Captain Capitalism who is a very intelligent and kind person and who always promotes me on his massively popular blog sent in the following question:
If the Soviet Union was so bad, then why didn’t people flee?
I ask because (in the case of a Vietnamese friend) the North Vietnamese “said” they would allow anybody who wanted to, to leave. Well, that ended up not being true. North Korea people can’t “just leave” but it’s on a peninsula and with mountains so the passes can be guarded.
But the Soviet Union just seems so big and so vast with sparsely populated areas, I can’t see how the government could effectively stop somebody who was determined from fleeing.
Additionally, couldn’t you, say, fly to Finland, then to the UK and then declare you were defecting?
I know this sounds stupid, but I would love to post your answer on my blog because it would be of interest to my readers.
The question doesn’t sound in the least stupid to me. The Soviet reality is so different from anything people have experienced or can imagine in other countries that it is, indeed, very difficult to comprehend it.
Leaving the USSR was next to impossible. People who applied for visas (mostly the Jews who had relatives outside of the country) were persecuted, sometimes imprisoned, and sometimes placed in psychiatric wards. The idea behind this was that anybody who wanted to leave the Soviet paradise had to, of necessity, be insane. Such people would be put on massive amounts of powerful psychotropic drugs with the goal of “curing” them of their desire to emigrate.
The only people who could leave the country for a short visit overseas were the ones who were considered “reliable” by the regime. You had to be an artist going on a tour or a very famous scientist traveling to a conference with a group of other Soviet people, many of whom were KGB informants and were following your every move. Of course, if you were a Jew, you wouldn’t be able to travel at all because Jews were considered unreliable by default.
All of this vigilance didn’t always work and some of the artists or scientists did end up asking for refuge in the countries they visited. This meant that they would never see their families again and could not even hope to get in touch with their relatives back in the USSR. People were never allowed to travel with their families, and who could face losing everybody you know and love for good? Single people were not allowed to travel precisely for this reason. If you wanted to work as a diplomat, for example, you had to get married because only then could the government keep your wife and children as hostages whenever it liked to do so.
In Captain Capitalism’s reality, people can just get on a plane and fly to Finland. This is a great, beautiful reality, and I really love it that there are people in the world who think in these terms. A Soviet person, however, could not have imagined such a possibility. Even traveling by train from one city to another in the USSR was very problematic. You needed to be prepared to show paperwork explaining why you needed to travel just to buy a ticket. Getting on a train or a plane to travel within the country was extraordinarily difficult. And when I imagine a poor Soviet citizen approaching the ticket counter at a Soviet airport and asking for a ticket to Finland (Bulgaria, Poland, etc.), I feel bad for that hypothetical Soviet traveler already. This person would have ended up at the police station and then the psychiatric hospital within minutes.
Gosh, folks, you couldn’t even make a phone call to another country. Talking to a foreign tourist in the street would put you in jail. We were completely isolated from the world because the Soviet government knew that the only way to keep people from running away in droves was to lock them down.
It’s true that Siberia is vast and sparsely populated. Obviously, nobody could guard the entire expanse of the border perfectly. However, you have to possess very special training to survive the climatic conditions. Besides, you need to know where exactly to go to have a chance to cross the border. Remember that one thing that you could never ever hope to purchase in the USSR was a map. Of anything. All maps were top secret. Also, a person who tried fleeing the country in that way – even if s/he were successful – was destroying the lives of every family member for generations to come as a result of the flight. How many people can face something like this?
I hate the Soviet Union.
263 thoughts on ““If the Soviet Union was so bad, then why didn’t people flee?””
I’m not writing a book, I’m talking on a forum. Thank you for your critique of my shitty writing though, it always helps to be reminded of that. I’m ok with being shitty at some things, but to be honest I’ve seen much, much worse writing.
I’m sorry, were we actually discussing my post, and did you wan’t me to put forward the easily available statistics or factual information pointing to the prosperity of the Soviet Union?
Excuse me for not doing that – I didn’t know we were discussing my original post because every comment you have made since has stated you essentially wouldn’t debate the topic with me because I didn’t live in the Soviet Union – So to you my opinion was invalid.
Clearly, I should have used my telepathic skills to read your thoughts through the internet, and correctly assumed that you in fact were interested.
“I’m ok with being shitty at some things, but to be honest I’ve seen much, much worse writing.”
– Me, too. 🙂
“did you wan’t me to put forward the easily available statistics or factual information pointing to the prosperity of the Soviet Union”
– You are funny. 🙂 You are seriously offering Soviet “statistics” as an argument? 🙂 🙂
Soviet statistics are best statistics.
“Soviet statistics are best statistics.”
– You are funny. Do you do stand-up comedy?
I have a good sense of humor, what can I say.
