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The Collapse of the Soviet Union

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Kenzie Clark

on 23 May 2011

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Transcript of The Collapse of the Soviet Union

Created forced labor camps called GULAG where enemies of the state were sent to be tourtured and often killed Stalin was glorified and any successes said to be due to his greatness and inspiration

Took over several countries during WWII, which became satellites of the Soviet Union, in an attempt to spread Communism throughout Europe

Angered U.S. and began the arms race against them called the Cold War which put huge spendings into the military and research to develop weapons The Collapse of the Soviet Union What Is Communism? Communism is a “utopian vision that advocated the struggle of the working class against capitalism and sought the establishment of a classless, socialist society in which private property had been abolished and the means of production belonged to the community” (Valero) Everyone is equal, all classes eliminated from society People work for the benefit of society rather than for personal gain All aspects of economy including production, industries, prices and jobs, are controlled by the government, theoretically no more collapses No one owns land, all land is “public” one party rule Supposed to take power from rich and distribute it equally among everyone Supporters of these ideas, under Vladimir Lenin, formed a group called the Bolsheviks Russian Revolution February Revolution October Revolution Under control of Tsar Nicolas II who was strongly disliked

Various parties joined together and declared that the government should answer to the DUma, a legislative assembly instead of the Tsar

Tsar finally gave up power and was replaced the the Provisional Government Lenin and the Bolsheviks gained support and took over the Provisinal Government on October 25, 1917 naming Lenin the Leader of the new government

Bolsheviks fought off opposers in the Russian Civil War to give Lenin total power of Russia

Did a lot to help people at first and all was good until Lenin died in 1924 Stalin's Five Year Plan Lenin was succeeded by Joseph Stalin who came to power in 1927 and started his “Five Year Plan” for Russia

Focused on development of heavy industry and the collectivization of agriculture

Let no information in or out in what was described as the “Iron Curtain”

Media strictly controlled and religion abolished "Lenin saw the Russian Revolution as a transitional stage of socialism in which all the vestiges of capitalism had not been totally eliminated from society. Though is aim was for Russia to acheive a second, higher stage of communism, this second stage was never effectively acheived, and Lenin's Russia instead became a totalitarian state whose repressiveness would only be eclipsed by the brutality of his successor, Josef Stalin" (Valero) Living standards fell and people lives were entirely controlled by the government Problems Under Stalin Began to use terror as a way to prevent opposition Created secret police called the KGB whose task was to end all opposition Over 600,000 people were executed in these camps during what was called the Great Purge including government officials, influential Bolsheviks, peasants, and military leaders Khrushchev and De-Stalinization After Stalin’s death in 1953, Nikkita Khrushchev took over and began de-stalinization

This plan was a “reformist vision [that] was conceived as an attempt to return to an unsullied Leninism by stripping the system of the accumulated layers of distortion and bureaucracy” (Thompson 86)

Closed labor camps, took away power of secret police, relaxed tensions with west, and publicly disgraced Stalin

Living standards and life in general became slightly better for people

Reforms triggered riots in satellites and Khrushchev faced strong opposition from within Soviet Union until he was taken over by Leonid Brezhnev in 1962 “dictatorship collective rather than personal, and coercion replaced terror” (McKay 998) Brezhnev and Re-Stalinization “set out to return the Soviet Union to the doctrinaire path of the early years of Soviet Communism” (Valero) put emphasis back on heavy industry and jumped back into the Cold War and arms race “although economic problems could be traced back to Khrushchev and Stalin, under Brezhnev, the Soviet economy began to fall further behind those of the advanced industrial nations of the West” (Valero) Media, art, and free protest restricted again punishment now drew less attention but still eliminated enemies Improvements under Brezhnev stronger sense of nationalism more incentive to work thanks to special access to certain priveledges that the government offered urban popultaion grew more highly trained specialists Education improved Brezhnev “eliminated the worst aspects of Stalin’s regime, and almost all Western experts concluded that rule by a self-perpetuating Communist Party elite in the Soviet Union appeared to be quite sold in the 1970s and early 1980s” (McKay 999) Gorbachev Original Ideas save soviet System

