Gorbachev’s decision to allow elections with a multi-party system and create a presidency for the Soviet Union began a slow process of democratization that eventually destabilized Communist control and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Why did the Soviet Union Collapse ? USSR, very powerful country, the largest in the world, the center of Communism and Socialism. Since 1961, the heavily guarded Berlin Wall had divided Germany into Soviet-communist ruled East Germany and democratic West Germany. Mikhail Gorbachev: The Last General Secretary of the Soviet Union. Many historians believe that the two policies he put in place to address the nations challenges, glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), hastened the dissolution of the Soviet system, which was already in decline. He was a teacher in the Chicago suburbs and Seoul, South Korea, prior to joining Britannica as a freelancer in 2000. In October 1989, East Germany’s communist leadership was forced from power, and on November 9, 1989, the new East German government did indeed “tear down that wall.” For the first time in nearly three decades, the Berlin Wall ceased to function as a political barrier and East Germans could travel freely to the West. The economic liberalization of perestroika and the political chaos of glasnost severely reduced military funding and strength. : Understanding Historical Change. Thanks to perestroika’s economic drift toward Western capitalism, coupled with glasnost’s apparent loosening of political restrictions, the government that Soviet people once feared suddenly appeared vulnerable to them. Within each republic, citizens of diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religions were often at odds with each other. In 2011, Markar Melkonian wrote that Western capitalist nations present three broad arguments to justify the collapse of the Soviet Union. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. After Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev, as the new leader of the Soviet Union, allowed an ethnic Ukrainian revival, and in 1954, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic became a founding member of the United Nations. Between 1985 and 1991, the residual troop strength of the Soviet Military fell from over 5.3 million to fewer than 2.7 million. Especially in the outlying republics in Eastern Europe, discrimination against the ethnic minorities by the Soviet majority created constant tension. The reforms implemented by President Mikhail Gorbachev and the backlash against them hastened the demise of the Soviet state. Warsaw Pact: Definition, History, and Significance, What Is Totalitarianism? As poverty weakened the argument behind the Soviet system, the people demanded reforms. Without the great purge by 1936 the Soviet Union would be like France in OTL. Read this book using Google Play Books app on your PC, android, iOS devices. Under perestroika, the Soviet Union would adopt a mixed communist-capitalist economic system similar to that of modern-day China. Using the words, “We’re now living in a new world,” Gorbachev effectively agreed to end the Cold War, a tense 40-year period during which the Soviet Union and the United States held the world at the brink of nuclear holocaust. It’s not the day ofthe Belovezha Accords, nor theAugust coup [of 1991]. In Kyrgyzstan, 16% of respondents said the collapse of the USSR did good, while 61% said it did harm. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? In 1964, new Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev allowed industries to emphasize profit over production. Lee "Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? During the same time period, more than 100,000 Soviet troops had been committed to the Afghanistan War. Finally, in August 1991, Communist Party hardliners, who had always opposed perestroika and glasnost, led the military in an attempt to overthrow Gorbachev. The immediate cause of the Soviet collapse was economic, as the Soviet Union lost the arms race and international competition with the West. Glasnost was intended to remove some of the decades-old limitations on the daily lives of the Soviet people. Of the many factors leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, a rapidly failing post World War II economy and weakened military, along with a series of forced social and political reforms like perestroika and glasnost, played major roles in the fall of the mighty Red Bear. Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? On January 1, 1991, the Soviet Union was the largest country in the world, covering some 8,650,000 square miles (22,400,000 square km), nearly one-sixth of Earth’s land surface. 1446 Words 6 Pages. Collapse of the Soviet Union, sequence of events that led to the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. on December 31, 1991. Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? As the former Soviet allies divided along ethnic lines, similar separatist independence movements emerged in several of the Soviet republics—most notably, Ukraine. There are several themes that the time-period‟s histories address, but, for the most part, they conveniently tend to focus on the central question of “why did the Soviet Union collapse?” This question will frame the structure of this historiography paper. : Understanding Historical Change. Why did the Soviet Union collapse? Though Gorbachev remained in office, the coup further destabilized the USSR, thus contributing to its final dissolution on December 25, 1991. In the final analysis, it was his predecessor, Leonid Brezhnev, who wasted the nation’s massive profits from a 20-year-long oil boom on an unwinnable arms race against the United States, rather than working to raise the standards of living of the Soviet people, long before Gorbachev came to power. 