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12th October 2018
USSR and EU Comparison - *Updated (page III)
Following comments by recently appointed British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt that the EU was behaving like the Soviet Union in that they were preventing us leaving the EU stating that: "the EU risked becoming like a Soviet “prison” because of its negotiation stance on Britain’s exit from the EU."
The EU could have responded with - "It is the Conservative government, Labour Party, SNP, LibDems, etc., who were trying to stop the UK leaving: on behalf of vested interests in International Banking (Goldman-Sachs and J P Morgan etc.) and Multinational Corporations who have no loyalty to any country or any population - in fact, the EU have already offered a Canada +++ deal. The reality is that "they are all in it together" all working with the EU; and Canada+++ is only offered for Great Britain - not including Northern Ireland - so the EU's offer is just a brazen attempt to take Northern Ireland into the EU; to diminish and isolate Britain.
We decided to look at the differences between the two organisations - the USSR and the EU - and compare their governance - without going into a long History lesson.
The formal start of the EU (in the Treaty of Rome 1957); and the birth of the Soviet Union in the 1917 Russian Revolution could not be more different - but even so they share a common aim through different means. They both wished to establish a new order, a new citizen with a different Citizenship (EU and Soviet) and each established a Single Market and protectionist bloc; in Russia there was a common Russian language (from the Czarist Russian Empire); but in the EEC(EU) the wider diversity of language (lack of an existing common language) in Europe has so far prevented any one language being adopted.
Russia became the Soviet Union in 1922: "On 29 December 1922 a conference of plenipotentiary delegations from the Russian SFSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR approved the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and the Declaration of the Creation of the USSR, forming the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."(Wikipedia)
In contrast the EU did not exist until 1992: Established in the Maastricht Treaty (1992), along with EU citizenship, the Euro, and the Eurozone etc. Up until that point the Member States were part of the European Economic Community (EEC) better known perhaps as the "Common Market", (and prior to that it was the European Coal and Steel Community) The EEC was renamed as the European Community (EC) and new structures brought into existence covering Defence, Justce and the Single Market - the birth of the Political Union. The EU at that time (1992) had no legal identity in International Law.
Russia 1917-1929 A Very Short Summary
The Communist Party's original "Politburo" comprised Vladimir Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov), Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Lev Kamenev, and Nikolai Krestinsky and was established to manage the Communist Revolution.
Following the Russian October Revolution (1917): A Civil War - between the Red Army (Communists) and White Army (ostensibly Monarchists and its supporters) ensued (1917-21); the Bolsheviks adopted "War communism" - based upon the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels; which was also written into the first Constitution in 1918 (see later) - and which entailed the breakup of the landed estates and the forcible seizure of agricultural surpluses. These actions led to food shortages and all commerce was highly restricted. (after Wikipedia) In a period known as the Red Terror, Bolshevik secret police—known as Cheka— carried out a campaign of mass executions against supporters of the czarist regime and against Russia’s upper classes." (Soviet Union History - History.com)
At the Tenth Party Congress (March, 1921) it was decided to end "War Communism" and institute the New Economic Policy (NEP), in which the state allowed a limited market to exist. Small private businesses were allowed and restrictions on political activity lessened. The NEP allowed peasants to sell their surplus yields on the open market. The state still maintained state ownership though, of what Lenin deemed the "commanding heights" of the economy: heavy industry such as the coal, iron, and metallurgical sectors along with the banking and financial components of the economy.
Lenin died in January 1924 and in 1925 Trotsky was denounced for his theory of "permanent revolution" which contradicted Stalin's position that socialism could be built in one country, Russia, without a worldwide revolution. Trotsky was dropped from the politburo entirely in 1926.
In December, 1925 at the Fourteenth Congress the first developments of the "Stalin's cult of personality" emerged with him being referred to as "leader" for the first time and becoming the subject of effusive praise from delegates (after Wikipedia).
During Stalin's rule, "Socialism in One Country" became a central tenet of the party's dogma, and Lenin's New Economic Policy was replaced with a centralized command economy. Under the Five-Year Plan system, the country underwent collectivisation and rapid industrialization, but experienced significant disruptions in food production that contributed to the famine of 1932–33. To eradicate those regarded as "enemies of the working class", Stalin instituted the "Great Purge" in which over a million were imprisoned - sent to Soviet labour camps (Gulags) - and 600,000 executed between 1936 and 1938. (after Wikipedia)
"Between 1928 and 1940, Stalin enforced the collectivization of the agricultural sector. Rural peasants were forced to join collective farms. Those that owned land or livestock were stripped of their holdings. Hundreds of thousands of higher-income farmers, called kulaks, were rounded up and executed, their property confiscated." (Soviet History - History.com)
Stalin's government promoted Marxism–Leninism abroad through the "Communist International" and supported anti-fascist movements throughout Europe during the 1930s, particularly in the Spanish Civil War. In 1939 it signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, resulting in their joint invasion of Poland. Germany ended the pact by invading the Soviet Union in 1941. Despite initial setbacks, the Soviet Red Army repelled the German incursion and captured Berlin in 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
The Soviets annexed the Baltic states and helped establish Soviet-aligned governments throughout most of Central and Eastern Europe, China, and North Korea. During this time, the country experienced another major famine and an antisemitic campaign peaking in the doctors' plot - show trial (Wikipedia)
"The Soviet Union by 1948 had installed communist-leaning governments in Eastern European countries that the USSR had liberated from Nazi control during the war. The Americans and British feared the spread of communism into Western Europe and worldwide." (Soviet Union History - History.com)
After West Germany joined NATO in 1955 the Soviet Union formed the WARSAW PACT in response.
