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10 Things I Learned about Collective Communism from Red Famine: Stalins War on Ukraine Applebaum, Anne

I know embarrassingly little about Ukraine, and most international politics. I am trying to step up my game by reading books like this. This period of time is sickening to learn about. The whole campaign was completely insane. It took place in the 1920s and really got going in the 1930s.

Large parts of the book go into horrifying stories of the peasant's reality at the time. Cannibalism was fairly common, they would boil shoes to eat them, eat grass and tree bark and starved to death anyway. For this list, I will try to focus on why the policies failed.

This "automatic" AI cover image is pretty profound. Way to go AI!

10 Things I Learned about Collective Communism from Red Famine: Stalins War on Ukraine
Applebaum, Anne

    1. Ukraine was treated as a colony and the people were utilized as slaves

    The Central Planning departments would decide that something needed to be done (wheat grown, factories built). When they needed people to work they would literally arrest peasants from Ukraine and transport them to work in other parts of Russia.

    2. The collectivist system was suspicious of productive, successful people

    With punishment ranging from imprisonment to death. It was safer to do nothing.

    3. By punishing people for succeeding there was a disincentive to work

    Peasants that owned land were called Kulaks and actively persecuted. Stalin referred to them as enemies of the state. .

    4. Everything was stolen (people, equipment, grain) to use on collective farms

    And, by extension, when the grain was ready people stole that because it had been stolen from them: the common good did not belong to everybody, it belonged to nobody.

    5. If a lower level official counteracted what a senior official said, they were frequently punished or killed

    6. People with no idea how to farm (Stalin) would make unrealistic quotas and promises to other nations for grain

    7. Even though the idea was that a communist country could be self sustaining, the reality is they needed trade and currency to interact with the rest of the world

    They decided to use the grain.

    8. To meet these unrealistic demands they would send thugs to literally steal food off of peasant's tables

    9. Farming requires years of planning and the pace of life needs to reflect it

    If you want a certain harvest today you need to start preparing for it years ago. The communist leadership would declare that they needed X tons of grain as a quota and then steal everything they could to try to meet it. They would steal the seeds so that the next years crops could not be planted at all.

    10. Since people were punished for bad news, lying on reports was the norm.

    When these lies worked up the chain of command to the central planners, it caused already bad decisions to become worse.

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