I am from former Baltic block of USSR, from a part called ENSV(Eesti Nõukogude Sotsialistlik Vabariik/ E CCR. ( i was born in 96, 2 years after Soviet(what was left from them) soliders left from our country territory). People who lived in North Estonia, had possibilities to watch Finnish tv ( knight rider, Dallas were favorite shows among Estonian people) by using longer antennas and special home made Finnish tv blocks(small electronic transreciver blocks installed into tvs) (schemes for those were gotten from Finnish tourists carring them in shoes, smoke cartriges etc…)(whitout using those blocks you could only see pictures,but no voice(or otherway if i dont remember it right) whit using them until 1975-80. (During some period of it soviet officals went on the roofs of Flats/civilian houses(if possible) and cut those antennas off whit iron saws. After that a estonian inventor invented special tv antenna, to make it you had to have a classical thermometer (what worked whit Mercury) and a metal wire. you removed mercury part of the thermometer and put a metal wire into its place(its suposedly a legend, but there are alot of stories about it.,and a video of how to make it..). There was a limit on how long you could stay out-doors and if i remember right you could be on the beach until 6-8 PM, after that you were forced to leave and a tractor came whit a wide rake, making lines on the beach. (to avoid people sneaking into the sea to try to escape from USSR.also beach quard was patrolling.) You could get once a week a “gift” from local goverment facility, consisting of Conserved foods(one or two of them), vieners/sausages, mandarins and bananas. However nothing was really on sale in “supermarkets” or any other shop, like children were able to get A sweet once a week(what my mother has told me about when she was a little girl) since they were not common in shop shelves. People in my area were not teached how to swim (my grand-grand mother (born in 1930’s) ((soviets invaded us same day when nazis invaded france 1941,we were forced to sign a treaty to allow them to set 15000 soliders and temporary bases here), even when we were signed us as NEUTRAL during WW II, first victim of it was Civilian passenger transport plane called KALEVA, a finnish operated one it had 7 passengers consisting of civilians and couple diplomats(1 american and 2 france). on board- IT WAS literally a war crime…)) who i live whit has told me stories about soviet time, and she is unable to swim, because of lack of water areas where i live(closest one is more than 2 km away and her parents didnt had time aside from job to take her to swimming. and swimming was not teached in school atleast until 80’s(if i know right) Also people were allowed to buy a basic car if their workplace gave them permit to buy one! for years of hard work, and goverment sponsored lottery rewards were ussually washing machines,or fruits. and some crappy cars(ussually)(And people didnt belived them that they WERE EVEN as lottery prices,since they knew no one who got one from lotteris), and i am not talking about even getting a plane and flying to Helsinki…. when those soliders came here, they were told that everything what is on sale in our shops, were either fake or people couldnt buy them. same happened during 1980’s whit finnish tv channel food commercials… my info is not 100% accurate, but i try to keep it as close as i can. if you have any questions send me email. Also couple tv serials what i reccomend you to watch (sadly all are estonian are “ENSV “and “Disko ja Tuumasõda” both are recreations of soviet life. i know also a historical documentals,but i cant seem to remember its name… Most of what i writed was what i learned during my history classes (5 years). from stone age until soviet age.
Thank you, great comment!
Thank you for positive feedback, i have alot more stories to tell(short ones). Like putting people on siberia trains, prison order (my grand-grandfathers-relative was in prison (Patarei Vangla- google it!. I have visited it couple years ago. its literally nightmare version of the American one on island near golden gate…. Alcatraz or something(dont remember the name much right now) (NON of my info is from sources like wikipedia or any other “free to edit” ones, but from my grand-grandmother stories or what i have learned from my history books/history teacher has told.
“Like putting people on siberia trains, prison order (my grand-grandfathers-relative was in prison (Patarei Vangla- google it!. ”
– A horrible, horrible tragedy.
I mean, unlike in west, to get a free ticket to prison you literally had only say something wrong in the public to get a one way ticket there…, like even listening to “capitalism radio, like “Ameerika hääl”/ “America Voice” (Estonian radio situated in East america) or a swedish estonian radio would be your ticket to worst prison here. Like family gathered around the radio and turned its voice to quiet whispering level in order to avoid communism brainwashed neibourghs to hear you listening to “Lies”. Like i remember that my grand-grandmother told me that when he went to Patarei vangla to visit our relative, another male prisoner climbed up(windows were pretty much under the ceiling in that room) since he heard his wife came to bring him food/letters in a basket made of bed sheets(usual supplies transportation way to prison, he was SHOT TO DEATH (multiple times if i remember right) when he wanted to see his wife coming…
Like worst human invention IS communism, it has “worked” only in china(as much as i know, i have helped couple chiniese tourists in capital when local mac wifi was down(shared them my personal passworded hotspot). and those chinese i met were really polite and friendly.)
Ussually during school time sometimes tourists sit next to me and i will help them, like tell them our colorful history(silent resistance to communism), or help whit technical/social problems. Last time(april) i met a really nice brittish couple who i gave best sightseeing locations and told them about history/and answered their questions
And if someone from west thinks that citizens in soviet states WERE/ARE communists, then honestly there were two types of people in soviet union. Communists and SMART people who were quiet about their “capitalistic preference”. Like i know that a politics woman both parents were communists(during 1980-199X’s) but she grew up as anti communist/capitalist.
Very interesting stories about Estonia during Soviet times. For most of us born in the West, we simply have no way of comprehending the extraordinary lengths these governments went to in order to keep their population in a giant cage. I would never have thought about them raking the beach to detect people.
