Author Topic: DM16.5 I Was Wrong  (Read 2553 times)

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Online Daen

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DM16.5 I Was Wrong
« on: January 04, 2022, 03:18:58 AM »
Daen's Musings #16.5- I was wrong

I was going to talk about something else, but recent studies have revealed a mistake I made, and I needed to address it immediately.

Some time ago, while lambasting capitalism and extolling socialism, I said the following phrase: "in the same way that the USSR botched communism, we've botched democracy".

I was wrong.

Please don't mistake me; I'm not changing my view on capitalism. It's still a garbage system that destroys lives and is strangling our planet. No, I was wrong about the USSR.

I was born in the early eighties, to parents who were born in the midwest. They were raised in the cold war era, and one set of grandparents especially, imbued their children with a hatred and fear of the 'red menace'. That parent of mine was massively influenced by that, and I inherited a minor influence myself. As such, I unconsciously thought of the USSR as bad, though not in the same way other Americans of my generation might. I thought of them as incompetent, rather than malicious or aggressive. I assumed that the reason their communist state failed was because they failed it.

Recently, I was educated otherwise. I had no idea how much the Russian people had suffered, for so long. I knew the fighting with Nazi Germany had been bad, but I hadn't known just how many Russians had been killed by the fascists. I'd read about the civil war, back in history class, but I didn't realize just how devastating it had been, as the Lenin-based Bolsheviks defended their newly-formed government against more, uh, traditional forces. I didn't know about the multiple famines they'd suffered, either. Stalin definitely contributed to the death toll, but he's not the only one to blame.

And perhaps most devastatingly, I wasn't aware of the whole scope of American interventionism during the Cold War.

Our media portrays the Cold War as a fight between equals. Two superpowers, with differing ideologies and customs, grappling in a not-quite-war, to gain supremacy over the other. Our media has lied to us, and I'm sorry to say I believed them.

In truth, Russia was in shambles even before the Cold War started. All of those things I just mentioned had weakened it to a large degree, and then we, the biggest bully in the playground, having recently developed nuclear weapons, decided to pick a fight with them.

Again, I need to clarify things. Stalin was a monster, comparable in attitude and callousness to Hitler himself. But unlike Nazi Germany, the USSR was not a fascist state. It was communist, at least for the majority of its run, and America didn't go to 'war' against them for self-preservation, like they'd done against the Nazis. No, the American opposition to the Soviet Union, and the incredible amount of propaganda levied to drum up public support for it, was economically motivated.

If the Soviets had survived WW2, and their communist society developed into a thriving and effective counterexample to American capitalism, it would have been a sign to the whole world. A beacon, claiming to everyone that maybe capitalism isn't the best way to do things! Now, a small communist community here or there around the world, our leaders might have been able to ignore, or explain away, but a whole nation? A massive chunk of land and people who'd effectively stood up to the Nazis? No, they had to nip that trend in the bud. This communist cancer had to be ended quickly, and brutally.

Thus began the Red Scare, the Duck and Cover exercises, the McCarthy-era witch hunts, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and so, so many other examples of our greed compelling us to crush their communist society.

Now, I still have a lot of problems with how the Soviets did things back in the day. I'm not trying to say their methods were good. I can say though, that their methods were effective. Despite the millions of people who'd died in the war, the famines, and the civil unrest, their society beat us in getting to space! I mean, what are the odds of a nation so badly bruised and broken getting one over on the nuclear-armed strongman who'd begun dominating the whole world? Clearly they were doing something right.

I'm starting to see that our leaders, both the financial ones and their political puppets, were actually right to be afraid of the Soviet Union. Not for the right reasons, of course, but still. Their long-term profits really were under threat by the Soviets, because of the example they were setting in that part of the world. So our puppeteers decided to claim that the Soviets were a significant threat to us, again and again for decades, and use that claim to undermine them at every level.

We're told that there were Soviet spies here in the US, working to overthrow democracy and put us under the sway of people like Stalin, and later Khrushchev. We're exposed to tv shows about Russian spies, even in the modern day. The Americans ended in 2018! While it's true that there was Soviet espionage going on in the States, it was by no means proportional to what we were doing to them. Describing the Cold War as an even fight would be like saying Palestine and Israel are evenly matched right now.

Then there were the proxy wars. The military actions we took in not-quite-soviet nations, in order to keep them as not-soviet as possible. Not to protect them, as we claimed, but to protect US! Or rather, to protect our money. After all, if the world saw just how effective communism (and by extension socialism) could be, they might realize how destructive capitalism is.

We nearly ended the whole world during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and we told the whole world that it was a defensive action. That it was the Russians who'd sent that ship full of missiles, in an aggressive attempt to give Cuba nuclear arms. What we conveniently failed to mention was that we'd struck first! We put missiles in Turkey to pressure them, before they ever considered arming Cuba against us! We were the aggressors, not them!

obligatory angry breathing

I've gone a bit out to sea here, as is normal for me. The point is, I was wrong. I let my unconscious bias against the USSR do my thinking for me, and described them as incompetent. When in fact, the communist society was crushed by a foreign power that couldn't afford- financially!- to let them survive.

That's the power of propaganda, isn't it? Whether it's tv shows convincing people that the Cold War was an even fight, or right-wing commentators constantly harping on the lies that immigrants are not to be trusted, to people defending the attempted coup on January 6 as a desperate act of patriotism!

We want to believe things, and that makes it easy to believe them. It's comforting to think that we're right, and that anyone who disagrees with us is wrong. Listening to dissenting voices and examining their data openly and fairly is already hard enough- but we have to go even further than that. We also need to consider if what they're saying might affect who we are, deep down.

I believed, body and soul, that the USSR was incompetent, and that it was the reason why it fell. There was no question within me. Now, it wasn't a huge part of my identity, and I don't feel particularly sad that it's gone, but I do regret that I didn't even question it. That I just assumed it was true, and acted accordingly. I'm ashamed of that.

I just hope that other wrong beliefs in my mind are challenged, and in yours as well.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2022, 05:31:18 AM by Daen »