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The Insatiable Utopia

The Soviet elite who built a "dictatorship of the proletariat" and paid with their lives

The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution, by Yuri Slezkine, Princeton University Press, 1,100 pages, $39.95

Princeton University PressPrinceton University PressIn February 1917, a 30-year-old Bolshevik named Valerian Osinsky wrote to his 22-year-old mistress about a coming revolution that would wipe away czarism and deliver what Christianity couldn't: the kingdom of heaven on earth. "Only in the world of insatiable utopia," he wrote, "will the simplest ethical rules become real and free from exceptions and contradictions."

Twenty-one years later, he would be executed as an "enemy of the people" for his blasphemies against the Soviet Union.

Stories like that abound in the Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine's 1,100-page epic, The House of Government, which chronicles the lives of elite Bolsheviks and their families from their early days of revolutionary awakening through the overthrow of the czar, the building of "the dictatorship of the proletariat," Joseph Stalin's Great Terror, and their children's loss of faith. Divided into three volumes, The House of Government isn't just history. It's art that self-consciously, and successfully, mimics Tolstoy's War and Peace and Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago.

By the end it's also a horror story of grotesque proportions, as the "insatiable utopia" devours its own.

The Bolsheviks weren't just ideologues, Slezkine argues at the outset. They were "millenarian sectarians preparing for the apocalypse" who "managed to take over Rome long before their faith could become an inherited habit." After showing them prevail in the revolution, the book centers around the House of Government—Europe's largest apartment building, reserved for the "high priests of the Revolution." It was, Slezkine writes, "a place where revolutionaries came home and the revolution came to die."

These priests of "earthly salvation" made no vow of poverty. The House of Government, which ended up costing over 30 million rubles and was built in what was known as Moscow's "Swamp," was equipped with all the latest amenities—"a kitchen with a gas stove, garbage chute, exhaust fan, and fold-away bunk for the maid," plus extra living space not afforded the typical worker. The House of Government also conveniently contained public spaces, such as a cafeteria, a movie theater, a child care center, a laundry, a bank, a library, and a gym.

That wasn't the end of the luxuries they allowed themselves. Elite party members relied on chauffeurs and made full use of the aristocratic estates, or dachas, "expropriated" from the "enemies of the working class." A prince's country property became "Lenin Rest Home No. 1"; built "in the Italian style," the manor could accommodate 150 guests and included a 27-acre park and a large pond with a motorboat.

The House of Government, the elite told themselves, was a transitory moment in socialism's destruction of the family—"halfway between bourgeois individualism and communist collectivism," summarizes Slezkine. Under socialism, according to the communal house theorist L.M. Sabsovich, "children will no longer be 'the property' of their parents; they will be 'the property' of the state, which will take upon itself the solution of all problems involved in child rearing."

In practice, unsurprisingly, these elite Bolsheviks loved and spoiled their children.

The contradictions of Bolshevism weren't just confined to the elite's way of life. Stalin's first five-year plan, which sought to industrialize the Soviet Union and establish the economic preconditions for communism, relied "on forced labor as much as it did on 'genuine enthusiasts'" of the working and peasant classes, writes Slezkine. Workers and peasants didn't want to build socialism, and so labor shortages meant that low-level criminals and political prisoners would.

According to Matvei Berman, the head of the Gulag system, a convict cost the state approximately $500 rubles a year. "Why on earth should workers and peasants feed this army of parasites, swindlers, wreckers, and counter-revolutionaries?" he wrote. "Let's send them to the camps and say: 'Here are your means of production. Work, if you want to eat.'" As the need for labor increased, labor camps multiplied.

Stalin's first five-year plan also initiated forced collectivization. Since peasant families couldn't be relied on to provide their grain to the state freely, they had to be done away with. "The socialist city can lead the small-peasant village only by imposing collective and state farms upon it," Stalin told a conference of agrarian Marxists in December 1929. Long-term liberation called for slavery in the here and now.

Stalin's forced collectivization divided the rural population into three categories: poor, middle, and rich. The rich were known as kulaks, and they were further divided into three categories. The first were "immediately liquidated by means of imprisonment in concentration camps, not hesitating to use the death penalty with regard to the organizers of terrorist acts, counterrevolutionary actions, and insurrectionary organizations," according to the Soviet policy. The second group were exiled to remote locations and forced to labor for the state. The third group were resettled around where they lived.

Forced collectivization was both an economic and a human rights disaster. The servants of the state were given production quotas that couldn't be met, then beaten when they failed to produce. "They whine and whimper that there's nothing left," wrote one party official responsible for grain procurement, "but when you grab them by the throat, they deliver both grain and hay, and whatever else they're required to."

