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what was communism like in Russia?

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Marty McFly
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You know, very few books have made me cry. And very, VERY few books have made me bawl my eyes out. "We The Living" literally caused me to bawl my eyes out. I think Rand had a deeper connection with the scenes in that book than she did in Atlas Shrugged because she was so struck by the horror of what she had witnessed, and she wanted to tell the world how horrible it really was. I have always had a soft spot for Kira in my heart, because I know what it's like to live in a country where all your dreams seem impossible.

Actually the other day I picked up the Time famous photographs edition and, flipping through, I found a large gorgeous reproduction of the famous "Indestructible" Margaret Bourke White photograph, where she is prepping a shot from one of the Chrysler building eagles, completely fearless. I turned to my partner who was sitting next to me at the time and I said "Hey, it's Kira Argounova." Someone called Burke-White "The Ayn Rand of Photojournalism", but in a rather pejorative way, considering the person is obviously a staunch liberal.

MargaretBourkeWhite.jpg

Edited by kainscalia
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I really appreciate all the replies. I laughed at some of them, and I strongly agree that he must be one of those moochers to like a sociaty like that. that last one about The Line was sad and it did remind me of the way it ended for poor Kira. except Kira tried a little harder. This woman seemed to almost invite death by openly running out. Poor souls, the strong, able, lovers of life who had to be imprisoned by sniveling Orcs. *sigh*

If I ever see that guy again I think I will ask him (nicely, without arrogance) why he didn't move to Cuba yet. I hope he Does move there so there'd be one less commie voter in NY. (he told me he is a citizen >;))

Edit: ^ that picture by the way, ROCKS! can I see it in full size?

Edited by Marty McFly
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The reason why I decided to generalize my response rather than give you specific details about life under communism is because things were so incredibly strange that it makes this topic for me like a river. I could spend hours listing unbelievable circumstances similar to the ones David gave you.

I will give you one illustration:

Cars were quiet the luxury. In order to buy a new car one had to get a permission for purchase, from the government. One would have to have major connections up top to obtain such a thing. Further, a person would have to have major connections at the manufacture to get a car which would actually run well because without someone "picking the right one" it was not uncommon that a new car would break few intersections pass the manufacture's parking lot.

The law said that you could not sell a new car for five years. Due to the fact that cars were such a desired yet scarce item and because new vehicles were close to impossible to obtain - used cars (even up to 10 years old or more) were 100% (or more) more expensive than brand new ones (the price for which was government controlled - way below its actual cost or market value). They wanted to avoid people making that 100% profit right the next day from buying a new car. Thus, it was not uncommon to drive a car for 15 years and then sell it for more than the original purchase price.

In every aspect of life, housing, school, you name it - things were equally crazy.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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That's the only picture of it I found on the net that's of a decent size. If you want to look for it, look for the recent Time edition of famous pictures (or at least I think it was time, could it be Life?). I would scan it and put it up , but I have misplaced my edition in the midst of cleaning up the apartment!

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Thus, it was not uncommon to drive a car for 15 years and then sell it for more than the original purchase price.

At least the purchaser would have some confidence that it was not a lemon.

I have heard stories about people in the USSR making major purchases trying very hard to avoid anything built on the last ten days of the month (rushing to make quota) or the first ten days (hung over after making quota), though I cannot really laugh at this because similar advice has been put forward for American cars (buy one made on a Wednesday).

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I will give you one illustration:

Cars ...

Here's a blog post about buying cars in Cuba.

I don't think many people have a doubt that people were generally poorer under communism. I suspect that the old man described in the first post could probably have been boxed in to admitting as much. Rather, I think there is a certain sense in which some people miss that poverty. They pine for "simpler times".

I've seen this in people who come to the U.S. and then complain about things like "there's too much choice". I asked one such person for an example and was told: "You go to the store and there are 20 different types of toothpaste!" or "You order a banana-split and they give you so many options" or "You ask for salad and they list five different dressings".

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Here's a blog post about buying cars in Cuba.

I don't think many people have a doubt that people were generally poorer under communism. I suspect that the old man described in the first post could probably have been boxed in to admitting as much. Rather, I think there is a certain sense in which some people miss that poverty. They pine for "simpler times".

I've seen this in people who come to the U.S. and then complain about things like "there's too much choice". I asked one such person for an example and was told: "You go to the store and there are 20 different types of toothpaste!" or "You order a banana-split and they give you so many options" or "You ask for salad and they list five different dressings".

