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Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:03 PM

Scalia: The Soviet Union’s Constitution Was ‘Much Better Than Ours’

During a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said that U.S. Constitution is vastly inferior to that of one of our long defunct enemies:

The bill of rights of the former evil empire, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was much better than ours. I mean it literally. It was much better. We guarantee freedom of speech and of the press, big deal! The guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press of street demonstrations and anyone who is caught trying to suppress criticism of the government will be called to account.


Watch it:



Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/02/09/422358/scalia-the-soviet-unions-constitution-was-much-better-than-ours/

28 replies, 5590 views

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Reply Scalia: The Soviet Union’s Constitution Was ‘Much Better Than Ours’ (Original post)
Galraedia Feb 2012 OP
Politicalboi Feb 2012 #1
niyad Feb 2012 #2
Tyrs WolfDaemon Feb 2012 #12
niyad Feb 2012 #15
unblock Feb 2012 #3
LineLineNew Reply *
ronnie624 Feb 2012 #22
ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2012 #4
ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2012 #5
baldguy Feb 2012 #6
ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2012 #7
Art_from_Ark Feb 2012 #10
ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2012 #11
jwirr Feb 2012 #8
eridani Feb 2012 #16
ChairmanAgnostic Feb 2012 #9
Galraedia Feb 2012 #13
Honeycombe8 Feb 2012 #14
white_wolf Feb 2012 #17
Starry Messenger Feb 2012 #18
white_wolf Feb 2012 #19
Starry Messenger Feb 2012 #20
white_wolf Feb 2012 #21
Tx4obama Feb 2012 #23
Blue_Tires Feb 2012 #26
Tx4obama Feb 2012 #24
Rex Feb 2012 #25
Scuba Feb 2012 #27
Yo_Mama Feb 2012 #28

Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:08 PM

1. He should step down

 

Perhaps Putin can use him as a pack mule for hunting trips.

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Response to Politicalboi (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:11 PM

2. right in front of a semi??

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Response to niyad (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 11:34 PM

12. More like an active Volcano

Except that would likely piss the volcano's protective deity off and he/she might cause it to erupt, violently. You know, kind of like when your body throws up to get something bad out of you.

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Response to Tyrs WolfDaemon (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:08 AM

15. true, pele is not exactly known for her sense of humour

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:23 PM

3. did you actually listen to his entire quote or read the article?

are was your point to remove context and take the cheap shot that the article said we were above?


the article was an attack on silly right-wing attacks on ginsberg, and used the scalia quote as an example of a comparable quote, saying but OUR side doesn't attack people like that.

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Response to unblock (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:20 AM

22. *

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:28 PM

4. Except, he is absolutely correct.

The rights laid out in the 1930s constitution protected women, children, political views, protest, the right to work, to have food, to have a job, to object to government, to abort,

The list of rights is huge. Far more extensive than your US bill 'o rights, which seem to be quaint, now that we have the Patriot and so much more attacking ours.

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Response to ChairmanAgnostic (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:30 PM

5. Here is but a taste.

CONSTITUTION
(FUNDAMENTAL LAW)

OF

THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS

Adopted at the Seventh (Special) Session of
the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
Ninth Convocation
On October 7, 1977


II. THE STATE AND THE INDIVIDUAL
Chapter 6: CITIZENSHIP OF THE USSR / EQUALITY OF CITIZENS' RIGHTS

Article 33. Uniform federal citizenship is established for the USSR. Every citizen of a Union Republic is a citizen of the USSR.

The grounds and procedure for acquiring or forfeiting Soviet citizenship are defined by the Law on Citizenship of the USSR.
When abroad, citizens of the USSR enjoy the protection and assistance of the Soviet state.
Article 34. Citizens of the USSR are equal before the law, without distinction of origin, social or property status, race or nationality, sex, education, language, attitude to religion, type and nature of occupation, domicile, or other status.

The equal rights of citizens of the USSR are guaranteed in all fields of economic, political, social, and cultural life.
Article 35. Women and men have equal rights in the USSR.

Exercise of these rights is ensured by according women equal access with men to education and vocational and professional training, equal opportunities in employment, remuneration, and promotion, and in social and political, and cultural activity, and by special labour and health protection measures for women; by providing conditions enabling mothers to work; by legal protection, and material and moral support for mothers and children, including paid leaves and other benefits for expectant mothers and mothers, and gradual reduction of working time for mothers with small children.
Article 36. Citizens of the USSR of different races and nationalities have equal rights.

