Can Stalinism be justified? Watch

Simpsonsmania
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#81
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#81
History judges Stalin as one of the most evil dictators.
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Bagration
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#82
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(Original post by Amy***)
I did read it. But, I'm sorry I simply can't trust a source which bases its ideals on an ideology which emiserated people 200 years ago and certainly does not serve to improve the lives of ordinary working people today (despite claims that capitalism will bring wealth to everyone which are clearly wrong). Politics should not be about ensuring the rich can increase their wealth - its about making everybodies lives better - something that free-market economics/capitalism have again and again failed to do.
lol.

It doesn't improve the lives of working people today? No ****. WE DON'T HAVE A FREE MARKET TODAY.

The statist economies of the 19th Century provided vastly less living standards than the laissez-faire economies. Economic wealth increases over time but it increases faster and for more people under a system of free market capitalism.

If your ideologies had been put into practiced 200 years ago then "emiseration" would have been an underexaggeration.

Socialism and statism have repeatedly destroyed productivity and created economic misery. They are continuing to do so today.
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Amy***
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#83
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(Original post by Bagration)
lol.

The statist economies of the 19th Century provided vastly less living standards than the laissez-faire economies. Economic wealth increases over time but it increases faster and for more people under a system of free market capitalism.

If your ideologies had been put into practiced 200 years ago then "emiseration" would have been an underexaggeration.
Are you trying to bring deference back in to fashion? I'm not sure you'd feel the same if you'd lived in the time before any state welfare provision? Or perhaps if you'd lived in pinochet's chile? Under these systems you as a worker would have no rights to a decent wage, no rights to fair and decent treatment. You have modern liberals and socialists to thank for the fact that you live in a country with free education and free healthcare. Don't underestimate that. Perhaps you are rich enough to complain about these systems and go private. Others however don't have that luxury and infact thank God (or Keynes/Bevan/Beveridge/Atlee etc) for the fact they won't die of hunger or preventable diseases.
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Pocket Calculator
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#84
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(Original post by Thud)
Stalin grabbed a country by the balls and did in 10 years what it took over 100 years to achieve in the west. You're all going on about the millions who died but millions died in them 100 years of industrialisation in the west, think of the child labourers, appalling conditions, cholera, slavery etc.
you know, that's an interesting point.

although even considering that, stalin killed far more people than was "appropriate".
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numb3rb0y
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#85
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(Original post by Amy***)
Are you trying to bring deference back in to fashion? I'm not sure you'd feel the same if you'd lived in the time before any state welfare provision? Or perhaps if you'd lived in pinochet's chile? Under these systems you as a worker would have no rights to a decent wage, no rights to fair and decent treatment. You have modern liberals and socialists to thank for the fact that you live in a country with free education and free healthcare. Don't underestimate that. Perhaps you are rich enough to complain about these systems and go private. Others however don't have that luxury and infact thank God (or Keynes/Bevan/Beveridge/Atlee etc) for the fact they won't die of hunger or preventable diseases.
You keep bringing up non-capitalist systems in order to criticise capitalism. It's not a great like of attack, I have to tell you.
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Bagration
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(Original post by Amy***)
Are you trying to bring deference back in to fashion? I'm not sure you'd feel the same if you'd lived in the time before any state welfare provision?
What does state welfare provision have to do with free markets? State welfare provision is the allocation of money from one group of sociey to another. It's only real opponent is the economics of taxation which is not what I am addressing.

(Original post by Amy***)
Or perhaps if you'd lived in pinochet's chile?
Perhaps you'd like to live in Kim Jong Il's North Korea? Why do people flock from all the countries in the world to the United States? Because it offers freedom. It has the image of capitalism, and even if it isn't, deep down, that is the reason people move there: because human rational thought demands liberty and rejects tyranny. The United States has the highest immigration ratio in the world. That's quite the figure for leftists to come to terms with.

(Original post by Amy***)
Under these systems you as a worker would have no rights to a decent wage, no rights to fair and decent treatment.
Yet the British worker had better wages than the Russian worker or the American worker or the French worker during the Industrial revolution. Our country was the wealthiest for all sectors of society. That doesn't mean that their standards of living weren't poor by modern standards - but by the standards of a hundred years before they were marvellous.