For godness sake! is it that hard to make a friggin choice? *shakes head in exasperation* some people... They can always do eeny meeny miney mo. We did that alot as kids. I for one would go crazy if there were limited choices. (I live in the US and I stil think there arent enough choices ;) )

Edited by Marty McFly
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It's not that hard for us to make a choice, because we're used to it and we know what resources to use to research our purchases first. Usually, by the time I go to the store, to buy a digital camera for example, I've already looked at the Consumer Reports website, talked with friends about their cameras, etc., so I know what I want. If you are not used to having so many choices, I can imagine you would feel overwhelmed. I think that's a good problem to have to overcome. :)

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I think more psychologically important aspect of those "simple times" for many people was not having to worry about basic necessities of life. You were guaranteed a job, a place to live, a vacation, retirement pension. All of this was on a very basic level - not necessarily a good job with adequate pay, very little living space, not your choice for vacation spot or timing of it, not a large pension - but for many, as long as they did not have to worry and plan - basic was enough. This is the child like/dependent mentality I mentioned in my first post. And again the fact that others had not much better was also reassuring for them. They did not have carry the burden of independent life and yet they were not behind others in their standard of living.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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I think more psychologically important aspect of those "simple times" for many people was not having to worry about basic necessities of life. You were guaranteed a job, a place to live, a vacation, retirement pension. All of this was on a very basic level - not necessarily a good job with adequate pay, very little living space, not your choice for vacation spot or timing of it, not a large pension - but for many, as long as they did not have to worry and plan - basic was enough. This is the child like/dependent mentality I mentioned in my first post. And again the fact that others had not much better was also reassuring for them. They did not have carry the burden of independent life and yet they were not behind others in their standard of living.

Many of the older people in Russia and elsewhere lived through extremely difficult times. Famine, economic depression, hyper inflation, etc... all caused by either government action or inaction have a way of making a population pliable for a dictator or an opportunist.

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All I can think of is that scene in The Wall when the students are all marching along in a line with those ugly masks on and they all look the same. Assembly line, auto pilot, whatever you want to call it, I just can't imagine settling for less than happiness and being okay with it because everyone else is. Ugh. :)

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YOu know the story with The Line is less horrible in a way (as horrible as it is) we the living spoiler

Kira not only tried harder, there was no drama about her death. no one knew, no one cared she was shot because some guard thought it was a fox. there is no worse way to describe a death. even "the wet nurse"'s death was more kind (AS)

]

Edited by Marty McFly
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Many of the older people in Russia and elsewhere lived through extremely difficult times. Famine, economic depression, hyper inflation, etc... all caused by either government action or inaction have a way of making a population pliable for a dictator or an opportunist.

True. Also, I woud not want to leave an impression that this was met with no protests. Here is a Polish revolt timeline:

1947 - Poland becomes a Communist People's Republic. The elections are denounced by the US as undemocratic.

1956 - More than 50 people killed in rioting in Poznan over demands for greater freedom.

1970 - Food price riots in Gdansk. The protests are suppressed, hundreds are killed.

1980 - Disturbances at the shipyard in Gdansk lead to the emergence of the Solidarity trade union under Lech Walesa.

1981 - Martial law imposed. Many of Solidarity's leaders, including Walesa, are imprisoned.

1983 - Martial law lifted.

1989 - Round-table talks between Solidarity, the Communists and the church. Partially free elections see widespread success for Solidarity.

1990 - Walesa elected president of Poland. Market reforms, including large-scale privatisation, are launched.

1992 - Soviet troops start to leave.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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  • 2 weeks later...
I've seen this in people who come to the U.S. and then complain about things like "there's too much choice". I asked one such person for an example and was told: "You go to the store and there are 20 different types of toothpaste!" or "You order a banana-split and they give you so many options" or "You ask for salad and they list five different dressings".
In the Passion of Ayn Rand, it is written that Rand's sister, upon making it to America, reacted exactly the same way. I seem to remember that toothpaste, in particular, was mentioned. According to the book, Rand didn't get along with her and was very disappointed.

(I say "according to the book" because I know that Barbara Branden is persona non grata around here, and therefore anything said in her biography is "of questionable truth". Personally I don't think there's any reason to doubt most of the book's contents, certainly not the parts that have nothing to do with "the breakup".)

Edited by musenji
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  • 3 weeks later...
In the Passion of Ayn Rand, it is written that Rand's sister, upon making it to America, reacted exactly the same way. I seem to remember that toothpaste, in particular, was mentioned. According to the book, Rand didn't get along with her and was very disappointed.

(I say "according to the book" because I know that Barbara Branden is persona non grata around here, and therefore anything said in her biography is "of questionable truth". Personally I don't think there's any reason to doubt most of the book's contents, certainly not the parts that have nothing to do with "the breakup".)

personally, about her sister, I wouldn't put it past the soviets to have taken her sister, told her that she could go to America only if she will distroy her famous sister's raputation by coosing to return to Russia. I wouldn't be surprised if they threataned her and the family she left behind in Russia. (I know it sounds conspiratory, but conspiracies are more likely in some countries than others)

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