Talk:Soviet Union

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Former good article Soviet Union was one of the good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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USSR socialist?[edit]

It is disputed by reliable sources whether USSR ever established socialism to any form or to any degree, most stating that the USSR was in fact state capitalist.

Here's just a few: 1 2 3 4 5 6 6 7

So please do not write that the USSR was a "socialist" state, much less "communist". It can only be written that it self-described as socialist or that it has commonly been described as socialist. Zozs (talk) 04:49, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

I'm sorry but none of these sources - marxist.org, communistvoice.org, theanarchistlibrary.org - are reliable for the claim being made.Volunteer Marek (talk) 05:57, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
According to who? You? These sources are collections of texts and they include very important authors. Zozs (talk) 06:07, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
Stating that the USSR was a "Marxist-Leninist single-party state" is absolutely unquestionable, stating that it achieved socialism is controversial... mind-boggling just how much others want to push their own opinion when perfectly neutral terms are available. Zozs (talk) 06:23, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
@Volunteer Marek: I would disagree that marxists.org is unreliable in terms of information; it's an archive, they don't just create their own stuff to archive. So you are just wrong there. The things that were in the archive may change up the situation a bit, though, so I will agree that the claim being made does not have enough support, in my opinion. No change should be made. Dustin (talk) 15:02, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
According to WP:RS and WP:FRINGE. Specifically, within WP:RS, these would fall under WP:SPS (self published sources). And since these are not mainstream sources they would obviously fall under WP:FRINGE.
It's possible that these could fall under WP:BIASED. Well, if they weren't self-published. Basically if you could come up with published scholarly sources which represent these opinions, then they could be used under WP:BIASED in *some* articles, with proper attribution ("according to...") and in an appropriate place (not the lede), although care would have to be taken to ensure that no WP:UNDUE WEIGHT is given.
Now, please stop edit warring against multiple editors across multiple articles in order to push your views through.Volunteer Marek (talk) 06:50, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
The article only claims once - in the lead - that the USSR was socialist. The USSR "was a socialist state on the Eurasian continent that existed between 1922 and 1991." It is sourced to "Marxist Approaches in Anthropology", which is behind a paywall. While I doubt many sources would say it was capitalist, we should not say unequivocally that it was socialist. TFD (talk) 11:29, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
In other related news, Christian websites are now WP:FRINGE and Richard Dawkins is from now on responsible for defining what is and is not Christian.[sarcasm] Σσς(Sigma) 20:02, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Funnily enough, only the last source (No. 7) seems like it could be treated as reliable and it pretty much concludes that the Soviet Union was not capitalist: "Thus the state capitalist hypothesis is unpersuasive, in either its ‘internalist’ or ‘externalist’ form". I do not think that Soviet Union was genuinely 'socialist', but it is definitely described as socialist country by a ton of sources.129.178.88.82 (talk) 12:41, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
Still gives proof of the notability of the dispute between whether it is really socialist or not. Zozs (talk) 16:48, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Soviet Union should be referred to as "Stalinist". Soviet Russia (1919-1922) should be referred to as "War Communism". 2001:4C28:4000:721:185:26:182:38 (talk) 09:35, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

So you think Lenin and Trotsky were Stalinists? TFD (talk) 18:49, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Lenin was Leninist and Trotsky was Trotskyist. Dustin (talk) 20:07, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

The Four Deuces, let me explain it. 1917- October revolution, Lenin instals "Military Communism" to defend Russia from the White Russians. Expects the rest of the world (Germany especially) to follow up on another revolution so that they could support each other (Marx said that a well faring capitalist nation would be the best fundament of true Communism, Russia becoming the vanguard of Communism is probably the most unforeseen event in history (Imagine the USA turning Communist tomorrow))


1922- German revolution has been dead for years and Lenin doesn't expect any other nation to start a revolution soon. Bolsheviks install "NEP" (New economic policy) a system which collectivized the means of production. There has never been an example of true democracy on such large scale in the history of humankind. (At this point, USSR is Socialist)