246.8 million). Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. There would be a million factions all pushing their ideology and when faced with war the soviet society will break apart as a lot of opportunists would see that as their way to get into power. Throughout its history, the Soviet Union’s economy depended on a system under which the central government, the Politburo, controlled all sources of industrial and agricultural production. The Soviet Union’s failing post-World War II economy and weakened military, along with public dissatisfaction with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s loosened economic and political policies of perestroika and glasnost, contributed to its ultimate collapse. Robert Longley is a U.S. government and history expert with over 30 years of experience in municipal government and urban planning. Even during World War II, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army had conducted a guerilla warfare campaign for Ukrainian independence against both Germany and the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union dissolved, its 15 former Communist Party-controlled republics gained independence, leaving the United States as the world’s last remaining superpower. According to a 2014 poll, 57 percen… Witnessing the economic hypocrisy, many young Soviets refused to buy into the old-line communist ideology. Taking the Soviet collapse - the most cataclysmic event of the recent past - as a case study, this text engages students in the exercise of historical analysis, interpretation and explanation. In December of nineteen ninety-one the Soviet Union collapsed. From the 1920s to the start of World War II, the “Five Year Plans” of Joseph Stalin placed the production of capital goods, like military hardware, over the production of consumer goods. When he became president of the Soviet Union in 1985, Gorbachev inherited both a moribund economy and a crumbling political system. The Soviet Union officially fell on December, 26 1991 when the USSR was dissolved and the communist-era policies of the region ceased. why-did-the-soviet-union-collapse Download the worksheet for today’s lesson here. The United States was able to profit from its imperialist exploitation of other countries, while socialism could only lose economically in that competition. The first major reduction came in 1988, when Gorbachev responded to long-stalled arms reduction treaty negotiations by drawing down its military by 500,000 men—a 10% reduction. These countries made up the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s failing post-World War II economy and weakened military, along with public dissatisfaction with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s loosened economic and political policies of perestroika and glasnost, contributed to its ultimate collapse. However, while the post-perestroika elections offered voters a choice of candidates, including for the first time, non-communists, the Communist Party continued to dominate the political system. In the old economic argument of “guns or butter,” Stalin chose guns. Get a free audiobook with a 30-day trial today by signing up at http://www.audible.com/infographics or text INFOGRAPHICS to 500-500 to get started! And reform they would soon get from Mikhail Gorbachev. What Was the USSR and Which Countries Were in It? While the government still planned the direction of the economy, the Politburo allowed free-market forces like supply and demand to dictate some decisions on how much of what would be produced. in history from Michigan State University in 1995. Unforeseen by Gorbachev and the Communist Party, perestroika and glasnost did more to cause the fall of the Soviet Union than they did to prevent it. Hired as... By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. East Berliners climb onto the Berlin Wall to celebrate the effective end of the city's partition, 31st December 1989. A 2018 Levada Center poll showed that 66% of Russians lamented the fall of the Soviet Union. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Democratic Reform Throughout the Soviet Block. I have to write a 4000-word school essay and wanted to see why it actually collapsed and if you guys could explain why and give good sources that'd be appreciated. By 1942, the Soviet Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had plummeted by 34%, crippling the nation’s industrial output and retarding its overall economy until the 1960s. A few days before an eleven republics dropped out the Soviet Union. : Understanding Historical Change Understanding Historical Change" por Robert Strayer disponible en Rakuten Kobo. In essence, Gorbachev’s glasnost policies promised the Soviet people a voice and the freedom to express it, which they would soon do. Instead of immediately and openly informing the people of the explosion, as promised under glasnost, Communist Party officials suppressed all information about the disaster and its dangers to the public. The Soviet people learned