The economic weaknesses of the USSR and failure of reform
- Some historians argue that the USSR collapsed due to its economic weakness that can be traced back to the mid 1920's, when Stalin introduced collectivisation & the Five Year Plans.
- Russia had a 'command economy'- which are argued to have innate weaknesses & fundamentally ineffecient.
- Economic growth began to slow in the 1950's under Krushchev- stagnated completely under Brezhnev- collapsed under Gorbachev.
- Historians argue that these weaknesses exacerbated by government mismanaement & unsustainably high defence spending (arms race with USA)
- Economic collapse- political collapse inevitable
- Freidrich Hayek (economist) commented on command economy- everyone earns the same so there is no incentive to work harder.
Gorbachev's failure to reform the Communist Party & Soveit Government
1- He believed that the Soviet political system could be changed without undermining the Communist system. He was convinced that introducing politcal rights: freedom of speech and democratic elections (glasnot- openess) would reinvogorate communism- led to widespread attack on the party making it unstainable as they used to freedom to critisize.
2- He made a series of tactical errors e.g refused to stand for election as president of the USSR.
The combination of a fundamentally flawed plan and Gorbachev's pooe excution of it together resulted in the collapse of the USSR.
- Nationalism is a feeling of pride in the culture of a particualr nation and a desire to be politically independent.
- The USSR was made up of 15 smaller nations that were all controlled by Russia- the only thing these nations had in common was commuism.
- Historians beleieve that it was inevitable for nations that were only joined by communism to eventually want indepence.
- Gorbachev's reforms gave people political independence and allowed nationalist groups to protest and eventually win elections to start calling for independence from Russia.
- This trend begain in Poland & Hungary untill all 15 republics gained independence- collapsing the USSR
Gorbachev's reforms acted as a trigger for the nationalist groups to emerge.
The personal responsiblity of Gorbachev and Yeltsin
- Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of Communist Russia and Boris Yeltsin the first leader of post-communist Russia.
- Gorbachev had a vision of a free society- critisized predecessors-wanted to introduce radical reforms- reluctant to force terror to secure position.
- Yeltsin's role was more short term- he banned the Communist Party in Russia- negotiated the Belvaezha Accords, which officially ended the USSR.
Gorbachev's actions made the collapse of the USSR likely and Yeltsin made it inevitable.