Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Stalinization of Post-Revolutionary Soviet Art and Architecture

Panteleimon (brother of Il'ia) Golosov's Submission for the Narkomtiazhprom Competition

The vibrant artistic culture that existed in post-revolutionary Russia thrived up until the early 1930s. During that time, the Soviet government allowed a great deal of creative liberty, with a number of independent artistic and architectural movements sprouting up in the aftermath of October. Some state oversight existed in the capacity of Narkompros, the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment. Its Fine Arts division sponsored some projects, but gave no special preference to any particular group or style. Narkompros' director (and Lenin's old friend) Anatolii Lunacharskii may have been more fond of the classics of Western civilization than he was of the modernists' brash iconoclasm, but he was remarkably tolerant of any group that displayed enthusiasm for the Bolsheviks' social and political revolution.

Post-revolutionary art and architecture can be disaggregated into three main categories: the modernist, the atavistic, and the "proletarian." This third category traced its origins to Aleksandr Bogdanov, one of leading figures in Russian Social-Democracy and Lenin's early rival within the Bolshevik party. Modernism had emerged in pre-war Russia out of the fragmentation of Symbolism in the fields of literature, poetry, and art, but absorbed international influences as well. The traditionalist eclecticism of artistic and architectural atavism was passed on through the Imperial Academy system, which had been imported from Western Europe some two hundred years before.


Tatlin's Tower Digitally Superimposed on the Petersburg Skyline

Out of these three groups, the modernists were the first to lend their support to the Bolshevik cause during the Revolution. Only months after October 1917, Maiakovskii and others declared their solidarity with Lenin's party. They saw the social and political revolution carried out by the communists as a parallel to the artistic revolution that they were attempting to realize. But the Soviet avant-garde was far from being a unitary movement. In the fifteen years following the October Revolution, numerous avant-garde currents were established, each with their own agendas and often antagonisms against one another. They shared a rejection of the ways of the past, and they tended to be more internationalist and experimental in orientation. There were the Russian Futurists (very different from their Italian counterparts), painterly and architectural Suprematists, Productivists, artistic and architectural Constructivists, and Formalists in architecture and literary theory, etc. These various groups also invited modernists from other countries to join in the project of building a new society.


Eclectic Architecture from 1924

At the same time, however, there was the more conservative brand of eclectic art and architecture inherited from the old academy system. These artists and architects were generally referred to as the academicians, and were generally despised by the avant-gardists. They saw artistic and architectural history as a sort of inventory of recognized styles that could be arbitrarily combined or juxtaposed at the whim of the artist or architect. This is why their style was often referred to as "historicist."


Anti-Capital (1920)

Alongside this, there was the Proletkult/proleterian art movement that Lenin and Trotskii were so uncomfortable with, that tended to be more realist and “heroic” in its representation of workers, Bolshevik leaders, and revolutionary battle scenes. They believed that there would emerge a new form of art and architecture that was both created by and legible to the revolutionary proletariat. They believed that the working masses had already established their own essential culture in opposition to bourgeois taste and high society under capitalism. Lenin and Trotskii criticized them for believing that the culture of the proletariat would be that drastically different than the culture that had predominated under capitalism. The other aspect that disturbed them was that the Bolshevik Revolution was meant to create a classless society, not a specifically proletarian society. Nevertheless, Proletkult and proletarian art merged with elements of a strange brand of monumentalist avant-gardism that in architecture banded together in the group VOPRA, and this led to the Stalinist synthesis of Socialist realism.

Around 1931-1933, Stalin and his henchmen intervened and wanted to put an end to the various competing groups and form an official style that would be run by forcibly unionizing the different art and architectural groups together. Once all the groups had been subsumed into All-Union appendages of the state, bureaucratized and monitored closely, the decision was made to institute Socialist realism. This way, all artists and architects had to be registered with and licensed by the state and made to conform to union mandates handed down from above, by the Stalinist hierarchy. Those who did not join with the state-funded unions would not have their work supported or even recognized by the Soviet government, and would not receive the regular income that the union provided.

Works now had to be:

  1. Proletarian: art relevant to the workers and understandable to them.
  2. Typical: scenes of every day life of the people.
  3. Realistic: in the representational sense.
  4. Partisan: supportive of the aims of the State and the Party.
READ THE REST HERE


RENEGADE EYE

73 comments:

Ross Wolfe said...

This post was written in response to Ren's question on my blog:

"How long did art thrive after Lenin? That isn’t a focused question, but in general how long did the art scene last?"

Titan said...

With the modernization of industry, Stalin argued that it was necessary to pay higher wages to certain workers in order to encourage increased output. His left-wing opponents claimed that this inequality was a betrayal of socialism and would create a new class system in the Soviet Union. Stalin had his way and during the 1930s, the gap between the wages of the labourers and the skilled workers increased.

In the summer of 1932 Stalin became aware that opposition to his policies were growing. Some party members were publicly criticizing Stalin and calling for the readmission of Leon Trotsky to the party. When the issue was discussed at the Politburo, Stalin demanded that the critics should be arrested and executed. Sergey Kirov, who up to this time had been a staunch Stalinist, argued against this policy. When the vote was taken, the majority of the Politburo supported Kirov against Stalin.

In the spring of 1934 Sergey Kirov put forward a policy of reconciliation. He argued that people should be released from prison who had opposed the government's policy on collective farms and industrialization. Once again, Stalin found himself in a minority in the Politburo.