Mass death resulted. "The determined enforcement of ambitious production plans," notes Slezkine, "resulted in a famine that killed between 4.6 and 8 million people." Some resorted to cannibalism to fill their bellies. Meanwhile, the elite had more than enough. A short time after witnessing the Kazakhstan countryside starving to death, one secret policeman's fashionista wife wrote about how they dined on "roast suckling pig."

But much of the elite would soon face their own troubles.

On December 1, 1934, the old Bolshevik and Leningrad party boss Sergei Kirov was murdered by Leonid Nikolayev, possibly under Stalin's orders with the assistance of the secret police. Stalin, always fearful of losing his stranglehold on power, used Kirov's assassination to eliminate any and all potential rivals, no matter how remote. The resulting "search" for Nikolayev's co-conspirators would degenerate into a witch hunt aimed at purging the Soviet Union of all those who "stray from the Party's path," as one apostate, Grigory Zinoviev, put it before he was executed in 1936.

Photo Credit: Princeton University Press

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  • SQRLSY One||

    The Russians just did it wrong. They just had some bad apples, and the wrong kind of socialism. We Americans (being smarter and having better hair) can make it WORK, over HERE! All it takes is some better-written, more comprehensive legislation, and (always) more enforcement of proper compliance.

    (Also because we are the Cool Kids).

  • H. Farnham||

    Well duh, we've got the Bill of Rights to protect us. If the wreckers would just get out of the way and allow for some common sense interpretation to control the anti-social, gun-toting, hate-spewing elements in society, then we could have utopia-in-togetherness and all our human rights. Simple!

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    True, the Bill of Rights expressly states in spirit that guns should only be used in furtherance of the state.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Also, the Interstate Commerce Clause says that since hankies and other kinds of booger rags are traded across state borders, the Government Almighty is fully entitled to regulate where, when, and how I can blow my nose.

    It is known!!!

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Also, the Interstate Commerce Clause says that since hankies and other kinds of booger rags are maybe might possibly be traded across state borders

    FTFY

  • mtrueman||

    "The Russians just did it wrong. "

    The Bolsheviks were initially quite successful. Lenin came to power on the slogan "Peace, Land and Bread," and he delivered, for a time, at least.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    He also ordered, in six months, more executions than the late Tsar had in the,previous six years. Lenin only looks good in comparison to Stalin.

  • mtrueman||

    "Lenin only looks good in comparison to Stalin."

    He also looks good compared to Russia's capitalists, monarchists, liberals and conservatives, none of whom were willing to put an end to the disastrous war.

  • Brian||

    Communism wasn't the same as World War 1. That is a fact.

  • mtrueman||

    WWI was, I suppose you could say, a capitalist war, though many socialists, liberals, conservatives and monarchists supported it.

  • Brian||

    That is something you could say with your mouth.

  • mtrueman||

    "That is something you could say with your mouth."

    I sense disapproval.

  • Brian||

    I always laugh when then No True Communism crowd starts getting very generous with attributions to capitalism.

  • mtrueman||

    "Peace, Land and Bread" has never been a capitalist slogan. It was the Bolshevik slogan and Lenin and his comrades took power on the strength of its appeal to war weary and hungry Russians.

  • Brian||

    And that had nothing to do with setting up the Holodomor.

    "Collectivized farming isn't Communism. Now, let's talk about WWI: The Free Market War!"

  • mtrueman||

    "Collectivized farming isn't Communism."

    No, it's true communism according to Stalin. And Mao too. The land that Lenin had given to the peasants was retaken by the state a decade later.

    "Now, let's talk about WWI:"

    Go ahead, you don't need my permission. I'd be curious if you have anything interesting to say about the subject.

  • Brian||

    Nothing as interesting as you: I stick to factual history.

    If you're interested, the fiction section is a few rows over.

  • mtrueman||

    "I stick to factual history."

    You shouldn't neglect snide remarks. They will stand you in good stead when your factual history doesn't do what you want it to.

  • Brian||

    Why should I talk about history with you?

    Should I try explaining physics to a duck, too?

  • mtrueman||

    "Should I try explaining physics to a duck, too?"

    Again, you don't need my permission to discuss anything.

  • Brian||

    But I need my own reason, and I don't really have much of one.

  • mtrueman||

    "But I need my own reason, and I don't really have much of one."

    Find someone else to discuss your needs with. I'm happy to discuss the slogan the Bolsheviks used to gather support and how they actually delivered, for a time.

