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Ed Hudgins

The 25th Anniversary of the Soviet Union’s Collapse

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The 25th Anniversary of the Soviet Union’s Collapse
By Edward Hudgins

 

December 26, 2016 marks a quarter century since the Supreme Soviet officially dissolved the collapsing wreck known as the Soviet Union. It was one of the worst tyrannies ever inflicted on humans by other humans who had lost their humanity. This communist regime left in its wake tens of millions of dead and hundreds of millions who suffered privation, repression, torture chambers, and Gulags.

 

I traveled there in the regime’s last years as part of Heritage Foundation delegations training those who, with perestroika, were seeking a way to economic growth as well as an open society. The economy in those last years was grim, even compared to what I’d seen there a decade earlier. Instead of stores with a limited selection of poor-quality products for which you had to wait in three different lines to purchases, there were no lines because the shelves were empty. Twenty-five years later Russia still struggles with the legacy of corruption, violence and murder that was inherent in the communist system.

 

What are the lessons on which we should reflect?

 

First, ideas have consequences. The Soviet state did not result simply from a popular uprising against the Czarist authoritarian tyranny. It replaced that tyranny with a totalitarian state, in which every aspect of one’s social, personal and inner life was directed by ruling elites. This tyranny was based on a collectivist philosophy which holds that every individual should be sacrificed to a “collective good.” Never mind that free markets demonstrably are the best way to allow individuals to rise from poverty to prosperity. The communists sought to control, through brainwashing and bullets, the lives of all individuals—with themselves as the ruling red masters. The battle then with communists had to be fought with ideas, and not just in scholarly circles but also in our culture and social institutions, just as the battle against control freak political elites today and, worse, Islamist must be fought.

 

Second, existential evils like he Soviet Union endure in part because of enabling, morally-degenerate dupes. During most of the Soviet Union’s existence, it had apologists in the freer world. Many in Hollywood in the 1930s presented and praised a lying image of a Red Paradise even as Stalin was condemning millions to death by starvation or firing squad. Today we see the same sort of dupes who hate the free West and America more than they fear the Islamists who are making the world a hellhole for Westerners and other Muslims as well.

 

Third, evil ideologies like communism must be countered with a compelling, positive, value-based vision. Example helps. The comparison between East and West Berlin or North and South Korea couldn’t be clearer. Similarly, thousands have risked their lives to escape Communist Cuba, voting with their rafts and rickety boats, oblivious to the degenerate dupes in America who shill for the Castro thugs.

 

But examples are not enough. After all, Communists then and many Islamist murderers today have been lived in the West and seen the opportunities open societies offer if one values life and is dedicated to prosperity through productive individual achievement. Communists, Nazis and Islamists reject those Enlightenment values. Thus, now as then, we must foster the best within us as human beings so that a compelling vision of liberty and prosperity will have compelling impact.

 

As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s demise, let’s not forget the victims of communism. Let’s not forget that even though systems based on mistaken or malicious ideas like the Soviet Union will eventually collapse on their own, they can inflict decades of horror on the world and be followed by something as bad without the right ideas and values. But for this moment, let’s just celebrate that 25 years ago, a terrible tyranny was swept into the dustbin of history!

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2 hours ago, Ed Hudgins said:

 

 

 

 

As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s demise, let’s not forget the victims of communism. Let’s not forget that even though systems based on mistaken or malicious ideas like the Soviet Union will eventually collapse on their own, they can inflict decades of horror on the world and be followed by something as bad without the right ideas and values. But for this moment, let’s just celebrate that 25 years ago, a terrible tyranny was swept into the dustbin of history!

 

 

Goodbye to the late and unlamented Soviet Union.  Good riddance...

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The Soviet Union used to dominate chess. They had more than half of the world's grandmasters. For decades, the world chess championship match was always between 2 Soviet players. The Soviet Union government supported chess. Chess was taught in the schools. The Soviet government used chess as socialist (or communist) propaganda. They said the fact that our chess players are superior proves that socialism is better than capitalism. They said no capitalist country will ever produce a world chess champion. They thought they owned chess.

Then along came Bobby Fischer, of the USA.

Bobby Fischer played chess for himself, unlike the Soviet grandmasters who played for their country. Bobby Fischer had no support from the USA government, unlike the Soviet grandmasters who had support from the USSR government. Bobby Fischer quit school at 16, because all he wanted to do was play chess and he couldn't see what school had to do with chess. He was already USA champion at 14. His mother was worried about him, how he was going to make a living, but he succeeded in making a living on chess. In those days chess was not yet a profession outside of USSR, at least not enough to make a living out of it, but Fischer turned chess into a profession. He demanded -- and got -- what at the time seemed to be outrageous amounts of money.

In the 1971 candidates series, Fischer won 12 games in a row, 6 against Mark Taimanov (one of the strongest in the USSR) and 6 against Bent Larsen (the only player besides Fischer who could give the Soviet players serious competition). At what level is 12 wins in a row against a world class grandmaster? What's above grandmaster?

The next in the candidates series was Tigran Petrosian, the guy that Spassky beat in 1969 for the world title. Petrosian was not impressed by Fischer's winning streak and was confident that he would stop Fischer. Petrosian had a very defensive style and it was said that Petrosian loses 2 games in a row only once in 5 centuries. Petrosian did succeed in snapping Fischer's winning streak and the score was 2.5 - 2.5, but then Fischer picked up another winning streak and won 4 in a row against Petrosian and people were wondering which century they were living in.

At this point there only one player left for Fischer to beat and that was world champion Boris Spassky. The Soviet government took Fischer as a serious threat to Soviet domination of chess. They gave Spassky a 7 month vacation, gave him his own personal psychologist to get his mind in shape, gave him his own personal physical fitness coach to get his body in shape. (Mind and body are linked.) They had Soviet grandmasters analyzing Fischer's games and giving advice to Spassky. The Soviet government did everything they could to help Spassky keep the world chess title in the Soviet Union.

Fischer was by himself. He didn't have help from the government. Fischer said and I quote: "I'm going to teach the Russians some humility."

Long story short, Fischer took the title and broke Soviet domination of chess and they quit using chess as socialist propaganda.

In Open Letter to Boris Spassky, Ayn Rand writes:

Because the rulers of your country have proclaimed this championship match
to be an ideological issue, a contest between Russia and America, I am
rooting for Bobby to win--and so are all of my friends. The reason why this
match has aroused an unprecedented interest in our country is the
longstanding frustration and indignation of the American people at your
country's policy of attacks, provocations, and hooligan insolence--and at
our own government's overtolerant, overcourteous patience. There is a
widespread desire in our country to see Soviet Russia beaten in any way,
shape or form, and--since we are all sick and tired of the global clashes
among the faceless, anonymous masses of collective--the almost medieval
drama of two individual knights fighting the battle of good against evil,
appeals to us symbolically. (But this, of course, is only a symbol; you are
not necessarily the voluntary defender of evil--for all we know, you might
be as much its victim as the rest of the world.)

 

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