(Original post by Amy***)
You have modern liberals and socialists for the fact that you live in a country with free education and free healthcare.
Actually it was the classical liberals that emancipated the working classes so they could vote for these things.

(Original post by Amy***)
Don't underestimate that. Perhaps you are rich enough to complain about these systems and go private others don't have that luxury and infact thank God (or Keynes/Bevan/Beveridge/Atlee) for the fact they won't die of hunger or preventable diseases.
I don't necessarily disagree with free education or free healthcare. I disagree with market restrictions outside the public sector or the expansion of the public sector to cover the market in conventional areas.
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Vincente
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#87
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Actually it was the classical liberals that emancipated the working classes so they could vote for these things.
It was the Conservative Party under Disraeli But keep defending the market economy you are saving me from having to contribute

Also use Hong Kong, Milton Friedman's prime example of the market economy.
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Bagration
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(Original post by Vincente)
It was the Conservative Party under Disraeli But keep defending the market economy you are saving me from having to contribute

Also use Hong Kong, Milton Friedman's prime example of the market economy.
To be fair, Disraeli would probably be called a Classical Liberal nowadays.
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Vincente
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To be fair, Disraeli would probably be called a Classical Liberal nowadays.
Possibly. But he is still pragmatic conservative in my opinion.
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Bagration
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(Original post by Vincente)
Possibly. But he is still pragmatic conservative in my opinion.
I agree. But Classical Liberals had more to do with political emancipation than either New Liberals (who didn't exist) or Socialists.
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Gremlins
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(Original post by Bagration)
I agree. But Classical Liberals had more to do with political emancipation than either New Liberals (who didn't exist) or Socialists.
Yeah, the Labour movement had absolutely no role in the emancipation of the working class. At all. As for the New Liberals, it was Lloyd George who introduced something approaching universal enfranchisement.

And Disraeli, by the way, was definitely not a Classical Liberal; he was a traditional Conservative through and through, just like Salisbury would be a few years later.
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DrunkHamster
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#92
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(Original post by Amy***)
Are you trying to bring deference back in to fashion? I'm not sure you'd feel the same if you'd lived in the time before any state welfare provision? Or perhaps if you'd lived in pinochet's chile? Under these systems you as a worker would have no rights to a decent wage, no rights to fair and decent treatment. You have modern liberals and socialists to thank for the fact that you live in a country with free education and free healthcare. Don't underestimate that. Perhaps you are rich enough to complain about these systems and go private. Others however don't have that luxury and infact thank God (or Keynes/Bevan/Beveridge/Atlee etc) for the fact they won't die of hunger or preventable diseases.
No one does have a right to 'a decent wage,' however that nebulous concept is even defined. What people do have a right to is to voluntarily exchange their labour for whatever they can get for it - and luckily enough, with the improvements in productivity that free markets create, this normally turns out to be perfectly decent. You fundamentally misunderstand the source of value if you think that modern liberals and socialists were somehow able to magically get everyone a 'decent wage' that the evil capitalists were hitherto denying them.
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Bagration
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#93
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(Original post by Gremlins)
Yeah, the Labour movement had absolutely no role in the emancipation of the working class. At all. As for the New Liberals, it was Lloyd George who introduced something approaching universal enfranchisement.

And Disraeli, by the way, was definitely not a Classical Liberal; he was a traditional Conservative through and through, just like Salisbury would be a few years later.
Lloyd George would not be allowed to join the Liberal party nowadays, put it that way.
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HoVis
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(Original post by Pocket Calculator)
you know, that's an interesting point.

although even considering that, stalin killed far more people than was "appropriate".
Exactly. Most of the people killed in the Purges were killed in order to strengthen Stalin's personal power, not to aid the economic progression.
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Pocket Calculator
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#95
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stalinism probably put the USSR behind the west in terms of technology - Stalin's drive for self-sufficiency probably occurred at the expense of real progress in high technology. that's probably true of Khrushchev too and his Virgin Lands malarky.
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Vincente
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Exactly. Most of the people killed in the Purges were killed in order to strengthen Stalin's personal power, not to aid the economic progression.
It is undeniable that the Great Purges under Stalin strengthened Stalin's position in power however it can't either be denied the incredible (intentional) economic achievements Stalinism had upon the USSR. People tend to neglect that Russia from the 18th century had always been extremely backwards in socio-economic terms. It retained Serfdom well until the 19th century and didn't begin industrial development until the late 19th century. The civil war also pushed Russia backwards as well.

