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Soviet Union support for overseas Communist groups

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Will Stanton posted on Fri, Oct 26 2012 12:04 AM

I do have a question regarding Soviet help to other countries. I think it’s been officially proven that the Soviet didn’t have much of a ‘world domination’ policy in mind in the overall scheme of things, but I don't know how I would one go about explaining several aspects like these that keep my head scratching a bit:

 

1. One of the first things the Soviet Union did was found the “COMMINTERN” i.e. the Communist International, whose explicit purpose was to convert the rest of the world into communism.

“The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International (1919–1943), was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919. The International intended to fight “by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the State.”[1]”

 

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

 

 

2. The Soviet Union had invaded or fomented revolutions and forcibly converted to Communism Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan… Need I go on?

 

 

3. Of course after WWII another dozen nations would become communist. Ho Chi Minh was a founder of the French Communist Party. At the height of the Vietnam War the Soviet Union was spending half of it’s GDP on the communist revolutions in indochina. Of course China and North Korea would soon follow, both with Soviet Communist support.

 

 

Would a policy of doing nothing really have stopped all this? Or is there some part of the story I probably ignorant about?!  indecision

 

 

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Merlin replied on Fri, Oct 26 2012 2:03 AM

Given that my own former socialist government, poor as hell as it was, was actively training insurgents in sub-Saharan Africa, it seems to be true that many (most? all?) commie governments would have liked a commie world. As I see it, the argument for neutrality is that  they were not prepared to go to war for this, but only to fund insurgents and that any country where a few commie insurgents can topple a regime and install a repressive dictatorship is not worth defending.

I myself, as the US,  would have just given a few key countries nukes to defend themselves and have stopped there. Of course, some help in training their secret police forces would also have been in order.

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Rothbard actually goes over the theory of supposed Russian expansionism in For a New Liberty. I'll try and sum it here according to your Q's.

Will Stanton:

1. One of the first things the Soviet Union did was found the “COMMINTERN” i.e. the Communist International, whose explicit purpose was to convert the rest of the world into communism.

Remember that Marx expected international solidarity among communist organizations and expected that communism would be international in character. He was distinctly wrong as it turns out and each country that took on a communist flavor became insular and nationalist at the same time. So, I think this would be in expectation of world communism that failed to take place.

The Russian communists also expected that capitalist nations would fail due to (supposed) internal contradictions of capitalism, so they didn't necessarily feel the need to force it to happen first.

Will Stanton:
2. The Soviet Union had invaded or fomented revolutions and forcibly converted to Communism Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan… Need I go on?

These acts were mainly to gain buffer zones against invasion from powerful neighbors. These are all buffer states in the entry-paths to Russia. Russia as a nation suffered extreme psychic shock in WWII, with the loss of some 25 million soldiers! in some of the most bitter fighting imaginable. Their actions, as Rothbard notes, seem to be characterized by extreme paranoia of ever being invaded again like that, and of seeking to be hyper-vigilant to prevent invasion ever again. This is why they wanted Poland and Finland too, two ways into Russia. Not that we should laud such acts, but invading to create buffer states is different from invading to expand territory in order to build towards future expansion.

Will Stanton:
3. Of course after WWII another dozen nations would become communist. Ho Chi Minh was a founder of the French Communist Party. At the height of the Vietnam War the Soviet Union was spending half of it’s GDP on the communist revolutions in indochina. Of course China and North Korea would soon follow, both with Soviet Communist support.

Would a policy of doing nothing really have stopped all this? Or is there some part of the story I probably ignorant about?!  indecision

We know today via the economic calculation problem that pure communism as an economic policy is impossible and would lead (and did lead in several countries) to mass starvation.

Meanwhile, we probably gave communism a huge boost by opposing it and seeking to wipe it out. Many places were lukewarm to communism at best until western powers began liquidating local communists, and that began creating converts as a function of self-defence. So it's possible we began making the problem worse by opposing it, giving it psychic energy even.

Any nation that experiences communism long enough realizes that communism is its own punishment. Did not Russia, of all peoples, voluntarily drop communism in their own country! We didn't even have to invade! They simply ditched it. So has, in time, China, if by default and gradually. And so too must eventually North Korea.

What remains then is merely the full adoption of the opposite logical policy: true freedom, both politically and economically, representative only and truly by anarcho-capitalists and their like, the libertarians.

We represent the only future there can be, the only change the world has waiting for it. Never doubt this. It is an inexorable outcome because the individual daily becomes more powerful, more wealthy, and more connected.

At some crucial point, the power of individuals will rise to a height such that they can shrug off the nation state and simply walk away, just as Russia abandoned communism, slipping off the strait-jacket of statism.

What we need then is to keep the ball rolling. Keep pushing on theory, sharpening ourselves, keep educating, keep building, keep exploring new avenues for starting our own sovereign region.