Stalin died in 1953 and was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced his predecessor and initiated a de-Stalinisation process throughout Soviet society. Stalin died four years before the signing of the Treaty of Rome (1957) Stalin's totalitarian government was associated with inflicting mass repressions, ethnic cleansing, hundreds of thousands of executions, and famines which caused the deaths of millions. (Wikipedia)
Under Khrushchev "... a series of political reforms that made Soviet society less repressive. During this period, later known as de-Stalinization, Khrushchev criticized Stalin for arresting and deporting opponents, took steps to raise living conditions, freed many political prisoners, loosened artistic censorship, and closed the Gulag labor camps." (Soviet Union History - History.com)
Khrushchev was replaced in 1964, following the Cuban Missile Crisis
The Era of Stagnation (1964 - 1982) was a period of negative economic, political, and social effects in the Soviet Union, which began during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev and continued under Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko - characterised as another period of collective leadership.
"In 1968, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to halt the Prague Spring reforms. In the aftermath, Brezhnev justified the invasion along with the earlier invasions of Eastern European states by introducing the Brezhnev Doctrine, which claimed the right of the Soviet Union to violate the sovereignty of any country that attempted to replace Marxism–Leninism with capitalism."
"Brezhnev presided over a period of détente with the West that resulted in treaties on armament control (SALT I, SALT II, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty) while at the same time building up Soviet military might."
After the death of Brezhnev in 1982 Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 - inheriting "...a stagnant economy and a crumbling political system." and introduced two new policies "glasnost " (openness) and "perestroika" (hybrid Communist - Capitalist economic system - similar to the modern Chinese version); but still under Politburo control - government criticism was allowed in the press, as were elections where parties other than the Communist party could participate (after History.com)
The Collapse of the Soviet Union
The collapse of the Soviet Union came about through a combination of factors: including the increase dissatisfaction with the increasing wealth gap between the Politburo and the Soviet people in the 1960's-70's; food and consumer goods shortages in the 1970's-80's; loss of oil revenue and subsequent loss of influence in Eastern Europe; and political revolution in Poland in 1989, which subsequently led to the toppling of the Berlin Wall.
Gorbachev resigned on the 25th December, 1991 and the Soviet Union ceased to exist on the 31st of December 1991.
The Russian Federation
Boris Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation which is seen as the legal continuation of, and heir to, the Soviet Union. It retained ownership of all former Soviet embassy properties, as well as the old Soviet UN membership and permanent membership on the Security Council (Wikipedia) Yeltsin's successor was the current President Vladimir Putin.
After obtaining power, the vast majority of "idealistic" reformers gained huge possessions of state property using their positions in the government and became business "oligarchs" in a manner that appeared antithetical to an emerging democracy. Existing institutions were conspicuously abandoned prior to the establishment of new legal structures of the market economy such as those governing private property, overseeing financial markets, and enforcing taxation.(Wikipedia)
The Soviet Union existed for 35 years before the formal beginning of the EU and we first refer to the development of governance through changing Constitutions (Treaties) - with the 1936 Constitution overlapping the development of the EEC(EU) until its replacement with the 1977 Constitution and a more recent 1991 Constitution following the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Soviet Union - after 74 years.
The first Soviet Constitution (known as the "Fundamental Law") was in July 10th 1918 - we include two extracts from the translated Constitution: Chapter one (1) and (2) and Chapter two 3(a) to provide a "taste" of the "Socialist" ideology that it encapsulated, as it officially gave birth to the world's first Socialist country:-
"DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF THE LABORING AND EXPLOITED PEOPLE."
This first Constitution formed the basis for later Constitutions and is provided below for reference. and we will only then refer to significant differences in the later Constitutions - it formally recognized the working class as the ruling class of Russia according to the principle of the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat", therein making the Russian SFSR the world's first Constitutionally Socialist State. https://archive.org/stream/1918SovietConstitution/1918%20Soviet%20Constitution_djvu.txt
Three further Constitutions, based upon the first (1918) were enacted; 1924, 1936 and 1977, the last of Constitution of the USSR:-
The 1924 Soviet Constitution legitimised the December 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the USSR between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, the Byelorussian SSR, and the Transcaucasian SFSR to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
It is an expansion of the first Treaty, as most of the key points were already outlined there.The Constitution contained the identical Treaty Declaration, reflecting the then world order, and the common good causes of such a Union, allowing for a potential expansion.
Whereas theoriginal Treaty contained only 26 articles, the new Constitution now encompassed 72 articles, divided into eleven chapters. Ratified by the Second Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union 31 January 1924, it survived six editions, before being superseded by the 1936 constitution (in 1937)