That is why there is something especially offensive about Western apologists for communism. In East Germany people risked mine fields to escape. In Cuba people got on homemade rafts to reach Florida. The Western apologist is essentially stating to these desperate people that he knows more about their reality than they do themselves. It’s offensive, and it’s willfully stupid.
Thank you for sharing your stories.
“That is why there is something especially offensive about Western apologists for communism. In East Germany people risked mine fields to escape. In Cuba people got on homemade rafts to reach Florida. The Western apologist is essentially stating to these desperate people that he knows more about their reality than they do themselves. It’s offensive, and it’s willfully stupid.”
– EXACTLY!!!!! And thank you so much for saying this.
I’m going to write a story where the POV changes, and one of the characters lives in the USSR. I’m almost afraid to write from her perspective because I’m afraid to offend anyone by having faulty information about life there. It’s hard to research what life was like because it was so closed from the outside world (the USSR, I mean). I feel that as an outsider who grew up safe and sound inside America’s borders I’ll never be able to portray what it was like there. Do you think I’ll be able to write this?
To be honest, I have no idea. I haven’t been able to see anything good written by US writers about the USSR. But hey, maybe you will be the first one. 🙂 Feel free to ask questions.
back in late 70’s, a young lady (now my wife) and her mother flew to a western nation, stopover was in moscow, due to tech issues, flight had to stay overnite in moscow, these 2 women with diplomatic passports were put in a moscow hotel, at night iron gates were locked and barricaded, request for additional blankets turned down, not extra butter or bread, they had to spend a cold night in the hotel room without food,
its true from what i have heard, life was miserable back then.
Extremely miserable! Thank you for the comment.
No, you couldn’t leave the Soviet Union at will. Only elite Communist Party-approved cadres were allowed to travel abroad after thorough vetting and surveillance. You couldn’t just buy a ticket and get on a train or plane because the ticket distribution and access system was controlled by the state.
In 1974, Aleksandr Shatravka, his brother Mikhali, and two other young men attempted to flee from the Soviet Union via the area of Karelia into Finland. One of them was a former border guard and knew enough information to at least get across the Soviet border by timing it between guard patrols during the rain when foot prints on the regularly-plowed land would not be visible. But in attempting to scale the barbed-wire fences and trees they need to get through this swampy area, one of the boys injured his foot and lost his sneaker.
The group stopped at a hunter’s cabin when they got into Finland to try to find their friend a boot and bind up his foot. They lit a campfire to have some tea, and a Finnish border patrol helicopter spotted them. They were taken to a Finnish jail, and they debated about whether to return them, then had their minds concentrated wonderfully: the Soviet assembled an entire battalion of troops and tanks on the border to threaten the Finns into returning the 4 young men. All of them were immediately thrown into psychiatric prison as the theory was as you noted that only crazy people would leave the Workers’ Paradise.
Shatravka has written a book called “Escape from Paradise” in Russian which we’re translating into English, in which he describes their subsequent ordeal. He spent a total of nine years in the GULAG and his brother died of hypothermia in the steppes after being administered strong psychotropic drugs and attempting to escape. The other two eventually served their terms.
This tragedy was multiplied by hundreds of times over as people attempted to escape by foot, dinghy, boat, raft, etc. Very few succeeded. Most were arrested and spent many years in the GULAG.
With all due respect, this story doesn’t make sense. The GULAG didn’t exist in the 1970s. Actually, it didn’t exist in the 1960s either.
The Perm camps are referred to as the Gulag. – -http://gulaghistory.org/nps/onlineexhibit/dissidents/prisoners.php
“On November 19, 1989, the body of the Ukrainian poet and dissident Vasyl’ Stus (1938-1985) was brought back to Ukraine from the gulag, where he perished as a prisoner of conscience….” http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/soi/article/view/8026/7191
And it was on a broad scale… http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages%5CD%5CI%5CDissidentmovement.htm
I feel nothing but respect and veneration for the memory of these valiant fighters for freedom. But 300 people, 64 people and 1000 people are, tragically, isolated cases in the 260 million of people in the USSR. Most people were quite content and happy in the USSR, and if you follow the current events, then you know how many are still nostalgic for it.
It is a tragedy and an absolute shame but pretending that the Soviet people were bravely fighting against an evil dictatorship, rather than embracing a lifestyle they enjoyed, is false and counterproductive.
Glory to the heroes!
Again, they’re not isolated cases, as there are thousands of them, and they fit under actual laws that were passed that were part of a system, which were abolished under Yeltsin. That’s why you can’t claim they are isolated cases.
I’d have to reject the thesis that “most people were quite content and happy in the USSR” because there is an enormous wealth of literature and journalists’ and historians’ account that tell us otherwise (start with Kravchenko’s books). If the USSR was so wonderful, all the constituent republics would have stayed in it; not a single one wanted to and some fled into NATO’s embrace due to their suffering under the Kremlin. Today, Putin can only find two other customers for his Eurasian Union. You don’t have to “pretend people were bravely fighting against an evil dictatorship” (they weren’t able to do this) to acknowledge that Soviet life was not wonderful, and those that are nostalgic for it, such as in the “Donetsk People’s Republic” seem to require an awful lot of Kremlin-directed force and disinformation in order to retreat to this past.
