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Why hasn't communism or socialism worked?


OverSword

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Born in Moldavia with a heritage split between Ukrainian and Romanian roots, my genetic makeup reflects a blend of Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish, and 12% Caucasus ancestry—quite typical for the region I come from. Growing up amidst poverty and under the shadow of both communism and dictatorship, I've had firsthand experience of these regimes.

Many envision communism as a utopian ideal where equality reigns supreme, where everyone is provided for and employed. However, my memories paint a starkly different picture. I recall members of the communist party coming to my grandparents' doorstep, assessing our possessions down to the last chicken or egg. Any surplus would be confiscated and redistributed amongst collective organizations, often controlled by party members who wielded power akin to mobsters. While they thrived, the rest of the population struggled, resorting to desperate measures like scavenging for food, eating pigeons . Even activities like fishing were prohibited and everyone had resort to it illegally. I've witnessed friends succumb to poisoning after consuming wild mushrooms while many of us have survived of fruit trees scattered around. Days of eating just gem on a slice of bread were not uncommon, with even bread rationed by the communist party.Having a steady income and job, offered nothing since there was really nothing to buy with that money. Store shelves remained bare and food scarcity persisted due to stringent rationing. This situation fuelled widespread revolts in Romania, although Moldavia, part of the Soviet Union at the time, was relatively better with locally sourced provisions.

Both nations had experienced similar challenges under the two regimes: employment allocated without regard for individual aptitude, with hazardous roles like asbestos handling , mining operations paid the same as desk jobs. The lack of autonomy in job selection or escape from working in dangerous environment had caused a lot of  frustration, pushing some to resort to black market dealings to buy USA dollars, ran to duty shop to purchase whiskey to hand over directors of those companies hoping for a promotion or out of a profession.  By eradicating competition and choice, these regimes didn't forge a utopia; they stifled motivation and squandered talent, reducing individuals to mere automatons. The prevalence of suicide and alcoholism soared in such stifling environments, bereft of entertainment and drowned in propaganda.

In essence, my lived experience underscores the fallacy of a system that purports equality while robbing individuals of agency and purpose, leaving behind a trail of broken spirits and shattered lives.

Furthermore, one of the most egregious infringements upon human rights under these regimes was the suppression of freedom of speech and choice. Different opinions were met with brutal reprisal; individuals daring to question party doctrine o disobeying party members or even doing an eye roll risked violence at the hands of militias. Alternative faiths faced persecution, with non-Orthodox practitioners targeted relentlessly. Party-affiliated priests acted as informants, whispering secrets and suspicions, while pastors of minority denominations faced death sentences. Countless individuals vanished without a trace, their voices forever silenced by the machinery of oppression. Others met their end under circumstances chillingly reminiscent of the tragic fate that befell figures like Alexei Navalny. In such an atmosphere, the mere expression of dissent or deviation from the party line became perilous endeavours, driving home the devastating toll exacted upon basic freedoms in the name of maintaining control.

 

It is alarming to witness echoes of past oppressions resurfacing in today's society. The assault on fundamental freedoms and the imposition of restrictive laws in the recent years, bear a haunting resemblance to the tactics employed by oppressive regimes of yesteryears. Institutions once thought to safeguard liberties, now appear to operate in lockstep with government directives, reminiscent of the compliance demanded by party members and informants in authoritarian regimes. The rapid expansion of such authoritarian tendencies in a country like Canada, once considered a bastion of democracy and freedom, is deeply disconcerting. I se eon one end laws issues about respecting privacy and freedom of choice all to be broken down and contradicted by other laws. Whatever it concerns citizens reactions about government doesn't seem to be applicable at government level towards citizens. 

As individuals who have lived through such tumultuous times, I feel somedays that I carry a responsibility to raise awareness and resist the encroachment of tyranny in all its forms. Our voices, shaped by firsthand experience, hold the power to shine a light on the dangers of complacency and the erosion of democratic values. It is through collective vigilance and steadfast advocacy that we can safeguard the hard-won freedoms that so many have sacrificed to defend. 