After years of arranging for the removal of his opponents from the party, Stalin realized he still could not rely on the total support of the people whom he had replaced them with. Stalin no doubt began to wonder if Sergey Kirov was willing to wait for his mentor to die before becoming leader of the party. Stalin was particularly concerned by Kirov's willingness to argue with him in public, fearing that this would undermine his authority in the party.

As usual, that summer Kirov and Stalin went on holiday together. Stalin, who treated Kirov like a son, used this opportunity to try to persuade him to remain loyal to his leadership. Stalin asked him to leave Leningrad to join him in Moscow. Stalin wanted Kirov in a place where he could keep a close eye on him. When Kirov refused, Stalin knew he had lost control over his protégé.

Titan said...

On 1st December, 1934. Sergey Kirov was assassinated by a young party member, Leonid Nikolayev. Stalin claimed that Nikolayev was part of a larger conspiracy led by Leon Trotsky against the Soviet government. This resulted in the arrest and execution of Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, and fifteen other party members.

In September, 1936, Stalin appointed Nikolai Yezhov as head of the NKVD, the Communist Secret Police. Yezhov quickly arranged the arrest of all the leading political figures in the Soviet Union who were critical of Stalin. The Secret Police broke prisoners down by intense interrogation. This included the threat to arrest and execute members of the prisoner's family if they did not confess. The interrogation went on for several days and nights and eventually they became so exhausted and disoriented that they signed confessions agreeing that they had been attempting to overthrow the government.

In 1936 Nickolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Krestinsky and Christian Rakovsky were arrested and accused of being involved with Leon Trotsky in a plot against Stalin. They were all found guilty and were eventually executed.

Stalin now decided to purge the Red Army. Some historians believe that Stalin was telling the truth when he claimed that he had evidence that the army was planning a military coup at this time. Leopold Trepper, head of the Soviet spy ring in Germany, believed that the evidence was planted by a double agent who worked for both Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Trepper's theory is that the "chiefs of Nazi counter-espionage" took "advantage of the paranoia raging in the Soviet Union," by supplying information that led to Stalin executing his top military leaders.

In June, 1937, Mikhail Tukhachevsky and seven other top Red Army commanders were charged with conspiracy with Germany. All eight were convicted and executed. All told, 30,000 members of the armed forces were executed. This included fifty per cent of all army officers.

The last stage of the terror was the purging of the NKVD. Stalin wanted to make sure that those who knew too much about the purges would also be killed. Stalin announced to the country that "fascist elements" had taken over the security forces which had resulted in innocent people being executed. He appointed Lavrenti Beria as the new head of the Secret Police and he was instructed to find out who was responsible. After his investigations, Beria arranged the executions of all the senior figures in the organization.

Titan said...

Gee, "fascist elements" had taken over the security forces...

Stalin and Hitler/ "brothers" in arms.

The poor artists had to stifle their creativity so as to conform with Stalin's agenda... what a terrible loss to the art world. AT the same time, German manufacturing was "standardizing" components in anticipation of WWII. Coincidence?

Collectivism and individuality/ creativity would appear to be a competing dialectic... ;)

Titan said...

btw - Panteleimon = "all-compassionate"

I'm sorry, but massively impersonal facades do NOT covey feelings of "compassion". It looks more like a fortification.

Ross Wolfe said...

It's just a popular Orthodox Saint's name. And yes, it was designed after the modernist fashion, in a spare and austere manner.

Ross Wolfe said...

It's obvious that Kirov's assassination was carried out at the behest of Stalin. I'm a Marxist, but an anti-Stalinist.

The modernists weren't exactly perfect, but they were grappling with some very fundamental issues of their age, with some spectacularly creative results. Yes, this creativity was stifled by the cultural conservatism of the Stalinist regime.

Cultural conservatism was pretty much across-the-board with Stalinism. They outlawed abortion in 1930 (it had been legal since the Revolution), made divorces harder to get, and they outlawed homosexuality as well.

Thersites said...

So you think that it was wrong for Stalin to try and lock-in and culturally preserve the iconographic revolutionary changes to art that had developed in the early 20s and 30s and build an entirely new culture around these "revolutionary ideals" in a New Soviet Man.

Me too. The artistic vision in "revolution" must never be revealed the "empty promise" that it in all actuality, is.

Hope. Change. Let's leave it at that.

Thersites said...

The dream that inspires a revolution is always better than the sucky reality that emerges from the rubble. And the more improbable the dream, the greater the resultant disappointment felt in the heart of the peasant who dares compare his own actuality with the empty revolutionary promises.

It's actually pretty demoralizing. No wonder the USSR collapsed.

The Pagan Temple said...

What, are you saying Stalin outlawed pole smoking? You have GOT to be kidding me? If that's true, why did so many English pole smokers become Soviet spies?

Renegade Eye said...

Thersites: I think both the left and right, have an idealized view of revolution. It is not all bad guys against all good guys, and at times it diesn't finish its tasks. The American Revolution didn't abolish slavery, the English Revolution compromised on the question of monarchy. It's not that black and white.

Renegade Eye said...

Rightists lack the intellectual discipline, to stay on topic.

Ross Wolfe said...

Ren: I agree. No matter what the article might be about, they bring up the same old tired points about their (mis)conceptions of Marxism, socialism, & etc. They assume that it's just a big government with grotesque bureaucratic deformations, high taxes on the rich and nationalized industries rather than privatization. They also continuously bring up the atrocities of Stalin and Mao, as if somehow their distorted versions of Marxism are the same as the Marxism Renegade Eye and I are talking about.

Ross Wolfe said...