We have two chances, and if the first fails the second simply cannot:1

1. Seasteading, the chance to make an unclaimed jurisdiction into anything we want. Libertarians will build here first because we have the biggest reason to do so, which is that we cannot live the way we direly want to anywhere else on earth. We will be here first.

2. Space. If even seasteading fails, and I don't think it will because the ocean is huge, space is even larger. There will be absolutely nothing to stop a libertarian group from choosing a new star system or galaxy to colonize and setting out to leave the statists behind permanently.

Can you imagine that voyage, the thought of leaving them behind. Man, I envy the spacesteaders already.

 
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Soviet Russia is area where I think Rothbard went wrong. Stalin wanted to start WW3, but he died before that happened. Soviets also did lots of stuff in Cold War which was pure imperialism - Cuban missile crisis, Afghanistan war, all the monetary and military support for communist revolutions in third world countries to name a few. Russia also funded communist movement very strongly in Finland until it dissolved in 1991. Also, Rothbards historical account about Finnish Winter War in For a New Liberty is simply horrible.

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Bogart replied on Fri, Oct 26 2012 10:34 AM

The Soviets had to expand into new less socialist places.  Then the Soviets would attempt to take whatever resources they could.  Otherwise the entire system would grind to a complete halt.  So being plunder based, the worst way to get into a nation and plunder their wealth is to use a military invasion and infact that is what we saw in Romania, Korea and ultimately Afghanistan.  A much less expensive way to plunder is to convince a bunch of power hungry malcontents full of envy that Communism will allow them to be in charge of all of the plunder and let them do the dirty work with a little bit of very expensive help.

Stefan Moleneux has several discussions about nations taking over nations and why the best defense against this is not have a nation or a central government.  Then there is no institution that can indescriminately commit acts of violence and theft on the populace.  So the malcontents will have an extremely difficult time convincing people in such a place to consider Communism.  Furthermore if these people have half of a brain they would pay others, and if desperate enough other nations, to defend them against foreign invasion or Communist insurgency.

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Malachi replied on Fri, Oct 26 2012 11:10 AM
This is a good discussion, at this point all I will add is that the comintern, and other organs of the party, were used for espionage purposes so that those operations could maintain some vestige of political deniability.
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Marko replied on Fri, Oct 26 2012 11:46 AM

You are asking questions about a 70 year period. It's too broad for neat answers like that. It would have to be broken down into different periods with each of them with their own dynamic. It's not like the Soviet Union was this retarded single mind entity that only ever did one thing over and over again.

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 These acts were mainly to gain buffer zones against invasion from powerful neighbors. These are all buffer states in the entry-paths to Russia. Russia as a nation suffered extreme psychic shock in WWII, with the loss of some 25 million soldiers! in some of the most bitter fighting imaginable. Their actions, as Rothbard notes, seem to be characterized by extreme paranoia of ever being invaded again like that, and of seeking to be hyper-vigilant to prevent invasion ever again. This is why they wanted Poland and Finland too, two ways into Russia. Not that we should laud such acts, but invading to create buffer states is different from invading to expand territory in order to build towards future expansion.

 

I can actually buy this explanation here! So, according to this the Soviet Union was more like Nazi Germany in trying to regain not only lost territory from the old Tsar Empire, but also more security for its own benefit and safety. I guess even ‘bad’ regimes are entitled to security for their country as well. Though of course, even having said this that doesn’t mean that the Soviet Union wasn’t looking for opportunities to expand during and after the war though I guess in all fairness any other country might’ve done the same thing regardless.

 

Remember that Marx expected international solidarity among communist organizations and expected that communism would be international in character. He was distinctly wrong as it turns out and each country that took on a communist flavor became insular and nationalist at the same time. So, I think this would be in expectation of world communism that failed to take place.

 

 

We know today via the economic calculation problem that pure communism as an economic policy is impossible and would lead (and did lead in several countries) to mass starvation.

Meanwhile, we probably gave communism a huge boost by opposing it and seeking to wipe it out. Many places were lukewarm to communism at best until western powers began liquidating local communists, and that began creating converts as a function of self-defence. So it's possible we began making the problem worse by opposing it, giving it psychic energy even.

Any nation that experiences communism long enough realizes that communism is its own punishment. Did not Russia, of all peoples, voluntarily drop communism in their own country! We didn't even have to invade! They simply ditched it. So has, in time, China, if by default and gradually. And so too must eventually North Korea.

 

Rightful so, that the West is half to blame for the Cold War in general. The way I see it both sides were paranoid about the other. In the same way that the USA convinced itself the Reds aimed to conquer the West, so Stalin was convinced that the West would try to destroy Communism. He was as ignorant about Western fears and reality as the USA was about Russian fears and reality. Or atleast that’s the way I’m trying to see it. Though is hard for me to retain this thought sometimes when “The Evil Empire’s” ideology took over half the globe, had 150 spies in US administrations, more spies in other Western democracies, its infiltration in numerous unions, organizations, and even Hollywood, and an extensive espionage network pretty much everywhere. I might be making it bigger than it appears. No doubt the West was no angel either with its espionage and oversea adventures.