  • Brian||

    Yes, I get it: quack quack.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "I'm happy to discuss the slogan the Bolsheviks used to gather support and how they actually delivered, for a time."

    ...after trying and failing to confiscate private wheat surpluses immediately after the Revolution, exacerbating the post-war famine, which forced them to begrudgingly recognize the peasantry's unplanned divvying-up of aristocratic land and allow private enterprise and market trading in the agricultural sector under the NEP. Until their mismanagement of the nationalized industrial sector led to the government no longer having any money to buy wheat from the thriving kulaks to sell overseas to pay for industrialization. At which point the great collectivization began.

    So, insofar as the Bolsheviks *didn't do what they had promised they'd do as quckly as they had hoped to do it*, you're correct.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 12:50PM|#
    ""Peace, Land and Bread" has never been a capitalist slogan."

    So you do your research by looking up slogans?

  • Sevo||

    "WWI was, I suppose you could say, a capitalist war, though many socialists, liberals, conservatives and monarchists supported it."

    mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
    "Spouting nonsense is an end in itself."

  • mtrueman||

    If words fail you, don't be afraid to borrow mine.

  • Sevo||

    "If words fail you, don't be afraid to borrow mine."

    Why would a borrow the words of a blithering idiot?
    mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
    "Spouting nonsense is an end in itself."

  • mtrueman||

    "Why would a borrow the words of a blithering idiot?"

    You'd do much better if you let me look after the words.

  • Sevo||

    "You'd do much better if you let me look after the words."
    If anyone wants a pile of bullshit, trueman is here to help.

  • Microaggressor||

    He also looks good compared to Russia's capitalists, monarchists, liberals and conservatives, none of whom were willing to put an end to the disastrous war.


    I knew you were stupid, but this is impressive deliberate historical ignorance. True believers gonna truly believe.

  • mtrueman||

    The capitalists, monarchists, liberals and socialists never managed to put an end to this disastrous war, but their intentions were every bit as good as those of those Bolsheviks.

  • Sevo||

    "The capitalists, monarchists, liberals and socialists never managed to put an end to this disastrous war, but their intentions were every bit as good as those of those Bolsheviks."

    Tooze, among others, says you're full of shit.

  • mtrueman||

    And he gets invited to all the best cocktail parties, too, damn his eyes.

  • Brian||

    Communists don't struggle with "taking" and "distributing".

    It's the "ok now: make new shit" stage that always gives them trouble.

  • mtrueman||

    How hard does Trump struggle with taking and distributing?

    "It's the "ok now: make new shit" stage that always gives them trouble."

    Making new shit worthy of the name should always give trouble. If making the new shit is too easy, the new shit isn't worth the effort. Anyhow, I disagree. The early Bolshevik years saw Russia's influence over Europe at a high point. Artists looked to innovative figures like Eisenstein for inspiration.

  • Brian||

    Communism apologist gonna apologize.

  • mtrueman||

    I'm so sorry.

  • Brian||

    If you'd like some help: maybe if you bash Trump more, people won't think about communism.

  • mtrueman||

    I support Trump. Unlike the communists, he struggles mightily with taking and distributing.

  • Brian||

    He seems to be doing better than Madura.

  • mtrueman||

    He's everything America deserves.

  • Brian||

    And he definitely isn't communism.

  • mtrueman||

    "And he definitely isn't communism."

    It was his love of golf that tipped me off.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 11:25AM|#
    "The Bolsheviks were initially quite successful."

    At thuggery and murder, you idiot.

  • mtrueman||

    They ended the war that you, like the rest of the monarchists and capitalists, presumably wanted to continue.

  • Sevo||

    "They ended the war that you, like the rest of the monarchists and capitalists, presumably wanted to continue."

    They did nothing of the sort, you fucking imbecile.

  • Brian||

    They stopped fighting WWI, and then went to war against themselves.

    It was the best of times, really.

  • mtrueman||

    "They stopped fighting WWI"

    Peace, Land and Bread was the Bolshevik slogan, and they delivered, at least initially.

  • Brian||

    There you go honking again.

  • Sevo||

    "Peace, Land and Bread was the Bolshevik slogan, and they delivered, at least initially."

    They did nothing of the sort, you fucking imbecile.

  • mtrueman||

    "They did nothing of the sort, you fucking imbecile."

    They signed a peace treaty with Germany early in 1918. The Baltic states were handed over to Germany and Ukraine was generously granted independence. Much more important, after years of slaughter, there was all quiet on the eastern front.

  • Brian||

    And Russian Civil War equals Peace.

    Quack quack.

  • mtrueman||

    "And Russian Civil War equals Peace."

