Archives for posts with tag: Lenin

My previous post was about the parallel fate endured by those who had experienced nazism/fascism and/or communism.

My point being that nazism/fascism had been powered by the feelings of those attempting to regain their previous, higher, status while communism had been powered by the feelings of those not allowed to ‘move forward’ by the social constraints paralyzing their societies.

Currently, people are ‘confused’.
Some say communism had been better than nazism – for various reasons.
Others find various excuses for the way both regimes had treated the general population and, mainly, the ‘dissidents’. Or, specially for the nazi, the ‘differents’.
There is, though, a convergence point. Nominally, at least. All sides declaratively abhor the violence employed by both regimes.

To add to the confusion, after the 2007 financial meltdown, more and more ‘concerned individuals’ have fingered capitalism as the main culprit for all the tragedies experienced by humankind in the last century and a half.

For me, this is the straw which will break the camel’s back.

So.
Nazism/fascism – which is nothing but a ‘condensed’ form of corporatism, is bad.
Communism – a similarly centralized manner of social decision making, only differently sold to differently feeling masses, is also bad.
Capitalism – a decentralized manner of resource allocation, is considered to be more or less equivalent to both nazism/fascism and communism. All three of them have been declared equally criminal…

Then what?
What are we to do next? Hang ourselves in despair?
Reheat either fascism or communism?

Or look forward than our own noses?

Both those who had followed Hitler and Lenin/Stalin were feeling desperate. Desperation drives you to do stupid things. And there are plenty of unscrupulous people willing to profit from this kind of situations.

Do we really want to prevent ‘unpleasant’ experiences?
Then we need to go beyond blaming the likes of Hitler and Lenin/Stalin.
They should be dealt what’s rightfully theirs, no doubt about that.
But we also need to make sure that the ‘run of the mill’, the ordinary people who make things work in this world, no longer feel desperate.

How to do that?
Taking into account that contemporary capitalism seems to be faltering?

What was the common thing between nazism/fascism and communism?
The fact that decision making was concentrated in a very small number of hands? Which had led to both regimes ending up in abysmal failure?

What is the apparently unstoppable trend in our contemporary societies?
The apparently unstoppable wealth polarization?

Then let’s tax ourselves out … America worked fine during the ’50s and ’60, when the highest marginal tax was 91%…
Yeah, only those years had been followed by stagflation.
And let me remind you that communism can also be interpreted as ‘100% tax followed by a comprehensive redistribution’. And it also failed.

Then how about ‘libertarianism’? No taxes, no government…

But how about less extremism? Of any kind?

How about remembering that liberal capitalism has made possible all that we have today? Liberal as in free-market capitalism, of course.

Free market as in competition working both ways.
Entrepreneurs competing among themselves for clients AND resources. The workforce being, of course, a resource.
The ‘compensated’ workforce representing the bulk of the clients…

What we seem to have forgotten today is that the circle must be round. If we want the ‘show to go on’, of course.

If some of us concentrate too much control over the rest of us – either way, the circle becomes lopsided. And everybody has everything to loose.

No matter whether this happens as a consequence of nazism/fascism, communism or even capitalism.

At least, capitalism has proved to be manageable.
Let’s make it work, again.

Until we discover something better, of course.

And why are we still trying to solve this riddle?

‘Cause this is indeed a riddle…

Remember those metaphorical stories whose heroes end up having to find the answer to one in order to save themselves/the day?
Like Sophocles’ “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?”

A riddle, of course, being a question which cannot be answered until the individuals attempting to solve it stick their heads out of the box into which the riddle had been framed.

So. Individualism? Collectivism?

Having grown up under communist rule – supposedly the most collectivist social arrangement to date, I can testify that there is no such thing as collectivism without individualism nor individualism without collectivism.

Libertarians’ mantra is that socialism/communism – and even liberalism, as Americans understand it, is a form of collectivism. And, of course, that collectivism is bad for you.
Socialists, on the other hand, maintain that the current situation – which is seen as being bad, is the consequence of the growingly extreme individualism which plagues modern societies.

Interestingly enough, both sides are simultaneously right.
Communism is indeed bad for you and the bad aspects of today’s society are a consequence of callous selfishness.