Exercise of these rights is ensured by a policy of all-round development and drawing together of all the nations and nationalities of the USSR, by educating citizens in the spirit of Soviet patriotism and socialist internationalism, and by the possibility to use their native language and the languages of other peoples in the USSR.
Any direct or indirect limitation of the rights of citizens or establishment of direct or indirect privileges on grounds of race or nationality, and any advocacy of racial or national exclusiveness, hostility, or contempt, are punishable by law.
Article 37. Citizens of other countries and stateless persons in the USSR are guaranteed the rights and freedoms provided by law, including the right to apply to a court and other state bodies for the protection of their personal, property, family, and other rights.

Citizens of other countries and stateless persons, when in the USSR, are obliged to respect the Constitution of the USSR and observe Soviet laws.
Article 38. The USSR grants the right of asylum to foreigners persecuted for defending the interests of the working people and the cause of peace, or for participation in the revolutionary and national-liberation movement, or for progressive social and political, scientific, or other creative activity.

Chapter 7: THE BASIC RIGHTS, FREEDOMS, AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS OF THE USSR

Article 39. Citizens of the USSR enjoy in full the social, economic, political and personal rights and freedoms proclaimed and guaranteed by the Constitution of the USSR and by Soviet laws. The socialist system ensures enlargement of the rights and freedoms of citizens and continuous improvement of their living standards as social, economic, and cultural development programmes are fulfilled.

Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interests of society or the state, or infringe the rights of other citizens.
Article 40. Citizens of the USSR have the right to work (that is, to guaranteed employment and pay in accordance wit the quantity and quality of their work, and not below the state-established minimum), including the right to choose their trade or profession, type of job and work in accordance with their inclinations, abilities, training and education, with due account of the needs of society.

This right is ensured by the socialist economic system, steady growth of the productive forces, free vocational and professional training, improvement of skills, training in new trades or professions, and development of the systems of vocational guidance and job placement.
Article 41. Citizens of the USSR have the right to rest and leisure.

This right is ensured by the establishment of a working week not exceeding 41 hours, for workers and other employees, a shorter working day in a number of trades and industries, and shorter hours for night work; by the provision of paid annual holidays, weekly days of rest, extension of the network of cultural, educational, and health-building institutions, and the development on a mass scale of sport, physical culture, and camping and tourism; by the provision of neighborhood recreational facilities, and of other opportunities for rational use of free time.
The length of collective farmers' working and leisure time is established by their collective farms.
Article 42. Citizens of the USSR have the right to health protection.

This right is ensured by free, qualified medical care provided by state health institutions; by extension of the network of therapeutic and health-building institutions; by the development and improvement of safety and hygiene in industry; by carrying out broad prophylactic measures; by measures to improve the environment; by special care for the health of the rising generation, including prohibition of child labour, excluding the work done by children as part of the school curriculum; and by developing research to prevent and reduce the incidence of disease and ensure citizens a long and active life.
Article 43. Citizens of the USSR have the right to maintenance in old age, in sickness, and in the event of complete or partial disability or loss of the breadwinner.

The right is guaranteed by social insurance of workers and other employees and collective farmers; by allowances for temporary disability; by the provision by the state or by collective farms of retirement pensions, disability pensions, and pensions for loss of the breadwinner; by providing employment for the partially disabled; by care for the elderly and the disabled; and by other forms of social security.
Article 44. Citizens of the USSR have the rights to housing.

This right is ensured by the development and upkeep of state and socially-owned housing; by assistance for co-operative and individual house building; by fair distribution, under public control, of the housing that becomes available through fulfilment of the programme of building well-appointed dwellings, and by low rents and low charges for utility services. Citizens of the USSR shall take good care of the housing allocated to them.
Article 45. Citizens of the USSR have the right to education.

This right is ensured by free provision of all forms of education, by the institution of universal, compulsory secondary education, and broad development of vocational, specialised secondary, and higher education, in which instruction is oriented toward practical activity and production; by the development of extramural, correspondence and evening courses, by the provision of state scholarships and grants and privileges for students; by the free issue of school textbooks; by the opportunity to attend a school where teaching is in the native language; and by the provision of facilities for self-education.
Article 46. Citizens of the USSR have the right to enjoy cultural benefits.

