Life under communist rule

Discussion in 'Culture' started by Ark1tec, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. Ark1tec

    Ark1tec Well-Known Member

    Hi, I would like to understand what life was like in former Czechoslavakia under communist rule.
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Ok, I will start (at random, because it's too large topic)

    - election: only one candidate per district choosen from state, you would have problems if you didn't go to vote thought. State wanted near 100% presence.
    - sometimes shoortage of basic supllies - like toilet paper - state controled economy works very poorly
    - "luxury", like coconuts or mandarines only on Christmas and on ration.
    - public (or not so public) criticizing of state or conditions meant you will get problems - in the fifties prison or even death, later only "trouble" - like your kid will not get accepted to university etc... - remember - everything was owned by state - shops, universities, companies - state has absolute power. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    - secret police had hundreds of thousands agents and confidents - maybe it was your co-worker, maybe you friend, maybe even your family! Some of them were forced by state to collaboration, some of them did it willingly - for better job, better salary, for revenge...
  3. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    My husband never wanted to vote for communists, so he tells a story where voting time came and he took a canoeing trip out of town. The polling people came to his house to get him to vote. When his mom said he was out of town, they begged her to vote for him stating that they will all get in trouble if he doesn't vote.
  4. Ark1tec

    Ark1tec Well-Known Member

    Yes but what was life really like how was it different to what it is now. What would working for the government have been like. What punishment was there for crime were officials corrupt what would they have gained from being corrupt and so on. What happened to the idea that the surplus value of goods manufactured would be saved for when it was needed by the working class. Why was the government in control Marx said there would be no leaders no government no law. Were there cinemas if so what films did they show. Was ballet and opera free to attend. Did you have Yo-Yo's, Skateboards, Rollerskates & cartoons. Was there a period when everybody believed communism was working?
  5. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I must admit Ark1tec, I admire your persistance in seeking actual experiences from those who lived in communism rather than simply assuming text book readings as fact. Good for you!
  6. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    It was different in many ways. You had much lesser range of choices, you couldn't travel freely from the country. You had certainty of job, because don't work was crime (they called it příživnictví = parasitism).

    Well, virtually everyone worked for government (because governemnt owned everything). Essentialy it meaned that people worked not so much for not so big sallary. It didn't matter if you worked hard or not.

    Well, there was no free press, so there wasn't anybody, who could corruption expose. And if it somehow happened, they found some low official like scapegoat. Top officials were untouchable.
    Besides - state economy without competition practically called for corruption - bribes was common.

    Well, these are easy one.
    1. Working class isn't better than capitalists. "Workers" (actualy it was pushy people, opportunists, these who are on top in every regime) seized power very quickly and they became new burgeoisie.

    2. because Marx was dreamer - if there isnt'n no leader, there are imediately a few, who fight to became leader. This is human nature.

    3. Planed economy without competition is inefficient, so there wasn't much big surpluse to distribution.

    There were cinemas. Movies were only approved by government - West movies only that kind, which somehow displays West as mean, dangerous place. Sex or nudity in movies wasn't supported. Some movies was censored. Same with books or music.

    No, you had to pay for it. :)

    YoYo yes. Rollerskates - I'm not sure, I believe they wasn't very common.
    Skateboards - maybe a few, but I remember that skateboard culture wasn't very popular from state.
    Cartoons - very few from West, some Czech and from other Soviet satelites. No ScoobyDoo, no Donald Duck, no Tom and Jerry :)

    I think in start, in beginning of the fifties, not everybody, but many, yes.
    I think political processes shaked many of them. And then Soviet tanks came in 1968.
    But you have to understandt, how powerfull this doctrine was. Not only some people believed to it still after political processes in the fifthies, even people who was falsely accused and executed in these processes, they still believed in it! In their last letters before execution, they still believed in the Party!
  7. Ark1tec

    Ark1tec Well-Known Member

    Is it true resources were taken from other communist countries such as Poland and Czechs to fuel manufacturing in the Soviet Union.
  8. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Yes, it was.
    Not exactly fuel - because Czech republic and Poland have only small oil resources.

    But other commodities and products were suplied mostly to Soviet Union and Cuba.

