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The UKTV History channel – underestimating Ronald Reagan and his rocket men

Yesterday evening I was channel hopping by way of relaxation and chanced upon a UKTV History programme about the Cold War, and in particular about the doings and sayings of the rocket scientists. (Here is the UKTV History home page, but I can find no internet reference to this particular programme.)

The programme seemed fairly good, on the whole, but towards the end of it there was one glaring – not to say outrageous – non sequitur. We had reached the Star Wars phase of the story. US and Soviet rocketeers had been shadow boxing for a couple of decades, and the Americans, in the person of President Ronald Reagan, decided that the time was now right to put and end to this thing. Rockets are particularly vulnerable just when they are taking off and just after they have taken off. They are then highly visible, because this is when they make their greatest commotion (until they strike!), getting themselves up to speed and up into the sky. So, said the Americans, let us zap them at this point, with laser beams and such like.

The bewilderment of the Soviet strategists and scientists was described vividly, with quotes and interviews with their rocket men, military and scientific. We simply did not know what to do, they said. They needed a national effort, in which the entire resources of the Soviet economy were brought to bear on the problem, the way they had mobilised their entire economy to get them seriously into the rocket race back in the fifties and sixties, first scaring the Americans into building the Minuteman rocket (much quicker to launch and much more accurate than their previous efforts) and then matching the Minuteman with their own version (the Minuteman’s plans presumably having been stolen by them, although that was not discussed at all). Well, now they needed to counter Star Wars with their own version.

Trouble was, they simply could not. This was an arms race they just did not have the resources to win.

And at this point in the story, the programme announced that ‘politics’ then took over. We will never know, they said, if Star Wars would have worked, or if it would have done any good, because, thanks to ‘politics’, the USSR retired gracefully from the field and the Cold War ended, seemingly of its own accord.

I could scarcely believe what I was hearing, or rather, what I was not hearing.

At no point was it even discussed whether the fact that they were going to lose the next phase of the Cold War, had it continued, and that they knew that they were going to lose it, had it continued, had any bearing whatsoever on the decision of the USSR’s leaders to quit the entire contest. No, there was no connection. A connection was not even denied. It was simply ignored. Rockets is rockets and politics is politics, and they have no connection with each other. Rockets (bad) kept the Cold War going. Politics (good – and in the form of an ‘internal’ Soviet collapse/decision-to-quit that had nothing to do with the external pressures the Soviet system was being subjected to by its adversary) ended the Cold War.

Yet the evidence that there was a very close connection between Star Wars and the Soviet collapse had all been assembled by this same programme. The evidence that what the programme then said about Star Wars was a fatuous lie had all been presented to us, just before the lie itself was presented.

If the Soviet rocket scientists had been queueing up to say; “We were winning! We were stabbed in the back by our damned politicians!”, well, that might have counted for something. But they did not say that. They said: “We were losing! We had lost! It was all over!”

This was bias of a very particular sort. It was not cunning, seriously duplicitous, well crafted bias, with any evidence that might undermine the lie being told being quietly suppressed. No, this was extremely public wrong-headedness bias, barefaced, public stupidity bias. Had they hung a big sign on the show saying: “this is totally biased”, it could not have been more obvious or more risible.

What, if anything, were they thinking?

My guess is that the people who made this programme were so completely eaten up with the notion that Ronald Reagan was a buffoon of no significance to anything whatever, who was by his very nature – Republican, B movie actor, rabid anti-communist, etc. – incapable of doing anything even vaguely smart or well-timed or well-executed, let alone anything as portentous as, you know, Winning the Cold War – that they just were unable to consider the possibility that he did just this, and on purpose and that Star Wars was all part of it.

And I further believe that the UK History people believed similar things of the American rocket scientists, the men whom Reagan unleashed – along with many other highly competent Cold Warriors in all kinds of other places and with all kinds of other skills. Oh sure, these guys knew how to lob bits of metal and explosive hither and thither, and to fake up pretty laser beam videos. But when it came to actually thinking through what the larger consequences of their gizmos might be for anything or for anyone, well, that was obviously beyond their one-dimensional brains to grasp and is a job for people such as those who work at the UK History channel. We get the wider picture. They do not.

But rocket science? Is that not supposed to be rather difficult? Do you not have to be rather clever to do this?