Comments should be somehow related to the article to which they're attached. The point of my article should be fairly clear: there was a flourishing artistic and architectural culture in the first fifteen years of Soviet society. There was a great deal of individual and creative freedom and widespread enthusiasm about the new society they were building. However, their revolutionary dreams were soon smashed against the nightmarish reality of the Stalinist betrayal. There should be a lingering sense of lost possibilities and squandered opportunities.

The Pagan Temple said...

Ross-

The reason we always bring up Stalin and Mao is because anytime socialism is tried, anywhere, it always inevitably leads to a Stalin or Mao. Imagine Marx as a baseball pitcher, and Stalin is a batter for the opposing team, only every time Marx throws a pitch, Stalin hits it out of the park. Now if you owned the ball club Marx played for, don't you think you'd think seriously about getting yourself s new pitcher?

Larry Gambone said...

Pagan, the irrational way in which right-wingers argue is evident in your argument. Remember, for your kind social democracy and socialism are the same. (Not to mention a conservative and corporatist like Obama) Therefore, the Scandinavian counties are deemed socialist. Trouble is, these same countries are among the most democratic in the world. How does this square with the view that "anytime socialism is tried, anywhere, it always inevitably leads to a Stalin or Mao"?

You can't have it both ways - either socialism is a very specific thing - not a general epithet that you can throw at any social reform OR socialism does not inevitably lead to a Stalin or a Mao. So which is it?

Now I for one do not think that social reform (social democracy) equals socialism. However social democracies do contain a fair number of socialistic aspects (in my sense of the word socialism) These include universal health care, cooperatives, strong trade unions, public input into decisions etc. Now the countries that have most of these aspects happen to be among the best to live in in the world and are among the most democratic. Indeed, countries that have less socialistic aspects are not as good to live in and tend to be more authoritarian. But if socialism somehow leads to a Stalin or Mao, this should not be the case, it should be the opposite. Please explain.

Larry Gambone said...

Ross Wolfe, good posting! The thing is creativity means negation, in the sense of trying something new, going beyond the bounds etc. Thus all great artists are rebels no matter their overt ideology. The last thing a dictator or a bureaucracy wants is a bunch of rebels around. Besides such art gets people thinking and the essence of thinking is being critical, not good if you are a despot. Thus all official art in dictatorships is kitsch, pseudo classical and bad eclecticism. It is not to be wondered that art and architecture under Stalin and Hitler seems so similar.

Thersites said...

The problem with Ross and Renegade Eye's views of "Marxism" is that their views ignores dialectical realities. They postulate a bunch of inconmensurable values that CANNOT coexist, coexisting.

Like "socialism" AND "individual creativity". They are incompatible values. One must "choose" from amongst these values and suffer the tragedy of one value negating the possibility of another coexisting. Renegade Eye and the other Marxist refuse to state their choices, and promise all things to all people. THAT isn't even remotely possible. It's all just a big-assed Marxist FANTASY.

Cum veritatem qua liberetur ignoret, expedit quod fallatur." --Blaise Pascal, "Pensees"

Thersites said...

Marxism was ALL about harvesting the surplus value that one derives from the division of labour.

The division of labour dehumanizes mankind and makes them half-men, some limbs, some brains. It then splits their limbs into hands and feet, and brains into forethoughts and afterthoughts.

The new Soviet Man ends up a retarded middle finger with everything he ever workded for in some Soviet dictator's Swiss bank account.

You can't cripple your entire workforce in this manner and expect them to be happy and creative.

At least with capitalism, a few people (the capitalists) escape this demeaning division. Their hearts can still mediate between their heads and their hands (Fritz Lang, "Metropolis").

Thersites said...

As for unions, I want to join the *sshole union....

When the body was first created, all the parts wanted to be Boss. The brain said, "I should be Boss because I control all of the body's responses and functions."

The feet said, "We should be Boss since we carry the brain about and get him to where he wants to go."

The hands said, "We should be the Boss because we do all the work and earn all the money."

Finally, the asshole spoke up. All the parts laughed at the idea of the asshole being the Boss. So, the asshole went on strike, blocked itself up and refused to work.

Within a short time, the eyes became crossed, the hands clenched, the feet twitched, the heart and lungs began to panic, and the brain fevered.

Eventually, they all decided that the asshole should be the Boss, so the motion was passed. All the other parts did all the work while the Boss just sat and passed out the shit!

Moral Of The Story: You don't need brains to be a Boss - any asshole will do.

The Pagan Temple said...

Good points Larry, but there is some degree of free enterprise and property rights in those European countries. Not as much as there should be, but they are still what you would term "capitalist" to a degree. The main difference as I see it is government subsidized capitalism, with varying degrees of private ownership, such as you see in the various socialist democrat countries of Europe, versus state capitalism, such as existed in the Soviet Union, where the state owned, operated, and controlled the means of production.

We have socialist aspects here in the US. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and various forms of welfare programs, such as food stamps and ADC, etc. The problem is Obama wants to enlarge and enhance the socialist system by way of the federal government, not lessen it in such a way that, though the safety net would still exist, does not produce generations of dependency on government largesse.

I have always said Obama is in practice more of a social democrat, like Europe, than he is a Marxist, but on the other hand he knows that he has to play within certain parameters. He has to play within the framework of a country that values the separation and balance of powers, probably the one thing that has kept assholes like him in some degree of check over the years.

sonia said...

Ross,

Good post. I agree with everything. But Russian artists continued to create stylistically interesting (though thematically less so) works even under Stalinism, as I argue in this post about art under Stalin.