the realities of glasnost in the aftermath of the explosion of a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station in Pryp’yat, now in Ukraine, on April 26, 1986. Based on its world leadership in petroleum production, the Soviet economy remained strong until the German invasion of Moscow in 1941. “The date of the USSR’s collapse is well known. In this video I explain the factors that contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union Works Cited: (1) Grachev, A. S. Final Days: The inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Seizing on their new powers to organize and speak out against the government, they began to demand the total end of Soviet rule. At the time it dissolved, the Soviet Union was composed of 15 separate constitutional republics. It was Sept. 13, 1985 when Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Oil, [Ahmed] Yamani, declared that Saudi Arabia was quitting the agreement on oil production restraint, and started to boost its share in the oil market. The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of E PW. Ever since the collapse of the USSR, annual polling by the Levada Centerhas shown that over 50 percent of Russia's population regretted its collapse, with the only exception to this being in 2012. Within a year, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? Gorbachev thus ended nearly seven years of power and signalled the end of the Soviet Union which had begun in 1917 with the Revolution. Another reason for the troop decline was the widespread resistance to the Soviet military draft that arose when the new freedoms of glasnost allowed conscripted soldiers to speak publicly about the abusive treatment they suffered. Robert Strayer, Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? At the same moment, what had been the world’s largest communist state broke into 15 independent republics, leaving America as the last remaining global superpower. The ten-year quagmire that became the Afghan War left more than 15,000 Soviet troops dead and thousands more injured. 286.7 million) was $8,700, compared to $19,800 in the United States (pop. 2  The USSR's weakened military and … As a result, public trust in the government and glasnost was shattered. At 7:32 p.m. that evening, the Soviet flag above the Kremlin was replaced with the flag of the Russian Federation, led by its first president, Boris Yeltsin. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. (Photo by Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images). Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, average Soviets stood in breadlines as Communist Party leaders amassed ever greater wealth. Collapse of the Soviet Union - Collapse of the Soviet Union - The end of Soviet communism: The collapse of the coup led to the demise of Soviet communism, but the CPSU’s influence had been dwindling since at least the beginning of Gorbachev’s reform regime in 1985. Beginning in 1989, nationalist movements in the Warsaw Pact Soviet satellite nations, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia resulted in regime changes. While it is, for all practical purposes, impossible to pinpoint a single cause for an event as complex and far-reaching as the dissolution of a global superpower, a number of internal and external factors were certainly at play in the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Michel Ray earned a B.A. Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? Between 1989 and 1991, the now weakened Soviet military was unable to suppress anti-Soviet separatist movements in the republics of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Lithuania. Why did the Soviet Union Collapse? Definition and Examples, The Relationship of the United States With Russia, The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, 1979 - 1989, The Reagan Doctrine: To Wipe Out Communism, Boris Yeltsin: First President of the Russian Federation, Biography of Joseph Stalin, Dictator of the Soviet Union, Containment: America's Plan for Communism, END OF THE SOVIET UNION; Text of Gorbachev's Farewell Address, A Comparison of the US and Soviet Economies: Evaluating the Performance of the Soviet System, A nuclear disaster that brought down an empire, Gorbachev Pledges a 10% Troop Cut: Unilateral Pullback. Communism looks great on paper, but in reality its nothing more than a pipe dream. Find out … Soviet collapse that has appeared in the last 20 years. After a huge rise in their economy, the Soviet Union saw one of the harshest economic crashes in history: the Soviet people lost their homes, starved to death, and were desperate for any change that would relieve them from starvation and poverty. Its population numbered more than 290 million, and 100 distinct nationalities lived within its borders. The Russian Federation (formerly the Russian SFSR) assumed the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and is recognized as its continued legal personality. KEY WORDS: Coup = A sudden seizure of power from a government. In doing so, the U.S.S.R cannot profit from its very own oil products. Along with economic reform, Gorbachev’s perestroika was intended to draw new, younger voices into elite circles of the Communist Party, eventually resulting in the free democratic election of the Soviet government. However, the three-day August Coup—possibly the last attempt by the hardline communists to save the Soviet empire—failed