Now what did Stalinism do then? Despite the mass destruction of the Soviet economy due to the second world war, the USSR was the second largest economy in the world well until the late 1980s. It was the one of the superpowers of the world, the closest that Russia had previously ever come towards this was the defeat of Napoleon. It was technology advanced: it held a monopoly over atomic weapons with the USA, it was the first to send a satellite into space, it supplied the 'Second World' with its technical experts. In fact around a quarter of the world's science literature is published in Russian. Although consumer goods did suffer as a result.
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HoVis
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#97
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(Original post by Vincente)
It is undeniable that the Great Purges under Stalin strengthened Stalin's position in power however it can't either be denied the incredible (intentional) economic achievements Stalinism had upon the USSR. People tend to neglect that Russia from the 18th century had always been extremely backwards in socio-economic terms. It retained Serfdom well until the 19th century and didn't begin industrial development until the late 19th century. The civil war also pushed Russia backwards as well.

Now what did Stalinism do then? Despite the mass destruction of the Soviet economy due to the second world war, the USSR was the second largest economy in the world well until the late 1980s. It was the one of the superpowers of the world, the closest that Russia had previously ever come towards this was the defeat of Napoleon. It was technology advanced: it held a monopoly over atomic weapons with the USA, it was the first to send a satellite into space, it supplied the 'Second World' with its technical experts. In fact around a quarter of the world's science literature is published in Russian. Although consumer goods did suffer as a result.
The advances can't be denied, you're quite right. In some ways then, 'Stalinism' as an economic method which involves rapid industrialisation etc etc has therefore proved itself to be a good thing. But in my mind that whole concept is tied up with the other things occurring under 'Stalinism' - I'm sure that the industrialisation of Russia could have been implemented without the radical political Purges. That some of the Purges targeted the precise people who could help the economy progress (the Kulaks, the most efficient farmers, for example) is a sign that not all of Stalinism was concerned with aiding the economy.

Furthermore, some of the times when the industrialisation was really in trouble Stalin did have to revert to 'less Communist' means, for example in easing off with collectivisation at one point to ensure that the peasants actually sowed their grain. Do people think that a "truly Communist" economy is possible - and that Stalin could have achieved what he admittedly did without the incredible loss of life?

Do people think that, had the Tsars continued 'uninterrupted' by revolution in 1917, Russia might still have been able to achieve modernisation, for example through continuing the reforms of Stolypin in creating a new, 'monied peasantry' class to stimulate the economy and agriculture?

To what extent can 'progress' be measured in the growth rates and exports of a country rather than in the living standards and relative 'happiness' of its people?
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Vincente
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#98
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The advances can't be denied, you're quite right. In some ways then, 'Stalinism' as an economic method which involves rapid industrialisation etc etc has therefore proved itself to be a good thing. But in my mind that whole concept is tied up with the other things occurring under 'Stalinism' - I'm sure that the industrialisation of Russia could have been implemented without the radical political Purges. That some of the Purges targeted the precise people who could help the economy progress (the Kulaks, the most efficient farmers, for example) is a sign that not all of Stalinism was concerned with aiding the economy.
Firstly one must know what is Stalinism. Until university the term is usually associated with forced collectivization, the great purges and forced indusrial development which is what most textbooks would say especially my A level ones. These factors ARE elements of Stalinism but not the core theme which is usually known as the 'Great Break'. The concept of Stalinism as much I could simplify it was a combination of a cultural revolution and the creation of a new advanced soviet society. In effect a break from the past socially and economically. Stalinism achieved this.

But as to your other points we are now touching upon areas historians shouldn't, but why not! The political repression issue has been touched on already thus no need to discuss. As for the Kulaks one must ask why were they eliminated? It is precisely because they refused to sell their grain that was halting economic development, it was no good having a productive agricultural sector which was not prepared to sell its commodity to the state at a low price or because of the lack of consumer goods. The world in the 1930s was also in a major global slump, the Soviet Union could only accumulate capital by selling them at even lower prices than the already depressed prices. Stalinism wanted to break from Russia's historical backwardness in the fear of another western incursion.

