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  1. The "no the Communist countries weren't living hell on earth you fucking idiot" starter pack.
  4. >The experience of African Americans who traveled to or settled in Russia was overwhelmingly positive, descendants said. In turn, they made valuable contributions to Soviet society, said Blakely, the professor. Agricultural specialists helped devise different uses for materials, such as rope made from hemp. They also helped develop plant species that were cheaper to cultivate. Their contributions provided a boost to the Soviet economy.
  6. >Tynes, who was sent to various Soviet republics to teach people how to raise ducks and other waterfowl, became a nationally recognized expert on poultry. Golden helped develop a cotton industry in Uzbekistan. And the African Americans introduced Russians to blues and jazz.
  10. >When people ask me what it was like growing up behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary in the Seventies and Eighties, most expect to hear tales of secret police, bread queues and other nasty manifestations of life in a one-party state.
  12. >They are invariably disappointed when I explain that the reality was quite different, and communist Hungary, far from being hell on earth, was in fact, rather a fun place to live.
  14. >The communists provided everyone with guaranteed employment, good education and free healthcare. Violent crime was virtually non-existent.
  16. >But perhaps the best thing of all was the overriding sense of camaraderie, a spirit lacking in my adopted Britain and, indeed, whenever I go back to Hungary today. People trusted one another, and what we had we shared.
  20. >In the Soviet Union, remnants of national and racial prejudices from the old society were attacked by education and law. It was a crime to give or receive direct or indirect privileges, or to exercise discrimination because of race or nationality. Any manifestation of racial or national superiority was punishable by law and was regarded as a serious political offense, a social crime.
  22. >During my entire stay in the Soviet Union, I encountered only one incident of racial hostility. It was on a Moscow streetcar. Several of us Black students had boarded the car on our way to spend an evening with our friend MacCloud. It was after rush hour and the car was only about half filled with Russian passengers. As usual, we were the objects of friendly curiosity. At one stop, a drunken Russian staggered aboard. Seeing us, he muttered (but loud enough for the whole car to hear) something about “Black devils in our country.”
  24. >A group of outraged Russian passengers thereupon seized him and ordered the motorman to stop the car. It was a citizen’s arrest, the first l had ever witnessed. “How dare you, you scum, insult people who are the guests of our country!”
  26. >What then occurred was an impromptu, on-the-spot meeting, where they debated what to do with the man. 1 was to see many of this kind of “meeting* during my stay in Russia.
  28. >It was decided to take the culprit to the police station which, the conductor informed them, was a few blocks ahead. Upon arrival there, they hustled the drunk out of the car and insisted that we Blacks, as the injured parties, come along to make the charges. At first we demurred, saying that the man was obviously drunk and not responsible for his remarks. “No, citizens,* said a young man (who had done most of the talking), “drunk or not, we don’t allow this sort of thing in our country. You must come with us to the militia (police) station and prefer charges against this man*
  30. >The car stopped in front of the station. The poor drunk was hustled off and all the passengers came along. The defendant had sobered up somewhat by this time and began apologizing before we had even entered the building. We got to the commandant of the station. The drunk swore that he didn’t mean what he’d said. “I was drunk and angry about something else. I swear to you citizens that I have no race prejudice against those Black gospoda (gentlemen).*
  32. >We actually felt sorry for the poor fellow and we accepted his apology. We didn’t want to press the matter. “No,* said the commandant, “we’ll keep him overnight. Perhaps this will be a lesson to him.”
  36. >This study compared capitalist and socialist countries in measures of the physical quality of life (PQL), taking into account the level of economic development. The World Bank was the principal source of statistical data for 123 countries (97 percent of the world's population). PQL variables included: 1) indicators of health, health services, and nutrition (infant mortality rate, child death rate, life expectancy, population per physician, population per nursing person, and daily per capita calorie supply); 2) measures of education (adult literacy rate, enrollment in secondary education, and enrollment in higher education); and 3) a composite PQL index. Capitalist countries fell across the entire range of economic development (measured by gross national product per capita), while the socialist countries appeared at the low-income, lower-middle-income, and upper-middle-income levels. All PQL measures improved as economic development increased. In 28 of 30 comparisons between countries at similar levels of economic development, socialist countries showed more favorable PQL out-comes.