When I hear terms like “false” and “counterproduction” I hear Soviet ideology talking. Those aren’t the words modern, objective historians use. You have a political agenda here, Clarissa, that has clearly emerged.
USSR was completely horrible. It was a monstrous, disgusting, evil construction, and I was extraordinarily happy that it fell apart. However, as much as it saddens me to recognize, the majority was quite content in the gloomy Soviet drudgery. This is why today so many are overjoyed at the promise it would be brought back.
Stalin jailed millions. And you just recognized that after his death, the number dropped to thousands. If that’s not a dramatic difference, then I don’t know what is.
You seem to fail to realize that if numbers drop down from about a million in the camps around the time of Stalin’s death to thousands after his death, that’s not “isolated cases” nor is the system finished. The crimes of Lenin and Stalin and the communist system were never tried or punished, unlike the crimes of the Nazis at Nuremberg. The majority of people in fact were not happy in the Soviet Union because they opted to leave it and let it collapse and have independence of their countries the minute they could do this without being slaughtered. If you mean people were happy with the Soviet system, sure, many were happy, especially in retrospect with the bare things it gave them but the reality is, such a criminal system could not last, it began to run out of natural and human resources and so damage people and nature that they rebelled and ended the system in the end.
As for what is Putinist in your take here, I already explained that Moscow’s position has generally been to recognize some excesses of the Soviet era, never recognize the Soviet dissident era except for Solzhenitsyn, who was a nationalist, and to generally not validate events of repression after 1988. Most scholars in this field would agree. While you have some blog posts critical of Putin’s policies here, it seems like you are aggressively defending a view that claims the Soviet Union — which you say you hate yourself — can somehow be justified if “people were happy,” and you are aggressively defending a view — despite the evidence others are supplying you — that Soviet repression was minimal after 1956. I don’t like blog systems that drive you literally into a corner in a narrow column upon each response; I also have to note that we don’t know either your last name or your academic affiliation on this blog, so it’s not worth pursuing this debate except on my own blog.
It is not true that all the non-Russian republics wanted to leave the USSR. Only the western republics wanted to leave the USSR. That is the Baltic States, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The Central Asian republics had to forcibly expelled from the USSR. In large part because subsidies from Moscow made them much wealthier than they would have been otherwise. Certainly my wife’s family in Kyrgyzstan was much better off economically in the 1980s during Soviet rule than they are today. Generally, the only people one encounters in Central Asia that hated the Soviet system are peope who were forcibly deported there by Stalin and their descendents.
“The crimes of Lenin and Stalin and the communist system were never tried or punished, unlike the crimes of the Nazis at Nuremberg.”
“that they rebelled and ended the system in the end.”
“never recognize the Soviet dissident era except for Solzhenitsyn, who was a nationalist, and to generally not validate events of repression after 1988.”
” it seems like you are aggressively defending a view that claims the Soviet Union — which you say you hate yourself — can somehow be justified if “people were happy,””
” I also have to note that we don’t know either your last name or your academic affiliation on this blog”
“so it’s not worth pursuing this debate except on my own blog.”
Popular? I don’t know what you mean by that. I had never heard of you despite being in this field for 37 years. I happened to find your blog post about the GULAG and expected to find a like-minded person. Instead, I’m finding something really strange. Popular, by what criteria? Let’s look at Alexa ranking, for lack of anything immediately better and visible:
No academic affiliation? You’re changing the subject. You continually reference your academic credentials as a source of your expert status by implication, yet we don’t know your last name or institution so we have no way of knowing that. You’re not required to post them, but since some of us in this thread do put our real names and affiliations, it’s obviously not a fair debate, and that’s why it can’t continue.
Er, make you come on my own blog? Who said anything about that? What I find with tendentious sites like this is that people who criticize get cut, dismissed, ridiculed, blocked or wedged into silly word-wide columns, and who needs to play that game? I have my own blogs to publish on the issues and that’s where I spend my time.
Apologize? Oh, I don’t think so. I can’t apologize for stating the truth here, which is your continued referencing of the “happiness” of the Soviet people is decidedly Moscow-centric, Russian-centered and biased. If countries like Estonia or Armenia or Georgia were so happy in that Soviet Union, they would have stayed in it. Instead, they began demonstrating even in the last 1980s and of course in the early 1990s for more autonomy and then independence. They never looked back.
You have some reading to do if you believe no one ever demonstrated against the Soviet Union before it broke up – and frankly, that includes Russia. Note that some countries even boycotted Gorbachev’s last-ditch attempt to get popular support for the USSR via the rigged referendum.
I don’t have any need for education from you. But I do thank you for the wake-up call once again as to the deplorable state of knowledge about the period of the 1970s-1990s not only from academics but from Russians in general. Putin has really blanked the propaganda version of this period very solidly and it needs to be combatted.
You keep talking about some mysterious “field” without naming it. My blog is not part of any field.
I’m still expecting the quote where I say that the Soviet Union “was justified.”
And now I’m also expecting a quote from me where I said “no one ever demonstrated against the Soviet Union.”