1926- Lenin dies, Stalin comes to power. Stalin fixes a lot of problems but to solve them he had to reduce true Democracy to a non existent level. Initiates One state party, yadda yadda, Stalinists pigs stay in power until 1991, then refuse to let go and then they split up all Capital between them. So there you have it, majority of Soviet Union was Stalinist. RomanK79 (talk) 09:25, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Under the NEP, some peasants had private property and market-based mechanisms were allowed. As I understand it, it was a necessary evil at the time because of WWI and a civil war, millions of deaths, and a total collapse of pretty much the entire economy. The USSR had no way to complete the revolution in the countryside at the time, and so they made this concession. Lenin commented that it was a necessary measure that would help socialism, but also emphasised caution as to prevent a return to capitalism. As for the majority of the USSR being Stalinist, I am sure that Stalinism is a word used to describe the policies and theory behind the USSR from the 1920s to 1953. In a short summary of what could be considered a useful definition: whether and how to adopt socialism in one country, the transition from the NEP to collective farms, and the purges. But despite this, I acknowledge that there are some anti-USSR socialists and anarchists who follow the earlier term, describing everything post-Lenin as Stalinism. Σσς(Sigma) 21:22, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Most of the sources are from Trotskyists, such as Tony Cliff. Your last source, which is a reliable source (the History of Economics Review''), is a paper explaining the Trotskyist view. It concludes, "the state capitalist hypothesis is unpersuasive.... It is more appropriate to see the Soviet Union as a challenger to all forms of capitalism. Not a genuine socialist challenge, certainly...."
There is also a paper by Emma Goldman, but she does not say the USSR was "state capitalist", just mentions that it has been called that.
There are different ways of viewing the Soviet Union, and there may never be agreement. My favorite is that its system was a method for developing countries to industrialize without capital, which makes it a transition stage from pre-capitalist to capitalist society. It explains why revolution would come to Russia but not Germany, why repression was used and how and why the system ended.
TFD (talk) 12:40, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

This phenomenon in my opinion reminds of another "classic" Wikipedia hullabaloo. Namely, making edits that "the Nazis were not really right-wing". Recently a POV similar to this was pushed with regards to the Khmer Rouge, that "they weren't really socialists". It would seem that there is a POV motive to distance movements with a bad reputation (Nazis, the USSR, Khmer Rouge) from their respective political axis. Socialism and communism, especially, have so many variants and currents that claims about "not being true socialism" seems like an endless swamp with indeed Trotskyists for example disagreeing with Marxist-Leninists. Of course Trotskyist opinions from RS should be added to relevant articles, but not remove the mainstream definitions. --Pudeo' 04:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

It is not the same thing. No one (including Trotskyists) claims that the Soviet leadership were not communists, they argue about whether their system could be described as socialism. The debate is whether or not working people in the Soviet Union owned and controlled the means of production. According to the Soviet leadership they did, but other observers claim that effective control was held by the Communist Party leadership, which allowed them to obtain personal ownership of factories, businesses and agricultural land when Communism ended. No reliable sources claim Nazism was left-wing, that view is only expressed in fringe websites, while most academic sources do not accept that the Soviet Union achieved socialism. Furthermore, while under Marxist theory socialism is a transitional stage to communism, it turned out that whatever system Communist countries had was a transitional phase to capitalism. TFD (talk) 21:00, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Stalin wasn't a Marxist-Leninist. He "introduced" his own brand of pseudo-communism. It can rightfully be called Stalinism.99.54.188.176 (talk) 23:53, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Fix the intro description[edit]

The intro as it currently stands describes the Soviet Union in the first sentence as a "Marxist-Leninist state". It does not say that it was a political-economic union of constituent member states, that it was socialist, that it was a federal structure, that it was multi-national - just that it was a "Marxist-Leninist state". No where in any union constitution does it say that the state was "Marxist-Leninist", so this description itself is false. Not to mention vague. What is "Marxist-Leninist" as pertaining to a state? Do Marx and Lenin run the state? To describe a state, it's a subjective and empty term that has no content. This is unencyclopedic and should be removed, which is why I sought to have it replaced with:

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russian: Сою́з Сове́тских Социалисти́ческих Респу́блик, tr. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik) abbreviated to USSR (Russian: СССР, tr. SSSR) or shortened to the Soviet Union (Russian: Сове́тский Сою́з, tr. Sovetskij Soyuz), was a multinational federal union of socialist republics on the Eurasian continent that existed between 1922 and 1991. It was governed as a single-party state by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital.[1] The largest sovereign state on earth, covering up to one sixth of the planet's land area, its government and economy were highly centralized.

