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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:03 PM
Original message
Ever been to a Communist Country?
Edited on Thu Jul-07-05 12:04 PM by Taverner
I've been to Cuba, and was in Vietnam right after the door opened for Americans. I've also been to Laos and Cambodia, which are on paper, Communist.

And in High School I spent a semester in the Soviet Union - which blew my mind because I found out that people weren't half as depressed as our history teachers led us to beleive. They also weren't socialist drones, and they didn't hate America.

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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. According to Neil Boortz, Austin is, so I live in one. nt.
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skooooo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
2. Yes...have been to two...

...East Berlin before the wall came down, and the USSR right when Gorbachev was starting his perestroika. Both were fascinating experiences.

East Berlin was the most dour, depressing place, as I recall. Walking around apartment-laden neighborhoods, there were no kids out playing, no one walking around. THe place seemed deserted. On the other hand, the theater was great, and I did like the communal cafeterias. They were kind of cool.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Thats because East Berlin WAS deserted
The government overbuilt apartments, but then allowed very few East Germans to live there. It seems the Stasi was a little too good at what they did.
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skooooo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. I see....


So what year were you in the USSR? What city and where did you stay? While I don't know that I would say everyone was depressed, there were some very obvious social problems. I remember talking to women who mourned because their daughters were in abusive marriages w/alcoholics. LOTS of alcohol abuse there. Denistry was pretty bad, and probably still is. So you see lots of folks over 30 missing teeth or with big gold caps on their front teeth. Quality of the food was pretty bad too.

Not to say that I didn't enjoy myself, but I wouldn't paint a rosey picture of life there then, or even now.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #10
25. Oh there definitely were problems
As has been mentioned earlier, health care was substandard but it was free. I was there in October of 1988 - it was pre-Perestroika, but that is a big misconception people have. Things started opening up gradually under Khruschev, and continued to do so, albeit slowly until Gorbachev opened the gates wide.

But yes, there was very little dentistry - and the school I attended that month (it was a month long exchange program) was where party members sent their kids. It was a two tiered system - Party members and those not in the party.

Despite this, however, there were no homeless, and WWII vets were treated with a kind of respect you just don't see in the US.

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Squatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
3. DDR
a few times.
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sniffa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
4. born and raised in one
the peopLe's repubLik of cambridge.
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NewJeffCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
5. Does mainland China still count?
I was there last year... technically still Communist, but how Communist can you be with a Hooters & a Playboy Club opening in recent months?
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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
6. I've been to California
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Patiod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:35 PM
Response to Reply #6
23. People's Republic of Santa Monica
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:15 PM
Response to Original message
8. My wife grew up in the Soviet Union
And cannot believe the BS propaganda spewed by the US regarding what her life was supposed to have been like.

Her mother and father both were factory workers. Dad had a motorcycle/sidecar rig, they had a garden, she has fond memories of summers spent there. They had health car, they had free access to university education (from which my wife received the equ. of two masters degrees), she had a year off paid when her child was born, her child had free health care, AND... this is something that shocked her when she came to the state... she said never, in her experience, did she ever see a homeless veteran in the Soviet Union. She was shocked to see vietnam vets on the streets or suffering to survive.

She says that there were obviously some problems... like having to keep any religious beliefs under wraps, for example (at risk of threats to your job), but to compare her life (which was apparently a very average one in terms of economics/class) to the propaganda machine spewed by the US gov is an exercise in caricatures.

For a good alternative read from a Lithuanian Soviet dissident, check out: Discovering America As It Is by Valdas Anelauskas

http://www.efn.org/~rolanda/discovering/america.html
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Zuni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. where was your wife from? Was she a party member?
because my relatives from Moscow and Rostov have very different experiences
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:19 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. She's from Kamensk Uralsky (Ural mountain region)
No, not a party member.. just average people.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:20 PM
Original message
definitely
When I first arrived, I expected lines everywhre, no hope, depression, everyone in fear of the KGB. What I found was much different.

IN fact I once asked someone about the KGB, and he laughed "We see them as much as you see the CIA!"

What I thought was completely interesting is how the police in the USSR would stop and help anyone who needed it.