when the now-fragmented military sided with Gorbachev. The explosion and fires spread more than 400 times the amount of radioactive fallout as the Hiroshima atomic bomb over much of the western USSR and other European countries. In 1985, the Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, came to power ready to launch two sweeping policies of reform: perestroika and glasnost. Corruption was the biggest factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Not until May 14—18 days after the disaster—did Gorbachev issue his first official public statement, in which he called Chernobyl a “misfortune” and slammed Western media reports as a “highly immoral campaign” of “malicious lies.” However, as people in the fallout zone and beyond reported suffering from the effects of radiation poisoning, the falsehoods of the Communist Party propaganda was exposed. Speaking in West Germany on June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan famously called on Soviet leader Gorbachev to “tear down that wall.” By this time, Reagan’s anti-communist Reagan Doctrine policies had weakened Soviet influence in Eastern Europe and talk of German reunification had already begun. The coup’s failure simply punctuated this decline by showcasing the hollow threat that the once-dominant Soviet apparat … Socialist Republic = Any state that is dedicated to the construction of a socialist society by its constitution. Despite the risk of radiation exposure, May Day parades in the affected areas were held as planned, as paid covert government agents called “apparatchiks” quietly removed Geiger counters from school science classrooms. What I think would always crush Bukharin`s Soviet Union is the political factionalism in it. Even more telling, the per capita income in the USSR (pop. Freedoms of speech, the press, and religion were restored, and hundreds of former political dissidents were released from prison. : Understanding Historical Change 3.2.1998 edition by Strayer, Robert (1998) Paperback: Amazon.com.mx: Libros By 1970, the Soviet economy reached its high point, with a GDP estimated at about 60% that of the United States. Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? By the time the USSR withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, its $2,500 billion GDP had dropped to just over 50% of the United States’ $4,862 billion. : Understanding Historical Change (English Edition) eBook: Strayer, Robert: Amazon.com.mx: Tienda Kindle Blame for the collapse of the Soviet Union is often unfairly placed solely on the policies of Mikhail Gorbachev. The Soviet Union officially dissolved on December 25, 1991, effectively ending the 40-year-long Cold War with the United States. The United States, under former President Ronald Reagan, convinced Saudi Arabia to reduce their oil prices. People are out for their own interests, and thats why communism failed. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev looks downcast as he addresses the Nation to announce his resignation on a TV image taken in Moscow on December 25, 1991. By October 1990, Germany was fully reunified, signaling the coming collapse of the Soviet Union and other communist Eastern European regimes. Despite Brezhnev’s reforms, the Politburo refused to increase the production of consumer goods. The reasons behind the dissolution of the Soviet Union are quite complex. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. It also boasted an arsenal of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, and its sphere of influence, exerted through such mechanisms as the Warsaw Pact, extended throughout eastern Europe. I can't find any Marxist analysis or soviet sources on the collapse. In 1979, however, costs of the Afghanistan War took the wind out of the Soviet economy’s sails. In Armenia, 12% of respondents said the USSR collapse did good, while 66% said it did harm. The wall prevented—often violently—dissatisfied East Germans from fleeing to freedom in the West. On December 25, 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union. : Understanding Historical Change - Ebook written by Robert Strayer. Learn more about one of … On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the remaining twelve constituent republics emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union as independent post-Soviet states. The general view behind the Soviet collapse is that even though they were able to emerge as a superpower on the global stage, in the end, the system was deemed unworkable and they mostly fell under their own weight. Understanding Historical Change After this, Saudi Arabia increased oil production by 5.5 fold, and oil prices dropped by 6.1 fold,” wrote Egor Gaidar, the arch… Why Did The Soviet Union Collapse. However, the continued repression of political and cultural rights by the Soviet central government in Ukraine spurred renewed separatist movements in the other republics, which fatally fractured the Soviet Union. There were many factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, including political policies, economics, defense spending, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Two major factors caused this massive break down, namely the weakened political structure and economic problems. : Understanding Historical Change - Kindle edition by Strayer, Robert. Decades later, Gorbachev would call Chernobyl “perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.”.