 

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1 hour ago, Liquid Gardens said:

True, I would think that the Socialism-as-dogmatic-system includes the Socialist-as-govt-programs definition within it.  I didn't really ever study politics at any length but seems like the opposite of Socialism is sometimes Capitalism and sometimes Democracy, which although often linked and overlap are technically different things.

I know almost zero about it but I've always wondered about how well Vietnam fits in the 'Communism is bad' thesis.  During the war we lost lots of young Americans, killed/participated in killing hundreds-of-thousands of Vietnamese, committed plenty of war crimes, and bombed and burned the everloving hell out of their country... all in a failed effort to prevent them from becoming the rather (or 'relatively') 'successful' Communist country they are today?  I plead total ignorance on the details, but I don't seem to hear much about how oppressed the Vietnamese are or about massive injustices, and it looks like the Dept of State has given them a safety rating of 1 for travelers which is the best.

And yet if you know anyone that was a refugee from Vietnam in the 80's commonly known collectively as boat people then they must have told you about the nightmare they fled after the communist's took over.  If you had to set up re-education camps that nobody ever returned from until everyone was too afraid to speak up about anything I don't think that is a real success, it's just killing everyone you can't control.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

True, I would think that the Socialism-as-dogmatic-system includes the Socialist-as-govt-programs definition within it.  I didn't really ever study politics at any length but seems like the opposite of Socialism is sometimes Capitalism and sometimes Democracy, which although often linked and overlap are technically different things.

I know almost zero about it but I've always wondered about how well Vietnam fits in the 'Communism is bad' thesis.  During the war we lost lots of young Americans, killed/participated in killing hundreds-of-thousands of Vietnamese, committed plenty of war crimes, and bombed and burned the everloving hell out of their country... all in a failed effort to prevent them from becoming the rather (or 'relatively') 'successful' Communist country they are today?  I plead total ignorance on the details, but I don't seem to hear much about how oppressed the Vietnamese are or about massive injustices, and it looks like the Dept of State has given them a safety rating of 1 for travelers which is the best.

Only Western countries became "Communist" each with it's on regional totalitarian flavor. For the most part, something different happened in Asia. In Asia, particularly China, Communism became Chinese. Communism is just a thin, ideological skin over the strong man, typically totalitarian governments that have always ruled there. Mao ruled as a poorly dressed Emperor, the leader of the "Revolution" giving the Party a false sense of agency that can and currently has, once again, been stripped away on a whim. When in crisis, they didn't turn to Mao's little book for succor. Instead, they unleased their capitalists to raise China from the backwaters of history. The one Child policy and the current efforts to re-restrain them, spells their demographic and economic doom. You can't have a consumer society without consumers, nor man factories with people never born. China has the most unprecedented and rapidly aging population in the world and one of the most stagnant birthrates. Projections show that by the end of the century, the Chinese population will be half of what it is, today.

Edited by Hammerclaw
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On 3/15/2024 at 12:51 PM, OverSword said:

It seems like the ideals of equality and security are the attraction toward a communist or socialist system, and that system should theoretically work best under a democratic government, in which the people play an active role and hold equal stakes in success.  But for some reason democracy does not ever flourish under these systems and the main equality is that most people are equally poor and afraid of authority and those systems are all seemingly eventually run by a strong man figure or dictator.  Any thoughts as to why this system has never made it past this flaw?

'Too many pigs for the teats."

Abraham Lincoln.

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2 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

True, I would think that the Socialism-as-dogmatic-system includes the Socialist-as-govt-programs definition within it.  I didn't really ever study politics at any length but seems like the opposite of Socialism is sometimes Capitalism and sometimes Democracy, which although often linked and overlap are technically different things.

I know almost zero about it but I've always wondered about how well Vietnam fits in the 'Communism is bad' thesis.  During the war we lost lots of young Americans, killed/participated in killing hundreds-of-thousands of Vietnamese, committed plenty of war crimes, and bombed and burned the everloving hell out of their country... all in a failed effort to prevent them from becoming the rather (or 'relatively') 'successful' Communist country they are today?  I plead total ignorance on the details, but I don't seem to hear much about how oppressed the Vietnamese are or about massive injustices, and it looks like the Dept of State has given them a safety rating of 1 for travelers which is the best.