I also demand an apology for referring to me as “a Russian.”
Grow up and learn to take responsibility for your words.
No quotes and no apologies. How unsurprising.
Keeping in mind that Stalin was one of the 3 top mass murderers of the 20th century it’s not surprising things became “better” upon his demise. If you survived the centre of Hell, then the 14th level of it looks not so bad. But it is still Hell.
Long Live Lenin!
Hi Clarissa, blog is still kicking strong I see.
Yes, doing good here. Welcome back!
“n Captain Capitalism’s reality, people can just get on a plane and fly to Finland. This is a great, beautiful reality, and I really love it that there are people in the world who think in these terms”
Yeah, only if you belong to the top ~20% of the society, and you can get permission from your job (hopefully with paid leave), and have life arrangements to allow you to take time off.
The rest 80% struggle to get by in life and put their kids into college, work 40+ years without ever seeing abroad, and retire around late 60s to live a few years more and die off.
You should go to the nearest airport, watch the volume of traffic for a couple of hours. That’s a huge number of people traveling.
And if you have trouble achieving professional fulfillment and economic stability even here, in the country where it’s so easy to do, maybe you should start rethinking your choices in life.
It’s never been easier for more people to travel recreationally – which is a big part of the Meditarranean migrant crisis.
People from Middle Eastern and/or African crapholes find it easier than ever to get within boating distance of countries that haven’t been run into the ground by Middle-Easterners or Africans…
Travel is a sword that cuts both ways.
There’s a big difference between being unable to travel due to competing expenses
(mortgage, child care, etc) and being unable to travel because the State has categorically forbidden it.
Travel has become more egalitarian than ever. Air travel has gone from being the domain of the wealthy to being what many derisively call “a Greyhound with wings.” Been on a plane recently and had a good look at some of your fellow passengers? Dante clearly forgot to describe one of the levels of Hell.
Exactly. And it bugs me to no end when people don’t see the difference.
Aw gee. Poor widdow guys trapped in a plane for a few hours. Flying is reasonably cheap, it’s fast and it’s still not good enough it seems.
Yet a little bit of such travel is the stuff of dreams in Totalitarian countries.
Here in Canada, the state taxes air travel heavily and multiply. This is especially true of airport fees which are tacked onto your ticket. On shorter flights, the taxes may equal the fare. Many go through the bother of driving to the US border and going thru the bother of customs to travel from a US airport which is significantly cheaper to travel from… even back to Eastern/Western Canada.
Even so , there’s the choice of the bus which is cheaper but takes several to many days. There’s the train which is also slow but is much more expensive than flying, especially if you get a room(ette). Or you can drive with $1.15+/L gas + the wear on you car/tires etc plus a cop every 30 kilometres with a radar. A least there’s a choice and you don’t have ask/bribe several layer of Commissars for permission for travel/visa within you own country.
LikeLiked by 1 person
“There’s a big difference between being unable to travel due to competing expenses There’s a big difference between being unable to travel due to competing expenses (mortgage, child care, etc)”
No, there is NO difference.
IF anything, the person with the monetary situation will NEVER be able to travel. At least the other guy can get permission to travel.
That is leaving aside the fact that no one in any capitalist country can ever travel without getting permission from work first. Or risk losing their jobs. So? where’s the difference? …….. nowhere.
“i CAN travel” does not mean that “i WILL be able to travel”
“IF anything, the person with the monetary situation will NEVER be able to travel. At least the other guy can get permission to travel.”
What other guy? People in the US (or any capitalist country) can make money because there are no restrictions on how much money you can make. If they don’t make more money, that’s because they chose not to. You obviously have a huge difficulty with seeing a difference between not doing something because you choose not to and being prohibited from doing it.
“That is leaving aside the fact that no one in any capitalist country can ever travel without getting permission from work first. Or risk losing their jobs. ”
Yes, adult people work. If you don’t want to work for somebody else, start your own business. What is the nature of your complaint against capitalist society? That you didn’t happen to be born with a trust fund? Try to concentrate and analyze why you don’t get to travel as much as you want? Whose fault is that?
“What other guy? People in the US (or any capitalist country) can make money because there are no restrictions on how much money you can make”
Is that why ~80% of the population get only ~15% of wealth/income, and there are a good segment of college graduates in minimum wage workforce?
Lets see what happened to an american woman who liked to travel:
She died in her car while trying to save money for traveling in between 4 freaking jobs.
“If they don’t make more money, that’s because they chose not to.”
” If you don’t want to work for somebody else, start your own business. ”
Yeah, the american landscape is filled with those who ‘started their business’ and ‘made it’…… to bankruptcy, that is. Why ? Because, Walmart, that’s why. Ah – THAT is capitalism, by the way. The one with the biggest capital killing all the small fish.
Have you tried talking to a specialist about your travel phobia? There must be a reason why the word “travel” makes you so unhappy.
There is absolutely a difference. When the state as a matter of policy forbids travel on pain of imprisonment, it negates the possibility that I, through exercise of my own prerogatives, can ever change the situation. If on the other hand my barriers to travel are consequences of my own choices in life, then there are potential remedies I can pursue.
