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.
Thread beginning with comment 563962
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

Really, the people in the USSR were better off.


You can't possibly mean that. Think. The Soviet Union murdered tens of millions of it's own citizens, maintained a vast complex of slave labour camps for most of the 20th century, suppressed all dissenting political activity, delivered shabby and poor living standards, prevented it's citizens from travelling abroad or freely accessing foreign culture, news and information, and managed to devastate the environment. It also imposed all of that on many other countries in Europe through the use and threat of military force.

Western liberal democracy may be flawed and may have it's own shabby moments but it delivers a quality of life and a degree of personal freedom that no other system comes close to.

Reply Parent Score: 9

bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

The Soviet Union murdered tens of millions of it's own citizens

I'll grant you that (you could argue that the US has a similar body count of its own citizens, but it's a stretch. That said, the US does murder its own citizens without due process).

maintained a vast complex of slave labour camps for most of the 20th century

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-pentagon-and-slave-labor-in-u-s-pr...

suppressed all dissenting political activity

Check. (No source, but have you ever seen mainstream coverage of, say, the Green or Libertarian parties?)

delivered shabby and poor living standards

Check.

prevented it's citizens from travelling abroad or freely accessing foreign culture, news and information

I'll partially grant you that one, but the corporatocracy in charge has done an excellent job of discouraging its citizens from doing so.

and managed to devastate the environment.

Check.

It also imposed all of that on many other countries in Europe through the use and threat of military force.

s/Europe/the Middle East

Western liberal democracy may be flawed and may have it's own shabby moments but it delivers a quality of life and a degree of personal freedom that no other system comes close to.

Except the US isn't a democracy (and I'm not sure which definition of liberal you're using), it's a corporatocracy with a sham democracy.

Reply Parent Score: 10

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

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.

Reply Parent Score: 3

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

The world governmental system is Anarchy. It's a live-and-let-live sort of situation where Sovereignty is maintained through agreements and/or force.

The US governmental system is a Republic not a democracy. The people, limited in numbers by various "who can vote" schemes, choose a select elite who are entitled to vote on who becomes president.

Reply Parent Score: 2

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Ditto everything you just said. Nice to have the opportunity to agree with you for once ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

jigzat Member since:
2008-10-30

The Soviet Union murdered tens of millions of it's own citizens,


Like US does with American soldiers in nonsense wars like Vietnam Irak and Afganistan

suppressed all dissenting political activity,


Guantanamo anyone? Or how about the concept of the domino effect that murder many foreign politicians like Salvador Allende

prevented it's citizens from travelling abroad or freely accessing foreign culture


Like traveling to Cuba

It also imposed all of that on many other countries in Europe through the use and threat of military force.


Like still USA does on the rest of the world.

USA is no better or worst than the Soviet Union, all governments act the same, and those who don't will if they face similar circumstances.

I will rather not take a side on this one since is a really complex matter, is not that simply as saying "Oh no the government is reading my tweets".

Hmm, now that I read my own post it looks like I did choose a sideā€¦ interesting, I just became Switzerland.

Edited 2013-06-08 06:09 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Guantanamo anyone?


That's mostly for foreign nationals so it's ok because, you know, they're foreigners and don't deserve any freedom or rights. As for the Americans there? Well, they're "obviously" terrorists so that's ok too.

USA is no better or worst than the Soviet Union


As bad as the U.S may be, and its plenty of bad, it's nowhere near the USSR. Yet.

Reply Parent Score: 4

pashar Member since:
2006-07-12

This is great example of false equivalence.

Reply Parent Score: 1

pashar Member since:
2006-07-12

" The Soviet Union murdered tens of millions of it's own citizens,


Like US does with American soldiers in nonsense wars like Vietnam Irak and Afganistan
"

You mean, US soldiers kill US citizens in those countries?

suppressed all dissenting political activity,


Guantanamo anyone?

And how many people are held in Guanatamo, as compared to Gulag?

Or how about the concept of the domino effect that murder many foreign politicians like Salvador Allende


Can you name more of these "many" politicians?


"prevented it's citizens from travelling abroad or freely accessing foreign culture


Like traveling to Cuba
"
Great example. Forbidding citizens from visiting few countries considered hostile (which is, BTW, done by almost every country) as compared to almost total ban on visits abroad (less severe in case of socialist countries and almost total for capitalist countries).

Reply Parent Score: 1

reez Member since:
2006-06-28

suppressed all dissenting political activity


I want to point out just this, because it is a really, really bad comparison in the context of the 20th century and since this is something no historian or the official US denies I think it should simply be known as a fact.

The US did indeed kill, murder and torture political activists at least from the 50s to 70s, which appears to be fall into the period you are talking about. There have been multiple operations, but the most famous and well documented one is COINTELPRO.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO

Okay, I hope whatever you think about the US, I think it is good to know some history. Personally I come from a country that basically was the root of both world wars, so really not judging anyone.

Just a comment about this discussion in general. We could go on and on discussing which country is better or worse, but lets be honest there isn't a country which has a lot of bad history and there also isn't a country without many, many amazing people, just like I guess everyone knows someone that is pro-<something you consider bad> and you still know that person is a good, reputable person.

Also this doesn't really get you anywhere. You can't be like "uh, but it's still worse there" and comparing usually doesn't bring you far. It would mean if you are the best then you have nothing to do and that's simply not true, because if you act like that you will eventually stall and then go backward and that's the opposite direction you wanna go, because really, there isn't a point where you have enough freedom, security, wealth to just sit down and do nothing and I think this discussion and this article shows that we are all far from where we wanna be.

Reply Parent Score: 5

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The US did indeed kill, murder and torture political activists at least from the 50s to 70s, [...] the most famous and well documented one is COINTELPRO.

Plus it did kill workers, somewhat earlier, seemingly as a sort of tolerated course of action...

(for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lattimer_massacre or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Massacre ...this one even had a ~tank; generally, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Campaignbox_Coal_Wars & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:American_Labor_Conflicts )

Reply Parent Score: 2

bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

58,000 Americans dead and probably over a million in the area (no way to know for sure, people are still dying thanks to the millions of pounds of mines and bombs dropped there) over the "non event" or false flag, whichever you prefer, that was the Gulf Of Tonkin incident.

You have the deaths under the Shah (put in by the USA) and another dozen or so dictators, you have COINTELPRO targeting minorities and those that didn't follow the system, so yes the USSR killed more of their own people, the USA prefers to kill brown and yellow third world people.

Look up the "CIA and military interventions post WWII" map and look at how many countries have gotten a taste of that USA way of doing things, whether you think its better to kill your own people or kill other people? Well dead is dead, and while I doubt anybody will top Stalin on body counts just because you can't beat the champ doesn't make those deaths not count.

As an American I can say the country certainly doesn't look anything like what I grew up in, you go to the flyover states and frankly it looks like the depression, boarded up buildings and closed down business districts, its really scary. It would be too easy to get someone like the crazy Austrian in power here, we even have our own replacement for the Jews, the illegals.

Reply Parent Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

There does seem strangely little remembrance for the dead at US soil... (for example from the labour struggle http://www.osnews.com/permalink?564752 )

PS. And about "the country certainly doesn't look anything like what I grew up in" ...that's still while consuming way more resources than anybody else ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Human_welfare_and_ecological_foot... ), what will it be once they dry up?

Edited 2013-06-15 00:03 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2