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
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

pooo Member since:
2006-04-22

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:
2009-03-17


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

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

The 20th century if I remember correctly was a 100 years long.

Reply Parent Score: 3

bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

ukraine had to 6-7 million murdered. That's only a small portion of what the USSR.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

"
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?
"


You are right, I made a mistake. The 100 million figure is the total of all those killed by all communist governments in the 20th century and includes the 40 million killed by the Chinese 'Great Leap Forward' which itself was the single biggest episode of state killing in human history.

The figure for state killings in the Soviet Union is between 40 and 50 million.

Stalin once said: 'Kill one man and it's murder. Kill a million and it's a statistic"

The point I was making still stands, which is that to try to compare the misdeeds of the US or any other liberal democracy to the misdeeds of the USSR is completely wrong and a terrible twisting of historical fact and ethical judgment.

Reply Parent Score: 1

BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

"
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 can't believe I'm actually defending Tony Swash, but... you DO realize that he isn't claiming it happened all at once, right?

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.


...derp? How many Huguenots can you see on the streets of any average French town nowadays? How many Aztecs can you see on the streets of any average Mexican city nowadays? How many Iroquois can you see in downtown Toronto nowadays? And WTF does that have to do with anything?

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.


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

False equivalence is a logical fallacy which describes a situation where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none.
[...]
A common way for this fallacy to be perpetuated is one shared trait between two subjects is assumed to show equivalence, especially in order of magnitude...

Reply Parent Score: 0

aligatro Member since:
2010-01-28

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

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

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.



I thinking it's best to actually read a book before judging it.

Judging a history book based on where an author was born or has lived seems a particularly silly thing to do.

Personally I think her book is an exemplary example of historical writing, but feel free to try to change my mind - after you have read it ;)

Reply Parent Score: 1