Larry,

the countries that have most of these aspects happen to be among the best to live in in the world and are among the most democratic. Indeed, countries that have less socialistic aspects are not as good to live in and tend to be more authoritarian. But if socialism somehow leads to a Stalin or Mao, this should not be the case, it should be the opposite. Please explain.,

I will explain. Poison is small doses is called medecine. It's wonderful, but if you take too much of it, you will die. It's the same thing with socialism. In small doses, it's wonderful, but when it takes over the entire economy, nobody wants to works, and everything goes to shit. Sweden took a medicinal dose of socialism and prospered (no Swedish government ever nationalized IKEA or Volvo). Venezuela is swallowing industrial quantities of socialism, nationalizing everything in sight, and it will died a horrible death.

Joe Conservative said...

In Plato's imaginary "Republic" one finds a "good use" for communists. They must renounce all wealth and live with everything (women/ children/ households) held in "common". They govern AND defend the Republic, but they eventually screw up and destroy the country that they were entrusted to govern through "breeding" mistakes (they start banging the hot chicks instead of the smart ones).

Of course, one could always fall back on the system of the Republic in Aristophanes' Ecclesiazusae... ;)

Oooops. It's the same system.

Larry Gambone said...

In the social democratic countries the “commanding heights” of the economy are capitalist – they are capitalist countries which through reforms have modified some of the worst abuses of the capitalist system. Socialism is essentially economic democracy, so wherever social democracy has somehow economically empowered the population, either directly as through coops or indirectly through unions and other forms of citizen input, they are acting in a socialistic manner. State ownership is not socialism, only economic democracy is, hence Stalinism is not an example of socialism and thus arguments trying to portray socialism as leading automatically to Stalinism are fallacious.
Furthermore, if “too much” social democracy is a bad thing, why is it that people who live in advanced social democracies are better off than people who live in capitalism, “red of claw and fang” countries? It ought to be the opposite.

Larry Gambone said...

Sonia and Pagan, does this mean that, at last, we will no longer see any silliness about "Obama the socialist" or "European socialist countries" on this blog ? That you both understand the difference between socialism and social democracy?

Thersites said...

if “too much” social democracy is a bad thing, why is it that people who live in advanced social democracies are better off than people who live in capitalism, “red of claw and fang” countries?

Who says they are?

Every Paradise of the Bachelors is founded upon a Tartarus of the Maids. Just because YOUR parasitic fleas haven't managed to suck the fat dog dry yet doesn't mean that your fleas are better off.

You're under the false impression that there's a cake to be baked that one can eat, too. The cake needs to get baked, first. THAT "baking" process is what capitalism is ALL about. Now whether everyone has the OPPORTUNITY to EAT the same amount of cake or not is a very important question. I like the idea that some people are eventually going to get full and STOP eating the cake instead of permitting a swarm of hungry and "right"full locusts to descend upon the cake. ;)

Thersites said...

Besides... most of the so-called "advanced" European social democracies were COLONIAL powers.

And THAT, my friends, was a very FAT dog.

Is there any wonder that those so-called "advanced European democracies are "raiding" Libya this month?

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Thersites said...

btw - You COULD allow the maids to vote, but then they'd be less for you to eat, and you'd probably have to go to work as well.

And you know, there are some jobs that Americans just WON'T do. That what "Mexicans" are for. ;)

sonia said...

Larry,

State ownership is not socialism

Tell that to Hugo...

If you really believed that, you would denounce Hugo Chavez more than you would denounce George W. Bush. Dubya never nationalized any company, so (according to your strange definition of socialism), he is more socialist than Hugo Chavez (who nationalized countless enterprises).

If that's your definition of socialism, then I am a socialist too, I guess. And Obama, with all his bailouts of Government Motors, is an anti-socialist.

Thersites said...

Stalin's "Tartarus of the Maids" were the gulags of Siberia and the so-called "eastern Bloc" countries.

Larry Gambone said...

Sonia, state ownership is not socialism, but it can be a step toward it if the nationalized industry is put under workers control or turned into a coop. Furthermore, if the state is democratic, a state owned industry can be an improvement upon a corporate one, which is not the same as saying it is socialist. We have had much positive experience with state owned companies in Canada, I should add.

In other matters, I find your "homeopathic" concept of socialism to be quite amusing. Glad to see you have a sense of humour. Since socialism in its simplest is merely democracy extended to the economic sphere, what you are really saying is that a little bit of democracy is good, but too much is dangerous. In other words, you think that for an economy to function the people who do the work must be bullied into being productive and if they have a say in what goes on they will sit around and do nothing. Similar things were said by reactionaries 200 years ago at the prospect of political democracy. How quaint of you.

Larry Gambone said...

Thersites, you could do with a course in logic. The colonial past of some social democratic countries or the fact that some of them are involved in the Libyan adventure has no bearing on the fact that the citizens of these same social democracies live better than non-social democracies. Your logical fallacy is known as a "red herring,"

Thersites said...

Ah, then colonialism had no ill effects on the African, Asian and/or American nations... for THAT too would be a "red herring" so to speak, RIGHT Gamboner?

You can't have the argument BOTH ways. THAT would be a logical fallacy. :)

sonia said...

Larry,

state ownership is not socialism, but it can be a step toward it if the nationalized industry is put under workers control or turned into a coop

That's a very big "if". Stalin always claimed that all Soviet industry was "under workers control" and most leftists in the West believed him. Kolchozes (as opposed to sovchozes) were also supposed to be coops. In theory.