  40. >Socialist countries out-performed capitalist countries in nearly every area, according to the study by Howard Waitzkin, UCI professor of medicine and social sciences, and Shirley Cereseto, professor emeritus of sociology at Cal State Long Beach. The study, which looked at infant and child death rates, life expectancy, the availability of doctors and nurses, nutrition, literacy and other educational factors, is in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
  42. >The study did not include the United States or other high-income capitalist countries in the comparisons because there were no equivalent socialist countries, the researchers said.
  44. >While the quality of life appeared to increase with the wealth of the country, socialist or capitalist, the differences between the two categories were most "profound" in comparing the low-income countries, according to the report.
  46. >Public health and education provided in the low-income socialist system "seem to overcome some of the grueling deprivations of poverty," according to the report. While wealthier capitalist countries have "enjoyed the fruits of public health and educational improvements," the poorer capitalist countries provide inadequate health and educational services, the report said.
  48. >"Our findings indicate that countries with socialist political-economic systems can make great strides toward meeting basic human needs, even without extensive economic resources," Waitzkin and Cereseto wrote. "When much of the world's population suffers from disease, early death, malnutrition and illiteracy, these observations take on a meaning that goes beyond cold statistics."
  50. [...]
  52. >In interviews Friday, Waitzkin and Cereseto acknowledged that socialist countries have problems in other areas.
  54. >"But they don't have starvation," said Cereseto, a retired professor who lives in Anaheim.
  56. >The socialist countries demonstrate that "even under conditions of poverty, a national coherent plan to deal with public health and education can make a marked impact," Waitzkin said.
  58. [...]
  60. >Socialist countries in each level of development had infant mortality and child death rates two to three times lower than the corresponding capitalist countries, according to the study. Socialist countries consistently showed higher numbers of health professionals per capita than capitalist countries at equivalent economic levels.
  62. >Waitzkin said he can only speculate as to why the socialist countries fared better, but believes that socialist countries consider health care "a basic human right. It is an issue of basic human entitlement," he said. They institute public health programs, immunizations, prenatal and perinatal care, provide proper sanitation and assure adequate nutrition, he said.
  64. >"Their priorities are in that direction," Cereseto said. "The first thing a country does when it becomes socialist is improve the health care and education and feed the people. . . . There are other things they don't do well, but this is their goal, to feed their people and get them health care and education."
  66. >The low-income capitalist countries "do atrociously" in those areas, Cereseto said. Even in the middle-income capitalist nations, there are huge gaps in the quality of life for the haves and have-nots, Waitzkin said.
  68. >"Finding doctors and affording health care, all you have to do is go to Mexico or Africa to see this problem," he said. "There is a small population of very wealthy who are able to buy medical care but the rest do not have access to preventive or curative care, or basic things like sanitation and proper nutrition," Waitzkin said.
  70. >Capitalist countries can learn from the study, the researchers said.
  72. [...]
  74. >One public health observer, who asked not to be named because he had not fully reviewed the study, agreed that socialist countries such as Cuba and North Korea tend to provide more uniform health and education services, while they suffer in production and wealth. But the observer questioned whether the study might be skewed by classifying the Soviet Union as upper-middle-income, because the country is more developed than many of the capitalist nations in the same category.
  76. >Waitzkin and Cereseto foresee that their study will produce controversy, but said there is a dearth of hard data comparing socialism to capitalism.
  78. >"One of the great problems in this country is assumptions made about capitalism and socialism are rhetorical and not based on evidence," Waitzkin said. "We hope to stimulate more data comparing, to move away from the rhetoric."
  80. >Said Cereseto: "I know some don't like to hear that the socialist countries do anything good. And there are a lot of bad things. But to print only the bad things and avoid the good things puts into question our freedom of knowledge."
  84. >The rapid spread of tuberculosis in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union has been fuelled by the economic policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a new study has found.
  86. >The Cambridge University-led study reveals that IMF loan programmes are "strongly associated" with large increases in tuberculosis incidence and deaths, costing tens of thousands of lives every year and producing hundreds of thousands of new tuberculosis cases.