improve living conditions

better relations with West

reform the economy

make sure that the Soviet Union entered the 21 ecentury as a superpower By the early 1990's, "foundations of the system itself, both ideological and institutional, were in question. Reform went beyond de-Stalinization to de-Lenninization" (Thompson 88) Gorbachev's Reforms With these reforms "the process threatened to consume not only the architects themselves, but the very system it was designed to save" (Blacker 89) Perestroika Glasnost Demokratizatsiia reconstuction and reform openness democratization of the government meant to save the economy

less government control on economy

allowed more private business

only made economy worse by putting it in between capitalism and communism meant to end the secrecy and lies by the government

revealed all the problems with the current system

beleived that with out glasnost they could not become a successful country meant to involve people in the government more

ened one-party system

beleived that the only way to make socialism more modern and make it work was to have a democracy Thesis Statement The collapse of the Soviet Union was ultimately caused by the failed reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev. The Cold War spending huge amounts of money on military and research put a lot of stress on the already suffering economy took troops out of Afganistan convinced U.S. president Regan that he truly wanted the end the Cold War lost a lot of power by ending war though With Gorbachev's new policies , "the tragic Soviet occupation of eastern Europe might well wither away, taking the long Cold War with it" (McKay 1024) Foreign Policy allowed the satellites more freedom not willing to use military force against them ended up allowing them to break away satellites saw it as their chance to finally gain the freedom they wanted "In the end, Eastern European communism was swept away peacfully by powerful nationalist forces and mass demonstrations" (Valero) The End Of Communism "Gorbachev's reforms boomeranged, and a complicated anti-communist revolution swept through the Soviet Union" (McKay 1024) after this the Communist party lost many elections to democrats and anti-communists and continued to lose power throughout 1990 Gorbachev called for the creation of a new constitution that took a lot of power away from the Communist Party and gave it to the Congress of People's Deputies tried to become president of Russia and wanted to save what was left of the Soviet Union but it was too late and he lost to Boris Yeltsin Yeltsin gained support and althought communists did everything they could to try to save their system they lost The Communist Party was outlawed and then Russia formally withdrew from the Soviet Union By December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union had come to an end Was it Gorbachev's Fault? It is argued that Gorbachev "sensed the pace of history and helped history find a natural channel" (Dawish 516-517). may be true but If Gorbachev had done things differently the Soviet Union may never have collapsed By giving people too much freedom too quickly, he drove them too seek even more freedom and rebel By refusing to use force on the satellites he allowed them to break away which led to the rest of the Soviet Union breaking apart The only way to maintain power was to be harsh and vindictive like Stalin and Gorbachev wasn't like that There was no way to save the Soviet Union without drastically changing it which is exactly what Gorbachev did His reforms caused the communist party to lose to much power and allowed it to be too easily taken over His reforms completely changed the country and destroyed the system they were meant to save Works Cited Blacker, Coit D. “The Collapse of Soviet Power in Europe.” Foreign Affairs 70.1 (1990): 88-102. JSTOR. Web. 1 Apr. 2011. Brar, Bhupinder. “Assessing Gorbachev.” Economic and Political Weekly 29.24: 1465-1475 . JSTOR. Web. 18 Apr. 2011.
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McKay. A History of Western Society. Boston: Houghton Mufflin Company, 2008. Print.
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Strayer, Robert. “Decolonization, Democratization, and Communist Reform: The Soviet Collapse in Comparative Perspective.” Journal of World History 12.2 (2001): 375-406. JSTOR. Web. 1 Apr. 2011.
Thachuk, Kimberly A., Peter Suedfeld, and Michael D. Wallace. “Failed Leader or Successful Peacemaker? Crisis, Behavior, and the Cognitive Processes of Mikhail Sergeyevitch Gorbachev.” Political Psychology 17.3 (1996): 453-472 . JSTOR. Web. 18 Apr. 2011.
Tompson, W J. “Khrushchev and Gorbachev as Reformers: A Comparison.” British Journal of Political Science 23.1 (1993): 77-105 . JSTOR. Web. 18 Apr. 2011.
Valero, Larry. “The Collapse of Communism.” History Study Center. ProQuest, 2011. Web. 1 Apr. 2011. All images from Google Images
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