So far, I don't know a single country where the government nationalized a factory and then gave it to its workers. If it did, could the workers then sell it ? And if they can't, they don't really control it.

socialism in its simplest is merely democracy extended to the economic sphere

Well, considering that in most democratic countries, less than 50% of people bother to vote, and in most socialist countries, even fewer people bother to work, you might be onto something.

But under democracy, people can vote for right-wing parties that promise them to privatize everything. Under your socialism, could workers decide to sell their factory to the highest bidder ? If they can't, you analogy doesn't work.

you think that for an economy to function the people who do the work must be bullied into being productive and if they have a say in what goes on they will sit around and do nothing.

Well, duh! I don't think they need to be "bullied", but they definitely need an incentive (usually a monetary one). How many people you know who don't need a monetary incentive to be productive ?

Speedy G said...

Gamboner, so what was Marx thinking when he came up with that whole primitive accumulation bullsh*t theory? Talk about your ORIGINAL red herrings.

Thersites said...

Whoda thought you'd be arguing Shumpeter's critique? Certainly not I. ;)

Larry Gambone said...

There was no workers control under Stalin. The concept has to have content, see below

Who cares if people can't sell their workplace or not. That's not the point. It is the day to day management and investment policies that are important.

"How many people you know who don't need a monetary incentive to be productive ?"

Virtually everyone in the fields of arts, literature, crafts.


Thersites, it is still a red herring - I am discussing the effects at home, not elsewhere. Furthermore, Sweden's imperial days ended in the late 17C, Denmark only had a few islands and Greenland, Norway and Finland no empire... So your argument is irrelevant,

Larry Gambone said...

Few things are as well documented as the horrors of the period of the primitive accumulation of capital - the Enclosure Acts, slavery and the slave trade, genocide in the Americas etc. Schrumpter uses a straw man argument to "defeat" Marx - by reducing the act of primitive accumulation to imperialism alone and then claiming that since imperialism existed prior to capitalism it was not fundamental to it. Well, the state existed prior to capitalism, yet no institution has been more necessary for its development.

The Pagan Temple said...

Any discussion along these lines has to begin with the caveat that democracy is irrelevant. That's as true of the political sphere as the economic one. If I make ten thousand dollars, when it comes to how I spend it, only one vote counts-my own. That goes equally for whatever property I accrue. And if I invest my capital in some kind of business, the same should hold true. I decide how much of a salary I take for myself, and how much I pay my employees. If they don't like how much I elect to pay them, they are welcome to search for employment elsewhere.

We are not living in a democracy where a mob can gang up on the productive members of society and decide they owe them something, and that's that. We live in a republic where everybody has certain guaranteed rights, and that includes people who own property and wealth.

The people that work for me have rights as well. If I agree to pay them a certain wage for their work, and they perform that work, I am obliged to pay them what I agreed to pay them, plus whatever other benefits are stipulated. I can't withhold their payment from them, nor can I insist they do more than the agreed upon labor. I can't physically abuse them or deprive them in any way. I can't insist that they or their wives or daughters have sex with me or perform any other untoward acts in order to keep their jobs. I cant' force them to work in unclean or unsafe working conditions. I can't subject them to ridicule. I can't one day walk in and shoot one of them to make an example for the other slackers I might have under my employment.

And there are certain rightfully enacted state and federal laws I must obey. But no one has the right to deprive me of my property because some asshole politician decides to use me as a means of buying the loyalty of a group of organized thugs. Fuck that.

Ross Wolfe said...

Marx's theory of primitive accumulation is fairly well-supported. Max Weber's work on the worldly asceticism of the Calvinist strains of Protestantism and the way this led to an excess accumulation of potential value sufficient to reproduce itself and be reinvested into new projects. This, combined with the displacement of agrarian population in England led to a potential workforce whose only commodity available for sale was their labor. The availability of unskilled labor gradually broke down the rotten guild system and led to the detail division of labor (Adam Smith and his pin-factory).

Renegade Eye said...

Sonia: Good response at your blog. Hopefully everyone will visit.

Now Ross will have add to his thesis.

The private sector in Venezuela is so large, that the percentage of state property to private is unchanged from before Chavez.

Pagan: When I talk about nationalization, I only mean the commanding heights of industry, not the shoe shine stand. Under Stalinism small business was nationalized. Cuba is changing in that regard, denationalizing small business. I don't romanticize small business.

Thersite: Art thrived under the Bolsheviks. In addition the Bolsheviks abolished every law, that was for crimes without victims.

The Bolsheviks were also the first government in history, to give gays political rights.

Speedy G: Primitive accumulation didn't occur?

Joe C: Read Marx. You're mistaking him for hippies.

Larry G: It's other world like, Having to argue that primitive accumulation occurred.

Speedy G said...

Speedy G: Primitive accumulation didn't occur?

That's what Gambone implies when he states, "Furthermore, if “too much” social democracy is a bad thing, why is it that people who live in advanced social democracies are better off than people who live in capitalism, “red of claw and fang” countries? It ought to be the opposite."

I responded that those countries had benefitted from colonialism and were, therefore, FAT (WEALTHY), "Who says they are? Every Paradise of the Bachelors is founded upon a Tartarus of the Maids. Just because YOUR parasitic fleas haven't managed to suck the fat dog dry yet doesn't mean that your fleas are better off."

He then accused me of committing a so-called logical fallacy, Thersites, you could do with a course in logic. The colonial past of some social democratic countries or the fact that some of them are involved in the Libyan adventure has no bearing on the fact that the citizens of these same social democracies live better than non-social democracies. Your logical fallacy is known as a "red herring,"

Well, if I had committed a "logical fallacy," then SO HAD MARX.