    If the war party couldn't have their war with Germany, the Reds would do fine. Wouldn't you?

  • Brian||

    Since one side can always just surrender for peace, it takes two to have a war, which makes the Bolshevik slogan a lie (at least, initially, for s time, yadda yadda yadda).

    And it makes them just as willing warmongers as their enemies.

  • mtrueman||

    What?

  • Sevo||

    Our fucking idiot post this:
    "They signed a peace treaty with Germany early in 1918. The Baltic states were handed over to Germany and Ukraine was generously granted independence. Much more important, after years of slaughter, there was all quiet on the eastern front."

    In response to being called on this bullshit:
    "They ended the war that you, like the rest of the monarchists and capitalists, presumably wanted to continue."

    You are a pathetic piece of work and I know you can't be bothered to "read" those things called "books", but if you haven't finished "The Russian Revolution" and "Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime" (both Pipes), "A People's Tragedy" (Figes) and "The Deluge" (Tooze), you really ought to quit making a fool of yourself in public.
    Fuck off, you uneducated piece of shit.

  • mtrueman||

    There are millions of books I haven't read. I've read all eight volumes of Proust's (no Red, I promise you) Remembrance of Things Past, twice. That's gotta count for something. The last few volumes where Marcel wrings his hands over Albertine and does little else are pretty tough going.

  • Sevo||

    "...There are millions of books I haven't read...."

    There are millions of reasons you should quit making an ass of yourself in public.

  • mtrueman||

    I remain unmoved by your disingenuous advice. But don't let it stop you trying. And please don't ask my permission before you address an issue.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 8:11PM|#
    "I remain unmoved by your disingenuous advice."

    And you remain unmoved by your abysmal ignorance.
    Fuck off.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "Ukraine was generously granted independence"

    ...for about 3 seconds.

  • Microaggressor||

    They ended the war that you, like the rest of the monarchists and capitalists, presumably wanted to continue.

    They did in fact end the war. But the only real change was that they turned the guns on their own citizens. Progress.

  • mtrueman||

    "But the only real change"

    There were lots of real changes. Arguably the state pointing her guns at her subjects is one thing that didn't change. Perhaps the Czar's biggest crimes weren't really perpetrated by the state, which only turned a blind eye to these atrocities and left them unpunished. Before the reds, there were fairly routine pogroms against the Jewish people. Lenin and his gang put a stop to this, sharpish. May not seem important to you, but you're not one of gods chosen people, are you?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "religious traditions among the Jewish population were suppressed. In August 1919 Jewish properties, including synagogues, were seized and many Jewish communities were dissolved. The anti-religious laws against all expressions of religion and religious education were being taken out on all religious groups, including the Jewish communities. Many Rabbis and other religious officials were forced to resign from their posts under the threat of violent persecution. This type of persecution continued on into the 1920s."

    May not seem important to you, but you're not one of God's chosen people, are you?

  • mtrueman||

    "religious traditions among the Jewish population were suppressed. In August 1919 Jewish properties, including synagogues, were seized and many Jewish communities were dissolved."

    The Bolsheviks also razed the Orthodox Christian cathedral in the red square, an important symbol for the entire Russian nation. They were communists, you see, and that was their bag. It's all important, and if you want to make the case that Russia's Jews would have been happier under the Czarists, or the Nazis, go ahead.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Yeah, because when you wrote this:

    "Lenin and his gang put a stop to this, sharpish"

    ...you were *totally* just trying to imply that "Lenin and his gang" were "somewhat less awful" to Jews than the Nazis were.

    Nope, no trace of communist apologia in the words or tone of what you wrote *at all*.

    There isn't a "/sarc" tag big enough for my above statements.

    Lenin, Stalin, and most of the other commies who weren't Jews themselves were all antisemitic, antitheist bigots, who put on a big show of talking about how tolerant and progressive they were (for the benefit of gullible Westerners like you), while consciously and willfully overseeing a system of institutional racism and suspicion towards Jews.

    Pointing out that they were "less awful than Nazis/Tsarists" does not make your implication of genuinely pro-Semitic sentiment on the part of the Soviets any less reprehensible.

    And I note you didn't respond to my other 2 comments at all.

  • mtrueman||

    "And I note you didn't respond to my other 2 comments at all."

    Your psychic abilities far exceed mine.

    "Nope, no trace of communist apologia in the words or tone of what you wrote *at all*."

    And?