  88. >Researchers measured the relationship between tuberculosis and IMF loans in 21 countries in the region, dating back to the early 1990s. They found that countries subject to IMF programmes experienced a surge in tuberculosis death rates of at least 16.6% - equivalent to more than 100,000 additional deaths. Had countries not participated in the programmes, or been supported by other lenders, the rates would have declined by at least eight to 10%.
  90. >IMF lending programmes demand that countries meet strict economic targets as a condition of the loans. Doctors have warned that these stipulations might lead to reduced government funding for health services such as hospitals and clinics, undermining the fight against diseases such as tuberculosis. This claim has never been supported with hard evidence until now.
  92. >"This report suggests that the IMF has its priorities backwards," David Stuckler, a Cambridge sociologist who led the study, said. "If we really want to create sustainable economic growth, we need first to ensure that we have taken care of people's most basic health needs."
  96. >Initially, the newly collectivized factories encountered various problems. CNT member Albert Pérez-Baró describes the initial economic confusion:
  98.     After the first few days of euphoria, the workers returned to work and found themselves without responsible management. This resulted in the creation of workers' committees in factories, workshops and warehouses, which tried to resume production with all the problems that a transformation of this kind entailed. Owing to inadequate training and the sabotage of some of the technicians who remained many others had fled with the owners the workers' committees and other bodies that were improvised had to rely on the guidance of the unions.... Lacking training in economic matters, the union leaders, with more good will than success, began to issue directives that spread confusion in the factory committees and enormous chaos in production. This was aggravated by the fact that each union... gave different and often contradictory instruction.[14]
  100. >In response to these problems, the Generalitat of Catalonia, backed by the CNT approved a decree on "Collectivization and Workers' Control" on 24 October 1936. Under this decree all firms with more than 100 workers were to be collectivized and those with 100 or less could be collectivized if a majority of workers agreed.[15][16][17] All collectivized enterprises were to join general industrial councils, which would be represented in a decentralized planning agency, the Economic Council of Catalonia. Representatives of the Generalitat would be appointed by the CNT to these regional councils.[18] The goal of this new form of organization would be to allow economic planning for civilian and military needs and stop the selfishness of more prosperous industries by using their profits to help others. However these plans for libertarian socialism based on trade unions was opposed by the socialists and communists who wanted a nationalized industry, as well as by unions which did not want to give up their profits to other businesses.[19] Another problem faced by the CNT was that while many collectivized firms were bankrupt, they refused to use the banks because the financial institutions were under the control of the socialist UGT. As a result of this, many were forced to seek government aid, appealing to Juan Peiró, the CNT minister of industry. Socialists and Communists in the government however, prevented Peiró from making any move which promoted collectivization.[20]
  102. >After the initial disruption, the unions soon began an overall reorganization of all trades, closing down hundreds of smaller plants and focusing on those few better equipped ones, improving working conditions. In the region of Catalonia, more than seventy foundries were closed down, and production concentrated around twenty four larger foundries.[21] The CNT argued that the smaller plants were less efficient and secure. In Barcelona, 905 smaller beauty shops and barbershops were closed down, their equipment and workers being focused on 212 larger shops.[21]
  104. >Although there were early issues with production in certain instances, however, Emma Goldman attested that industrial productivity doubled almost everywhere across the country, with agricultural yields increased "30-50%".[22]
  106. >Anarchic communes often produced more than before the collectivization. The newly liberated zones worked on entirely libertarian principles; decisions were made through councils of ordinary citizens without any sort of bureaucracy. (The CNT-FAI leadership was at this time not nearly as radical as the rank and file members responsible for these sweeping changes.)
  108. >As Eddie Conlon wrote in a publication for the Workers' Solidarity Movement:
  110.     If you didn't want to join the collective you were given some land but only as much as you could work yourself. You were not allowed to employ workers. Not only production was affected, distribution was on the basis of what people needed. In many areas money was abolished. People come to the collective store (often churches which had been turned into warehouses) and got what was available. If there were shortages rationing would be introduced to ensure that everyone got their fair share. But it was usually the case that increased production under the new system eliminated shortages.