Gambone now claims he has no dispute w/Marx.... thereby PROVING that his argument WAS INDEED, just a "strawman" like Schumpeters. I would have preferred him to simply admit that he wasn't being serious AND HAD BEEN MISTAKEN in his original assertion that the beneficiaries of primitive accumulation in the so-called "advanced social democracies" should be worse off than in their former colonies.

The social capital that they "banked" from centuries of colonialism has indeed largely been expended, and they are near default in their credit lines to emerging "red claw and fang" countries like China and India...

...yet he claims they're "better off" from being over their heads in debt to the claw and fang countries.

It's almost as if he's in complete denial of the economic troubles threatening those almost-bankrupt societies.

It shouldn't be MY job to teach him something actually useful for remembering from Marxism.

Speedy G said...

Europe is a socialist Potemkin Village.

Speedy G said...

...and it's bankers have moved from Switzerland to Dubai, Bejing and Mumbai.

Speedy G said...

Educate yourself, "Gambone" on the so-called "better off" countries ACTUAL finiancial situation. THEN, perhaps, you wouldn't begin to question the LOGIC of your adversaries so readily, especially when your own statements aren't supported by the FACTS.

Is it "better off" to be in debt over your eyebrows? Is it better off to have a population than is declining AND in a position where they need to sell their country's assets and land to immigrants from their banker's countries so as to maintain an idle and decadent over-indulgent lifestyle?

Yes, the standard of living may be "higher" in socio-democratic Europes decadent and declining civilizational period. But are they "better" off?

I'd rather live in a country willing to preserve it's liberties for our own posterity, than to sell it out to someone else's.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That's we we only PROMOTE the general welfare, we're not so silly as the Europeans in their attempts to PROVIDE the general welfare, whilst selling out their posterity for the privilige.

Speedy G said...

A summary of the FACTS:

Out of the world's 75 largest economies, the United States has the 20th largest as debt-to-GDP ratio, standing at 94.3%, with a gross external debt of $13.454 trillion and an annual GDP $14.26 trillion. In fact, out of the largest 75 economies, this number is just above the worldwide average of 90.8% Western-European and North American countries dominate the upper end of the spectrum, with Switzerland (422%) and the United Kingdom (408%) at the #2 and #3 spots, respectively, and Ireland representing the most drastic debt-to-GDP ratio. According to the most recent World Bank data, Ireland's number stands at a staggering 1,267%.

Speedy G said...

AT least America still has a future (if we can reign in the Democrats and extinguish their hopey-changey love Europey delusions). Europe's future has been S-O-L-D.

Thersites said...

The Bolsheviks were also the first government in history, to give gays political rights.

That would indeed be news to the ancient Greeks of Athens, the Spartans, the Thebans and their Sacred Band, and the Romans of yore.

Somebody better had better quickly take down and destroy the lion of Chaeronea as well in support of your thesis. For it would appear that the men buried might have been thought by modern men to have done something "unseemly".

Speedy G said...

"Better off" Europeans with debt/GDP ratios in excess of 200% should be scratching their heads no longer...

Scandanavia... I'm talking especially to YOU!

Speedy G said...

The consequences of becoming a social democratic Utopia...

Who are the world's biggest debtor nations? The rankings may surprise you!"

20. United States
External debt (as % of GDP): 95.9%

19. Australia
External debt (as % of GDP): 108.8%

18. Hungary
External debt (as % of GDP): 124.2%

17. Italy
External debt (as % of GDP): 154.6%

16. Greece
External debt (as % of GDP): 175.3%

15. Spain
External debt (as % of GDP): 184.7%

14. Germany
External debt (as % of GDP): 189.4%

13. Finland
External debt (as % of GDP): 205.7%

12. Norway
External debt (as % of GDP): 208.9%

11. Hong Kong
External debt (as % of GDP): 218.8%

10. Portugal
External debt (as % of GDP): 231.5%

9. France
External debt (as % of GDP): 247.2%

8. Austria
External debt (as % of GDP): 268.9%

7. Sweden
External debt (as % of GDP): 275%

6. Denmark
External debt (as % of GDP): 315.2%

5. Belgium
External debt (as % of GDP): 345.6%

4. Switzerland
External debt (as % of GDP): 390%

3. Netherlands
External debt (as % of GDP): 395.6%

2. United Kingdom
External debt (as % of GDP): 427.6%

1. Ireland
External debt (as % of GDP): 1,352%

Ross said...

It truly astounds me how little the right-wingers on this blog are able to keep on topic. None of these bizarre rants have anything to do with the post in question, and in any case are the same recycled superficial anti-socialist garbage that I've seen on here on basically every other post. I'd actually be pretty amazed to see some comments from the right-wingers on this blog that actually have to do with the post.

Speedy G said...

Ross complains of a violation of Rule #4 - Partisan: supportive of the aims of the State and the Party.

I plead, "Guilty"...

The Pagan Temple said...

I have to plead "Not Guilty".

I'm only supportive of the aims of the Constitution of the US. The "state", "party", and most especially the motherfucking government can kiss my fucking ass.

Ross Wolfe said...

Frankly, I don't care if you support my claims or interpretations at all, as long as the statements you're making make a point that has something to do with the post at all.

The Pagan Temple said...

Ross, the point of your post seems to be that since there was a great artistic output during the pre=Stalinist years of the Soviet Union, then that brand of socialism is superior to Stalinism. I would agree with that, but the problem is, it isn't saying much to say one certain system is better than Stalinism.