    "Lenin, Stalin, and most of the other commies who weren't Jews themselves were all antisemitic, antitheist bigots,"

    So, the Czar and Hitler would have been equally good for Russia's Jews? Maybe we know this today but it wasn't at the time. Or are you saying the opposite? It's not clear to me. And, as I said, my mind reading skills are not so good.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I really must cultivate for myself this talent you have for selectively reading only the parts of a response that you want to see, while glazing over the parts that reveal the reader to be a disingenuous imbecile.

  • H. Farnham||

    "The Bolsheviks were initially quite successful."

    You can absolutely make the utilitarian argument that fewer people suffered immediately following the revolution. The moral argument still stands as to whether state-sponsored murder and oppression are acceptable for such purposes. Or more simply, do the ends justify the means?

    Anyway, it seems that Slezkine's point in this work is that unchecked state power fueled by zealous ideology ultimately leads to horrifying results, even for many of those who supported initially "successful" beginnings.

  • mtrueman||

    "that unchecked state power fueled by zealous ideology ultimately leads to horrifying results"

    I wouldn't argue with that. But how is it that we couldn't have drawn the same lesson from the catastrophe of WWI?

  • H. Farnham||

    I suppose you could, but it seems like a non-sequitur.

    I wouldn't say that ideology (whether communist or capitalist) lead to World War I. It was mainly the result of a tangled web of alliances amongst heavily monarchical and social-democratic states.

  • mtrueman||

    "I wouldn't say that ideology..."

    You may be right. But maybe not if you count "business as usual" as ideology. These alliances were not all that tangled. There were two sides, the allies and the central powers. Entanglement was minimal.

  • Bra Ket||

    the alliances roped large empires into joining each of the sides, making a limited conflict into a world war, that is the whole point.

  • mtrueman||

    "making a limited conflict into a world war"

    I think I disagree. Trying to maintain a large empire all but guarantees unlimited conflict which can spring to life anywhere the empire reaches.

    The French and Germans had been fighting each other since before Waterloo, and the British had been itching to have a go at Germany for decades. I don't think the alliances forced anyone into something they weren't willing to do anyhow.

  • Sevo||

    "...the British had been itching to have a go at Germany for decades."

    Pretty sure our residnet imbecile can cite a Dell comix as a source for this lie.

  • mtrueman||

    I blame 'the tangled web of alliances' for forcing these nations to throw an admirable tradition of peaceful coexistence to the side and go to war with each other. They never intended it to be as bad as it was, after all.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 8:33PM|#
    "I blame 'the tangled web of alliances' ..."

    You're an ignorant piece of shit whose comments are to be treated as such.
    Got a cite for your assertion, asshole?

  • mtrueman||

    "Got a cite for your assertion, asshole?"

    I do. Want it? Say some more, even meaner things about me, and I'll consider it.

  • Sevo||

    "You can absolutely make the utilitarian argument that fewer people suffered immediately following the revolution."
    In Pipes' "The Russian Revolution", there was widespread hunger and terror throughout the revolutionary period (depending on when "the revolution" was supposedly complete)

  • H. Farnham||

    I'm not going to apologize for communism. I think it's an inherently immoral ideology even without considering its outcomes.

    However, I don't think the majority of the Russian people were appreciably better off under the autocratic Czarist rule of Nicholas II than they were under the communist rule of Lenin. Both systems seem pretty well contrary to individual liberty and freedom.

    So when I say that you can make the utilitarian argument... well you can also make the argument that shit sandwiches are better than starving. (As long as there's strict price controls on bread so that the proles can afford them.)

  • Sevo||

    "However, I don't think the majority of the Russian people were appreciably better off under the autocratic Czarist rule of Nicholas II than they were under the communist rule of Lenin. Both systems seem pretty well contrary to individual liberty and freedom."

    I would suggest you read "The Russian Revolution", Pipes. You will be hard-put to find any other than the elite (Lenin and the rest of the scum) that were better off under the Bolshies.
    Yes, the Tsar was an authoritarian who cared nothing for the Russian population, and the scum of the Bolshies made him look good by comparison.

  • H. Farnham||

    I'll check it out, thanks.

  • Microaggressor||

    I don't know where you got the idea that momentarily after the Revolution people were better off. You must be mistaking propaganda for facts like our dear friend mtrueman who can't help himself.

  • mtrueman||

    "after the Revolution people were better off."

    Oy Vey!

  • H. Farnham||

    Again, I'm not advocating one way or the other. I'm just saying it's a reasonable argument to be had. Personally, I don't care to parse out which totalitarian regime was less oppressive to a population that suffered immensely throughout the period.

    It's irrelevant anyway. Even if the horrible means by which the Bolsheviks consolidated and maintained power could be justified by the results of communism, the populace eventually ended up much worse off (typical of socialist systems).