On the other hand, all communist societies are composed of a huge mass of obedient subjects AND a small number of individual, and very individualistic, leaders.
Similarly, all developed capitalist societies – including those sporting huge discrepancies between the shrinking number of haves and the growing number of utterly destitutes, have reached the current level of sophistication because most of their members continue to share the belief that ‘all men have been created equal and that all of them have certain, nonnegotiable, rights: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’.

“Share the belief…”
But wasn’t this the very definition of collectivism?
A social arrangement where the most important possession belongs to THE public?
Was there anything more consequential for what is currently known as the ‘Euro-Atlantic’ civilization than this shared belief? Other peoples have been in possession of way more abundant natural resources. Had reached ‘astronomical’ levels of civilization way before we were even able to wipe our noses… And yet…

Haven’t we, individual thinkers, figured out yet that unless we agree on ‘the basics’, we’ll be easy prey for the callous ‘snake oil merchantmen’ who have no qualms to use collectivist slogans to pitch some of us against the others?

Haven’t we figured out, yet, that there is no ‘political collectivism’ without fear? All collectivist social arrangements, both socialist and fascist/nazist, have been built using fear/contempt (of the other) to cement ‘the people’ into believing the lies proffered by false prophets. Lenin, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao… Lies proffered by callously individualistic political agents… bent on satisfying their own domineering instincts and making ‘good use’ of pre-existing conditions.

Haven’t we figured out yet that individualism, the tame version developed along with the good aspects of the Western Civilization, is, by nature, the very beneficial consequence of the mutual respect which (still) exists among the members of our societies?

So, to answer the riddle, we need to understand that there is no real conflict between bona fide individualism and bona fide collectivism.
Just as there is no conflict between two perpendicular lines.

Since, by trade, I’m a mechanical engineer, I’ll use a very practical metaphor to illustrate this idea.
Consider a pressurized Oxygen tank. The more pressure inside, the more Oxygen you can store in it. The more useful the tank. Only if you ramp up the pressure too much, you end up with an explosion.
In this situation, you might consider ‘pressure’ to be in conflict with the ‘walls of the tank’, right?
Wrong. The conflict is only in your mind. Pressure is simply perpendicular to those walls. The more pressure those walls can withstand, the more useful that tank is for you.

But it’s your responsibility to determine the thickness and resilience of those walls. It’s your responsibility to choose how much to ramp up the pressure.
For the very simple reason that that tank is yours.
It is you who will suffer the consequences.


Peste puțin timp, vor fi 30 de ani de când a implodat lagărul comunist.

O jumătate de viață de om.

Momentul invită la reflexie. Mai există supraviețuitori în putere și încă lucizi.
În același timp, noua generație – care doar a auzit de cele întâmplate sub fostul regim, începe să preia controlul asupra unui număr din ce în ce mai mare de ‘butoane’.
O parte semnificativă dintre cei care au experimentat comunismul au dezvoltat tot felul de nostalgii iar o parte din ce în ce mai mare a ‘inocenților’ se comportă ca și cum n-ar fi înțeles nimic din toată tărășenia.

Ei bine, există două feluri de comunism.
Cel imaginat de Marx și cel experimentat de ‘argații’ lui Lenin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, etc.
Diferențele dintre ele sunt majore dar asemănările sunt și mai importante.

În imaginația lui Marx, comunismul urma să apară atunci când suficient de mulți dintre membrii unei societăți urmau să se prindă că erau exploatați de o minoritate.
În practică. Lenin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot și ceilalți s-au folosit de nemulțumirea maselor pentru a rasturna ordinea socială. Și pentru a face în așa fel încât o minoritate, a lor, să acapareze toată puterea.

Cu alte cuvinte, diferența între comunismul teoretic al lui Marx și cel practic al lui Lenin & company este că la Marx apariția comunismului urma să fie mai mult sau mai puțin naturală în timp ce Lenin și gașca sa au dat dovadă de un oportunism feroce.