Simple, concise, an accurate description, and also a brief geographical description which is standard with country articles yet is currently lacking. --Mundopopular (talk) 20:32, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

  • The intro as it currently stands describes the Soviet Union in the first sentence as a "Marxist-Leninist state".
Several reliable sources describe it as so and it isn't Wikipedia's mission to speculate based on existing information.
  • It does not say that it was a political-economic union of constituent member states
It does: "A union of multiple subnational Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized.".
  • [It does not say that it was] socialist
In only the lead itself it states that the economy was highly centralized, that industry was state-owned, that the name was "Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics", that it was governed as a single-party state, and that it was ruled by the Communist Party. Additionally, the way the economy functions is well-explained in the body of the article, and some of it even in the intro. This is enough to let the readers know the information and understand. It's not Wikipedia's job to have to judge whether this is "socialism" or not and replacing all the information by a trigger-word in the intro "it was socialist" (saying that it is an unquestioned truth). This is an attempt to give an air of "officialness" to that information. Wikipedia is not here to serve points of view in a fast-food manner.
  • [It does not say that it was] a federal structure
Then add the word "federal".
  • [It does not say that it was] multi-national
It does: "A union of multiple subnational Soviet republics"
  • [It just says] that it was a "Marxist-Leninist state"
A well-established concept which means exactly one form of state, with a well defined structure as defined by several sources, and multiple reliable sources backing that the Soviet Union was this. It does not describe the ideology, it is a well-defined explanation of what the specific form of organization of the state is.
  • No where in any union constitution does it say that the state was "Marxist-Leninist" so this description itself is false
Here in Wikipedia we don't describe things by what they claim of themselves ("primary sources", which are to be avoided); we describe them by what reliable sources said. Additionally, the Soviet Union explained well that its ideology is Marxism-Leninism.
So it's false just because they didn't claim they were that? Again, we go by reliable sources, not by primary sources. Additionally, they DID claim they follow Marxism-Leninism.
  • Not to mention vague
Not to me. It means exactly something, and exactly what it means and the form of state organization it entails is well-defined by several sources. "Socialist" would be vague as that term can mean a thousand things.
  • What is "Marxist-Leninist" as pertaining to a state?
Please read all the research available from reliable sources on what a "Marxist-Leninist state" and its specific form of organization entailing most details is, as well as how Marxism-Leninism itself claims a state should be organized.
  • Do Marx and Lenin run the state?
Obviously not and no reader will think that.
  • To describe a state, it's a subjective and empty term that has no content
This has been already explained. EXACTLY what it means with the specific details of its organization which are common across all Marxist-Leninist states are well described. It's not subjective; it's stated by several reliable sources. It means exactly one thing and is MUCH more specific than the alternative descriptions.
  • This is unencyclopedic and should be removed
No. Reliable sourced information is encyclopedic and should not be removed.
  • Simple, concise, an accurate description
"Simple"? I'd say that your proposed description could imply a thousand things, and does not explain what the form of organization is, which can be described in a single term, but rather substitutes for fast-food form of information. Concise? I'd say the current one is more so concise. Accurate? The current description is exactly what the reliable sources say, no more and no less, and absolutely no deviations.
  • also a brief geographical description which is standard with country articles yet is currently lacking
What, in that the capital is "Moscow"? The current article already says that, but you can add more geographical information if you want.
However, thank you for your contribution, but I'm afraid the current reliably sourced, objective & perfectly accurate (as it does not deviate at all from the reliable sources; no more, and no less), and unquestionable (it cannot be controversial) description should not be replaced for a controversial, speculative and subjective one. Zozs (talk) 20:12, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