In contrast a citizen of the USSR was severely restricted in their ability to travel, simply because the almighty state said so. It didn’t matter if they were otherwise perfectly suitable for travel. The state said “No” and that was that. No amount of saving or self-improvement or finding a different job would ever change it.
It’s the difference between a hard limit and a soft limit. One is surmountable and the other is not.
“The state said “No” and that was that. No amount of saving or self-improvement or finding a different job would ever change it.”
“There is absolutely a difference. When the state as a matter of policy forbids travel on pain of imprisonment, it negates the possibility that I, through exercise of my own prerogatives, can ever change the situation.”
State did not ban travel in eastern bloc. It was subject to permission from where you work.
” If on the other hand my barriers to travel are consequences of my own choices in life, then there are potential remedies I can pursue.”
Yeah, like this:
Died in between 4 jobs while trying to save money for traveling.
“In contrast a citizen of the USSR was severely restricted in their ability to travel, simply because the almighty state said so”
Excuse me but you dont know sh*t about USSR, and yet you talk. Travel was not banned in ussr, as i said, and its not because ‘state said so’. It was because you were a STATE EMPLOYEE and state was giving your salary, healthcare, everything. An employer, naturally has the right to tell you when you can take off of work, just like how it is in entire world, including usa.
“It’s the difference between a hard limit and a soft limit. One is surmountable and the other is not.”
Its the difference in between knowing and not knowing. Which, you are exhibiting here. You shouldnt talk on topics without doing enough research.
Honeybunches, I was born in the USSR and lived there until it finally collapsed. 🙂 🙂 You are making a fool out of yourself offering lectures on a country you never visited and I actually lived in.
REALLY…… That USSR of yours must have been one which was in an alternate universe.
Everybody has the right to be a brainwashed sad loser. I chose not to exercise that right.
I can’t name a single positive thing about the USSR. As one famous Soviet writer said, “For people who still have a vague memory not even of the concept but just of the word ‘dignity’ life here is hell.” But infantile people who want to be protected from life, dignity, and personal pursuit of happiness by strict paternal figures will never understand it.
“I chose not to exercise that right.”
Yeah, instead bought the private brainwashing in the USA.
The country where 30+ cities criminalized even aiding the homeless.
Tell me, champion of the homeless, are you aware that homelessness was criminalized in the USSR? A homeless person was sent to prison for 7 years. Still want to compare the two systems? 🙂
Yeah, actually i do. anyone would prefer a system in which those who are homeless are shuffled off to distant provinces in central asia and given a shitty job and shitty home instead of having them SHOT while trying to camp in public land…. all with that ‘criminalization’.
Are you trying to say that not enough people were shot in the USSR? Are you really that ignorant or are you simply trolling?
The group of young people who came out to hold a peaceful protest in Moscow in 1980 was arrested, tortured in horrifying ways that you don’t even want to imagine in your comfortable, overfed life. These were just kids, students. And this was long past the really horrible times of Stalinism.
My friend’s Daddy was thrown in jail for 7 years just for talking to an American tourist for less than 2 minutes. And there are so many more of such stories.
You are an incredibly cruel, narcissistic, horrible person incapable of any empathy.
“Are you trying to say that not enough people were shot in the USSR? ”
Dont try to evade. You talked about homelessness being criminalized, i told you about what’s criminal in usa.
As for people getting shot.
“My friend’s Daddy was thrown in jail for 7 years just for talking to an American tourist for less than 2 minutes.”
im sur there is bigger stuff behind that story. that is IF you were an actual immigrant from that region.
However, leaving that aside, lets fast forward to today: Nato 5 is STILL being prosecuted in front of a SECRET COURT in chicago in front of a SECRET JURY in a trial in which NO kind of public eye is allowed,
and its democratic.
“Dont try to evade. You talked about homelessness being criminalized, i told you about what’s criminal in usa.”
Yes, lets cite the biggest fascist the world has seen in the past 3 decades: A person who was OPENLY supporting nazis as nazis were holding 1/3 of ussr under occupation and killing anyone they didnt like there. Not only supporting, but also ADVOCATING for nazis, and organizing – even as a soviet citizen, openly. THATS WHY HE WAS SENT TO GULAG.
And then he came out, he wrote some unfounded stuff about stalin, kruschev decides to use his stuff to silence stalin supporters, and voila – instant hit in the west.
THE GUY WENT TO SPAIN AFTER FRANCO’S DEATH AND ASKED SPANISH TO KEEP FASCISM ffs.
“Yes, lets cite the biggest fascist the world has seen in the past 3 decades: A person who was OPENLY supporting nazis as nazis were holding 1/3 of ussr under occupation and killing anyone they didnt like there. Not only supporting, but also ADVOCATING for nazis, and organizing – even as a soviet citizen, openly. THATS WHY HE WAS SENT TO GULAG.”
“Ah, finally it has become clear why you whine so much that you can’t make enough money for a trip overseas. ”
another statement regarding my perceived personal circumstances, and NOTHING about the factual history that was relayed.
That sure is non brainwashed.
Go away. You are not wanted.