Asemănările mi se par mult mai importante. Tocmai pentru că oferă mult mai multe informații utile.
Pentru început, trebuie sa constatăm că imaginația lui Marx a fost suficient de mare încât să prevadă chiar și oportunismul lui Lenin. Pe undeva pe la începutul manifestului comunist, Marx îi descria pe comuniști ca fiind „avangarda clasei muncitoare” – oameni cu o conștiință socială foarte ridicată, care se pun în fruntea luptei de emancipare a proletariatului și care se sacrifică pentru binele societății în ansamblu… Și uite-așa o barba-avea…
A doua asemănare se referă la minorități.
În ambele variante, energia socială care face posibilă apariția comunismului este nemulțumirea maselor cu privire la regimul/ordinea socială instaurat de minoritatea aflată la putere înante ca noua minoritate, cea comunistă, să o detroneze pe prima.
Al treilea numitor comun, și cel mai important, este chiar energia socială despre care vorbeam în paragraful anterior. Și care nu ar fi putut fi manipulată în mod criminal de alde Lenin dacă nu ar fi existat.
Și nu ar fi existat dacă Nicolae al II-lea ar fi luat exemplu de la vărul său care statea pe tronul Angliei în loc să plece urechea la predicile lui Rasputin… Sau dacă în China ar fi avut loc, tot de sus în jos, ehivalentul chinez al revolutiei Meiji… sau dacă interese ‘obscure’ nu l-ar fi propulsat și ținut pe Batista la putere în Cuba… și așa mai departe…

Până la urmă societatea umană seamănă foarte bine cu o baterie electrică.
Fără o ‘diferență’ de potențial între cei doi poli, bateria e moartă. Nu produce nici un fel de curent. Poți să o arunci liniștit la gunoi – sau să o reciclezi, dacă ții la viitorul planetei.
Pe de altă parte, dacă diferența de potențial crește peste limitele rezonabilului relativ, curentul o ia pe scurtătură.
În loc să circule prin exteriorul bateriei, și să producă ceva constructiv – de exemplu bunăstarea majorității membrilor comunității, o ia ‘pe direct’. ‘Face scurt.’ Adică topește izolația și ‘își găsește liniștea’ mult prea devreme, înainte să producă ceva cât de cât folositor.

Cum apare acest gen de ‘supratensiune’?

Mai țineți minte „Ucenicul Vrăjitor” al lui Goethe?
Cam despre același lucru e vorba și aici. Orice electrician care se respectă știe că nu poți să depășești anumite limite. Că nu poți să concentrezi prea multă energie într-o portiune prea mică din rețea.
Din păcate, pentru ei și pentru cei care le dau crezare, ‘ucenicii vrăjitori’ nu țin cont de nimic. Toți fac niște greșeli din ce în ce mai mari. Greșeli care, la rândul lor, se acumulează și dau naștere unor noi ‘supratensiuni’.
După cum bine știm, comunismul s-a prăbușit la fel de dureros ca țarismul.
Sau ca orice altă forma de autoritarism/monopolism/autarhie.

Ei bine, până când suficient de mulți oameni – și în special dintre cei aflați la putere, nu vor înțelege că prăbușirea unei forme de autoritarism nu justifică în nici un fel existența oricărei alteia, cercul vicios va continua să se tot închidă.

Activists dismantle Ukraine’s biggest monument to Lenin at a rally in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Sept. 28, 2014. Photo: Igor Chekachkov/Associated Press

Wall Street Journal reports that Ukrainian people are somewhat baffled by  a new law banning the use of Soviet (and Nazi) symbols.

“While few outside Crimea and the rebel strongholds of eastern Ukraine want to join Russia, not all Ukrainians are ready to repudiate a joint history that remains dear to many across generations.

“I wanted to tell my child that there was ‘Uncle Lenin,’ and at one point Mama took part in a big celebration in Kiev” in honor of the first Soviet leader, said 37-year-old Svetlana Arshavina, who lives in this suburb northwest of the capital.

“Now what will I tell her? That they took Uncle Lenin and smashed him to pieces?” she asked.”

Isn’t it rather strange that the nephews of those who survived the 1921 Famine still harbor any respect for the likes of Lenin?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-tries-adapting-to-life-without-lenin-1432324644
https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/other/5rfhjy.htmhttp://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/famine-1919.htm

This image constantly pops up all over Facebook.

And while the caption does harbor some truth it somehow completely misses the point.

So:

– Those who don’t study the history have all the chances to repeat it but only if they are just as callous as their ancestors.