  112.     In agricultural terms the revolution occurred at a good time. Harvests that were gathered in and being sold off to make big profits for a few landowners were instead distributed to those in need. Doctors, bakers, barbers, etc. were given what they needed in return for their services. Where money was not abolished a 'family wage' was introduced so that payment was on the basis of need and not the number of hours worked.
  114.     Production greatly increased. Technicians and agronomists helped the peasants to make better use of the land. Modern scientific methods were introduced and in some areas yields increased by as much as 50%. There was enough to feed the collectivists and the militias in their areas. Often there was enough for exchange with other collectives in the cities for machinery. In addition food was handed over to the supply committees who looked after distribution in the urban areas.[23]
  116. They did actually. The USSR:
  118.     had the 2nd fastest growing economy of the 20th century the USSR is 2nd after Japan Source:
  120. had zero unemployment have continuous economic growth for 70 straight years. see: Robert C. Allen's, From Farm To Factory Source: (review of book here ). The "continuous" part should make sense – the USSR was a planned, non-market economy, so market crashes á la capitalism were pretty much impossible.
  122. had zero homelessness. Houses were often shared by two families throughout the 20s and 30s – so unlike capitalism, there were no empty houses, but the houses were very full. In the 40s there was the war, and in the 50s there were a number of orphans from the war. The mass housing projects began in the 60s, they were completed in the 70s, and by the 70s, there were homeless people, but they often had genuine issues with mental health.
  124. end famine have higher calorie consumption than USA Source:
  126. . You can read more about the post-1941 famine history in Nove's An Economic History of the USSR 1917-1991. There were food insecurity issues, especially when Khrushchev et al. majorly fucked up with trade and resource dependence on the west, but no famines after the collectivisation of agriculture in the early 1930s (except for in the Siege of Leningrad).
  128. end sex inequality Source:,_Unamended) Equal wages for men and women were mandated by law, but sex inequality, although not as pronounced as under capitalism, was perpetuated in social roles. Very important lesson to learn.
  130. end racial inequality Source:
  132. make all education free Source:
  134. 99% literacy Source:
  136. have most doctors per capita in the world Source: The Soviet Union had the highest physician-patient ratio in the world, my notes say 42 per 10,000 population, vs 24 in Denmark and Sweden, 19 in US. In this document: You can open it without paying with
  138. eliminate poverty Source:
  140. double life expectancy Source:
  142.     After the October revolution, the life expectancy for all age groups went up. A newborn child in 1926-27 had a life expectancy of 44.4 years, up from 32.3 years thirty years before. In 1958-59 the life expectancy for newborns went up to 68.6 years. This improvement was seen in itself by some as immediate proof that the socialist system was superior to the capitalist system be 25 years away from reaching parity with Western world This is kind of a counterfactual – the transformation of the USSR to capitalism began a long time before 1991, so trying to figure out what Soviet growth would look like if it hadn't become capitalist requires that we root out the fundamental cause of the change to capitalism. And we can't even use US economic stats either – the mass-privatization of the Soviet economy and the sudden influx of cheap labour for Western capitalists obviously had an effect on the US economy. But then again, even a 1% difference will stack up over 25 years.
  144. Now let's take a look at what happens after the USSR collapse:
  146.     GDP instantly halves Source:
  148. 42% decrease
  150. 40% of population drops into poverty Source: Article cites a 2003 UN report.
  152. 7.7 million excess deaths in the first year Source: Really difficult to find this exact figure, original link I had was dead. Also:
  154. one in ten children now live on the streets Source:
  156. infant mortality increase Source: Was 29.3 in 2003 which is around (current) Syria and Micronesia, 7.9 in 2013. Given the trend downwards, it was likely to have been much higher in the 90s. There's a weird amount of variation between years – I have no clue why. Infant mortality in USSR was 1.92, literally the lowest in the world. What the actual fuck.
  158. life expectancy decreases by 10 years Source:
  159. Approximately true for men, women were less affected apparently. 1996 election rigged Source:,_1996
  162. Soviet Women Remember Socialism
  165. Bulgaria 1965
  168. Moscow 1965
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