  • mtrueman||

    "the populace eventually ended up much worse off"

    Within a generation of taking power, the Russians were in a position to trounce the Germans fairly and squarely. The Russian people did take the trouble to parse out which totalitarian regime would be less oppressive, and they chose the reds.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 11:25PM|#
    "Within a generation of taking power, the Russians were in a position to trounce the Germans fairly and squarely."
    Yous stupid piece of shit, they did so by using up the soldiers at a rate that made Hitler pale, and using US Lend-Lease material. Jesus, you are one ignorant asshole!

    "The Russian people did take the trouble to parse out which totalitarian regime would be less oppressive, and they chose the reds."
    No, they didn't and your stupidity is evident.
    Fuck off, ignoramus.

  • mtrueman||

    "they did so by using up the soldiers at a rate that made Hitler pale"

    They used everything they had. The Germans ended up doing the same. It was children who defended Berlin from the red army. Hitlers last public act was to decorate these brave and foolish children.

    Don't forget that the Russians also had vast reserves of troops that the Nazis never dreamt existed.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.30.17 @ 12:39AM|#
    "They used everything they had. The Germans ended up doing the same. It was children who defended Berlin from the red army. Hitlers last public act was to decorate these brave and foolish children."
    Yes, at the end Hitler had to use the same tactics that the fucking murderer Stalin used at the beginning an you, you slimy asshole, defend that. Are you proud of yourself, slimebag?

    "Don't forget that the Russians also had vast reserves of troops that the Nazis never dreamt existed."
    So you suggest that shoving people into the killing ground is just fine, since they are the commies you support?
    There are slimier people who post here, but it's getting hard to find them.

  • mtrueman||

    "So you suggest that shoving people into the killing ground is just fine"

    Suggesting it's normal. It's called conscription in normal countries.

    "but it's getting hard to find them."

    I have been the most politically unsavoury poster here since I started posting. I celebrate assassinations of public officials, riots and insurrections. I reflexively take the side of African Americans when they come into conflict with their bigoted white neighbours. I celebrate American losses in far flung places like Afghanistan and Vietnam. I hate Zionism and colonialism. You seem to be one of my most dedicated readers, and none of this should come as a surprise to you.

  • Sevo||

    "I have been the most politically unsavoury poster here since I started posting. I celebrate assassinations of public officials, riots and insurrections. I reflexively take the side of African Americans when they come into conflict with their bigoted white neighbours. I celebrate American losses in far flung places like Afghanistan and Vietnam. I hate Zionism and colonialism. You seem to be one of my most dedicated readers, and none of this should come as a surprise to you."

    You are a self-righteous, lying scumbag.

  • Bra Ket||

    The Russians would have overthrown Stalin and either surrendered or had a civil war given the casualties and destruction they absorbed. Luckily for Stalin, he had just finished murdering everyone who could oppose him internally.

  • Sevo||

    "The Russians would have overthrown Stalin and either surrendered or had a civil war given the casualties and destruction they absorbed. Luckily for Stalin, he had just finished murdering everyone who could oppose him internally."

    Notice that in all the Allied conferences, Stalin left Russia once; to Tehran. And that was late in the war
    He stayed close to Moscow for the simple reason that dictators always do; to keep a close watch on who might have other ideas.
    Our resident slime bag apologist will come up with some excuse; just give the asshole time.

  • Aloysious||

    Luckily for Stalin, he had just finished murdering everyone who could oppose him internally.

    The Great Terror. What a horrible time.

  • Mickey Rat||

    There was no czar when the Bolsheviks took power. Nicholas II had abdicated months before and his brother had refused the crown.

  • Trainer||

    "Do the ends justify the means?" is pretty much practical communism summed up.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Lenin came to power through The Red Terror and executed his opposition.

  • mtrueman||

    He was a Bolshevik, and made no secret of the fact.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    THANKS FOR THE HOT TIP!

  • buybuydandavis||

    Tonybot: *True* Socialism has never been tried

  • Dead inside||

    NO ONE has better hair than the Russians

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Saw a four episode set from Major Crimes about neo-Nazis. Sure, just a TV show, but the media in general, Hollywood included, have an incredible blind spot to the sheer magnitude of socialist crimes against humanity, literally an order of magnitude worse. Not counting military deaths, and recognizing that the invasion of Poland was by both Nazi Germany, and Communist Russia, Nazis "only" murdered 10 million people while Communists murdered 100 million. Yet Nazi is the scum word, applied to left lane slow pokes, those who end sentences with propositions, and sellers of soup.

    And socialists get on t-shirts.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Socialists get worshipped by the likes of Babwa Streisand...and deserve no better.

