Your constant attempts to paint the USSR as a nation that was as great nation as the US during its Soviet days ignore the fact that life under the Soviets was simply much worse than in the US at the equivalent time.
I never make attempts to paint the USSR to be "as great [a] nation as the US during its Soviet days." I would emphasise that this depends on who we're talking about -- for whom was it better or worse? -- and when, and also depending on what you consider "better". I don't accord with your desire to reduce everything to a simple maxim. It'd be nice if you could qualitatively say that something is "better" or "worse", but the reality is that it's a very, very complex question.
Of course, I sense also that whereas I, along with all Soviet citizens I know, make a distinction between "Soviet life" and "Stalin-era life", you don't. This is a substantial factor in this discussion. Like infinitera pointed out to you the first time, Stalin was a horrendous tyrant with the best of them. Your sarcastic "remember, Stalin was not a Soviet!" doesn't ring true with any Russian I know, and certainly doesn't strike me as any spasm of insight on your part. While Stalinism is part of Soviet history, it would be improper to not afford it a very emphatic distinction.
If I were to make generalisations about 20th century German history, I'd have to include the Nazis. What am I going to do, claim that they were not German? That their loyal subjects were not German? Of course not. But it would be a serious academic and practical error to not view the Nazi era as something in and of itself; it would not be correct to say that the Nazis are characteristically German. Some cynics (particularly Holocaust victims) are sure to view it that way, but most Germans wouldn't tolerate that sort of nonsense from you. In the same way, I don't think Soviet people come to perceive Stalin as "characteristically Soviet" -- Stalin is Stalin. End of story. Stalin is no less part of Soviet history than Khruschev is, but Stalin is a very different part of Soviet history. To say all this is not a denial of history, but compartmentalisation of it that fits appropriate boundaries marking the beginning and end of certain distinct social orders.
There's a reason that the USSR is no more -- it failed its people and it eventually failed them so much that even with a notorious secret police, state controlled media, and all the other pieces of a closed society that the people simply had enough.
I offer no real contest to this, other than to say that the reasons for the Soviet disintegration are a little more complex than merely that "the people simply had enough." There are many places in the world where people have had quite enough of certain regimes, certain features of their societies, etc, and that doesn't necessarily mean they are disposed of. There's certainly enough places in the world where the overwhelming majority of people have had enough of the chronic and debilitating U.S. presence, but that's not causing the global economic order to go away, as you can see. Things don't go away simply because people don't like them anymore.
Of course, that entire statement is predicated on the assumption that Soviet people, collectively, "had enough." To make such a generalisation is absurd; that you claim this is a striking testiment to your tendency to see things through the American prism, as most American visitors to the USSR and Russia generally do. A lot of it is based on the reductionism of socialist bloc societies into a single, dreary Communist monolith. This is another element of ruling class thought, and I do wonder if you've fallen into that void. The people in the USSR who had enough were the liberal intelligentsia; there were many ordinary, working-class people who had a vested interest in the Soviet system, although they may not have realised this until after its demise. People who were used to bread costing the same for decades, who now had to contend with prices five or six times their monthly salary. People who are out of work, their lives in disarray, their subsistence now a daily question instead of something taken for granted. People who the system has completely abandoned (i.e. not the "New Russians" working for western firms in Moscow, where most of Russia's capital is parked).
There are lots of these. And don't you dare tell them that it is better now. In Soviet time, they had clothes, food, vacation, medicine, education, and housing. What do they have now?
Ask yourself this -- if the USSR was such an okay society, how long would you have been able to post inverse comments about how great the US is before the KGB hauled you off to a kangaroo court before your vacation in Siberia?
Quite a long time, if you're talking post-Stalin days. Lots of Americans seem to believe that the times of Khruschev and Brezhnev saw people being hauled to the gulag just as during Stalin. This is not true.
Trust me, I have no illusions of fundamental political freedom in the USSR at any point in its history. But failure to make the distinction between the Stalinist Reign of Terror and the nature of Soviet society after it is a critical mistake.
you had better be prepared to face the fact that the USSR had more skeletons in the closet than the US.
Now you are just being silly. This is not true, if we are to consider the history of American imperial pre-eminence in all its forms.
How about a reasonable discussion, not something that sounds like another Republican/Democrat Cold War campaign rally where each candidate from both sides tries eagerly to prove how much more enthusiastically brimming with "anti-Communist" orthodoxy he is. ("REMEMBER the 58 million [sic] victims of Stalin!" and "how about we erect a memorial to the 100 million victims of Communism?")
I see that you are concerned with not being passed off as another "uneducated American" -- another Cold Warrior -- but you are not really transcending the limitations of your one-sided upbringing. Really. I'm not being patronising. You may think that you're thinking independently -- why, you even visited St. Petersburg and talked with real Russians -- but you're really picking from a preconditioned set of responses, a preconditioned mindset. That's where we get statements like:
"[T]he only Russians you will find who long for the Soviet days instead of the improving future are those who burdened the Russian society and have no interest in helping shape their collective future as a nation." This is simply not true. You haven't the faintest clue what you're talking about.
That said, I'm not sure it would be constructive to debate this with you further. However, I do ask you kindly to refrain from your obnoxious labeling -- I am not a "Soviet apologist", or a "nutcase" of revisionist company.
"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
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