Vietnam was a "Catholic vs. Buddhist" war and the Russians were only involved because Kennedy told Ho Chi Minh to get lost. They did not latch onto the full Soviet ideology. Just enough to aquire weapons. 

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7 hours ago, OverSword said:

I would say the metric is repression.  If your system requires government mandated thought control like they have in China (think social score and laws declaring anything Xi says the truth) then it's a failure.  As far as your comments about economic miracle for China I would state that without the industrial know-how and moving jobs to Asia for cheap labor from the West that does not happen.  In other words China owes any prosperity is has to capitalism.

I don't think that you can actually label a country with a strong social safety net as socialist according to what I laid down for this discussion.  The countries you are referring to are capitalist.  Otherwise well thought out post.

Once again the argument never rises beyond personal definitions. Especially when it involves beliefs from those who have had a thorough boogeyman brainwashing in the McCarthyite state that is the US, this type of discussion quickly becomes farce.

I don't classify the US (or the west in general) as democratic any longer, even in principle. What is often spouted as the defining principle of democracy (a popularity contest between a couple of sociopaths owned and financed by corporations) is the very thing that makes it impossible. It will always veer to oligarchy at best and eventually fascism (US has a form of fascism at the moment just waiting for the charismatic populist...maybe Trump?).

Has there ever been a nation that wasn't "capitalist" by your definition (whatever that might be exactly)? Lenin himself openly stated that the soviets had a "state capitalist" economy. So by those definitions that would mean the Soviets weren't socialist and in fact socialism has never been tried yet.

I also doubt the US financial system is really capitalism either. I don't remember reading in "The Wealth of Nations" where having around 20% of the world's population under economic sanctions fits that bill. Nor debt trapping weaker countries through front groups like the IMF that impose "austerity measures" and even lay out terms of which type of govt they require. Maybe I missed it. Nor did it seem to mention overthrowing govts of weaker countries so that your corporations can move in and pillage. Not to mention the protectionism and tariffs the US indulges in (while requiring that others don't).

What the US economic system would more accurately be described as would be "Mafia Economics" usually backed by strongarm threats and tactics (military). Basically, the worlds bullies (not for much longer it seems).

As to the State Dept propaganda, I'll overlook that but it does get tiresome. Only to say that Julian Assange, Edward Snowden (who alerted Americans to fact they were living in a surveillance state), Gonzo Lira and many others might disagree regarding western freedoms. As might anyone who took the slightest bit of notice during the pandemic.

China played on western greed quite intelligently and now the genie is out of the bottle and it ain't going back. The reason the Russian economy outgrew all G7 economies in 2023 (including the US obviously) and is predicted to do the same in 2024 despite being the most sanctioned country in history, can be attributed mostly to China (and India to an extent, as well as Putin's govt). China goes about things quietly, but gets what it wants (without the self aggrandisement, invasions and coups). They are that powerful economically.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, OverSword said:

 

I don't think that you can actually label a country with a strong social safety net as socialist according to what I laid down for this discussion.  The countries you are referring to are capitalist.  Otherwise well thought out post.

There is a little more to "democratic socialism" than simply having a strong social safety net. While these things, along with free public health are generally a feature (should be a basic human right IMO, along with reparations to indigenous peoples) there is more. Generally various institutions (hospitals/health, universities/education, infrastructure such as roads, ports, airports, power generation and supply, telecommunications, railways as a few examples) are often owned by the public and maintained by govt employees through elected representatives for the public good, using taxpayer money. There has also been (historically) tight controls and regulations on banking system and a strong union movement. We used to have whole govt dept whose job was providing cheap and affordable housing for low income people (especially migrants).

These institutions were largely responsible for training people and getting them qualified in various fields. Now we have to import it.

I spent a lot of time living in what could roughly be described this way. In many ways thanks to a genuine socialist leaning progressive govt that had great promise, but was thrown out in a UK/US led soft coup. It's been different parties of the same right wing politics ever since (but with different names). Banks deregulated, infrastructure sold off, education a (extremely expensive) shambles, health system watered down at every opportunity, unions crushed and stripped of all power, housing sold to corporations or speculators and it's been "laissez faire" all the way.