  • Brian||

    Of course they get a pass: they have so much in common.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Hitler kept inventory. A mistake neither Stalin nor Mao repeated.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I've always figured Hitler did the dirty to a civilized nation, whereas Lenin / Stalin / Mao did it to backward nations of dubious reputation. Hitler was nothing but negatives. People forgave the Communists because the end justified the means.

    Which is bunk, BTW. One need only look at more democratic nations like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore to see what happens without Communists. Hong Kong is another excellent example, which even the Chinese Communists acknowledge. China itself is finally growing, but it took several decades of loosening the dictatorship.

  • mtrueman||

    "One need only look at more democratic nations like South Korea"

    They can be pretty communistic, especially during the glory days of Pak Chunghee. What do Libertarians think about, for example, a death penalty for transferring large amounts of cash outside the country?

  • Microaggressor||

    A stupid policy, but not remotely communistic.

  • mtrueman||

    Since when are policies aimed toward killing the rich not remotely communistic?

  • mtrueman||

    "what happens without Communists. Hong Kong is another excellent example, which even the Chinese Communists acknowledge"

    Because the Chinese Communists and the Hong Kong business community share one sacred goal. To keep Hong Kong a democracy free zone. It's been that way since way before the handover.

  • timbo||

    And Hong Kong has been slowly breaking down under the increased Beijing controls.

    What americans are not being taught is that there is free market capitalism and everything else.

    We do not have free market capitalism in America. We have a cronyist economy that is heavily laden with business-government collusion which has resulted in economic policies that are growingly anti-free market with heavy does of anti-free trade and protectionism. It better resembles Germany pre-WWII under the fascists. That results in further departure from the most valuable aspects of free market capitalism. Its results are haphazard regulations that have unintended consequences. The stupid populous, from there, votes for the guy who offers the most free shit as some sort of revenge on their perceived enemies. Who is the perceived enemy of the envious leftists dolt? The smart successful businessman.

  • mtrueman||

    "The smart successful businessman."

    Who happen to be Hong Kong's biggest supporters of the communists in Beijing.

  • Microaggressor||

    Communists were very good deceivers and they had no shame lying if done in service of the utopia. That's why you should never believe a word of a true believer you meet. Always fact check, because the propaganda runs strong.

  • Longtobefree||

    Double plus untrue.

    Just stay with it long enough, and communism will provide a worker's paradise.
    Look at the wonderful start here in healthcare. Now we need more government control (preferably by regulation, not laws subject to that pesky supreme court) in all areas of our lives, and everything will be as smooth and effective as healthcare.

  • Cy||

    Absolutely! Just look at how well the governments have managed everything else! FEMA is doing a bang up job as you read this! The FBI, CIA, NSA, ATF & DEA are polishing their halos right before they go out and kick some terrorist drug dealer butt! Just the other day I was reading about how a couple of our Angels in blue are being accused of raping one of those Instagram whores while in custody! How could anyone ever not want to love one of our boys in blue. Their sacrifices are just too much to ignore! She should be on her knees thanking them for their protection from the big bad world!

  • Cy||

    Good article. The 24 hour news cycle is fun to watch, but taking a wide and long look at history is a more valuable use of our time. It's definitely noteworthy how the socialists and communists got/get a pass for their record horrifying murders and deaths.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Good article? Only good article on the front page of Reason right now, unless I missed a post by Jesse Walker.

  • Cloudbuster||

    The New York Times tells me that Soviet communism was actually pretty great!

  • Microaggressor||

    It was so idealistic! Ahead of its time!

  • Griffin3||

    Much of this would not have happened, with a single long rifle in every peasant's house.

  • mtrueman||

    Until the reds took over, an awful lot of these peasants were at the front, and armed as best the Czar was capable.

  • Sevo||

    "Until the reds took over, an awful lot of these peasants were at the front, and armed as best the Czar was capable"

    After that, they went home to get shot by the Bolshies.
    Fucking ignoramus.

  • mtrueman||

    " they went home to get shot by the Bolshies"

    Home? Didn't your revered intellectuals mention the gulags?

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 8:22PM|#
    " they went home to get shot by the Bolshies"
    "Home? Didn't your revered intellectuals mention the gulags?"

    You ignorant piece of shit, so far you've posted one lie after the other.
    No, the commies did not make things better even for a short time except for isolated circumstances where the stole enough from one sector to feed another, until the first stopped giving them food.
    They took power through thuggery and never stopped. Murder of any 'suspects' was the common practice from day one, and the peasants who left the front went home to get 'drafted' into producing food for the elite. And shot if they didn't like it.
    And so we get fucking ignoramuses like you parroting the horse-shit they and their apologists put out, claiming they were somehow better than what they replaced.
    They weren't, and it you read more than comic books, you'd know that.