They did an interview with Jerry Pournelle, for heaven’s sakes. Is he just some dumb fuck rocket guy with no grasp of the wider picture? The pronouncements of Edward Teller, both as an old many being interviewed, and as a younger man arguing his corner when in the thick of the action, were prominently featured. Did he give no thought to the wider picture? Well yes, but the thoughts of a man like that are so obviously wrong that they were obviously wrong. I guess.

Idiots.

As I believe Ronald Reagan himself said: It is astonishing what you can accomplish if you do not mind who gets the credit.

21 comments to The UKTV History channel – underestimating Ronald Reagan and his rocket men

  • The liberal mindset tends to run that politics only influences, and is influenced by, the rest of the world in manners that their oh-so-enlightened plans shall allow. It goes without saying that the Soviets could have matched the US’s commitment to a Star Wars program if only they had the political will to do so. Never mind that the Soviets would never have been able to concentrate the resources necessary to accomplish the task and still maintain their sham of an economy.

    It is much the same as how equal protection laws will only prevent employers from firing people of the protected classes and not create a fear that clever people of the protected class will use them as a means of retribution against the employer should they be fired for cause. It is also similar to the conceit that money taken in taxes could not possibly have been used for some good (and in most cases better) purpose than what the wise ones see as needful.

  • I’ve seen some of these on the UK History channel but not the one you talk about. It’s CNN production of about five years back and here is the series’ website. It would appear you are not the first to complain.

    Earlier this year, CNN broadcast a twenty-four-hour television documentary on the Cold War, supplementing the documentary by publishing a companion book. The series created a furor. Critics charged that the series was inaccurate and—to use a phrase from the Cold War itself—soft on communism.

  • Gamer

    No. You are missing the point, which is weirder than you are saying. The programme explicitly stated that the Soviets did NOT have the resources to match the US Star Wars effort, because of their useless economy, and because they were already spending all they could on “defence”. In other words, the point you accuse them of refusing to concede, they DID concede. Yet despite having conceded this, they THEN asserted that “politics” then asserted itself, unaffected by any considerations involving Rockets, Star Wars etc.

    They flatly contradicted themselves, in other words.

    Based only on the facts which they themselves related, it was obvious that they were talking nonsense.

  • Brian,

    Point taken. I am always willing to concede that things are weirder than they seem.

  • Jacob

    Sorry Brian, the phrase “Reagan brought down Communism” is not true. It’s too simplistic, it doesn’t go to the heart of the matter. That’s not what happened.

    I greatly admire Reagan, he was somewhat of an intellectual, with a deep understanding of the philosophy of liberty (unlike GWB), and a great communicator. The weaker side of him was the excecutive side i.e. – his concrete accomlishments in reducing government were meager, though the promotion of the philosophy of liberty was a major achievement.

    The Soviet empire fell for the reason Reagan himself stated in his famous and prophetical speach about the Evil Empire: because it could not feed it’s inhabitants. It is not a matter whether they could or could not match the “star wars” innitiative. They could survive perfectly well without star wars weaponry. The US was not going to invade them or nuke them. The Soviet Union did not crumble under military pressure.

    The Soviet Union was doomed not by military threat, it was doomed by it’s consistent inability to generate prosperity and well-being for it’s population. Many pretexts were used in the past to explain these failures: communism is too young, it takes time, the Kulaks are sabotajing, the Nazis invasion, etc. Then they ran out of pretextes, but kept the regime going anyway by brute force. The empire crumbled when a weak emperor (Gorbachov) ascended, and he thought he could relax a little that grip and make communism a little more humane. It all fell down on him unexpectedly, like a castle of cards.

    Reagan contributed greatly to the downfall of communism, but his main contribution was philosophical – by promoting and popularizing the ideas of freedom, and discrediting socialism.

    Did Reagan’s military build up bring down communism?
    I don’t think so. Did the Soviet experts admit they had no answer to the star wars ? So what ? Were they in imminent danger of being subject to an Iraqi style regime change by the US ? No. Definitely not. China didn’t crumble just because they have no “star wars” weaponry.

  • I agree with the original premise, that the major factor was Regans weapons buildup. Certainly a number of high ranking Russians have said that Reagan’s buildup was the final straw. After all, one of the reasons for their economic failure in the consumer sector was that they were putting the best of their managerial talent and resources into making weapons. Now of course the total pie was small because of the Communist economy, but the weapons competition was taking up a huge amount (as much as 50%). Reagan’s buildup was directly responsible for that.

