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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Member since:

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

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


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.


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:

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

pooo Member since:

We kill and enslave (prison) millions of black people every year for petty crimes. We kill and enslave millions of people worldwide either directly through our illegal military actions (iraq) or through our predatory economic policies.

The numbers aren't as stark as with Russia (and I agree in general that the comparison is silly) but we do f things up on a pretty massive scale.

Reply Parent Score: 8

tylerdurden Member since:

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 USSR population at that time was estimated at a bit over 110 million (tops). So are you claiming with a straight face that the Soviet regime killed over 50% of its own people?

I'm not making the case that the purges and other murderous sprees of the Soviet regime were not insignificant, far from that. The communist regime visited plenty of misery on its own people. But you also seem to have your own agenda.

Also, if we're going to bring genocide of people into this talk. Then percentage wise, the native Americans in what now is the USA sustained far worse culling. E.g. how many "redskins" can you see on the streets of any average American town nowadays. Modern day Americans should not be so quick to get on their soapboxes when it comes to indict other murderous regimes. We have a very very very checkered history ourselves.

Edited 2013-06-07 17:56 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 8

aligatro Member since:

I read about this Anne Applebaum on wikipedia and it seems she was actually born in US and moved to Poland at some point. I wouldn't read a book written by someone who is has all reasons to be biased on the subject.

Reply Parent Score: 4

jabbotts Member since:

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

tylerdurden Member since:

"Democracy" and "Republic" are not mutually exclusive terms. Technically, in theory at least, the USA is a Democratic Republic.

Republic refers to the fact that the head of state is not a hereditary or arbitrarily imposed position. And the Democratic part implies an electoral process involving he citizenry.

For some reason a lot of people in this country don't seem to understand even the basics of its structures. Which may explain its evolution...

Reply Parent Score: 6

galvanash Member since:

The US governmental system is a Republic not a democracy.

Yes, the United States is a Republic. That is the same thing as saying that Canada is a Monarchy. Both statements are true, and neither says much of anything about whether or not each country is or isn't 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

You somehow manage to wordsmith that into sounding like a bad thing.

(hint, its not)...

Your from Toronto, care to describe how you "elect" a Prime Minister up there?

(hint - you don't)

Reply Parent Score: 4