  • mtrueman||

    "They took power through thuggery and never stopped. "

    This is Russia, remember? The thuggery didn't start with the reds and it didn't end with them either. Thuggery is perhaps the one constant in Russian history since the Tartars.

    "we get fucking ignoramuses like you parroting the horse-shit they and their apologists put out,"

    You mean like how the reds supported terrorists like Mandela and the ANC instead of the aparthied government, like all right-thinking Libertarians? Thanks for reminding me. It'd slipped my mind. (Just got ahold of the latest issue of Che Lives!)

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 11:11PM|#
    yadda, yadda, ignorant assertion, yadda, yadda, lie, yadda, yadda.
    Fuck off, you ignorant piece of shit

  • Microaggressor||

    The Bolsheviks actually had a lot of support getting into power because they made a lot of false promises as bait and switch. Land reform, for example. They said they would give the land to the peasants, and for a while they did. Then came collectivization, and everything was made property of the state.

    Don't underestimate the power of deception.

  • mtrueman||

    "Don't underestimate the power of deception."

    I don't think it's a good idea to attribute svengali like mind control to politicians. They mostly just muddle through trying to cope with changing circumstances, and unchanging human nature. Communists, if anything, really seemed to believe in what they said and did.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|10.29.17 @ 7:48PM|#
    "I don't think it's a good idea to attribute svengali like mind control to politicians."

    And no one suggested that; it was a fantasy on your part, given your stupidity.
    Fuck off.

  • mtrueman||

    "Fuck off."

    You have a strange way of saying you agree with me.

  • buybuydandavis||

    By the end it's also a horror story of grotesque proportions, as the "insatiable utopia" devours its own.

    Those who nursed and fed the crocodile were consumed by it

    A Happy Ending
    Sounds like Justice

  • Microaggressor||

    Reading about the Party purges has been oddly satisfactory for me. A little bit of Karma, but not enough overall.

  • Richard Stallman||

    Equating Democratic Socialists with Communists has been a standard
    right-wing smear for more than a century. You should open your eyes
    and respond to us Democratic Socialists based on what we really stand
    for. The things we want are already implemented in most of the
    European countries, and many of them were implemented in the US too,
    some decades ago when we had a democracy.

  • Cy||

    The communist party in the US is a wing of the Democratic party. They literally joined the Democratic party.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Few argue about what you stand for, it's where you inevitably end up, is where the debate is.

    Twenty-one years later, he would be executed as an "enemy of the people" for his blasphemies against the Soviet Union.

    That's where you (and everyone else) ends up.

  • timbo||

    The deep down belief of all leftists is that these atrocities cannot actually be attributed to someone who believes in equality of incomes and state control over all evil business.

    Richard Stallman's of the world think there is room for government controls and economic progress.

    They use the Europe is a successful model all of the time even though Europe is falling apart.
    Europe has always been a declining regulation sphere with incredibly high costs of living, exorbitant state entitlements and union thuggery run amuck. These thing take decades to unravel as we are seeing now.

    What cannot save the world this time is a robust capitalist economy in the US. We have gotten too far away from free market capitalism this time I fear.
    The democratic socialists should be cheering right now. We have essentially gone far down the road to your utopia. We have exploding entitlement debts, a massive state bureaucracy, a government that suppresses dissent, a constant push to take away americans' rights to self defense, the whole of government wants punitive action against business owners in the form of elevated taxes and regulations. What more do you want. Be honest this time Stallman.

  • barfman2017||

    *barf*

    Stick to hacking emacs.

  • Sevo||

    "...many of them were implemented in the US too,some decades ago when we had a democracy."

    Stinks of lefty.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So revealing! More than a little coincidental that 30 years later another Russian would write: "For a practical definition, if men merely agree that no man or number of men have the right to initiate the use of force against any human being (and that includes the forcible seizure of his property), that they have no such right for any purpose whatsoever, at any time whatsoever—that would be all we need, that would achieve a perfect Utopia on earth, that would include all the moral code we need." That original Non-Aggression Principle as penned by Ayn Rand is getting much better traction than Altrurian communism.

  • inoyu||

    On this day, 10/31/2017, I witnessed testimony from the representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google. They promised a Senate committee that they would perfect content controls preventing the dispersal of "vile" materials and "misinformation". They promised to discover the true sender of materials and messages. When their tools are perfected, it's all over.

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