Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 7th Jun 2013 11:40 UTC
Legal This story is getting bigger and bigger. Even though most Americans probably already knew, it is now official: the United States government, through its National Security Agency, is collecting the communications and data of all American citizens, and of non-Americans using American services, through a wide collaboration with the large companies in technology, like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and so on. Interestingly enough, the NSA itself, as well as the US government, have repeatedly and firmly denied this massive spying on Americans and non-Americans took place at all.
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Tony Swash
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This sort of silly ahistorial hysterical hyperbole helps no one understand modern politics or develop a sense of historical perspective. I assume it's based on ignorance and lack of historical data. As a first step I suggest you 'Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps' by Anne Applebaum.

Just a few points.

It's it estimated that the Soviet Union killed somewhere between 50 and 70 million of it's own citizens in the 20th century. The biggest single killing episode was the deliberately engineered famine of the 1930s which was designed to break the back of peasant resistance to collectivisation in which around 10 million people starved to death. The best account of that I have across is 'Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin' by Timothy Snyder. Read it, it's chilling.

As Anne Applebaum reveals, in her meticulously researched book, the Gulag was not primarily a mechanism of political repression but was actually a giant mechanism for forced labour. Up to a hundred million people were incarcerated as slave labourers in it's system, often for decades, and deployed to open up the mineral wealth of the Siberian far east. Often whole professions (metallurgists, mining engineers, chemists, etc) were arrested and deported on mass to the Gulag when their skill sets were required. Tens of millions died of starvation and cold. The death toll in the Gulag was significantly larger than in the Nazis' system of death and slave camps and the Soviet camp system was in operation for a much longer period.

Those Soviet citizens not in the Gulag were not only restricted from travelling abroad but through the mechanism of the internal passport prevented from travelling inside their own country.

The devastation of the environment in the Soviet Union was of a scale that has never been equalled, in part because all (ALL) independent or campaigning organisations were violently suppressed. Merely collecting a petition to protest against anything including pollution was illegal and would result in a prison sentence, as well as administrative punishment for one's family (the banning of children going to university was common).

I could go on but I think you get my drift. I think it is an insult to the victims of the Soviet Union to casually belittle the scale and intensity of their suffering by making crass and vacuous comparisons between what they suffered and current problems in the US in order to make a cheap political point. Shameful.

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