– Those who do study the history and stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it have studied it in vain. They still haven’t got a clue about what really happened outside those books they’ve been reading. Had they learned a real understanding of what went on they would have been able, and willing, to explain it to their contemporaries and thus help them move forward, to a totally different set of mistakes waiting to be made.
Just as Plato (and Marx after him) thought of having found the absolute truth and did his best to lead his people to it …

But don’t despair. There is a safer way. To let things take their own course, to develop naturally. Just as Lao-Tzu taught us.

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-the-wicked-leader-is-he-who-the-people-despise-the-good-leader-is-he-who-the-people-revere-the-lao-tzu-188515.jpg

Karl Marx and Max Weber, two different pupils of Plato:

https://nicichiarasa.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/karl-marx-and-max-weber-two-different-pupils-of-plato/

wind back history

Humankind is a vast and extremely diverse collection of human individuals grouped in various ‘nations’.
Each of these nations have evolved in certain geographical and historical circumstances and, because of that, is different from all others.

Still, there is one thing all of them have in common, one thing that has happened, in various degrees, to all surviving nations.

Statistically, individual members of all nations have constantly grown more and more autonomous.

True, this was not a linear development. Actually it was not even consistent, from time to time some nations have reverted, for longer or shorter periods, to states where individual autonomy was curtailed but on the whole personal autonomy has constantly increased.
And another thing. Those instances when the ‘march’ towards more individual autonomy was halted or reversed coincided with historical hiccups: civil wars, economic hardships, natural disasters, external aggression… things like that. Never in the entire history of man has this process been halted without that stop being caused by some forceful event, just because an individual or a collection of individuals have decided so.

Franco transformed Spain into a dictatorship only after being helped by external military forces.
Hitler became ‘Fuehrer’ in the special set of circumstances created by the inept way in which the allies treated Germany after WWI combined with the Great Depression.
Lenin transformed Russia into the biggest gulag on Earth helped by circumstances produced by the same WWI while Mao rose to power in the aftermath of WWII.

In our days Putin has been able to tighten, again, the screws on Russia mainly because of the corruption and greed that sapped from within the Russian society while the ‘Western World’ has become, almost overnight and completely against the natural course of nature, an immense Big Brother set only after some nuts declared war on the civilized world under the pretext of Islam.

What is going on now in Hong Kong is a first. An entire community, and not a small or insignificant one, is having its freedoms curtailed simply because some people gathered around a table have decided so.

Living in a communist society I was submitted to ‘political classes’.
Besides being indoctrinated we were pressed to read ‘the classics’ and this how I ended up reading some Lenin.
One concept stuck to my mind. At some point Lenin was explaining that ideas are like axes: very sharp, able to do a lot of things but powerless without a handle to leverage the force with which they are wielded. With axes it is simple, just attach them to a wooden handle and you’re in business.

With ideas things are a little trickier. If you want them to take hold among the targeted section of the population you need to ‘seduce’/convince credible but gullible members of that group that those ideas are good, for the society at large and for them in particular. In theory this should be difficult since people are (supposedly) rational. In practice it is not so. Even ‘sophisticated’ intellectuals have allowed themselves to act as ‘ax handles’. And no, I’m not going to mention a long list of prestigious people who praised communism, fascism and other aberrations.

I’ll just make good use of my memories.
In 1983, while studying Mechanical Engineering at the Bucharest Polytechnic a Mathematics Professor tried to convince me that wearing a beard will be detrimental to my career. At least he was speaking in good faith and in the end he let me be.
Next year, 1984, I wasn’t so lucky. I had to shave, just for one day, because another Professor (?!?) stated, point blank, that he wouldn’t allow me to take the exam if wearing a beard. I showed him my IDs. In all of them I was sporting a lot of ‘facial hair’, including in the one identifying me as a army reserve officer (Military service was compulsory at that time and was almost the norm for college educated people to rise to the rank of officers). He wasn’t the least impressed.

Now it doesn’t make the slightest difference that one of them was sincere in the conviction that his advice was sound while the other was a plain rascal (and a communist party mid level boss), both of them were efficient ‘axe handles’ who helped transforming young people into obedient sheep. One would have expected differently. They were “Professors”!
 

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