    But fact is that today Russia is trying to repay these debts - I think number was something around 3.6 billion dollars in 2001? - but maybe I'm mistaken.
  9. Ark1tec

    Ark1tec Well-Known Member

    supporting Cuba was a good thing because of their size but Russia is different again because of their size. It's good to hear that Russia aims to pay back the countries they took from but could'nt they have paid them back before making billionaires over night?
  10. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Hm, they usually pay not in money, but scrap discarded helicopters and aircrafts :-(.

    Oil for free for some period of time, that would be good pay back.
  11. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I looked on internet and in fact, original debt was about 100 billions dollars, but it was settled to these 3.6 billion dollars.

    But exactly, how Alexx wrote, they want to pay it in old military aircrafts.
  12. Ark1tec

    Ark1tec Well-Known Member

    Thankyou for your response I have to say that, although listening to the experiences of people who lived through the era and that it was difficuilt to say the least, that surely revolution against Kings & aristocracy was a good thing and even better than a bourgeois revolution such as in France. The problem being that Marxism was not carried to it's completion properly. Please correct me if you think I'm wrong or ut of line with reality.
  13. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Exploiting, because there was no employer but the state.

    It was ill-sorted and unpredictable for the crimes commited by commies on commies. There was none or only symbolical one for other crimes commited by commies. Punishment for the other crimes was not very different from todays situation.

    Some of them.

    Some non-standard benefit.

    The idea was naturally abandoned as soon as the last surplus remaining from the capitalistic era was wasted.

    Because people are not ants.


    Anything cheap what was not openly against the commies.

    Yes, but not the ballet and opera abroad.


    Yes, but it was not so common.

    Yes, but not inlines.


    No, there are always some reasonable people.

    No. The only resources stolen was the uranium from Czechoslovakia.
    The communists robbed us of the products and were not so stupid to take the needed resources away.

    ...and still is. The people really needs to help to restore the freedom.

    Yes, it is nice to hear it. But I would prefer Russia to do it.

    I don't think a revolution against the monarchy is good, but a revolution against the tyrany could be a nice idea. Yes, the French terror was unacceptable.

    But, isn't this a little off-topic? What's the link to the communism?

    Yes, that's imperishable problem of all improper systems.
  14. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Nice! :) :)
  15. Ark1tec

    Ark1tec Well-Known Member

    The link to communism is that this is a CR website, Czech people were communist and because I did not experience communism I would like to hear real life experiences to understand the difference between now and then. I would just like to stress that I think that the repression of freedom was obviously wrong and that I don't wish for a return to the bad old days. I would like to hear what it was like.
    And I'm out.
  16. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    I decided to bring some fun to this topic:

    7 divů komunismu

    1. Všichni mají práci.
    2. Přesto, že všichni mají práci, nikdo nepracuje.
    3. Třebaže nikdo nepracuje, plán je plněn na 100%.
    4. I když je plán plněn na 100%, není nic k dostání.
    5. I když není nic k dostání, všichni všechno mají.
    6. Bez ohledu na to, že všichni všechno mají, každý krade.
    7. Přesto, že všichni kradou, nikde nic nechybí.

    7 wonders of communism (my translation, sry)

    1. Everyone has got a job.
    2. Despite everyone has got a job, nobody is working.
    3. Despite nobody is working, plan is 100% fulfiled.
    4. Even when plan is 100% fulfiled, nothing is available.
    5. Even when nothing is available, everybody has everything.
    6. No matter everybody has everything, everyone is stealing.
    7. Despite everyone is stealing, nothing is missing anywhere.


    Z časopisu ABC - rok 1960

    Až bude tobě, pionýre, čtenáři, třicet, pětatřicet let, vzbudíš se do světa, který už v mnohém nebude podoben dnešku.

    Budovatelé komunismu v Sovětském svazu i u nás budou mít k dispozici moderní automatizované závody, zvládnou zemědělské práce průmyslovým způsobem, budou pracovat šest hodin denně. V té době proniknou hluboko do tajů vesmíru.

    To všechno se promítne do každodenního života: 250 milionů tun oceli ročně, hojnost všech prostředků, městská doprava zdarma, bezplatné stravování ve školních a závodních jídelnách, bydlení v prostorných bytech bez nájemného, levné nebo bezplatné turistické základny atd.