In fact it can be disappointing to increasingly find public lands that have been of value recreationally often sold (very quietly) to corporations with "keep out" signs all over the place. They've been "selling off the farm" for decades and nothing much socialist about it now.

Ps. Sorry if I came off as a bit uppity in previous post. It was unnecessary and I enjoy the discussion.

Edited by Horta
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Posted (edited)
On 3/16/2024 at 6:48 PM, Hammerclaw said:

Socialism, full blown Socialism, that is, has failed in every country that's tried it. Those that linger on as some watered-down version of true Socialism, do so as parasites on the body politic of true Capitalist Democracies. Only in ideological fantasy does a government controlling everything ever work. Bolsheviks considered Socialism the framework on which to build Communism.

Three Nations That Tried Socialism and Rejected It | The Heritage Foundation

It has not failed Yugoslavia under Tito though who oposed and broke up from the union Stalin has built ! They had the best and true socialism built on equality and fraternity between states, highly envied by other neighboring nations. Yugoslavs were free to travel, free to express opinions , quite wealthy, and a lot of respect on human values was invested. Tito even gave the equivalent of today's shares to workers.  He was loved by everyone and was seen as symbol of unity.

Edited by qxcontinuum
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23 hours ago, Horta said:

There is also the fact that for countries of strategic or resource importance to the west (US and UK), they simply won't allow such governments who don't play ball. As shown in Iran when the democratically elected Mossadegh govt won the right to nationalise their oil resources. It didn't last long and was replaced in a UK/US financed coup with a puppet dictatorship (only cost 10 million according to Kermy Roosevelt). Similar thing happening in Venezuela at the moment where the US wants a right wing govt sympathetic subordinate to US corporate interests. Such countries usually get sanctioned to oblivion also. Wonder why they fail?


This is true and is no private secret. U.S claims to be fighting for democratic values though it has a history of bringing down or fighting democratic governments if they are opposed to U.S. economic interests and setting up authoritarian governments instead or backing them. An example is the Guatemalan democratic government whose people-friendly agrarian reforms went contrary to US economic interests and corporate entities in the country, and consequently the government was replaced by a US backed authoritarian government in 1954.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d'état#:~:text=The 1954 Guatemalan coup d,Guatemalan Revolution of 1944–1954.

I would like to emphasize again the danger of plutocratic entities overpowering democratic processes, and had expressed my thoughts that JFK was assasinated due to standing in their way in this post.

https://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/topic/362859-the-cia-killed-kennedy/#comment-7654471

Kennedy had high progressive ideals of peace and disarmament while effectively checking Soviet power, but probably did not exercise due prudence and judgement in assessing the lengths to which the domestic military industrial complex mafia would go to to secure their interests.
 

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28 minutes ago, qxcontinuum said:

It has not failed Yugoslavia under Tito though who oposed and broke up from the union Stalin has built ! They had the best and true socialism built on equality and fraternity between states, highly envied by other neighboring nations. Yugoslavs were free to travel, free to express opinions , quite wealthy, and a lot of respect on human values was invested. Tito even gave the equivalent of today's shares to workers.  He was loved by everyone and was seen as symbol of unity.

No, it wasn't. The peace there was the peace of the gun, held together by strongman rule and collapsed, utterly, into genocidal civil war upon his death. He was loved by Serbs and detested and feared by the other ethnicities. He may have been loved by other countries, occupied or threatened by the USSR, for avoiding that fate, but that's about it. Socialism enforced by fear is no success by any metric. 

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6 hours ago, Hammerclaw said:

No, it wasn't. The peace there was the peace of the gun, held together by strongman rule and collapsed, utterly, into genocidal civil war upon his death. He was loved by Serbs and detested and feared by the other ethnicities. He may have been loved by other countries, occupied or threatened by the USSR, for avoiding that fate, but that's about it. Socialism enforced by fear is no success by any metric. 