 

I question about the former imperialist colonies bring lukewarm to communism though. I was under the impression that anti-colonial movements latched onto communism in order to give their divided peoples something to unify around. What other example were anti-colonial movements supposed to gravitate towards? The capitalist model used by most of their colonial oppressors - or the communist model that had just won WWII?

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Marko replied on Tue, Oct 30 2012 4:14 PM

I can actually buy this explanation here! So, according to this the Soviet Union was more like Nazi Germany in trying to regain not only lost territory from the old Tsar Empire, but also more security for its own benefit and safety.


I'm surprised you should say that. All of the places you refered to in your original question were taken over by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War and/or were made part of the USSR proper. Jet you were satisfied by the 'buffer' answer which is usually given for Warsaw Pact countries converted to Communism after WWII. A buffer between the Soviet Union and potential adversaries can not include any territory part of the USSR just by definition. 

2. The Soviet Union had invaded or fomented revolutions and forcibly converted to Communism Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan… Need I go on?


Just semantically this is a very strange question. You could equivalently say the 'Soviet Union' invaded or fomented revolution in Southern Russia, Siberia and the Russian Far East. These too were regions of the Russian Empire outside the control of the Bolsheviks for much of the Russian Civil War.

At the height of the Vietnam War the Soviet Union was spending half of it’s GDP on the communist revolutions in indochina.


Are you able to source this (silly) claim?

Rightful so, that the West is half to blame for the Cold War in general.


No. The US was far more to blame than the USSR. Stalin in particular was an appeaser when it came to grand politics. He was a bully to states that were vulnerable (small like the Baltic states in 1940, or weakened like Japan in 1945), but he was very careful and ready to grant concessions to anyone who was dangerous (first Germany, then the US). In such cases he was particularly noteable for continuing to uphold his end of bargains even after the other party had ceased to uphold their end.

I question about the former imperialist colonies bring lukewarm to communism though. I was under the impression that anti-colonial movements latched onto communism in order to give their divided peoples something to unify around. What other example were anti-colonial movements supposed to gravitate towards? The capitalist model used by most of their colonial oppressors - or the communist model that had just won WWII?


Anti-colonial movements were generally led by individuals from colonialised nations who were better educated than the norm. Usually they would have recieved their education in the institutions of the colonializing country. It is often here they would be first exposed to anti-colonialism as doctrine rather than just instinct. Naturally they would gravitate to people from the colonializing country who sincerely espoused this doctrine and helped educate them about it. It so happened the most numerous, sincere, radical and learned proponents of anti-colonialism at the time were Marxist-Leninists. Initially drawn and positively disposed to them on the account of their anti-colonialism they would eventually come to adopt some of their other views as well, or at least just their identification as Marxist-Leninists.

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Marko replied on Fri, Nov 2 2012 3:50 AM

Though is hard for me to retain this thought sometimes when “The Evil Empire’s” ideology took over half the globe, had 150 spies in US administrations, more spies in other Western democracies, its infiltration in numerous unions, organizations, and even Hollywood, and an extensive espionage network pretty much everywhere.


Big deal. So there were many American Communist sympathizers willing to become Soviet agents. The US actually regularly violated Soviet territory in conducting a massive number of reconnaissance overflights of the Soviet Union. It actually designed and built special-purpose spying planes (U2, SR-71) just for this purpose. The overflights were so numerous the Soviets had the opportunity to down 40 aircraft and kill 200 US airmen over their territory. The USSR did nothing comparable.

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Marko replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 7:20 PM

Actually I have something on one such episode now: The War in Vietnam: John Wayne Was Wrong

The most relevant parts to the question posed in the original post:


In fact, where the Soviets are concerned their relationship with the Vietnamese before the American intervention in Vietnam was at its nadir precisely because the Soviet Union would not support DRV (North Vietnam) in reunifying Vietnam by military means. Soviet aid to DRV in this period, that is when the North was facilitating the struggle of the NLF (“Viet Cong”) in the South and before direct American involvement on a great scale, was relatively small and almost exclusively economic, not military.

...

The Soviets feared American intervention which would have to result in an American-Soviet confrontation that would interfere with their policy line of “peaceful coexistence” with the Capitalist bloc. They made it clear to Hanoi they supported its struggle to reunify Vietnam only in as much as it was pursued by diplomatic means and encouraged Hanoi to pursue a peaceful strategy.

...

It was not until the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which marked the official entry of the United States into the war in Vietnam that the USSR begun to provide DRV with military assistance. The Soviets had held back on providing Vietnamese Communists with war material because this would encourage them to wage war in the South, which could in turn result in an American intervention. Now that Americans had intervened regardless, the Soviets no longer had a reason to continue to hold back. Whatever they did, the Americans were already in Vietnam. Now they would provide the Vietnamese with aid, because that was the only way these could hope to prevail against the Americans.

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