“Please go away now”
Seeing how you reduced to personal assaults and no premise of actual intelligent debate in sight, i will leave you be. ‘honeybunch’. make sure you wont go bankrupt in the next decade due to insurance dodging paying a potential major medical operation you may have. #1 cause of bankruptcy in usa.
And ill give you a gift – a book which was once a bestseller circa 1949, but for some reason BANNED by u.s. government. one wonders why they banned that. but hey – there is no propaganda and censorship in usa….
I asked you to go away. Have some self-respect.
“Everybody has the right to be a brainwashed sad loser. I chose not to exercise that right.”
you ‘chose’ not to exercise that right in ussr, but now you believe that you are in some better place with 350 rich men totally owning economy and politics without any democratic say from your own part.
destroying forests, removing mountaintops, poisoning groundwater with fracking, attacking social security to eat it up in stock market, ‘we dont have to give money to old people just because they are old’…..
yeah, thats better.
Yes, keep feeling sorry for yourself. I’m sure it’s the most pleasurable activity you’ve ever engaged in.
I see that you have reverted to rather pathetic ‘character analysis’ about my persona.
That kind of thing signifies that someone lost and ran out of any potential argument.
good for you.
sheeesh, “honeybunches”… lately ALL the hick-speaking right wing extremists from texas seem to have been born in ussr… WHAT a coincidence. youtube, wordpress, facebook.
one would think that every single ex soviet who migrated from post-ussr landscape chose to be the most backward and racist states in usa to settle – texas and its vicinity.
sell that to those who dont know zit, cla.
“You are making a fool out of yourself offering lectures on a country you never visited and I actually lived in”
Let me tell you who is the one doing that:
I’ve never been to Texas. What are you on about?
I should have know from the start you are unhealthy.
If you arent from midwest, then dont talk like one.
However thats irrelevant.
“If you arent from midwest, then dont talk like one.”
“I’m from Ukraine,”
Aaaaah. REALLY. assuming that you are, im sure we will end up with some bandera linkage somewhere in your family history. that would explain a lot of things, assuming that you were actually an immigrant.
This soulless Communist cheerleader sounds to me like a well paid Propaganda minion of the current Putin government. He does serve a purpose in this blog… people who’ve been there finally get off their duffs and tell about the meat grinding horrors of the communist system.
The bottom line is watch how people are putting their lives on the line. No one breaks in to these totalitarian death camps while fleeing the west. People were/are killed by the thousands trying to get OUT of these prisons.
Mike in Canada
“This soulless Communist cheerleader sounds to me like a well paid Propaganda minion of the current Putin government”
Yeah, putin, russia and stuff – and SOULLESS. and now im a communist.
the bottom line is you do not know ZIT about the stuff you talk about, and just parroting whatever you have been conditioned to.
that works so well.
“REALLY. assuming that you are, im sure we will end up with some bandera linkage somewhere in your family history. that would explain a lot of things, assuming that you were actually an immigrant.”
“That is leaving aside the fact that no one in any capitalist country can ever travel without getting permission from work first.”
I have my own business like many other people. And I travel whenever I want without any permission. Want to reconsider the “noone” part of your comment?
Chinese couldn’t flee to other territories. Back then, Chinese wasn’t even allowed to have airplanes to attack other countries. Not to even mention fleeing. The Soviets were so bad they even whipped Chinese, and used salts to slough off our flesh. They treated us worse than White People treated Black People.
Oh wow. i just saw this article and have to leave the comment here.
The author of the comment is just plain stupid lair. My grandad visited Moscow back in 1985. He saw people being just relaxed and very hospitable towards him. He was from central Europe btw.
Anyhow he said that he had a great time. He visited some friends back there and was very delighted with the atmoshpere. No one was “drugged” and dragged to psychiatric clinic back there and he had met and talked to multiple people on the streets because he was fluent in Russian. Of course there are always saboteurs who need to be punished accordingly.
Author must either fierce anti communist or just plain pathetic liar.
Of course, a dumb fellow on.a casual visit understands a country much better than somebody who actually lived in it.
Stupidity must run in your family, you facile fool.
Real life for the 90 % of people in the USSR. And remember that this is someone who was not even living in Russia as the richest state at a time. Do not let the junkie site owner skew the true USSR. It was unique and beautiful for any normal citizen.
Death to its traitors gorbachev and yeltsin. Long live the USSR.
David, please get in touch with your psychiatrist. He needs to up your dosage.
It continues to amaze me that people repeating their second and third hand anecdotes from some guy whose friend had an uncle who went to Moscow once, at some point between 1917 and 1991, think they have superior information about life in the USSR than a person who actually lived there.
They should educate themselves by listening to Oleg Atbashian, who was a propaganda artist for his local Party office and now operates the satirical People’s Cube website (all squares on the cube are red so that all comrades can solve the puzzle equally well).
Oleg is clear that his life in the USSR taught him:
“Right to a job” = they tell you what to do and where to work
“Right to housing” = they tell you where to live and better hope you enjoy living with your inlaws
Exactly. Tourists were not allowed to speak to anybody but KGB workers. A neighbor of mine was sent to jail for 7 years for talking to two American tourists.