One old guy had his motocyle break down on the street. The cop walking the beat came buy, and helped him repair his engine, and they chatted a while.

Come to think of it, this is a refreshing change I've seen in EVERY communist country. They take the term comrade and mean it. In Cuba, Vietnam and the USSR, people didn't rush to do things. They'd strike up conversations everywhere, and if they were late to a meeting, work, etc...so be it.

In the US, everyone is rushing around EVERYWHERE.
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skooooo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:22 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. Health care?

Was she in Lithuania? Maybe it was a bit better there. I know that many women are doctors, but then it doesn't take but a few years training to be called a doctor.

Plenty of propoganda here, to be sure, but never would I paint a rosy picture of the common person's life over there. Free health care? Did the hospitals even change the sheets between patients.

eww..sorry, I know too many stories to buy into the idea that life was Okay over there (or even now).
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. Stories are stories..
I deal with the source every day.

Conditions varied. The bottom line for my wife is this...She always had access to a doctor when her child was ill. ALWAYS. No wait until things get so bad that you need emergency room treatment, no questions about insurance carriers, no questions about income.

As to "even now" - she says that things have gotten far worse for her friends and family under 10 years of capitalism.

I'm not going to argue about your ideas, I'm sure they are relevant to a place and time, I can only speak for my wife's account of life there.
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skooooo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Well I do believe..

..that many people's lives are worse now under capitalism -- especially for the old people who thought the state would take care of them. So I have nothing but sympathy.

Curious about your wife's experiences though. I guess they had the medicine she needed all the time? No payoffs to get what she needed? Indeed, she was lucky.
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Zuni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. it might have been free, but it was also very substandard
when one of my aunts died of cancer, My uncle blamed it on Soviet hospitals that made her terrified of doctors for most of her life---she refused to see a doctor until she was so sick she was considered terminal.

That is common over there
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skooooo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:35 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. Yes...I think that's true.


If your young, and relatively healthy, you might not need much more than a few antibiotics for the first 40 years of your life, so the system would be fine for you. Anything too serious, and you might as well be sitting in a hospital in the 1930s in rural Texas or something.
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. Experiences varied..
My wife's mother died of breast cancer when my wife was 15 and her sister was 18.

She hasn't described that experience in terms anywhere near as extreme as what you point out, although I'm sure that sort of thing did occur, no doubt.

The point of this is simply that the propaganda machine in the US has laid heavy a layer of untruths about life in the Soviet Union. They would have you think that Russia in the mid 60's was the same beast as it was under Stalin, for example. Too many people cling to the propaganda rather than looking for objective truths and they use this sort of crap to sell capitalism as the be all and end all of economic systems.


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Zuni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:15 PM
Response to Original message
9. My grandparents came from the USSR
but they lived under Stalin, so their time in the Soviet Union was much, much worse than what you saw. They lived in real terror during the 1930s and my grandmother almost starved to death. Some of her family were killed by the NKVD, including her first husband in 1938

Some of my family still lives in Russia and they said it was pretty bleak and depressing even under Gorbachev. There were shortages of everything, most of the products were shitty etc.
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Read-economic disaster from military over extension
Edited on Thu Jul-07-05 12:20 PM by Union Thug
You can't spend all your money on military adventures, when you are trying to provide free health care and education to your citizens! Afghaninstan devastated the economy of the soviet union. if it were in decline in the 70's, Afghanistan was the bullet to the head.

Maybe this country could learn a few lessons.
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Mizmoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. A friend lived there during the Yeltsen era
she said she couldn't buy a hotplate in Moscow to save her life. Finally, after looking everywhere, she did manage to locate one but, having grown more savvy, she asked the salesman to plug it in. Alas, it did not work. She never was able to buy one there.

She said it was nice to visit but too hard a life for a soft American ... and she'd grown up on a farm in upstate NY!
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:20 PM
Response to Original message
14. I've been to China, but by 1990 when I went, it was really only
Edited on Thu Jul-07-05 12:25 PM by Lydia Leftcoast
semi-Communist.

A lot of people were still working for state enterprises and organized into work units, but there were also private entrepreneurs and foreign-financed businesses. In the neighborhood in Beijing where we stayed for two weeks, you could buy stuff either at a barn-like general store that was state-owned or in privately run street markets.