    As far as the Soviets were concerned, they had to match us on weaponry. They were inherently paranoid. Reagan’s little joke, with the mike open, about the bombing starting in five minutes scared them so much that the KGB opened a major operation to see if he really was planning a pre-emptive attack. For quite a while the KGB official estimate was that the US was building up for a first strike on Russia! With that sort of thinking, Star Wars and the Pershing missile deployment were terrifying and had to be countered. Furthermore, the USSR was bogged down in Afghanistan (thanks again to Reagan) and were producing their own “Vietnam Syndrome” as more and more survivors came back from that war and spread the word about what an MCF it was and how the people were being lied to. And of course Afghanistan was hardly cheap.

    Gorby (Russia’s Carter) opened Pandora’s box in order to increase the size of the economy so they could compete in the military sphere. Reducing the level of totalitarianism was necessary to do that, and ultimately that is what brought things down.

    It is also true that Reagans “Evil Empire” characterizations deeply shocked many in the Soviet elite. There were a number of folks in their foreign policy establishment who believed thata they morally good, and Reagan pulled the rug out from other them with his direct attacks on the morality of their cause.

    During the Soviet era, my father, a scientist, went there several times. A lot of the folks there were really brainwashed. Once a group of eminent scientists visited him in Kansas (the fun game in a situation like this was figuring out who was the KGB minder – usually not possible), and they thought they were being shown a Potemkin Village (Lawrence, KS, the home of Kansas University). Finally my folks told them that the Soviets should give the driving directions and they would go wherever they wanted. At the end, I think a lot of them still thought it was a Potemkin Village, just a bigger one than they expected!

    One only has to look at North Korea to realize that not being able to feed all the people is no problem for a totalitarian state – the solution is fewer people, something the Norks have done quite ruthlessly.

  • Jacob

    John mOORE,
    “There were a number of folks in their foreign policy establishment who believed that they morally good…”

    Sorry, that’s not true.
    Everybody who lived in the USSR, and I mean EVERYBODY, was fully aware of the utterly corrupt, brutal, lying, vicious, evil nature of the Soviet regime. Only useful fools in Western intellectual circles were unaware of this, because they refused to believe. You could’t live in the USSR and be unaware.
    Those scientists that your father met were not brainwashed, that is – brainwashing was applied to them, but it didn’t control them. But your father could not know what they really thought. No Soviet subject in his right mind would talk freely to foreigners (or to any casual aquaintance). They knew the true nature of their regime much better than they father, but would keep their thoughts to themselves, and parrot the party line in conversation with strangers.

    Why were they amazed at the American “Potemkin village” ? Because the contrast to their surroundings in the USSR was indeed too great, and while they had no illusions about the nature of their own regime, they had little knowledge of the West, and little reason to believe it could really be that different from what they knew at home.

    “figuring out who was the KGB minder …”
    No wonder you could’t find out – they all were, ALL. Nobody who wasn’t a fully trusted by the KGB was ever allowed to travel abroad.

    “One only has to look at North Korea to realize that not being able to feed all the people is no problem for a totalitarian state …”
    Correct, until they get Gorby.
    “Gorby (Russia’s Carter) ” – wonderful characterization!

  • Jacob

    John Moore,
    You claim that since the Soviets felt seriously threatened by the Reagan military build-up, and since they could not respond, they decided to capitualte instead, and adopt capitalism ?

    I don’t think so. I think that Gorby, not being a Kim type lunatic, really desired to give communism – in which he believed – a face lift, and a little modernization and improvement. That was the motivation of Glasnost, and not fear of a US military action.

  • Mike

    Isn’t UKTV part owned by the BBC?

  • Sean

    Great post. But further to Brian’s point the seeds of the end of the Cold War actually go back to the most effective Defence Project in history-the Appollo Moon landings.

    Consider the situation from the Soviet viewpoint. In 1960 the Soviets are putting people into orbit, whilst the US rockets are blowing up on the launchpad. Even the Soviets believe they are winning the critical Space Race, and are about to take unassailable lead in the Arms Race. Then a US President announces that within a decade the US will put men on the moon, and bring them back.