    To není začátek fantastické povídky našeho časopisu, to je reálný dvacetiletý program Komunistické strany Svazu sovětských socialistických republik, o kterém píše, mluví a přemýšlí celý svět.

    Bledne sláva kapitalistické techniky a výroby. Vždyť za deset let předstihne SSSR Spojené státy americké dvaapůlkrát a v roce 1980 bude jeho náskok sedminásobný. Je krásné žít v takovém světě!

    Všichni se musíme přičinit! Učit se a pracovat. I mimo školu ve svých pionýrských oddílech, kroužcích i ve speciálních kolektivech. Komunismus potřebuje lidi odvážné, čestné, muže a ženy, kteří umějí žít v kolektivu a pro kolektiv.

    From ABC magazine - year 1960 (popular magazine for youth, still on market) - my translation, sry

    When you will be, pionýr (communist youth organisation member), reader, thirty, thirty-five years old, you will wake up to the world not much similar to the present one.

    Builders of communism in Soviet Union and in here will have modern automatized factories at disposal, will manage agricultural works the industrial way, will work six hours a day. In this time they get in the deep mysteries of space.

    All of it will reflect in everyday life: 250 milions of tons of steel every year, plenty of all sources, public transport for free, free messing at schools and factories, living in spacious flats rent-free, cheap or free touristic bases and so on.

    This is not just the beggining of fantastical story from our magazine, this is real program of Communist party of Soviet Union for next twenty years, program the whole world is writting, speaking and thinking about.

    Fame of capitalistic technology and production is fading away. In ten years USSR will overtake United States of America two and half times, in 1980 will be will be seven times ahead. It is nice to live in world like this!

    All of us has to do our best! Learn and work. Even after school, in pionýr-units, various rings and special teams. Communism needs people of courage, honesty, men and women capable to live in collective and for collective.
  17. Yerusalyim

    Yerusalyim Well-Known Member

    I get the impression that there was more movement between countries behind the "iron curtain" than I originally suspected. My wife's grandmother was originally from Yugoslavia, and on the other side from Romania. Was movement between communist countries normal?

    In relation to shortages of common goods, my wife's grandmother has over 80 individually wrapped packages of toliet paper in the bathroom of her apartment...she lives alone. Even though now you can buy toliet paper at any given store...the habit of buying in bulk when it was available never left her.

    Grandma is still an ardent communist...a true believer.
  18. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Only some of them.
    I don't dispute the topic of life under the communism, I just asked for the link between communism and antimonarchism.

    Common? Yes!
    Normal? Never!

    The movement was restricted even within the single countries.

    As for Czechoslovakia, practically all people who were not supposed to be openly against the commies were allowed to move freely within Czechoslovakia (except of military areas) an to hold a passport. With a passport, it was possible to left the country for Eastern Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria, sometimes even for Romania. For leaving for another country an exit permit was needed, and for some countries within the Eastern Block and all countries out of it you needed also a foreign currency assurence.
    The system for the movement to the Soviet Union was of a special sort, you needed a letter of invation from a Soviet citizen, or an exit permit, or to travel with the state travel agency. The movement within the SU was restricted.
    It was necessary to have an exit permit to travel legally to the Poland, but in practice, it was possible to travel via the Eastern Germany with a passport only.
  19. Ark1tec

    Ark1tec Well-Known Member

    The link is Lenin was from an aristocratic family which chose to assasinate the tsar of russia.
  20. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I love reading about the dream, the propaganda, and the art, I love communist art so much, especially from the start where the passion and the belief in change and equality just pores out of it.

    But then reading about the reality, and the things that people had to go through, it is so upsetting...

    not just because some big abstract wonderful dream was lost, but because little things were lost, the things that make up life, even things like toilet paper or shoes.

    If it was even that one person was killed in the name of this thing and didn't have a chance to build a home for themselves and have a life, that alone would be the worst thing in the world, It doesn't need to be a global universal repression (though it was) it's when you loose the little things that's when life is destroyed.

    I don't think it could be, or it can be, ever, I don't think it's practical.

    I think someone important may have said it before me:

    Capitalism is strengthened by human weakness and greed, everything else is destroyed by it.

    It would be lovely if we could find some truly democratic system, where no one lived below a certain level of poverty, and no one had to be exploited. Maybe there is something and maybe some genius will come up with it, but it will be nothing like communism or even Marxism.

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