That is not exactly what history remembers, he provided what minorities have wanted :

Tito wavered between supporting a centralised or more decentralised federation and ended up favouring the latter to keep ethnic tensions under control; thus, the constitution was gradually developed to delegate as much power as possible to each republic in keeping with the Marxist theory of withering away of the state. He envisaged the SFR of Yugoslavia as a "federal republic of equal nations and nationalities, freely united on the principle of brotherhood and unity in achieving specific and common interest." A very powerful cult of personality was built around him, which the League of Communists of Yugoslavia maintained even after his death. After Tito's death, Yugoslavia's leadership was transformed into an annually rotating presidency to give representation to all of its nationalities and prevent the emergence of an authoritarian leader. Twelve years later, as communism collapsed in Eastern Europe and ethnic tensions escalated, Yugoslavia dissolved and descended into a series of interethnic wars.

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Posted (edited)

Duplicate post :(

 

Edited by qxcontinuum
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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Horta said:

Once again the argument never rises beyond personal definitions.

Here let me make it easier for you:

Quote

 

so·cial·ism

/ˈsōSHəˌliz(ə)m/

noun

a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

 

No private enterprise in such a system.  What you are describing is not socialism.  You are describing a version of a capitalistic system.  The rest of what you quoted was me answering why I don't qualify repressive regimes that have committed systematic mass murder on their own population a successful version of communism or socialism.

Edited by OverSword
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On 3/18/2024 at 1:13 AM, Horta said:

Despite having every advantage and all of the resources and power to mold the world any way it wants and scupper all forms of govt it opposes

The US expended a lot of resources and blood in Vietnam showing the above to be plainly false.

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4 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

The US expended a lot of resources and blood in Vietnam showing the above to be plainly false.

In Vietnam, bolstered by initial success, the US became victim of "mission creep" and at the same time, self-imposed political limitations on what grew, in stages, into full military intervention. Our eventual withdrawal was from a lack of moral certitude in the rightness of our cause and unwillingness to resort to the inevitable and terrible efficacy of our full military might. 

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16 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

Our eventual withdrawal was from a lack of moral certitude in the rightness of our cause and unwillingness to resort to the inevitable and terrible efficacy of our full military might. 

Perhaps but if so I think this still fits the criteria of failing 'to mold the world any way we want'.  Our full military might does have some very unfortunate side effects that may disqualify it as an option as far as the objective we are pursuing.

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2 minutes ago, Liquid Gardens said:

Perhaps but if so I think this still fits the criteria of failing 'to mold the world any way we want'.  Our full military might does have some very unfortunate side effects that may disqualify it as an option as far as the objective we are pursuing.

Really? Tell that to Germany, Japan and South Korea. The only meaningful side effect of not winning is losing. Vietnam was the consequence of Kennedy over-compensating after not having a spine in Berlin and the Bay of Pigs. Khruschev played him like a fool and he almost started a nuclear war over Cuba to prove his manhood. We're lucky he got himself assassinated before he got us all killed.

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42 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

In Vietnam, bolstered by initial success, the US became victim of "mission creep" and at the same time, self-imposed political limitations on what grew, in stages, into full military intervention. Our eventual withdrawal was from a lack of moral certitude in the rightness of our cause and unwillingness to resort to the inevitable and terrible efficacy of our full military might. 

Not the first time we indulged in half a$$ed military intervention either. The Russian Civil War comes to mind.

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4 minutes ago, Antigonos said:

Not the first time we indulged in half a$$ed military intervention either. The Russian Civil War comes to mind.

Everybody got involved in that, none effectively. We did facilitate the evacuation into exile of many White Russians(.Белые, Beliye). 

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Just now, Hammerclaw said:

Everybody got involved in that, none effectively. We did facilitate the evacuation into exile of many White Russians(.Белые, Beliye). 

True, we did some good there.

I’m apt to be more understanding of the other Allies’ reluctance to commit effectively than our own. England was exhausted by constant war since 1914, intervention to assist the anti Bolshevik cause wasn’t a popular one to begin with because many associated it with the Imperial regime, and even though Churchill advocated strongly for full intervention because he correctly foresaw the dangers of a Red victory he was in the minority.