"Marxist-Leninist state" is an odd term. Both Marx and Lenin's stated aim was the abolition of the state, and each recognized that the capitalist state was in some circumstances preferable to the socialist state. But it appears to be a widely used term. Maybe for clarity we should say it was "a Marxist_Leninist state, that is a state according to Marxist-Leninist principles." TFD (talk) 21:03, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Marxism-Leninism is not Marxism and Leninism. Marxism-Leninism is Stalinism; i.e. the socioeconomic ideology created and installed in several countries by Stalin, even though the term "Stalinism" itself most often refers to Stalin's style of governance itself (for instance, political repression). The connection with original Marxism and Leninism, is, at best, remote, and they were just used as a means of pretending ideological adherence. However, how close or not this ideology is to what its name suggests, or what its principles are, are not things for Wikipedia to judge. The point is that "Marxist-Leninist state" is a well-established concept which entails a very specific form of state organization.
and each recognized that the capitalist state was in some circumstances preferable to the socialist state
They did not say so. What Marxism said, though, is that states like the Soviet Union are state capitalism rather than socialism. If terms were used accurately, "socialist state" would instead refer to the dictatorship of the proletariat (something which did not exist in the Soviet Union), which is indeed the transition stage between capitalism and communism (which are modes of production) according to Marxism, and thus preferable. Zozs (talk) 21:16, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
They thought that the establishment of capitalism was necessary before a socialist revolution should occur. So Marx praised "liberal revolutions", Lenin did not think Russia was ready for socialism, until he discovered the law of unequal development, and Stalin encouraged Mao to support a bourgeois state in China. Ho Chi Minh and Castro both initially hoped to follow a liberal model. Stalinism is often used as a term of abuse, but strictly speaking it was the ideology of Stalin - the last Stalinist state was Albania. It's pretty apparent that the method of governance of Khrushcev marked a break with Stalin. TFD (talk) 21:33, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, what Marxism says is that the communists should support the liberal/bourgeois revolution and the advance of capitalism, which is a progress in comparison to the previous stage as understood by historical materialism. There are two things which can be referred with by Stalinism: a) Marxism-Leninism; a political ideology created and entirely developed by Stalin which formed the basis for all the so-called "socialist states" of the 20th century, and entailed many details of organization. b) Stalin's style of governance: political repression, gulags, show trials, i.e. not part of a political ideology. Stalinism (Marxism-Leninism) is a scientific definition of a political ideology; Stalinism the "style of governance" is not. According to "anti-revisionist Stalinists", Stalinism ended in the Soviet Union in 1953, whereas according to regular Stalinists, Stalinism ended in the Soviet Union in 1991. Kruschev marked a break with Stalinism the style of governance, but not Stalinism the ideology. i.e. society was liberalized, maybe there was more freedom, but the political ideology, social and economic system, organization model of the state is unchanged. Zozs (talk) 21:44, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Can you provide sources for these "regular Stalinists" who claimed to be Stalinists and how they distinguish Stalinist ideology from Stalinist "style of governanace?" TFD (talk) 22:05, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
By "regular Stalinists" I mean the ones who describe themselves as Marxist-Leninists, and by "anti-revisionist Stalinists" I mean the ones who describe themselves as "anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists" (such as Hoxha and Mao). What I mean is that in a general context Stalinism refers to Stalin's style of governance - political repression, specific policies, etc. - whereas, in a Marxist context, Stalinism refers to Marxism-Leninism; the political ideology he created. Marxists distinguish Stalinism the style of governance from Stalinism the ideology, Marxist-Leninists do but call it "Marxism-Leninism" rather than Stalinism (which, according to Marxists, ought to be its actual names), and anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists do not. Zozs (talk) 22:10, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I can't believe I'm supposed to take this seriously. I don't know why we are supposed to pretend that because several sources use the word "Marxist-Leninist state" to describe the USSR that therefore this is an acceptable label to use to summarize the USSR in the lead sentence. This is written as though by sectarian ideologues who are pushing an extremely political agenda through this article rather than an open academic analysis. This talk section that I opened up has devolved into talking about Stalinism and anti-revionism. Seriously???? I still assert that the changes I proposed ought to be put into the lead instead of the current unencyclopedic and utterly terrible writing that the article's intro presently contains.