    And they do it.

    What’s more they do it whilst increasing military expenditure, whilst becoming involved in Vietnam, whilst still increasing the size of their economy- and while spending more on pizza every year than they spent on their space programme.

    And the Soviet efforts are, er, blowing up on the launchpad.

    The Appollo landings left an indelible mark on the Soviet top brass. At the start of the decade they honestly believed, along with Krushev, that communism would bury capitalism. By the end, whatever anyone else thought, they knew it wouldn’t. So the rest of the CW was fought with the Soviets forgoing butter to buy guns, and bluffing heavily to keep themselves in the game.

    And then along comes Reagan. Who coldly, calculatingly, and with malice aforethought, ramps US Conventional Defence spending through the roof. And he announces Star Wars, which in a few years threatens to make the Soviets last card, the nuclear threat, obsolete. And the point, the crucial point, is the Soviets believed him. Because they remembered that when the US put their minds to it, they do it- as per the Apollo Landings. (The story of the Manhattan Project forces a similar conclusion).
    And pace Jacob, in a Soviet economy built upon an expansionist ideology, when you can concentrate everything on either guns or butter, and either way you can’t keep up- well, as that great American icon Bugs Bunny used to say, “That’s all Folks!”.

  • Scott

    Ahem, wasn’t it Porky Pig that said “That’s all folks”?

  • Andy Duncan

    Hi Brian,

    Your article implies the phrase:

    Ronald Reagan Won the Cold War

    I agree with Jacob that this is a mistake. The phrase should be:

    Ron ‘The Gipper’ Reagan, Won the Cold War

    Ronald Reagan. Top fella, and far more intelligent than most people ever gave him credit for. Who, for instance, said this:

    We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.

    Was is Hayek, in the ‘Constitution of Liberty’? Was it Von Mises, in ‘Socialism’, when he worked out in the 1920s that full-blooded socialism always fails because of the problem of economic calculation? Was it even Uncle Murray Rothbard in ‘Man, Economy, and State’? Nope, just plain ol’ folksy ol’ Ron.

    Here’s my favourite Reagan quip:

    The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.

    Oh to be so let down by the Bush family.

    There are some other great Reagan quotes, here:

    http://www.presidentreagan.info/speeches/quotes.cfm

    Some of these quotes make me wonder whether in the 1970s somebody thought up a plot line for a movie along the lines, ‘What if a rampant, though secret, wild-eyed Libertarian were to become President, I wonder what would happen?’

    Ronald Reagan obviously got hold of the first draft, via his Hollywood connections, squashed the movie production, and then made the film plot come true, by winning the Cold War, perhaps, and I’ll admit it if pushed, helped by the iron will of Margaret Thatcher alongside him. What a pair. Will we ever see their like again?

  • mathgeek

    UKTV History programme about the Cold War

    FYI: This CNN series is also being run on Channel Five (UK) in the early hours of Sunday morning. VietNam yesterday.

  • Ann

    I’ve been reading Kenneth Timmerman’s book “The French Betrayal of America”. In chapter four he details an intelligence partnership between the French and the Americans during the Mitterrand/Reagan era.

    The French had a very highly placed mole in the Soviet government and they shared his intel with the US. What the mole made clear was that the Soviets had been able to keep up with the US in the arms race in large part because they had stolen so many designs and technical information through espionage. It is possible that the Soviet Union had never had the actual resources to compete with the US in research and development of weapon systems, but they were able to match us by piggy-backing on stolen American secrets.

    With the French supplied info about the Soviet spying in hand, the US was able to shut down this conduit at the same time that we were launching the SDI.

    Thus, for the first time in the history of the Cold War, the Soviets were faced with a situation in which they could not steal their way to parity. That’s why they were so scared of SDI and why they tried so hard to get Reagan to abandon it. It is also a big reason why Reagan stuck with it–he knew he had shut down the Soviet spy network, and that they would be unable to keep up.

    That’s Timmerman’s take, anyway.

  • Wayne Kerr

    Had a conversation along these lines at a party recently. I was the only non-left-wing-hipster in attendance, and drunkenly spoke up when someone started in on Reagan. “What an idiot, all he did was end the Soviet Union and free millions of people people from slavery”, i said.

    The response was “Yeah, but did he know he was doing it?”