We were still relatively fresh having come into the conflict late. But hindsight and all that.

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Just now, Antigonos said:

True, we did some good there.

I’m apt to be more understanding of the other Allies’ reluctance to commit effectively than our own. England was exhausted by constant war since 1914, intervention to assist the anti Bolshevik cause wasn’t a popular one to begin with because many associated it with the Imperial regime, and even though Churchill advocated strongly for full intervention because he correctly foresaw the dangers of a Red victory he was in the minority.

We were still relatively fresh having come into the conflict late. But hindsight and all that.

Churchill wanted to strangle the nascent Bolshevik State in its cradle, but after Gallipoli, he had little political currency to wield.

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3 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

Really? Tell that to Germany, Japan and South Korea.

I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with actually.  Our objective in the first two countries was obviously different, both of those were actual direct threats to us unlike Vietnam or Korea, they were a 'problem' better suited for solving with our military might because at least for a while it made sense to achieve their surrender 'at all costs'; if Japan kept refusing to settle the war continuing to bomb them to possible near-total destruction may fulfill that objective. 

I know you didn't specifically say this but I'm just pointing out that unwillingness to use our full military might may be because it is not always the right tool for the job we are trying to do.  Given the astonishing amount of our might that we did commit (more bomb ordnance dropped on Vietnam than WWII, the largest air campaign in US history) I guess I don't know what more of our military might would have accomplished and if undertaken there's the danger that it escalates to a point where we are at direct risk.

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2 minutes ago, Liquid Gardens said:

I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with actually.  Our objective in the first two countries was obviously different, both of those were actual direct threats to us unlike Vietnam or Korea, they were a 'problem' better suited for solving with our military might because at least for a while it made sense to achieve their surrender 'at all costs'; if Japan kept refusing to settle the war continuing to bomb them to possible near-total destruction may fulfill that objective. 

I know you didn't specifically say this but I'm just pointing out that unwillingness to use our full military might may be because it is not always the right tool for the job we are trying to do.  Given the astonishing amount of our might that we did commit (more bomb ordnance dropped on Vietnam than WWII, the largest air campaign in US history) I guess I don't know what more of our military might would have accomplished and if undertaken there's the danger that it escalates to a point where we are at direct risk.

For political reasons we chose to fight a defensive war, as opposed to the Pacific WW2 which was an offensive war, carrying the fight to the enemy. Winning was always a certainty, if we chose to, but the price of maintaining the peace, afterward would have been too high, on us and especially on the captive population. We learned that lesson in the Philippines the hard way in the early twentieth century. The Philippines had no Emperor to order the people to endure the unendurable and neither did Vietnam. So, you're right; the price of victory was unacceptable.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 3/21/2024 at 12:29 AM, Liquid Gardens said:

The US expended a lot of resources and blood in Vietnam showing the above to be plainly false.

I didn't say they always succeeded, or have even been particularly good at it but that so called US "democracy" they love spreading (by overthrowing elected govts and replacing them with their own) was never that anyway, and is now the world's laughing stock.. Though they did drop a couple of nukes to stop Japan falling under Soviet influence (would have led to another Korean or Vietnam war further down the track if they hadn't) which goes to show both how serious they are and how barbaric.

After WW2 they had 70% of the world's gold reserves, a booming economy and production base (thanks largely to a friendly geography that prevented them being directly attacked.) while Europe was in tatters. The US got to sit back for years and watch their two main rival empires destroy each other while funding it. Some key nations were massively into US debt. 

So they got to set out a new financial system of their own design, mostly for their own benefit, and have been overthrowing govts and starting wars ever since in an effort to micromanage the world's economy. Yet with all of the advantages they had, they still ditched the gold standard after 25 yrs and only lasted about 60 yrs before they started declining (been in decline for a couple of decades), which is well and truly speeding up now (I think the west is circling the drain).

This hardly reeks of competence. It's unlikely to happen to China.

 

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22 minutes ago, Horta said:

This hardly reeks of competence. It's unlikely to happen to China.

 

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