This rights is ensured by broad access to the cultural treasures of their own land and of the world that are preserved in state and other public collections; by the development and fair distribution of cultural and educational institutions throughout the country; by developing television and radio broadcasting and the publishing of books, newspapers and periodicals, and by extending the free library service; and by expanding cultural exchanges with other countries.
Article 47. Citizens of the USSR, in accordance with the aims of building communism, are guaranteed freedom of scientific, technical, and artistic work. This freedom is ensured by broadening scientific research, encouraging invention and innovation, and developing literature and the arts. THe state provides the necessary material conditions for this and support for voluntary societies and unions of workers in the arts, organises introduction of inventions and innovations in production and other spheres of activity.

The rights of authors, inventors and innovators are protected by the state.
Article 48. Citizens of the USSR have the right to take part in the management and administration of state and public affairs and in the discussion and adoption of laws and measures of All-Union and local significance.

This right is ensured by the opportunity to vote and to be elected to Soviets of People's Deputies and other elective state bodies, to take part in nationwide discussions and referendums, in people's control, in the work of state bodies, public organisations, and local community groups, and in meetings at places of work or residence.
Article 49. Every citizen of the USSR has the right to submit proposals to state bodies and public organisations for improving their activity, and to criticise shortcomings in their work.

Officials are obliged, within established time-limits, to examine citizens' proposals and requests, to reply to them, and to take appropriate action.
Persecution for criticism is prohibited. Persons guilty of such persecution shall be called to account.
Article 50. In accordance with the interests of the people and in order to strengthen and develop the socialist system, citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly, meetings, street processions and demonstrations.

Exercise of these political freedoms is ensured by putting public buildings, streets and squares at the disposal of the working people and their organisations, by broad dissemination of information, and by the opportunity to use the press, television, and radio.
Article 51. In accordance with the aims of building communism, citizens of the USSR have the right to associate in public organisations that promote their political activity and initiative and satisfaction of their various interests.

Public organisations are guaranteed conditions for successfully performing the functions defined in their rules.
Article 52. Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda. Incitement of hostility or hatred on religious grounds is prohibited.

In the USSR, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church.
Article 53. The family enjoys the protection of the state.

Marriage is based on the free consent of the woman and the man; the spouses are completely equal in their family relations.
The state helps the family by providing and developing a broad system of childcare institutions, by organising and improving communal services and public catering, by paying grants on the birth of a child, by providing children's allowances and benefits for large families, and other forms of family allowances and assistance.
Article 54. Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed inviolability of the person. No one may be arrested except by a court decision or on the warrant of a procurator.

Article 55. Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed inviolability of the home. No one may, without lawful grounds, enter a home against the will of those residing in it.

Article 56. The privacy of citizens, and of their correspondence, telephone conversations, and telegraphic communications is protected by law.

Article 57. Respect for the individual and protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens are the duty of all state bodies, public organisations, and officials.

Citizens of the USSR have the right to protection by the courts against encroachments on their honour and reputation, life and health, and personal freedom and property.
Article 58. Citizens of the USSR have the right to lodge a complaint against the actions of officials, state bodies and public bodies. Complaints shall be examined according to the procedure and within the time-limit established by law.

Actions by officials that contravene the law or exceed their powers, and infringe the rights of citizens, may be appealed against in a court in the manner prescribed by law.
Citizens of the USSR have the right to compensation for damage resulting from unlawful actions by state organisations and public organisations, or by officials in the performance of their duties.
Article 59. Citizens' exercise of their rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of their duties and obligations.

Citizens of the USSR are obliged to observe the Constitution of the USSR and Soviet laws, comply with the standards of socialist conduct, and uphold the honour and dignity of Soviet citizenship.
Article 60. It is the duty of, and matter of honour for, every able-bodied citizen of the USSR to work conscientiously in his chosen, socially useful occupation, and strictly to observe labour discipline. Evasion of socially useful work is incompatible with the principles of socialist society.

Article 61. Citizens of the USSR are obliged to preserve and protect socialist property. It is the duty of a citizen of the USSR to combat misappropriation and squandering of state and socially-owned property and to make thrifty use of the people's wealth.