    What can you say to that?

  • Paul P

    One wonders who some of the owners of UK TV are.

    (Link)

  • Steve Witham

    “They did an interview with Jerry Pournelle, for heaven’s sakes. Is he just some dumb fuck rocket guy with no grasp of the wider picture?”

    Um. Pournelle is a science fiction and technology writer. He thought up the SDI idea and convinced Reagan of it. As I understand it, Pournelle wrote the speech that Reagan read when he announced the program.

  • E K

    Hello everyone,

    I’ve come across your postings by accident and having read some of them, feel obliged to contribute.

    I was born and grown up in the USSR, so I was very close to all events you are discussing.

    First and foremost, please understand one thing: today all ordinary people in the former USSR (and that includes Baltic states) would give anything to restore their Union and lifestyle they took for granted.

    As absurd as it may sound to you (because you are being subjected to anti-Soviet propaganda — i.e. “brainwashed” — even today when USSR is long gone) virtually in every corner of the country when people mention Soviet years everyone says “we lived like in a fairy tale and we never knew it.”

    Gorbachev is a pariah in Russia and probably one of the most hated personalities today.

    I would strongly recommend you all to read his memoirs published in English, which would answer most questions you have discussed, e.g. star wars. When Reagan has proposed to create this program Gorbachev had demonstrated to him the Soviet counter-paln proving that Soviet star shield will be built much faster and a great deal cheaper than that of US and that Soviet shield unlike that of the US would actually work ;) (I bet most of you have conveniently forgotten numerous failures of this technology which made it so controversial in the US), the details you may all read by yourselves.

    As far as the “space race” is concerned, try to understand that USSR never competed with US. It was a race only for US and they still didn’t win anything. The Soviet space exploration program was part and parcel of earlier “sci-fi” idealised vision of what socialism would achieve before transforming into communism, i.e. the highest form of societal evolution. The vision was started in early 20s when Russia was completely devastated and Lenin was planning to industrialise and “electrify” this vast entirely “backward” agrarian country. His vision was so shocking that the visiting celebrity (Herbert Wells – classic sci-fi writer who wrote War of the Worlds) joked with Lenin that he finally met a man whose fantasies even exceeded his own and swore that if “electrification” program would succeed he’ll become a commy, which he — true to his word — did.

    Americans did not have this vision, let alone space program. Why would they? If it doesn’t pay why have it? But suddenly when the first sputnik started orbiting the world, the US leaders realised the incredible PR value of the program. Being late “to start a race” they decided to jump in no matter what. American intelligence data suggested that for many years Soviets were preparing Moon landing and Americans have decided to try and beat them to it, rushing forward an untested program which to everyone’s amazement worked. USSR was aware of the reason which inspired American space program and refused to give in, cancelling their well prepared manned launch to the Moon because all they were going to test was whether or not it was possible to do it at all. Americans showed it was and that was it.

    Even today US is unable to build their own space station and have to buy material for space suits from Russia. Their only station has crashed in Australia years ago and that was the end of that space program. Reason being technological gap which no amount of playing golf on the Moon can solve.

    Finally, to those of you who really believe that disintegration of the USSR was a “democratic” process, let me tell you that when Yeltsin and his clique came to power they have attempted to legitimise their criminal actions by running a referendum across all former Soviet republics on whether or not they should dissolve the Union. Well, what do you know, they lost uniformly across all the republics where over 75% of the people voted for keeping the country together. Yet the results of the referendum were ignored and I have never ever heard about it in the Western media. Figures, huh?

    Well, I guess I can go on forever but why bother. Let me just end this by explaining to you who started the myth the USSR could not feed itself. Yes, you guessed it. Gorbachev! He demonstrated it by saying that USSR used to buy so much grain abroad (it was mainly bought from US). LOL

    Well, but apparently even though USSR didn’t have enough grain the country had the money to buy it. Of course, Gorby’s myth was necessary to justify his “reforms” — i.e. systematic attempts to wreck economy — which started from introduction of “dry laws” and culminated in shortage of an amazing range of products: toilet paper, soaps&shampoos, tea, sugar, alcohol. Let’s all laugh together.

    Disintegration of the USSR led to millions of deaths of the Soviet citizens and started the age of terror which you enjoy today when your treasured liberties go out of the window, Westerners like to forget just how many concessions to their social and political rights were given to them by their leaders on the account of forestalling commy revolution.