Also what was the alternative aside 'socialism in one country'? Trotsky's 'permanent revolution' and believe me there won't be much development here. The 'left' within the communist party wanted further confrontation with the west as opposed to consolidation.

Furthermore, some of the times when the industrialisation was really in trouble Stalin did have to revert to 'less Communist' means, for example in easing off with collectivisation at one point to ensure that the peasants actually sowed their grain. Do people think that a "truly Communist" economy is possible - and that Stalin could have achieved what he admittedly did without the incredible loss of life?
A 'truly communist economy' (a term I really don't like) is one based on a communue like system, one that anarcho-collectivists envisage. Not the one Stalin desired for.

Do people think that, had the Tsars continued 'uninterrupted' by revolution in 1917, Russia might still have been able to achieve modernisation, for example through continuing the reforms of Stolypin in creating a new, 'monied peasantry' class to stimulate the economy and agriculture?
No. Again I don't like doing this 'what-ifs' in history. But one should note that upon the war that Russia was on the verge of paralysis due to a general strike and major unrest across the empire, would revolution occured if there was no patriotic surge due to the war? If there was a revolution and an assembly based on universal manhood suffrage who would most likely win? The populists and the Marxists (both wings) what kind of economic system would we have here? Most certainly not one similar to that of Britain and Germany which benefited the bourgeoisie. But lets take it that IF the Tsar remained in power after the war would Russia still modernise? Yes but at a considerably slower rate, after all Tsar Nicholas the 2nd and Alexander the 3rd were clear Slavophiles as opposed to Peter the Great an would reject the socio-economic ideas of the west and wished to pursue a distinct 'Russian' path. Remember the Tsar and his aides ended Stolypin's policy after his death hence it is unrealistic to consider the Tsar continuing them.

To what extent can 'progress' be measured in the growth rates and exports of a country rather than in the living standards and relative 'happiness' of its people?
I think the notion of using 'happiness' as an indicator is a bit silly although living standards is a good proposition. Well, look at it this way, a new 'civilization' has been created was created by Stalinism. The welfare state much associated with the left in the western sphere first emerged in Stalin's USSR. Universal health-care, education and childcare was provided to the new urban population. Living standards rose greatly towards the end of the Stalinist system and was built on by Stalin's successors. This is something people tend to neglect when it comes to life in the USSR and if you study life in the USSR you will be fascinated by this vast improvements. I mean look at the impact of health in Russia and the impact of its population when the USSR collapsed, cases like TB etc had re-emerged when numerous diseases was wiped out during the Soviet era.
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HoVis
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#99
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(Original post by Vincente)
Firstly one must know what is Stalinism. Until university the term is usually associated with forced collectivization, the great purges and forced indusrial development which is what most textbooks would say especially my A level ones. These factors ARE elements of Stalinism but not the core theme which is usually known as the 'Great Break'. The concept of Stalinism as much I could simplify it was a combination of a cultural revolution and the creation of a new advanced soviet society. In effect a break from the past socially and economically. Stalinism achieved this.
Fair point - I won't argue with that since the only Stalin textbooks I have read are those aforementioned A Level ones...

But as to your other points we are now touching upon areas historians shouldn't, but why not! The political repression issue has been touched on already thus no need to discuss. As for the Kulaks one must ask why were they eliminated? It is precisely because they refused to sell their grain that was halting economic development, it was no good having a productive agricultural sector which was not prepared to sell its commodity to the state at a low price or because of the lack of consumer goods. The world in the 1930s was also in a major global slump, the Soviet Union could only accumulate capital by selling them at even lower prices than the already depressed prices. Stalinism wanted to break from Russia's historical backwardness in the fear of another western incursion.
Once again I find myself in agreement; after all Russia didn't suffer in the way Western countries did after the Wall Street Crash. However I still stand by my opinion that Stalin used the concept of 'Dekulakisation' in order to eliminate not just those causing genuine problems, but anyone who deviated even slightly from what he viewed as being the 'way of doing things'.