I wish people tried to educate themselves before spouting off.
It is very easy to spit on the USSR for people not knowing or not taking into account all the facts about its evolution and the state it was in.
Now lets try to summarize few things about USSR:
It started as a revolt of ORDINARY PEOPLE AND WORKERS who were fed up of being sent to death by Tzar ( some soldiers were sent to fight Germans with ROCKS and FAKE WOODEN RIFLES in the WW1 )
After WW1 Bolsheviks were fighting in Russian civil war against armies from literaly half the world on 16 FRONTS!!!!!!! And they still WON!!!!! No one in the world supported Soviet state and its rise against capitalistic structure of the world
Soviet people had to endure 30 years of Okhranas agent torture known as Stalin as well as Great Purges and Lysenkoism who were directed directly by communist traitor Stalin and his lapdog terrorist Beria.
During the WW2 75% of Nazi strength was directed solely against USSR. US joined the European campaign in the middle of 1944. when it was obvious that Nazis were doomed. USSR wad more than 27 000 000 casualties in the WW2 far more than any other country.
After WW2 US started Cold War tat lasted more than 40 Years. During that time US had placed strict sanctions as well as most of western Europe on the USSR and some sanctions on Warshaw Pact members.
Other facts I will not even mention as these are already enough to prove my point.
And my point is:
USSR was from its very beginning considered enemy by virtually every state in the west. The only period in history when western countries considered it a partner was during WW2 to subdue the Nazis and keep them off of Western Front.
USSR was constantly being sabotaged and threatened on all fronts. Economically through sanctions militarily through Cold War measures and politically through supporting of even vile moslame savages such as afghan mujahedeens against having a decent and tolerant to everyone state.
When you people bashing USSR take this into account it will explain much of the circumstances of living in the USSR. For example not being able to travel freely – in those times traveling across the world could not be tracked efficiently and no in the government agencies could know who would returned as a potential foreign agent. Government was fully aware of existence of foreign agents and their will to sabotage and penetrate certain aspects of Soviet society and Army.
So actually it was perception of USSR state in the west that caused so many inconveniences of everyday life in the USSR. That is the main point what you people fail to understand. Remember that USSR was conceived as a workers state. Stalin made it worse to live in it and degraded it so much but that is because it is very obvious that he was actually against it and Soviet people. He even attempted to changed the nature of Marxism – Leninism theory in order to approve his idiocy.
The only dubious thing that Soviets did in my opinion was their attempt for its citizens to put society before their families. It was very progressive idea that in its core wanted to integrate people more and make them feel that everyone was their equal no matter family ties. Something like Borg society in the Star Trek series. It was probably doomed to fail because human beings are still at very early stages of human development and are unable to efficiently function that way because they are emotionally too much connected to their families.
When you take everything into account USSR had extremely hard history of its existence and was actually never given a fair chance to consolidate itself in general. But not because it didnt want to. It was because if never had a time for it. It was always under pressure from the whole western world and except few Latin American countries and few African one everyone was its enemy. And because of it it had to project much more often its military strength than its social component.
Finally it was betrayed and sold by traitor and saboteur mikhail ” the Envelope” gorbachev and its clique of few corrupted Soviet Army and KGB generals who stole more than 50 000 000 000 ( 1991. denomination, today this is worth much more due to inflation ) US $ from Soviet central bank reserves and Soviet people. This was also rolling start for todays oligarchs in Russian society.
Typical capitalist bullshit. Obviously this character or another has never been to the soviet union and is unaware of how the system worked. Speaking of evil, this character is villifying everybody that does not think their way. I will not have my confidence impugned because of the comments of this clandestine individual or another. Travel was encouraged by the state and all expemses were usually paid by workers union for most citizens. So maybe, seek advice from a soviet citizen next time comrade.
This “character” was born and raised in the USSR until it finally fell apart. Goes to show how little you understand.
It didnt fall apart. gorbachev sold it together with his belazheva gang to the west. He made sure oligarchs get to rule and that is the 90s that gorbachev left for most of the Soviets.
Belazheva, eh? Man, you got to go read something instead of making an ass of yourself on people’s blogs.
If half of what is being represented about the Soviet Union/Russia is true then the only conclusion one can make is that there are a lot of cowards who don’t value liberty and freedom enough to rise up and revolt. And it is rather doubtful that their children in the military would shoot them all. The birth of the US is well known and it was achieved only by people deciding to rise up and revolt, regardless of the cost, for the members of their family who might live and for the benefit of future citizens. So at the end of the day there is clearly a difference between criticizing a government and doing something about it, similar to it being easy to be an art or movie critic and actually painting something or making a movie. It is also telling how few of those who left the Soviet Union/Russia work to help those who believe they can’t get out. The Soviet Union/Russia is what it is because the citizens allow it to be that way.
I’m not sure why you are talking in the present tense. Anybody can leave Russia at any time. There are no restrictions on emigration from Russia.
As for the rest, yes, absolutely, everybody has exactly what they want in life. You are not rich because you don’t want to be. If you wanted to, you’d be a billionaire.
This article is really disturbing.
The original post, about why you couldn’t just leave USSR?