Collapse of the Soviet Union Essay

Soviet Union / collapse / Gorbachev / Stalin / Gaidar / russia

Essay Topic:

The analysis of the reasons of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Essay Questions:

When did the Soviet Union collapse?

What is considered to be the main reason of the collapse of the Soviet Union?

What role did Yegor Gaidar play in the collapse of the great country?

Thesis Statement:

The collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the most scandalous events of the XX century. And the period from 1985 to 1991 became the critical period for the existence of the whole gigantic powerful country.


Collapse of the Soviet Union Essay

Table of contents:

1. Introduction

2. The reasons of the collapse

3. Yegor Gaidar on the Soviet Union matter

4. Conclusion

“A totalitarian system leaves behind it a minefield built into both

the country's social structure and the individual psychology of its citizens”

Anatoly Sobchak


What was Soviet Union before 1985? It was a country completely that was ignoring the West with its lifestyle, technological development, culture and any of its manifestations at all. Soviet Union from 1945 till 1985 was a country surrounded by wall made of stone that no one was able to break. The foundation of this wall was set by communism and totalitarian Russian people lived under in those times. Soviet people were used to live in the fear for their lives and were “taught” to obey the ruling system or otherwise were “withdrawn”. In 1985 the Soviet Union faced a new leader in the face of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. This man was like a fresh air for the room that has never been ventilated. Gorbachev realized that something in the country was very wrong, that the Party had to change along with the society, economics and politics. For this reason Gorbachev introduced a new political process called “perestroika”. “Perestroika”, basically was a special program designated to reconstruct the economical, political and social formations of the country. Gorbachev was confident that the country needs two major components to become truly democratic “perestroika” and “glasnost”(when all the facts concerning anything happening in the country become known to the citizens of the country). The collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the most scandalous events of the XX century. And the period from 1985 to 1991 became the critical period for the existence of the whole gigantic powerful country.

2. The reasons of the collapse

Though Gorbachev made the Soviet Union Change: the Soviet forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Cold War came to its end and other event still something went wrong. Soviet people were very confused. There was no one general attitude to the new reforms. Soviet people, after all those years of having no contact with the West striated experiencing its influence and not all of them enjoyed it. People felt as if they had to compete with the West and were simply confused, as they did not know what was better for them at that time. Some of them wanted to come back to Stalin’s totalitarian because they at least knew what to expect from it. In other words, Gorbachev took away the “traditional power bases in the party, economy, and society but did not replace them entirely”[1].The norms of life lost their value and had no proper substitution – this resulted in clashes, strikes and growing crime rates. It is common knowledge that each nationality needs to have order and feel that the development of their state is more or less predictable. During 1985 – 1991 the Soviet Union lost this feelings and did not know what exactly they are supposed to do with the with of speech, choice of religion, the right to strike and have multicandidate elections. What Gorbachev wanted was the integration of the Soviet Union into the modern life through democracy, market economy and free enterprise. And thought all of these were good, the country was not ready for this dramatically rapid changes and the Soviet Union collapsed for it did not have its base anymore.

Gorbachev had many hopes that did not realize in reality and the spiritual rebirth of the nation did not happen as it could not happen so fast. The crisis began and by 1991 it had serious consequences. Liberals with Boris Yeltsin propagandized even more modern changes compared to Gorbachev. It became the time when conservatives decided that they can build a new communist dictatorship and imprisoned Gorbachev on his Crimean summer cottage. As no one wanted communist dictatorship anymore it became the beginning of the end.

3. Yegor Gaidar on the Soviet Union matter

Yegor Gaidar is known as a famous Russian politician that put a lot of forces into the development of both the Soviet Union and Russia. Yegor has a very creative family, as two of his grandfathers were writers and war-heroes. The name of his grandfather Arkadiy Gaidar is known to every single person coming from any of the ex-Soviet Union countries. Yegor Gaidar himself got his Ph.D. at Moscow State University. One of the economic theories that influenced him the most was orthodox Marxism as he grew up in the Soviet era. Among the bourgeois theories Adam Smith’s theory with its “concept of the market, of the market world, his liberal picture of the world of course”, had the most influence on Yegor [3]. Describing what was the situation in the country like in October 1991 Gaidar says that it was absolutely impossible to understand “what was do-able in this type of situation” and no one was able to take full responsibility for this very situation.

Arkadiy Gaidar pays special attention in his interview to the discussion of the process of rebuilding the economy. He gives one bright example how the mechanism of the market works - when a contemporary person comes to a retail store he can be sure to get anything he will need: bread, milk, meat and so on. When a person comes to a gasoline station he is sure to get gas there. The light in the room will turn on as soon as the person switches it on. This is according to Arkadiy Gaidar “it’s not because you depend on the charity or good view of the baker, or anyone else. It’s the normal work of the market mechanism”[3].

According to this example, Gaidar shows what happen in the Soviet Union when it collapsed. When the system is collapsed no orders will be given to grain producers indicating what exactly they need to produce, what place they are supposed to send the grain to and what to do with the grain, workers will not know where they are supposed to produce and send milk and where they are supposed to get the components for the milk. When the system and therefore the market is collapsed no one has interest in coordinating all this procedures and a crisis happens. For in this situation money will not help no matter how much money you have. No vested interest and no efficient orders and people stay hungry. That is what Arkadiy Gaidar point out to be one of the primary reasons of the collapse – incorrect power management. The task of the rebuilding of the economy was ”in a very short period of time…to reintroduce efficient money in the economy and to make a market mechanism work”[3]. The processes of economic and social changes in Russia from the words of Arkadiy Gaidar has one big peculiarity – Russia has become a country “with an increasing middle class, with an increasing part of the population experiencing the living standards of the middle class”[3]. And he sees a big perspective in it. For Arkadiy Gaidar, Russian future is optimistic, as in spite of all the hardships there have been stories of success. He concluded with saying that Russia will try its best, but still a lot of its future depends on the capability of the leader-nations to accept Russia and make it a full member of the industrial family.

4. Conclusion

Soviet Union was one of the most solid countries in the world but its time came to its end in 1991. The system of values needed to be substituted by new ones. The collapse of the Soviet Union was unstoppable as no one could provide “silk and soft” adjustment of the country to the open channel with the West. Thee previous regime was collapse but still Russia has a great potential and is never ignored by other countries.


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