The Collapse of Communism


The cold war between the world’s two super powers the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States of America characterized the 20th century. The United States advocated for capitalism, while the USSR promoted communism. December 1991 saw the end of the era of the communist ideology, development considered significant in the political world since the end of World War Two. The collapse of communism was caused by various factors that gradually built up and eventually led to the end of it (Beissinger, 2009).

The first matter of decline was the devastating state of the Soviet’s economy. It was in need of reform and transition as sustaining of the command economy was proving to be a tough task for the Mikhail Gorbachev’s administration. So, he permitted limited capitalism that allowed some freedom of speech. People used this chance to question Gorbachev’s regime and disagreed with communism (Lorimer, 1997).

Nationalism also played a very critical role towards the decline of communism. During Gorbachev’s tenure in power, especially in the 1980s, there were increased demographic trends that were perceived as startling and negative by the outside world. The death toll increased as life expectancy reduced. The population growth also declined, hence affected the workforce size, and people lived in oppression with poor working wages. These challenges caused economic turmoil that did not impress many nationalities of the fifteen republics of the Union, thus sparked several nationalistic movements and non-violent rebellions that eventually made many nations break off the Soviet Union peacefully, thus collapsing communism (Lorimer, 1997).

When Ronald Regan took up the American presidency in 1981, one of his main targets was to bring to an end the communism era. He thought of it as a greater evil and led to his delivery of one of his famous speeches called ‘Let us tear down this wall.’ His emphasis on ending communism led to the Union’s paradigm shift to softening the bureaucratic policies and permitting limited capitalism that eventually saw the collapse of communism (Stoner-Weiss & McFaul, 2009).

Boris Yeltsin, a former secretary of Gorbachev’s party also contributed to the end of communism. He got impatient with Gorbachev’s system, broke up with him, and led a separate movement to free Russia from the Soviet Union and make it sovereign. He was elected president and Mikhail Gorbachev gave up power. Boris Yeltsin led to the dissolution of the Union and, eventually, the collapse of communism.

In conclusion, it is evident that various factors, both long-term and short-term contributed to the eventual collapse of the communist regime in the 20th century. 

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