Many tales are told about the Soviet Union, what it was, it wasn’t, could have been and became. However, soviet history has been so distorted by the western media and anti-communist to make the USSR seem a lot worse off than it actually was. This is the reason why we have decided to debunk ten of the biggest misconceptions about the Soviet Union. Some of this soviet union misconceptions, you will find as so perverse and further from the truth, it makes you wonder, who was spinning the tales.
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10. Soviets fervently wished for the USSR to end
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One of the biggest Soviet Union misconceptions is that Soviet citizens sincerely hoped that the Soviet Union came to an end and were eventually glad it did. Despite the soviet union coming to an end on December 26, 1991, exactly 22 years ago, on the back of what the west perceived were tough economic times, Soviets were very proud of their republic and had no interest in letting it go.
9. Soviet Union lacked popular support
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Apart from the desire to see the USSR come to an end, another of the biggest misconceptions about the Soviet Union was that it lacked popular support. This was most untrue. Nine months prior to the demise of the Soviet Union, on 17 March, 1991, Soviets were asked to vote on a referendum to decide whether they wanted to stay in the Soviet Union or not. 75% of Soviet citizens voted to preserve it.
8. Russians disliked Stalin
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Few Soviet Union misconceptions have been as misleading as the statement above. According to a poll conducted in 2009, out of 50 million Russians who were asked of who they considered to be the greatest Russians of all time, Joseph Stalin came third. This is against western opinion and one of the popular myths about the Soviet Union and Stalin that he was and still is thoroughly disliked by Russians. In fact, Russians according to a poll conduced on the greatest men and women (not just Russians) of all time, debunked one of the greatest Soviet Union misconceptions when they voted Stalin as the 4th greatest person in history. This was in 2004.
7. Soviet socialism was a failure
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Let us be honest with ourselves, if we wish to consider soviet socialism as a failure then capitalism should also be looked at in the same vein. So lets debunk one of the biggest misconceptions about the Soviet Union. There was never any point in the history of the Soviet Union – apart from World War II – that there was recession. Never was there a time that the Soviet Union failed to provide full employment. Can anyone say the same about the capitalist economy? Again let us look at one of the most baffling Soviet Union misconceptions from another angle, during the first five year plan of Joseph Stalin launched in 1928, the Soviet economy grew faster than capitalist economies of an equal level of development.
6. Soviets now prefer capitalism
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Another astonishing Soviet Union misconceptions is that the soviet citizens having now experienced capitalism, prefer it to socialism. Nothing could be as further from the truth. In a recent poll conducted Russians answered that they preferred State planning and distribution to private property and distribution. Another poll conducted showed that approximately 72% of Russians desired restrictions on private economic initiatives.
5. Soviets now see the benefit of the USSR’s demise
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This is one of the popular myths about the Soviet Union. It is understandable to think that way but this is most untrue. A Gallup poll released not quite long ago showed that the proportion of people from 11 former USSR countries who think the breakup of the Soviet Union did harm to those who felt it benefited their country is 2:1. Most of those who found the breakup harmful are those who are aged over 45 and as such had an opportunity to know the Soviet Union best.
4. Soviets today view the USSR as being repressive
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While this is one of the popular myths about the Soviet Union, it is also one of the biggest misconceptions about the Soviet Union. While the western media had always portrayed the USSR as a highly repressive regime that murdered and imprisoned opposition, most Soviets who experienced the USSR in its full glory, do not in any way see the USSR as a repressive regime.
3. Soviet citizens are better off today
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Another of the biggest misconceptions about the Soviet Union is that its former citizens are better off today. To be candid, a few are. However, this statement does not apply across board. Many do not see themselves as living any better off than under the USSR. The greatest reflector of this has been the reduced life expectancy, which has dropped from 67 years under communism to 60 years in 2007. Similar stats are shared about infant mortality rate, caloric intake and physical quality of life.
2. Russians love democracy
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One of the popular myths about the Soviet Union is that Russians have fallen in love with their new found freedom, most importantly democracy. Though it is admitted that, Russia today is a more democratic society than what was obtainable under communism, most Russians feel that democracy is actually a fraud. More than 75% of Russians feel that democracy is an illusory government, which is controlled, by the rich and powerful. Another Soviet Union misconceptions debunked.
1. Soviets would just vote socialism in if they really wanted to return to it
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While this is one of the biggest Soviet Union misconceptions, it must be admitted that if only it were that simple, then the USSR wouldn’t have broken up in the first place. There are persons, cabals, groups and corporate bodies with personal interests, willing to use their wealth, power and elite connections to block any action capable of endangering their ability to do business and make profit. Think we are wrong? Try voting public health insurance in Obamacare.
We have debunked 10 of the most popular myths of the Soviet Union and would love to know your take. So feel free to comment or share to those who will. Likes are welcome.