcal/day even in 1989, while in India, 50 percent of children are malnourished yet supposedly "India achieved self-sufficiency in food and had no famine since the 1960s."?

Also, the factor for poverty of Francoist Spain and Salazarist Portugal is not the agriculturalness per se, it was the atrociously feudal land relations. In Portugal as late as 1970s, 90 percent of land was owned by 5 percent of the population.


Last edited by Comrade Tito on Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:51 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade_Joe on Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:51 pm

Comrade Tito wrote:True, but people in Slovakia when they hear West they think "Austria or Switzerland" instead of "Portugal and Spain". And while eastern economies had huge agricultural sectors, this was because we didn't import almost any food from cheap labour countries. CSSR or GDR could not afford its citizens to all become lawyers, doctors and "service sector" jobs. However, unlike Salazarist Portugal or Francoist Spain, Eastern Bloc had a huge industrial sector.

I am not arguing they were not western capitalist countries, they totally were, just pointing out that people here during communism knew western capitalism only from movies shown on Austrian TV (it is a neighbour country), thus it lead them to have idealistic view of it.

By the way, it makes me facepalm that in one of the "Similiar topics" titled "Why do YOU think the Soviet Union fell?" on worldforum somebody says that famine was a factor, even through the USSR had no famine since 1948. Do people really think queues mean famine? Why it is that big queues in 1980s USSR supposedly are famine when the average caloric consumption was over 3000 Kcal/day even in 1989, while in India, 50 percent of children are malnourished yet supposedly "India achieved self-sufficiency in food and had no famine since the 1960s."?

Also, the factor for poverty of Francoist Spain and Salazarist Portugal is not the agriculturalness per se, it was the atrociously feudal land relations. In Portugal as late as 1970s, 90 percent of land was owned by 5 percent of the population.

Well, I'm from Portugal so I'm in a different position. Here in Portugal the eastern bloc was seen and always presented as extremely poor when they were richer than us. The living standards were always shown as very low and harsh. This was the result of intense anti-communist propaganda and still has effects over people today. A lot of portuguese people gets surprised when I show to them that the standard of living in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and some parts of USSR was higher than in Portugal. Even Cuba today is portrayed as a very poor country but when we compare it with another countries of the region we realize that it is not so poor.

The level of industrialization in Portugal and Spain was also significant in the 60's when the process started. I don't have figures to compare now but I believe that the level of industrialization of those two countries were perhaps similar to Hungary or Romania.
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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade Tito on Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:53 pm

I wouldn't say just "some parts", I would say the entire Eastern Bloc and USSR. Even bourgeois sources mention Portugal having 30 percent of its population illiterate under Salazar while even Romania had everybody literate exscept for some really old ladies living in really rural areas.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Egalitarian on Wed May 02, 2012 4:35 pm

Why did Lenin brand his New Economic Policy as state capitalism when the man was an avid socialist?

Why exactly did Trotsky and Stalin despise each other? Were they not on positive terms with their mutual comrade, Lenin?

Why did the DDR become an unparalleled police state compared to its predecessor fascist state?
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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Celtiberian on Wed May 02, 2012 6:19 pm

Egalitarian wrote:Why did Lenin brand his New Economic Policy as state capitalism when the man was an avid socialist?

Because the New Economic Policy was a form of capitalism—it was a standard capitalist market economy with a minor nationalized sector of industry, presided over by the communist party. With the failure of "war communism," Lenin felt it prudent to attempt to develop the Soviet Union's forces of production through the use of capitalist social relations. I don't think that he was particularly pleased with that turn of events, but he likely viewed it as a regrettable means to an end. It wasn't until Stalin's administration that a policy of centralized economic planning, i.e., state socialism, was initiated.

Why exactly did Trotsky and Stalin despise each other? Were they not on positive terms with their mutual comrade, Lenin?

Trotsky had initially been a Menshevik, so he hadn't always been on good terms with Lenin. But that obviously changed once Trotsky became a Bolshevik. The reason Stalin and Trotsky despised one another was basically because they were on opposite ends of a number of important theoretical debates. For example, prior to the establishment of central planning, Stalin was a member of Bukharin's rightist faction on the question of which policies to pursue to develop the Soviet economy. The rightists favored a gradualist, market approach; whereas Trotsky was part of the so-called "ultra leftist" faction, which supported a more socialistic path. They also vehemently disagreed with one another on the issue of how best to support the development of world socialism; Trotsky supported the permanent revolution theory, while Stalin supported the theory of Socialism in One Country.