Also what was the alternative aside 'socialism in one country'? Trotsky's 'permanent revolution' and believe me there won't be much development here. The 'left' within the communist party wanted further confrontation with the west as opposed to consolidation
.

The only alternative would probably be a continuation of NEP, or at least a far more gradual break with it, as Kirov might have done had he been permitted to rightfully take power after the 1934 Party Congress.

No. Again I don't like doing this 'what-ifs' in history. But one should note that upon the war that Russia was on the verge of paralysis due to a general strike and major unrest across the empire, would revolution occured if there was no patriotic surge due to the war? If there was a revolution and an assembly based on universal manhood suffrage who would most likely win? The populists and the Marxists (both wings) what kind of economic system would we have here? Most certainly not one similar to that of Britain and Germany which benefited the bourgeoisie. But lets take it that IF the Tsar remained in power after the war would Russia still modernise? Yes but at a considerably slower rate, after all Tsar Nicholas the 2nd and Alexander the 3rd were clear Slavophiles as opposed to Peter the Great an would reject the socio-economic ideas of the west and wished to pursue a distinct 'Russian' path. Remember the Tsar and his aides ended Stolypin's policy after his death hence it is unrealistic to consider the Tsar continuing them.
Slightly off-topic, but isn't the use of 'what-ifs' one of the main tools for judging history? For example in a question as to what was the most important factor in a particular event or development, a historian needs to imagine what the situation might have been without a certain factor in order to judge how important it was?

I think the notion of using 'happiness' as an indicator is a bit silly although living standards is a good proposition. Well, look at it this way, a new 'civilization' has been created was created by Stalinism. The welfare state much associated with the left in the western sphere first emerged in Stalin's USSR. Universal health-care, education and childcare was provided to the new urban population. Living standards rose greatly towards the end of the Stalinist system and was built on by Stalin's successors. This is something people tend to neglect when it comes to life in the USSR and if you study life in the USSR you will be fascinated by this vast improvements. I mean look at the impact of health in Russia and the impact of its population when the USSR collapsed, cases like TB etc had re-emerged when numerous diseases was wiped out during the Soviet era.
Ok, fair point. However, in the end does it come down to whether or not you agree with the concept of 'the ends justifying the means'? I still stand by my original statement in this thread; although I may have underestimated the achievements of Stalin in this period, I still can't see how they justify so much death and suffering at the time.

Anyway, I feel that I'm a tad out of my depth here and shall bow out with that. And will probably print off this debate when it comes to exam time... :rolleyes: Thanks for taking the time to respond to my posts, Vincente
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Vincente
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#100
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However I still stand by my opinion that Stalin used the concept of 'Dekulakisation' in order to eliminate not just those causing genuine problems, but anyone who deviated even slightly from what he viewed as being the 'way of doing things'.
Well if you study history of the Soviet Union you could most certainly write about this and take a more critical stance against Stalinism.

The only alternative would probably be a continuation of NEP, or at least a far more gradual break with it, as Kirov might have done had he been permitted to rightfully take power after the 1934 Party Congress.
Good proposition here. But one must look at the circumstances here. The NEP was initiated by Lenin and receieved mass outcry from the Bolsheviks, in essence he was considered as selling out to the bourgeoisie and the Menchevik's ideals. Maybe it was because of his stature that the plan remained until his death. Also during the 1920s there was a persistent fear that there was going to be a western invasion and hence Trotsky and Stalin's two rather bold ideas: confrontation or building socialism in one country to combat an invasion. The NEPs role of reviving the country was working BUT there is a great historical debate here especially with Lenin's death: was it only temporary or going to last longer (remember the distinction between Mensheviks and the other ideas floating around). I guess you can decide for yourself here, but in my opinion it was either Stalin or Trotsky.

Slightly off-topic, but isn't the use of 'what-ifs' one of the main tools for judging history? For example in a question as to what was the most important factor in a particular event or development, a historian needs to imagine what the situation might have been without a certain factor in order to judge how important it was?
History at a higher level is more about historiography. The 'what is the most important factor' is part of historiography in the sense of Soviet historiography would see socio-economic development as the main factor for development in say the 1905 revolution. In effect its about interpretations of historical events or developments etc as opposed to what may have happened instead, like the ideas I brought up.
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