The fall of the Soviet Union illustrates clearly that Communism is a flawed ideology

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“The fall of the Soviet Union illustrates clearly that Communism is a flawed ideology,” Do you agree? Explain your answer.

We disagree with the above statement as we feel that there were more significant illustrations that we can draw forth such as human inefficiency and Gorbachev’s policies. Therefore, communism as flawed ideology was not the main cause of the fall of the Soviet Union.

The fall of the Soviet Union does illustrates clearly that Communism is a flawed ideology as firstly; there were little incentives for work. The people saw no point in working hard to produce food which was taken away from them without adequate compensation, but simply produced enough for their own needs and also produced low quality work. This caused severe food shortages which were further aggravated by droughts and a weak economy.

Secondly, Communism as a universalistic ideology was severely unrealistic as it felt that it could make people overlook their own national identity and unite with workers from other countries, which was too far-fetched as people were more concerned with the well-being of themselves in their own countries. As a result, it failed to consider the national aspirations of the different ethnic groups within the USSR and its satellite states, which became a contribution factor to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Thirdly, as Communism was a rigid and conservative system that did not accept suggestions and change, thus there was a lack of improvement in the way the Soviet Union was governed, leading to the people’s need not met and a further decline in the popularity of Communism as an ideology which then contributed to the love morale within the USSR which gradually led to the falling of the Soviet Union. Therefore, there was no accountability to the people and they lost touch with the system on the ground level.

However, the fall of the Soviet Union more significantly illustrates human efficiency as firstly; the Soviet Union was ruled by a central government where there had been a bad management of finances through the poor and slow decisions by the central government. The central government did not constantly make the right choice and made decisions that were not beneficial towards the country. For example, different parts of Russia had different weather conditions and temperature which meant the people would have different needs, however, the central government was not able to properly judge the situation and provide the people with sufficient food and the right necessities. Also the central government would be the one who was deciding what types of goods and products were able to be sold. As a result, managers had to wait a long time before they knew which types of goods they were allowed to sell. Also, government finances were spent mainly on military advancement, because conditions of consumer goods were neglected as a result of the promotion of production of goods for the heavy industries. which again results in the needs of the people not being met causing the decline of support for the Communist government and eventually the fall of the Soviet Union

Secondly, Gorbachev’s rise to power and popularity which meant the increase in his say of the running of the government. As he was impressed with the kind of life that the Western Europeans enjoyed, he decided to also put forward leaders who are younger and more open-minded in top government positions and looked for ways to slove the USSR’s economic problems, This therefore, led to the introduction of two main ideas which he hoped would also improve the living conditions of the locals and the economy. The two ideas that had been introduced were Perestroika and Glasnost.

Perestroika referred to restructuring and change. This idea encouraged the major changes in the running of the government. There was an introduction to a market economy, giving full authority to all factory managers. As a result of this, they would fire anyone who they thought were not doing their job which led to an increase in unemployment in USSR. Since the factories had control over what was produce, they would sell more expensive goods. As people had already been used to having jobs no matter their efforts due to the lack of incentives, they could not accept the sudden change of having to work hard to keep their jobs. Also, now that factory managers could sell more expensive goods, the working class which was the majority of the population, could not afford these products and felt unfairly treated. These problems created resentment among the people towards the government. As people were very short-sighted and only saw the problems before them at the time, unhappiness amongst the people led to further unpopularity of the government and later, the falling of the Soviet Union.

Glasnost means openness and this idea encouraged the locals to express their ideas more freely without the fear of being persecuted or punished. This idea also allowed more freedom of speech and less censorship in the media. Gorbachev used the media to publicize the inefficiency and corruption, educate public opinion and mobilize support for the new policies. As the media employed less censorship. The people started seeing the negative things about the government. As the USSR had always used propaganda and terror as a means of controlling the people, now that they could freely express their resentment, the USSR lost control and power over the people, leading to destabilization of USSR and thus the fall of the Soviet Union.

Furthermore, as republics began to demand independence through the organization of massive demonstrations and were not suppressed by Gorbachev and his troops, a domino effect had commenced and many republics began campaigning for their independence. In 1991, the continuing protests made Gorbachev decide to give more power to the republic. He hoped that by giving them more power, the republics would agree to stay on as part of the Soviet Union. He had arranged to sign a treaty with the republics called the Union Treaty. If the republics chose to belong to this union, the central government would make decisions about foreign policy and national security. However, the republics were free to make their own rules in other areas of the government. However, Gorbachev was overthrown by the hard-line communists and yeltsin before the treaty could be signed therefore leading to the USSR’s loss of hold over Eastern Europe and thus the fall of the Soviet Union.

In conclusion, we disagree with the above statement as the fall of the Soviet Union had illustrated other clearer and more significant things which were human inefficiency in the central government and the sudden implementation of Gorbachev’s drastic change in ideas of governance through Perestroika and Glasnost.

(1096 words)

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Lowe, N. (2008) Mastering Modern World History (4th edition). New York: Palgrave Macmillian. pp. 391-398

Arasumani, R. Yeo, L. (2007) Crisis And Conflict, an enquiry approach to modern world history, Marshall Cavendish Education. pp 234-247, pg 239

Done by: Amelia, Audrey and Tiziana

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