Why did the DDR become an unparalleled police state compared to its predecessor fascist state?

Many of the claims regarding the level of surveillance in the German Democratic Republic are greatly exaggerated. One often encounters the famous quote that there was "one Stasi officer per every 166 East German citizens," which sounds absolutely horrifying until you put it in the proper context. There were roughly 17 million citizens of the DDR and 102,000 employees at the Ministry for State Security. However, that that figure is the total number of employees in general (e.g., secretaries, janitors, filing clerks, data analysts, etc.), not actual Stasi officers. Another thing which needs to be understood is that, unlike the contemporaneous CIA and MI6, the East German Ministry for State Security's operations were not computerized at all—thereby further inflating the number staff required to perform routine tasks. I'm obviously not trying to justify the internal surveillance which did exist in the DDR, I'm only saying that it wasn't quite as extreme as bourgeois sources typically claim.

As for why internal surveillance was more severe than that experienced under fascism, there are numerous reasons. One important factor to bear in mind, however, is that Eastern European state socialism lasted significantly longer than did fascism, so it's really unfair to compare the two. Nevertheless, to summarize the issue, whenever the state has unaccountable authority and the geopolitical climate is especially volatile (as it was throughout the Cold War), increased levels of internal surveillance and suppression can be expected to follow.

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"Nationality. . . is a historic, local fact which, like all real and harmless facts, has the right to claim general acceptance. . . Every people, like every person, is involuntarily that which it is and therefore has a right to be itself. . . Nationality is not a principle; it is a legitimate fact, just as individuality is. Every nationality, great or small, has the incontestable right to be itself, to live according to its own nature. This right is simply the corollary of the general principle of freedom."
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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade Tito on Thu May 03, 2012 4:27 am

The fascist state was way more opressive than the GDR. In the GDR, dissent was usually punished by denial of university education or getting thrown out of your job. In Nazi Germany it meant getting into a concentration camp and getting murdered along with the Jews and Slavs. Want to know another society with more surveilance than Nazi Germany? Any modern country, facebook is better for spying than a million Gestapo agents, Nazis did not have as good a surveilance as the Stasi or any modern secret service. Nazis were not big on surveilance yes, they liked raw brutality and mass torture/slaughter more. And GDR spent actually less money on police/secret police operations per capita than the FRG.

Fascists and cappies like to say that communists are worse than Nazis but it is total bullshit.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Pantheon Rising on Fri May 04, 2012 8:42 am

Can anyone recommend any good books pertaining to the DDR? I contemplated heading to the book store and searching some up, but I want to save myself the time of stumbling through different titles trying to avoid anti-socialist books filled with exaggerated facts and false accounts.

Something un-biased or written from a pro-socialist perspective would be nice.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Diktatur on Wed May 09, 2012 8:14 am

DDR is the only western, aryan example of communism. Since combine germanism with communism the country is to be called "nationalbolshevism" (a rare idelogy). DDR system was called stalinism, not communism in general, such as Soviet was stalinist. Today excists 2 stalinist countries (but many socialist): Belarus and North Korea. And the rest of us are soon back on track... We make sure stalinism Reich again threatens Americas destroction of fine old Europe. We dont need your TVshows.

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Balkan Beast on Wed May 09, 2012 10:12 am

Diktatur wrote:DDR is the only western, aryan example of communism. Since combine germanism with communism the country is to be called "nationalbolshevism" (a rare idelogy). DDR system was called stalinism, not communism in general, such as Soviet was stalinist. Today excists 2 stalinist countries (but many socialist): Belarus and North Korea. And the rest of us are soon back on track... We make sure stalinism Reich again threatens Americas destroction of fine old Europe. We dont need your TVshows.
I am fairly certain that Nazbol is not strictly germanic, and can be applied to any cultural group just like nazism.
Why do you envy Germany so much though? I am quite curious.
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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

Post by Comrade Tito on Wed May 09, 2012 3:30 pm

GDR was not nazbol. And Diktatur is a creepy dictatorship racist fetishist?

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Re: Deutschland Democratic Republic and other states of the Soviet Union

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