Legit question – why were 20th century socialist states so repressive?

Legit question – why were 20th century socialist states so repressive?

Did any of them permit free expression and mass political participation?


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That's propaganda and conditioning talking. Everyone was repressive half a century ago.

For the same reason the Jacobins were so repressive, being under siege and constantly under threat of subterfuge.

They were argueably less repressive than non socialist states. States were very repressive back then because of all the class conflict. They relied (rely) on some degree of national unity.

When entire world continuously attempts to destroy you it's hard not to be repressive.

It's more complicated than that. The Jacobins believed in the free market and were against the distribution of property, just look at what happened to the Hebertists and /ourguy/ Gracchus Babeuf. The original Paris Commune was pressuring them from below, but most of France was still rural and Catholic. The popular base and the theoretical base for a successful leftist movement were still not present yet, and there was also the War, which some historians point to as the root cause of the Terror.

Napoleon once said that the world would have been a more peaceful place if him and Jean Jacques Rousseau had not been born. Rousseau came up with the theory of the body of the nation, a theory which defined the modern state up to the 20th century, linking the Jacobins with the 3rd Reich, the USSR and every other single state project. I think it's important for leftists to read up on political philosophy, on the social contract, sovereignty, the state of exception, and on to later ideas like governance and biopolitics.

The Soviet Union emerged from the failure of the tentative world revolution of 1917-21. The Germans, the Italians and the Hungarians were more libertarian and fond of descentralisation than the bolsheviks. Who knows what might have happened if those revolts succeeded? The USSR was left in isolation, an insurgent state that stood against the world order, eventually it was forced to adapt, to abandon world revolution for the socialism in one country. The socialist states of the 20th century were still states at the end of the day, focused on the organisation of production, production for production's sake. It's up to us to go beyond production, something which might have not been feasible or even imaginable throughout most of the 20th century

Everyone is mentioning the condition in which the soviet union arose which is a legitimate answer. The underdeveloped state of the USSR, ex-pat aristocrats/bourgies carrying out subversion, and its encirclement by hostile capitalist powers meant extreme measure needed to be use to survive.
I think this leaves out something that needs to be addressed. Namely how there is something inherent to Marxism which causes people to rationalize indefensible actions using an end justifies the means type mindset. When you view our system through a Marxist lense it is irredeemably corrupt and broken and it produces irredeemably corrupt and broken people. Thus there is no possibility of virtue under capitalism so no need to hold ourselves to moral standards. The goal simply becomes socialism by any means necessary and our behavior under capitalism can only be morally evaluated based on whether or not it moves us towards this goal.

We can argue that this mindset can be inherent in anything though, not just Marxism.

Leninism – and especially Marxism-Leninism – is focused on the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The purpose of this expanded power to a state made up of the working class is to prevent subversion, reactionaries from gaining popularity, western propaganda, etc.. Freedom of Speech cannot be a guarantee for the enemies of the people. As long as there are neighboring western powers trying to destroy Socialism, repression is necessary.

Also prepare for a mod to BTFO you for not obeying the 200 chars rule. Pic unrelated.


Damn that’s well said tbh

It might not appear this way, but the socialist states weren't as repressive as we think. Capitalist states are fairly repressive as well, but the violence works mostly behind the scenes because the state simply needs to maintain the status quo. Socialism is a revolutionary change in the state of things, meaning there must be a structural shift that results in more outright violence.

And as other comrades have said, being completely isolated didn't help things. If you're constantly (and rightfully) worried about internal and foreign subversion, you might take some strict measures.

This still doesn't explain why China is awful and so is Cuba.

Parenti's take:


How are China and Cuba awful?

Parenti is good and cool

Censorship, political repression, and a government that sells out its own people for financial gains (China). Cuba shares some of the same problems, with the government heavily repressing the people. Don't try to tell me that China and Cuba aren't shit. If they're so great, you really should move there. China is a superpower after all.


gee it's almost as if the greatest power the world was ever seen has spent over 50 years doing everything it can to fuck with China and Cuba. n the case of Cuba it's less than 100 miles from the U.S. which has sponsered a counter-revoluitionary invasion and maintains an embargo.



Stress from shitty conditions


Having to deal with the rest of the world hating them


That still doesn't explain why China kicks peasants out of buildings to make way for expensive condos with no notice, or why they put up the great firewall, or why they persecute fucking meditation practitioners, or the plethora of other things done to the Chinese people to line the pockets of foreign businessmen and government officials. China is not socialist. It's an authoritarian capitalist society with red paint.

you're not gonna get much of an argument from people here other than the few MLs that support China, I don't think we have many of them here. If we do, I summon thee to talk to this man.

I thought you were talking about Mao-era PRC.

You seem to be under the impression that capitalist states did

Because of their formative circumstances. The SU came into being under on the heels of a world war that killed millions upon millions. Life had been massively devalued, and the existing bourgeois states professed respect for rights and life rang totally hollow. On top of that, the Bolsheviks had endured decades of persecution by the Tsarist authorities, with infiltration by provocateurs etc. If you put these things together, gulags, liquidations and an intrusive security apparatus don't seem like bad ideas if you want to keep communism alive.

Same for China and the Eastern bloc states, only they came of age after the even worse second world war.

They were about as repressive as capitalist states in that time.

When the rest of the world is actually out to get you, can it still be considered paranoia?


Don't forget US trying starve Cuba