Your response is also quite terrible. First of all, if you're trying to convince me that it is academically agreed upon that the USSR can concisely be labeled as a Marxist-Leninist state, it might surprise you that I'm not that stupid. It doesn't matter how many articles you may find which label it as such, it does not mean that this is a concise label that is agreed upon among historians. Also, to say that a Marxist-Leninist state means one kind of state is fundamentally absurd and bafflingly ignorant. Are you trying to tell me that the German Democratic Republic, USSR, and People's Republic of China are all an identical form of state? Also, if the constitution of the USSR does not describe the state as being Marxist-Leninist, then it cannot be labelled as being Marxist-Leninist without such a label being noted that it is a secondary speculation. The USSR was a state, the CPSU was Marxist-Leninist constitutionally, and the two are separate and distinct. "Marxist-Leninist state" is not a proper label and should not be used on Wikipedia.--Mundopopular (talk) 08:19, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't know why we are supposed to pretend that because several sources use the word "Marxist-Leninist state" to describe the USSR that therefore this is an acceptable label to use to summarize the USSR in the lead sentence.
Wikipedia is based on reliable sources.
instead of the current unencyclopedic and utterly terrible writing
So writing based on reliable sources is unencyclopedic, but the opposite is not?
it does not mean that this is a concise label that is agreed upon among historians.
Actually, it does. Wikipedia is written based on reliable sources.
Are you trying to tell me that the German Democratic Republic, USSR, and People's Republic of China are all an identical form of state?
All these states had a model of state and specific policies in common; that form of organization is what is known as "Marxist-Leninist state".
Also, if the constitution of the USSR does not describe the state as being Marxist-Leninist, then it cannot be labelled as being Marxist-Leninist without such a label being noted that it is a secondary speculation.
Defining a state by what its own constitution says is making use of a primary source; here on Wikipedia we don't go by what someone or something says of itself, but on what reliable sources say about it.
The USSR was a state, the CPSU was Marxist-Leninist constitutionally, and the two are separate and distinct.
Correct. The USSR was also a Marxist-Leninist state according to reliable sources. Zozs (talk) 01:15, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
None of this addresses what I actually have said, merely quoting me then inserting a passive response. The fact remains that the USSR was 'not' a Marxist-Leninist state for the entirety of its history, nor does the term itself have a concise definition. And please don't try to say again "but there are several links I can provide which call it that". Yeah, I don't care, that doesn't change the fact that this is a lousy way to describe the USSR. The CPSU was a Marxist-Leninist party for most of its history, the USSR was never a self-described Marxist-Leninist state. Nowhere in the constitution of the union or in any union law is the union defined as being "Marxist-Leninist", fundamentally because it the state does not have its own ideology. It was governed by a party which did have its own ideology, which anyone with an education in the Soviet Union can tell you that the Communist Party was the governing force of the state which did so using Marxism-Leninism -- the 'state' did not use Marxism-Leninism. This doesn't make any sense from an academic standpoint nor is it suitable for an encyclopedia. --Mundopopular (talk) 04:47, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, but Wikipedia is based on writing on reliable sources - so yes, it does matter that sources say it, even if you don't care. Again, it is irrelevant what any individual or entity says about itself - Wikipedia is based on reliable sources, what sources say about it. The Soviet Union was a Marxist-Leninist state for almost the full time it existed. "Marxist-Leninist state" describes the form of state organization, not party ideology. Zozs (talk) 01:59, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 14 August 2014[edit]

I would like to add more languages.

Никола́й Вави́лов (talk) 15:18, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: as your request is unclear - where would you like to add "more languages" and why?
If you want to suggest a change, please request this in the form "Please replace XXX with YYY" or "Please add ZZZ between PPP and QQQ".
Please also cite reliable sources to back up your request, without which no information should be added to any article. - Arjayay (talk) 15:57, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Successor States[edit]

I think the list of successor states in the infobox needs to be reordered. Russia, as the continuer state, should be listed first, followed by the others in order of size or other importance. This is how it is done on the pages of almost all other former states. For example, look at Ottoman Empire.

  1. ^ Bridget O'Laughlin (1975) Marxist Approaches in Anthropology Annual Review of Anthropology Vol. 4: pp. 341–70 (October 1975) doi:10.1146/annurev.an.04.100175.002013.
    William Roseberry (1997) Marx and Anthropology Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 26: pp. 25–46 (October 1997) doi:10.1146/annurev.anthro.26.1.25