It was just a year after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and people were unwilling to say much about it. We'd ask, and people would mumble and say, "It's too early to talk about it."

The place we stayed was the campus of a college that trained foreign language teachers. The students spent their whole day studying their major language (with excellent results), and the only other required course was Marxism. The students thought the Marxism classes were a joke, and they mostly slept or wrote letters during them. Even the professors who taught them admitted to not believing in what they were teaching.

In Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, and Chongqing, we were free to wander around at will and talk to anyone.

Oddly enough, it was in Wenzhou, which was one of the new economic zones, that we felt the heavy hand of the government most strongly. At the welcome party, we met the president, vice-president, and other officers of the college where we stayed, and each academic executive had a Communist Party official to "assist" him. These officials did not want us mingling with the students or professors without supervision, and they tried to prevent us from meeting a couple of students who were interested in studying in the States. When we wanted to explore the shopping area, we were told that it was "unsafe" to do so without a guide, and no guides were available.

In other respects, we were treated with the utmost consideration, wined and dined, taken on trips in the countryside, and presented with a photograph album of our visit at the farewell dinner. It really felt like "the iron hand in the velvet glove."

A group from my church has set up an exchange program with the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba, and they have gone on two trips this year. I would have loved to have gone, but the finance angels did not smile upon me, and the church's travel permit expires soon. :-(

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supernova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
17. I've been to Hungary, the DDR, and Czhechosovakia
and yes, when they were part of the Warsaw Pact.

I found people to be lovely, but the areas did look economically depressed. And our guides did caution us about discussing politics.

All in all though, it was a fascinating trip.
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MissHoneychurch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 02:07 PM
Response to Reply #17
31. grew up in the DDR
and been to the CSSR and Hungary in the 80s.
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MrScorpio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:27 PM
Response to Original message
18. I've technically been to North Korea
There is a building on the Korea DMZ that both sides uses to conduct negotiations. It actually sits on the border between north and south.

Inside if you step on the other side, you're actually in North Korea.

It's a very squirelly place
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
26. Yeah, Canada
it was horrible.
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hfojvt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #26
33. you must gone during winter
Then again, I saw a huge swath flattened by a tornado, so summer has its drawbacks.
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 01:02 PM
Response to Original message
27. I spent a night in Santa Monica once
Tom Hayden was on the city council at the time. It seemed OK.
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amazona Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 01:24 PM
Response to Original message
28. does Canada count?
I heard a man say something about Canuckistan? :-)

Or maybe the Netherlands???
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blindpig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
29. Cuba
and did not see soldiers or police with long arms the entire trip. More than I can say for Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica or Panama. I was mostly in the countryside; Zapata Swamp and Pindar Del Rio, there was no dog and pony show put on for our benefit. There was a Communist Youth League building in the community at Zapata Swamp, other than that and and two billboards in Habana there was nothing to be seen that our propagandist have blathered about. A Catholic church was open in a small town we passed through and our main guide and one of our birding guides professed to be Baptists. There is not one statue, poster or anything dedicated to Fidel Castro anywhere to be seen. The people are more family oriented than we are, I think. They are poor by American standards, but our standards are twisted. They seem to live pretty good lives. They have also dealt with our embargo with cleverness and fortitude, excellent training for Peak Oil. When Peak Oil slams us those who emulate Cuba will have the best chance of maintaining civil society.
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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 02:02 PM
Response to Original message
30. Venezuela and China (if those countries count)
Both very capitalist and dynamic compared to the stereotype of socialist countries.
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RedCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
32. Soitenly. Ukraine, Poland and Mother Russia
Obviously I was killed, then forced to drive one of those proletarianmobiles and the ferocious communists keep giving me stuff, like food and shelter. Good thing Ray Gun set them straight on that and now they can sell their properties for 1914's prices!
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LibertyLover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 02:33 PM
Response to Original message
34. Communist countries
Cuba - how cool. Let's see - I've been to Czechoslovakia (pre breakup), Hungary, Poland, East Germany (pre re-unification), the USSR and the People's Republic of China (to adopt my daughter).
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-07-05 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
35. I was in Northern Ireland after Orange Day.
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