As Sonia pointed out to me on her own post on the subject, there was a great deal of creative output during the Czarist era as well. So judging by your own evident criterion, the Czarist regime must have been at least as good as the pre-Stalinist Soviet years, and if I might be so bold, probably a great deal better.

Otherwise, I don't think you really have a point.

Larry Gambone said...

I am discussing the Scandinavian social democracies not Europe in general. Ireland is an example of neoliberalism not social democracy. The UK is a Thatcherite hell hole. Both of these have wracked up higher external (and internal debt) than the Scandinavians. While the external debts of the Scandinavian countries are high, this is off set by low internal debt and strong economies. These are among the most productive economies in the world. (According to the IMF, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, though high, are at the sustainable level of external debt.) Norway actually had no external debt a few years ago but got stung by the banksters, hence its very high ratio. Its external debt burden is not a feature of social democracy but of pandering to neoliberalism. You would have to prove some sort of direct connection between high debt and social democracy. If this is the case why are neoliberal nations like Ireland and the UK so indebted? In reality external debt is a complex question and cannot be reduced to the fact that a country happens to treat its citizens with a modicum of decency

And I agree with Ross Wolfe, these far right types simply cannot stay on topic and can only spout their usual anti-progressive garbage.

I am away for a week so these are my last comments.

Thersites said...

lol! Did you say ANYTHING in that last post that was "on topic," Bonehead?

*shakes head*

No wonder the Righties can't stay on topic... ;)

Renegade Eye said...

Speedy G: Your numbers have no context. What is gained comparing a small country to the US?

I don't know why you need to be told, but being concise makes answering easier.

The leading Cold Warriors were social democrats. The neoconservative movement came from it.

Pagan: Your argument is what is called reductio ad absurdum. I agree great art came from the Czarist Period. I wouldn't jump to conclusions.

Thersites: The Bolsheviks gave gays political rights, via legislation. The first from a modern nation-state.

Larry G: Even worse Beakerkin was comparing tropical island Cuba, to modern Spain.

Ross: When you post, you get heat, more than my posts. Your topics are art and environmentalism.

Speedy G said...

Your numbers have no context. What is gained comparing a small country to the US?

lol! You're not a "numbers person" are you?

Units like GDP and percentiles MAKE the numbers relative and therefore relevant.

Speedy G said...

gambone,

I am discussing the Scandinavian social democracies not Europe in general.

Who are the world's biggest debtor nations?

13. Finland
External debt (as % of GDP): 205.7%
12. Norway
External debt (as % of GDP): 208.9%
7. Sweden
External debt (as % of GDP): 275%

6. Denmark
External debt (as % of GDP): 315.2%

5. Belgium
External debt (as % of GDP): 345.6%
3. Netherlands
External debt (as % of GDP): 395.6%

You would have to prove some sort of direct connection between high debt and social democracy.

lol! Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" has proven it for me in his distinction between productive and non-productive capital/ labour. By definition, most of the "capital" in a social democracy doesn't go towards investments in productive labour and infrastructure, it gets frittered away upon entitlements for an ever-increasing pool of non-productive labourers. And by the way, NEO-liberal implies that at least SOME European countries have recognized NECESSITY and the error in their former ways and are AGAIN investing in "productive" as opposed to "non-productive" labour/labourers. There's "good" debt and "bad" debt. Productive labour investements are generally "good" debts. The only reason people should EVER borrow money, is to INVEST in future productive labour and technics that improve productivity.

The worlds #13, #12, #7, #6, #5 and #3 debtor nations in the world have the highest debt/GDP ratios. If THAT isn't evidence of the direct connection you question, then I don't know what is. And to argue that Great Britain is NOT a "social democracy" is simply to hide behind "classifications" in live denial of realities. GB is at least still 95% social-democracy and only 5% neo-liberal. What amount does the British government spend on "social entitlements" vs "discretionary" projects? And ever-increasing percentage, no doubt.

Speedy G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ross Wolfe said...

Ren: Yeah, I have no idea why my posts (which are about art and the environment) tend to provoke more controversy than most of the posts that are straightforwardly political. I mean, I usually try to highlight the political dimension in everything I investigate, but it's never as explicit as in the articles you post on current affairs.

I have absolutely no idea why it sparks debate over big government social-democratic capitalist countries in Europe (there are no "socialist" nations in Europe, not even by a longshot) vs. the more free market, small government system in the U.S.

Regarding everything else:

Under tsarism, literature and the arts were actually the main places where anti-regime sentiments could be safely expressed, which is why in Russia they had such political and ideological importance. As far as censorship was concerned, there was heavy censorship of anything overtly political, unless it was explicitly pro-imperialist, pro-Russian nationalist, or pro-Orthodox. Most of the political references had to be represented symbolically, or in an ambiguous, understated manner.

For example, Turgenev's politically ambiguous novel Fathers and Sons, which shows the tension between the liberal democratic older generation of Russians and the younger group of nihilistic anarchists, was allowed because it didn't specifically endorse one particular view or another. On the other hand, one of Lenin's favorite authors, Nikolai Chernyshevskii, wrote a book that was officially outlawed and dangerous to own, Что делать? (What is to be Done?, a title that Lenin would later use for one of his major political pamphlets). Dostoevskii was arrested, almost executed, and exiled to Siberia for belonging to a socialist group that read Belinskii's "Open Letter to Gogol." This is, of course, exceptionally ironic, because Dostoevskii emerged from exile an intense religious reactionary.

The fifteen years between 1917 and 1932 were probably the period of the greatest artistic/literary/architectural freedom in Russia until the fall of Communism in 1989. It was a time of great democratic expression in the field of the arts, which was tragically snuffed out by the Stalinist betrayal.

sonia said...

