The collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, as well as the USSR collapse, is certainly the biggest development in global politics since World War II. Communism obtained a strong foothold worldwide in the twentieth century, and it had a third of the world’s population who lived under Communism by 1970s (Prowe 1998 p.122). But after a decade, several communist governments around the globe collapsed. The reform policies by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union stirred the opposition movements to the Communist regimes within the Soviet member countries. Demonstrations increased and became more often. Governments were forced to admit measures that were stipulated by Gorbachev towards liberalization. But these measures were considered to be insufficient. Communism later collapsed and followed by the Soviet Union. This paper will discuss major aspects that resulted in the downfall of Communism within the Soviet Union.
The First Cracks in the Wall
At the time of Joseph Stalin’s death in March in 1953 when the Soviet Union had risen to be an industrial power. Regardless of the supremacy of terror which described the regime for Stalin, several Russians mourned his death and arose the hesitations regarding the communist’s future. Immediately after the death of Stalin, the struggle for leadership in the Soviet Union began (Stokes 1993 p.28). Ultimately Nikita Khrushchev became victorious, but the uncertainty that had occurred before he rose to the premiership had encouraged some sort of anti-communism in Eastern Europe countries. Rebellions immediately subdued fast in both Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia, but the most significant revolutions happened in East Germany.
Workers in Eastern Berlin started a strike on June 1953 due to conditions in the state which after a short time diffused to other regions of the state. The strike was terminated very fast by East German as well as the Soviet military forces sending a strong message that any opposition against Communism would be suppressed harshly. Nonetheless, unrests still occurred spreading throughout Eastern Europe and increased in 1956, at the point whereby Poland and Hungary encountered big demonstrations against the communist rule as well as the Soviet influence (Best et al. 2014 p122). Hungary was also invaded by the Soviet forces in November 1956 to suppress what was referred to as the Hungarian Revolution. Many Hungarians died due to this invasion, sending anxiety across the western world. At that time, the military actions appeared to have created an impediment on the anti-communists activity, which would start again a few decades later.
The Solidarity Movement
In the 1980s, it was noteworthy that another phenomenon would emerge that would eventually take away the power and influence of the Soviet Union. Lech Walesa, the Polish activist, led the solidarity movement which started reacting to policies that the Polish Communist Party established in 1980. Poland opted to manage food subsidies in April 1980 which had remained to be a life-line to many Poland people who suffered through economic challenges. The workers at the Polish shipyard in Gdansk opted to conduct a strike when they were repudiated the wage-increases petitions (Savranskaya, Blanton, & Zubok 2010 p210). The strike diffused to other parts of the country, as factory workers in Poland voting to support the Gdansk workers. Strikes progressed up to fifteen months, negotiations between the Polish Communist regime and leaders of Solidary. Eventually, the government of Poland decided to order whole martial law in October 1982, which ended the Solidarity movement. Regardless of its eventual failure, the movement saw a vision of the downfall of Communism within the Soviet Union.
Essentially, the fall of the Berlin Wall was the termination of the radical changes occurring in East-Central Europe in 1989. In the entire Soviet Union, reformers took power and terminated over forty years of communist ruling that was dictatorial. The reform movement which wiped away Communism within East-Central Europe started in Poland (Bertaux, Thompson, & Rotkirch 2004 p31). The Solidarity which was an anti-communist trade union as well as a social movement had made the communist government of Poland acknowledge it in 1980 through series of strikes which obtained declared martial law, led to arrest of Solidarity leaders, as well as banning democratic trade union. However, the ban failed to end Solidarity. This movement merely subsidized as the unruly poles aligned their civil society, separating them from the government ruled by communists.
In 1985, the Soviet Union came into a different leadership under Mikhail Gorbachev. He was a young, reformed minded leader. He was aware that the Soviet Union was going through a lot of internal issues, which included economic challenges and dissatisfaction of Communism. Gorbachev strived to induce a broad policy focused on financial restructuring, which he referred to as perestroika (“President Reagan’s Evil Empire Speech” n.d.). He was aware that the powerful bureaucrats in the regime had been an obstacle to economic reforms in the past. Gorbachev had to mobilize people to support him and pressurize the bureaucrats and therefore presented two new polices named; demokratizatsiya meaning democratization and glasnost meaning openness. They were supposed to mobilize ordinary Russian people to express their concerns as well as discontent with the regime. He was hoping that the policies would motivate people to raise their concerns about the central government and therefore pressurize the bureaucrats to admit his recommended economic reforms. A significant effect was expected to be noticed form the policies, but it suddenly got unmanageable (Khanenko-Friesen & Grinchenko 2015 p188). At the point when Russians noticed that Gorbachev would not interfere with their new freedom of expression, they made complaints more than just discontent with the regime as well as the bureaucracy. The entire communism concept inclusive of its ideology, effectiveness and history as a government system arose for debate. These democratization policies eventually made Gorbachev be very popular in Russia and other parts of the world.
In essence, the takeover of power by the reformer Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union encourage economic growth as well as political reforms within East Central Europe. Gorbachev left the Brezhnev Doctrine which was the policy intervening with the military forces by Soviet Union and also preserving the Communism within the area (Vaněk & Mücke 2016 p22). Rather, he mobilized the local Communist leaders to find other strategies for gaining popular support in their ruling. The Hungarian communist government also began reforms within 1989 that resulted in the sanction of a multiparty system, including elections that are competitive (“Ronald Reagan—Speech” n.d.). While in Poland, communists sat in private to discussion with revived Solidarity. Therefore, Poland conducted its first election that was based on competition as from World War II, Solidarity created the first government that was non-communists with the Soviet Union from 1948. East Germans got inspiration from its neighbors and demonstrated in the streets in summer than in 1989 called for reforms, involving freedom to travel to West Berlin (Raleigh 2013 p44). Moscow refused to utilize military force in buoying the East German regime leader called Erich Honecker resulted in his replacement as well as the start of political reforms, resulting in up to the critical decision expose the border crossings.
When people within the Communist Easter Europe came to know that Russians would hardly do anything to subdue dissent, they started challenging their own regimes as well as work to establish pluralist systems within their countries. Shortly, the Eastern Europe Communist regimes started to tumble one after the other (Bisley 2004 p14). In 1989, this wave began with Poland and Hungary and instantly spread to Romania, Bulgaria as well as Czechoslovakia. In East Germany there were significant demonstrations that ultimately made the regime to enable its people to visit the West. Several people crossed the border, and the people from East and West Berlin assembled around the Berlin wall, dissecting it small by small using pickaxes as well as other tools. The government of East German was not able to retain power, and the German reunification happened shortly after, in 1990. One year down the line, the Soviet Union disintegrated and stopped existing in 1991 (Legvold 1997 p24). This was the final death toll of the Cold War signifying the termination of Communism, which had been formed 74 years before. Even though Communism has nearly extinguish, there are some five communist countries such as Vietnam, Cuba, China, North Korea and Laos.
To sum it all, the collapse of communism was not due to American policies as well as the cold war but more about the challenges encountered by the Soviet Union both at home and abroad. Specific events resulted in its collapse. Communism collapse also resulted in the disbandment of the Soviet Union, overwhelmed by economic, ideological and political crisis. As a result, this causes the collapse of the empire, thus being the cause and effect of the termination of Communism. The organizations precise to the Soviet federalism hurried the collapse of the Soviet Union regardless of being primarily aimed at consolidating it. One by one, the Soviet Socialist Republic declared their dominance in 1991 summer. In December 1991, some of these states which were already independent, restructured their particular links to create the Commonwealth of Independent States.