  • E K, this is one of the most bizarre comments I have ever seen. The Soviet Union was a barbaric nightmare and all the people I have met in the Baltic States feel pure and utter hatred for the USSR (and most are generally none too keen on Russia for that matter either).

    Perhaps you need to educate yourself about the realities of communism and not the fantasies you hold out to be true.

  • E K

    Perry de Havilland, I know very well how “bizarre” my comment may seem to you. That’s what propaganda does to people like you. You see, contrary to what you may assume, I’m not ethnic Russian and not even a communist. I come from people who were first displaced by Stalin in 1943 as an enemy of all Soviet people whilst my grandfather was declared public enemy and sentenced to GULAG for 25 years. You cannot begin to image what kind of stigma attached to such family background. You may also be surprised to learn that even Gorbachev’s father was arrested and tortured being virtually boiled alive. I know the realities of STALINISM (try to grasp the difference with communism and socialism) far better than you or some bunch of snobs like you who happen to use human misery for commercial opportunism just like the authors of the book to which you have referred.

    Totalitarian dictatorship which existed under Stalin was a great crime against Soviet people and who do you think told this to the world? Are you thinking of war criminal Truman? Not at all, it was that annoying loud-mouthed peasant who took international center stage by storm: Premiere Khruschev. It was him who denounced Stalin to the world at the Communist party session, exposed his personality cult, stopped his successor Beria from seizing power and disrupted friendly relationship with mainland China because of its Stalinist regime.

    I would very much like to know how does this revelation fit into your little world. Try to grasp that peace, security and stability matter to people a great deal more than ideology or politics. Soviet nation-state was a great deal more than one man who died over half a century ago.

    As I said it’s a never ending topic, so I need to draw a line somewhere. Try to grasp the most important thing: socialist model (what you call communism) lost to nationalism (NOT capitalism).

    Finally, concerning “utter hatred” of non-Russians to Russians. Do you understand what nationalism means? Think hard. Think about Chechnya, think about Yugoslavia. Russian nationalism inspires hatred and infects other nations with such ideas. I know it well as I told you already I’m not ethnic Russian, but not all Russians are nationalists, neither are all Chechens, Serbs, Baltic people. In fact, the overwhelming majority of ordinary people are not and they realise all too well what is going on. Soviet state and ideology did not tolerate nationalism that is why it had to be put aside when Russia declared its decision to leave the Union.

  • I would very much like to know how does this revelation fit into your little world.

    It is meaningless. The enemy is all forms of forcibly imposed collectivism and who told who what means nothing.

    Try to grasp that peace, security and stability matter to people a great deal more than ideology or politics. Soviet nation-state was a great deal more than one man who died over half a century ago.

    Ah, the eternal claim of the slavemaster about his slaves: it is all about peace, security and stability. Any system which denies individuals to rights to determine who they sell their own labour to is nothing less and a system based on slavery. E K, you do nothing more than hanker after the simple certainties of a slave based system. Two of our writers were dissident who grew up under communist systems, and I myself watched first hand as Yugoslav communism was brought down at bayonet point (and a good thing it was too). We understand your world view and know your dreams are in fact the stuff of nightmares.

    Do you understand what nationalism means? Think hard.

    Oh I understand nationalism just fine. It is merely another form of collectivism to be opposed, just like socialism. The opposite of nationalism is not socialism, it is cosmopolitanism. I have often said that “turning to socialism for fear of facism is like committing suicide for fear of death”, but the same could be said for socialism and nationalism.

    All systems of government, without exception, can be tyrannical, and the extent to which they are tolerable is the extent to which an individual can live in liberty, pursuing their self directed aspirations. That is what makes the imperfect ways of the western world which are now the norm is most of Europe, so vastly better than the overtly collectivist enforced socialism of days gone by. Adriana, who was a dissident who grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia, expresses why that it here.

    No, the fact that the USA or UK may be repressive in many ways (and we argue against them for that reason constantly as we are social individualists) does not change the fact they are vastly less repressive than any true socialist system, which is repressive by design and based on a philosophy that reduces people to fungible collective assets owned by the state. There is nothing and I do mean nothing, admirable about the old Soviet Union and that is not just because of Stalin.