Ross,

The fifteen years between 1917 and 1932 were probably the period of the greatest artistic/literary/architectural freedom in Russia until the fall of Communism in 1989.,

I don't agree. There was far more artistic freedom under the tsar than between 1917-1932.

What was true for the tsarist period - as you yourself have correctly written "as far as censorship was concerned, there was heavy censorship of anything overtly political, unless it was explicitly pro-imperialist, pro-Russian nationalist, or pro-Orthodox... Most of the political references had to be represented symbolically, or in an ambiguous, understated manner", became doubly true under Lenin - nothing overtly political was allowed to be published, painted or filmed, unless it was explicitly
pro-Communist, anti-imperialist, or anti-religious. And again, most of the political references had to be represented symbolically, or in an ambiguous, understated manner.

But this didn't prevent art from flourishing between 1917 and 1932 (and even later). In fact, it was those very restrictions that made those works of art so fascinating and profound. The greatest example, in literature, is of course Bulgakov's "Master and Marguerita", arguably the greatest novel ever written.

Thersites said...

Face it Ross, before 1917 there was no MARKET for this particular art "aesthetic" in Russia. Between then and 1932, the new "elites" had to scramble to come up with a "brand" for their leadership that "flattered" those responsible for keeping them in power. Before 1917, that power had been the aristocracy, and AFTER 1917 it was the worker/ peasants. Big whoop. In America, even our CRIMINAL CLASS are rich enough to buy cr*ppy art (RAP/Hip_Hop).

Thersites said...

btw - All that "graffit" on the walls, overpasses, and subway trains is NOT a creative art explosion... or maybe it is. ;)

Ducky's here said...

Part of the reason for the decline of the avant-garde was a Stalin's aversion to so called formalism.

As a result artists like Rodchenko who virtually initiated 20th century graphic design were marginalized.

As a result they got "Soviet realism" ironically a favorite, formally at any rate, of that aesthetic mouth breather Ayn Rand.

Ducky's here said...

The only reason people should EVER borrow money, is to INVEST in future productive labour and technics that improve productivity.
-----------------------

But Farmer, does that mean you can't leverage shaky financial instruments that bet that property values will ALWAYS rise at 50 to 1 and more, tank the national economy and then depend on the fringe right to claim that the government forced banks to loan to minorities who couldn't afford homes?

Just the final failure of the Saint Ronnie Raygun supply side nonsense. Not enough profit in capital investment when you can leverage at 50 to 1 doing absolutely nothing productive.

Gert said...

Gore blimey, unbelievable how the usual suspects here keep grinding away with their ‘Europe = Socialist” baloney in order to try and score points and try and advance their neoliberal and other related ‘pure capitalism is gold’ agendas. Someone should tell these primadonnas that if you told an average European that he’s living in a Socialist (or ‘Socialistic’) Utopia, those who aren’t politically aware would look at you rather bemused, while those with some political knowledge or understanding would laugh at you…

But since as the standard bearers of unfettered capitalism on this blog all safely live on their side of the pond, those are not their considerations.

So are we gonna have the same ‘debate’, regardless of the topic of the actual posts, ad nauseam and ad infinitum, to allow the Rand worshippers to try and dominate this blog?

Speedy G said...

Rand worshippers? Now THAT's the REAL reason why we keep going around in circles. Ducky, tell stupid what a "Rand Worshipper" I am.

And ducky, take the Adam Smith course on the Rent of the Land. If you need a proof of it, simply perform a horizontal survey of a city scape and you'll discover that the most valuable land lies under the tallest buildings. Note the bell curve shape to property value's in lower Manhattan.

ps - I lived in Europe for 3.5 years. Don't try and give me any of that "your side of the pond" cr*p.

Thersites said...

btw - Capitalism is at the root of every exchange of goods. You might as well complain about the need to breath as argue against capitalism.

The Pagan Temple said...

What they're complaining about Thersites isn't capitalism so much as it is who controls the production and distribution of goods. I don't even like the word capitalism, as I think its probably a commie term with a made-up definition that suits their purposes. What they are really against is ownership and accumulation of wealth. That's because ownership and accumulation equals power and influence, and that's something they don't want anyone outside their circle to have.

Gert said...

Speedy:

”Ducky, tell stupid what a "Rand Worshipper" I am.”

I didn’t say you were a Rand worshipper. As ironic coincidence would have it, I got an email from PJTV yesterday, headline:

‘Atlas Shrugged’: Why Ayn Rand is More Relevant than Ever. Discussion on Frontpagemag, if you’re interested.

”ps - I lived in Europe for 3.5 years. Don't try and give me any of that "your side of the pond" cr*p.”
Language, Timothy.

It would be folly to deny that there are important cultural differences between the way the socialism/communism/capitalism debate is held in the US and in Europe. In the US these are simply very loaded words whereas Europeans rarely frame the debate in those stark terms.

Speedy G said...

Discussion on Frontpagemag

Sorry, but I had more than my share of arguments w/Randoids at Jason Pappas "Liberty & Culture" blog with all its' Ayn Rand Institute contributors. Like Marxism, Objectivism is a philosophy for cyclops. There aren't "two" sides to their dialectic, only a "good" side and an "evil" (not 'bad') side. And you know us Nietzschean's, it's hard for us to stomach modern moralists of either stripe.

...and if my words are too "loaded" for consideration on your side of the pond, then perhaps you should consider un-loading your own, first. That way, perhaps, we could begin a conversation on a more "neutral" territory.