Persons encroaching in any way on socialist property shall be punished according to the law.
Article 62. Citizens of the USSR are obliged to safeguard the interests of the Soviet state, and to enhance its power and prestige.

Defence of the Socialist Motherland is the sacred duty of every citizen of the USSR.
Betrayal of the Motherland is the gravest of crimes against the people.
Article 63. Military service in the ranks of the Armed Forces of the USSR is an honorable duty of Soviet citizens.

Article 64. It is the duty of every citizen of the USSR to respect the national dignity of other citizens, and to strengthen friendship of the nations and nationalities of the multinational Soviet state.

Article 65. A citizen of the USSR is obliged to respect the rights and lawful interests of other persons, to be uncompromising toward anti-social behaviour, and to help maintain public order.

Article 66. Citizens of the USSR are obliged to concern themselves with the upbringing of children, to train them for socially useful work, and to raise them as worthy members of socialist society. Children are obliged to care for their parents and help them.

Article 67. Citizens of the USSR are obliged to protect nature and conserve its riches.

Article 68. Concern for the preservation of historical monuments and other cultural values is a duty and obligation of citizens of the USSR.

Article 69. It is the internationalist duty of citizens of the USSR to promote friendship and co-operation with peoples of other lands and help maintain and strengthen world peace.

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Response to ChairmanAgnostic (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:33 PM

6. The trick is, of course, to get the govt to actually follow the Constitution.

 

And there's no chance of that with guys like Fat Tony calling the shots.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:34 PM

7. Too true. They had NKVD, then KGB under Stalin. We had Bush.

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Response to ChairmanAgnostic (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:45 PM

10. No doubt Soviet citizens could protest all they wanted in the gulags

That is, if they weren't getting purged for their political views, real or imagined.

And everyone had the right to work, at the job the government assigned to them.

They might have had the right to have food, but they had to stand in line for hours to get it.

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Response to Art_from_Ark (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:48 PM

11. Ah, the big divide between theory, practice, and application.

In one document, the soviets gained dozens of rights (in theory) that took us decades to gain, and often unequally.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:40 PM

8. While at the University of Iowa we went to the quad on July 4th. 1976. One booth had a copy of

the Constitution. Or at least that is what everyone who read it and signed it thought. In fact it was actually the USSR Constitution. They are very much alike. I was tipped off when I read it so I enjoyed the remarks of those who thought they were reading our Constitution.

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Response to jwirr (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:15 AM

16. It was modeled on our Constitution, and improved

As far as Soviet leadership was concerned, it might as well not have existed, though. At least we've come closer to living up to the ideals in ours.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 10:42 PM

9. The rights given to elderly, to women, to atheists AND religions to coexist

There is no fucking way this country could create that good of a document today, not in this culture.

But as Bald said, the key is in enforcing the rules and rights that you create.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 11:54 PM

13. I'm just waiting for a Reich-winger to shout, "SOCIALIST!"

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 11:55 PM

14. He's plugging the court system & other govt branches who ENFORCE the Constitution...

and its provisions, is what he's saying. Just words on paper don't mean anything, unless govt backs it up. And there is the difference between our govt and the former Soviet Union's. Our Constitution has meaning, he is saying. Soviet Empire's did not.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:24 AM

17. He's right.

If the USSR had actually followed its constitution it would have been a much more free country than the U.S. The U.S. Constitution is very outdated and is need of significant expansion in the area of rights.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:49 AM

18. Talk about a stopped clock.

The thing is, he could be helping to make our country more progressive, and isn't. That's why we have the Supreme Court. And there he sits, like a toad. If he knows what better looks like, then why isn't he emulating it?

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #18)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:52 AM

19. I wish I knew.

This is why I hate lifetime appointments for the Court. Some of these people are so reactionary they need to be replaced after a decade. Can we resurrect Thrugood Marshall?

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #19)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:01 AM

20. I do too.

It's insane such a small pool of people have so much power. I know they are supposed to be a check and balance, but I don't think it is working the way it was intended. The partisan appointments of the right wing have a lot of sway long after the person who put them on the Supremes leaves office.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #20)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:07 AM

21. Yeah, I have to wonder what the founders were thinking on this one.

Most of their other chooses I can understand in the context of their times, even if I disagree with them, but they had to have seen the problem with lifetime appointments.

