not too long ago, there was a revolution led by the Maoists in Nepal against the India- and US-backed king. they had near-total popular support, but due to the underdeveloped nature of the country, they didn’t think they could resist imperialism and establish socialism.
if the USSR still existed, Nepal would be socialist today
This sounds fantastic, so long as one makes the grossly unjustified assumption that the USSR would magically deviate from its entire history of imperialism altruistically help the revolutionaries without trying to turn it into a satellite or force them to craft that “socialist” state in it’s own horrendous image and one forgets the fact that the way the USSR functioned helped set back the public perception of socialism in large swaths of the world by decades and help bring about the further degeneration of legitimate class consciousness into a million different reactionary tendencies, and one believes the mere creation of this isolated “soviet” state in Nepal would justify a few more decades of atrocities inflicted upon the Russian population, and those of it’s satellite states, which Nepal would have the lovely privileged of joining.
the USSR didn’t act imperialistically (in the economic exploitation meaning of the word), it intervened when socialist countries were going to become capitalist though. the soviet union was called the affirmative action empire because its trade deals were consistently in favor of the peripheral socialist countries, including Eastern Europe. It behaved hegemonically towards eastern europe and some non-european socialist countries, but it didn’t behave hegemonically towards non-socialist allies.
helping spread socialism has nothing to do with altruism, the spread of socialism helps all socialist countries. the soviet union helped spread socialism because it is in the interest of the producing classes of the soviet union to have more allies.
We really need to critically examine why there was negative public perception towards the Soviet Union. There’s a huge difference between how negative public perception was generated towards socialism in the superexploited peripheral countries and how it was generated in the imperialist core countries.
There’s two main factors, Soviet anti-religion and liberal anti-communism. The anti-religious attitude of the Soviet Union was one of the biggest mistakes it made, it seriously detracted from the effort to spread socialism because people associated socialism with crass materialism. This was most effective in the superexploited peripheral countries, the people here were far more likely to recognize the Soviet Union as a progressive force because of its role in anti-colonialism and the massive amounts of assistance it gave to non-aligned and socialist countries in development.
Liberal anti-communism was most effective in the imperialist core countries, and was greatly assisted by the anti-communist Left who still held onto a lot of liberal ideals, academics like noam chomsky are one example. Liberal anti-communism was so effective because liberal thought and ideology is totally pervasive, and was able to swing many first world communists against the Soviet Union.
Lastly, we have the issue of human rights you brought up. You’re using a liberal definition of human rights here, leftists need to uphold a materialist view of human rights
Human rights discourse today is largely grounded in value judgments, and this has the effect of disguising the class interests behind human rights. Rather than human rights being progressively developed and expanded as a result of enlightenment, discussion, and liberal thought, the idea and implementation of human rights has been embedded in the class relations of the societies. Class, rather than constitutions, are the driving force behind human rights.
I go over the materialist factors in human rights in that post, and I encourage everyone to read it. When we look at the Soviet Union, the human rights record is mainly affected by the intensity of capitalist attack on the Soviet Union, internally and externally. When capitalist pressure loosened up, political advocacy rights were greatly expanded.
Your liberal view of human rights is right in line with anti-communist hysteria. History shows that regardless of state or class structure, political advocacy rights are determined by the security of the ruling class. In the Soviet Union’s case, that was the producing classes, in the United States, it is the bourgeoisie. I don’t think I need to tell anyone following me that the capitalist countries have only respected human rights when it strengthens the state, and human rights magically seem to disappear when movements for radical social change pop up.
All of which would be terribly relevant, if I had brought up human rights, which I hadn’t, but while we’re on the subject, a list of things-you’ve-decided-about-human-rights is not an analysis of human rights, but the line between dogma and theory has always been a difficult one for tankies to grapple with. On the issue of Soviet imperialism, behaving hegemonically and behaving imperialistically are not mutually exclusive, (not that I think either are justified), as can be seen particularly clearly in the case of East Germany, which was ransacked by the USSR, a categorically imperialistic act, among a litany of others. In either case, the justification that it did so “when socialist countries were going to become capitalist,” holds absolutely no water, as can be seen in the case of Hungarian attempts to develop communism at the behest of the population, rather than Stalinist dictates, an attempt which was met with, as you know, tanks, which have of course never been employed in imperialist projects of any sort, right?
As to the degeneration of socialism’s public image, for one extolling the virtue of materialism when it can be used (in a none-to-persuasive and methodologically dubious way) to justify atrocities, I would think you’d see there are far more substantive reasons why the USSR sullied the name of communism than its anti-religious perspective and liberal anti-communism.
Lets take the religion issue, for example, the reason the USSR’s anti-religious perspective was such an affront to the super-exploited was precisely because , in it’s imperialist and non-marxian nature, it did impose exploitative relationships upon those super-exploited people it claimed to liberate, and so by taking away religion, the organ of social protest against that exploitation, the very means by which the material exploitation was transferred too and dealt with on a metaphysical plane, without truly eradicating the exploitation itself, it only served to make awareness of that exploitation more acute while concomitantly removing religion, thus searing into the populace an association of relief -from-exploitaiton with the religion, making its anti-religious position an issue for material reasons it itself created.
We can look at at liberal anti-communism with a similar lens; the soviet union, in a move largely instigated by Stalin and his ilk, distanced itself from giving substantive support to working class movements in the more developed European countries in favor of “socialism in one country,” and turned the 3rd international into little more than a press core to frantically cover up its total material (though they gave it constant lip service) deviation from Marxist methodology, and it is for this reason the USSR found itself in a position by which material forces led it towards exploitaiton and imperialism, it was with the idea of “socialism in one country” that the USSR made its death bed, and it was with “socialism in one country” that the soviet union degenerated into a network of relationships similar enough to the exploitative relationships in the capitalist West that liberal anti-communism could find theoretical justification. “Socialism in one country” cleaved the soviet system from marxist theory and praxis, and it was in this divide the the greasy fingers of system-perpetuating-liberalism could find purchase; the material failure to adhere to marxist methodology was the necessarily precondition for the flourishing of liberal anti-communism.
Everywhere we turn, we see that it is the increasingly deviant and categorically non-Marxist practices of the USSR that opened its system up the ineluctable material forces which bent it towards imperialism and exploitaiton, and to defend the the perverse and ill-conceived theory and praxis that that material situation begat is to relinquish any claim to fidelity towards Marx, or the people his system paved the way towards the redemption of. Is acknowledging that a ” liberal view of human rights is right in line with anti-communist hysteria?,” or is such an accusation put forth merely as the natural and frantic response the undermining of the ridiculous and dangerous idea the ruling class in USSR was anything but the Nomenklatura? Just because something isn’t bourgeoisie doesn’t mean its necessarily working class, the treatment of the population wasn’t founded in the consciousness of the “producing class,” but the owning-and-power-exerting-class, the Nomenklatura, who were created as a direct result of the deviation from Marxism embodied in the theory of “socialism in one country” which annihilated the possibility of working class triumph in those western countries by which the material resources the USSR needed to not become exploitative and imperialistic may have been procured, every deviation after which only exacerbating the degeneration into a hierarchical system around which flourished the conception of human rights which you so reprehensibly are trying to justify as an outgrowth of the will of the “producing class.”