Of course, I don't think they saw how powerful the Supreme Court would become. They didn't really get this powerful until the Marbury V Madison decision, which gave the Court the power to strike down laws it considered unconstitutional and really pissed of Jefferson.

I think we would be a lot better off with 10 year term justices. Another thing that really annoys me, is the fact that Right picks extreme right-wingers like Scalia and Obama picks moderates like Kagan and Sotomayor, who are decent, but hardly the left wing equivalent of Scalia.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:29 AM

23. * * * * * IMPORTANT * * * * * read the FULL article. It's NOT what you think it is. * * * * * * *



SNIP

Scalia’s casual disregard for our Constitution proves that he is manifestly unfit to interpret it. If Scalia would rather live under the Soviet constitution, than he should move to Russia and see how he likes trying to get a job as a judge there. Clearly, ThinkProgress has no choice but to call for this communist infiltrator to immediately resign from the federal bench.

Except that such a call would be completely dishonest, which will be clear to anyone who takes half a minute to watch the entire video embedded in this post.

SNIP



The headline is ONLY an example of how something can be spinned - like the GOP spinned what Justice Ginsburg said in Egypt.

--------------------


... Scalia went on to make the point that the Soviet constitution was nothing but “words on paper,’’ a fig leaf for tyranny. By contrast, America’s constitutional system — with its careful separation of powers and government institutions checking and balancing each other — has proved a bulwark against tyranny. Only someone brazenly yanking Scalia’s words out of context could have accused him of revering the Kremlin’s Potemkin constitution more than the one drafted in Philadelphia in 1787. ....

http://articles.boston.com/2012-02-08/opinion/31034513_1_constitution-justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-guarantee-freedom




READING COMPREHENSION IS OUR FRIEND


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Response to Tx4obama (Reply #23)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:42 AM

26. No matter the context, I cringe at the noise machine reaction

if Obama even SAID the word "Soviet"

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:37 AM

24. * * * * * * * * IMO, the OP should be edited to state that that is NOT the full quote * * * * * *


We do not want to be accused of taking Scalia's words out of context like the GOPers took Justice Ginsburg's words out of context!!!

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:42 AM

25. That is something I would expect from a

 

man not elected to office by the people. His snark is a hair away from insanity.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 05:49 AM

27. I thought porn was taboo on DU? I'm offended by this clip of an asshole.

 

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 09:02 AM

28. His point is absolutely correct

A constitution that grants rights that are not enforced means nothing - he is pointing out that it is our system of balancing powers that makes the Bill of Rights in our constitution mean something. Of course he is arguing for independence of the judiciary. Without that independence, what chance would our rights have of being upheld?

There is a more reasoned critique of Scalia's statement (or completion of it):
http://volokh.com/2012/02/08/ginsburg-and-scalia-on-foreign-constitutions/

As this points out, the Bill of Rights in the Soviet Constitution was subordinated to the defense of the state. That is the reason that the right of free speech didn't mean anything:
More importantly, Article 59 emphasizes that “Citizens’ exercise of their rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of their duties and obligations,” and those duties include “comply[ing] with standards of socialist conduct” (Article 59) and “safeguard[ing] the interests of the Soviet state, and …. enhanc[ing] its power and prestige” (Article 62). Thus, the individual rights in the Soviet Constitution could be overriden in any cases where they conflict with “standards of socialist conduct” or somehow threaten the interests of the Soviet state or its “power and prestige.” All of this should also be read in light of Article 6, which guaranteed the Communist Party a monopoly of political power. That, presumably, is one of the “interests of the Soviet state” that can be used to limit individual rights. A careful reading of the Soviet Constitution – or even just the individual rights sections – leaves little doubt that it was written for a totalitarian communist state.


This is the reason that I am an absolutist on speech questions, which I have noticed is a diminishing POV in progressive circles. If an individual's free speech rights are subordinated to other interests, than those in power will always find a way of suppressing any speech they don't like, and most especially speech that contains the truly important criticisms of the day.

This means that in the US, we will experience lots of people saying stupid and harmful things, but we will tolerate that because we must have people saying truths that will utterly offend and enrage those in power and scare them, because the truths they are uttering call to the unmet needs and concerns of the population (or a minority of it).

Most of the actual social progress in the US has come from movements started by those who were conceived by those in power to be utterly harmful and antithetical to our way of life.

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