Causes of the Collapse of the U.S.S.R. under Mikhail Gorbachev

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How did the Perestroika and Glasnost policies led by President Mikhail Gorbachev along with the collapse of state control on economy and information ultimately lead to the downfall of the Soviet Union?
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  1 Causes of the Collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) under Mikhail Gorbachev: How did the Perestroika and Glasnost policies led by President Mikhail Gorbachev along with the collapse of state control on economy and information ultimately lead to the downfall of the Soviet Union? Candidate Name:  Christian Martinez Candidate Number:  000849-0007 Word Count: 3,980  2 Abstract This essay deals with Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union’s final years  from 1985-1991 and analyses their contribution to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. By reviewing the reforms established by former president Gorbachev, it examines what he aimed to achieve with Perestroika and Glasnost, their impact on Soviet economy and society, why they failed, and how they led the dissolution of the Soviet regime. The essay answers the question: How did the Perestroika and Glasnost programs led by President Mikhail Gorbachev along with the collapse of state control on information and economy ultimately lead to the downfall of the Soviet Union? To answer this question, I used a variety of primary and secondary sources. Primary sources include first-hand accounts of the impacts of Perestroika, while secondary sources are based on the views and analysis of Soviet historians. The investigation undertakes points to the conclusion that Gorbachev’s reforms were the primary cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although Gorbachev’s intention was to cre ate a stronger Soviet Union, in practice he did the opposite. Perestroika reduced living standards considerably, increased the public’s criticism towards the Communist Party, and contributed to ethnic tension which caused the Soviet republics to declare independence. Gorbachev did achieve some success such as opening up Soviet society and cooperation with the West, however the significance of Gorbachev's Glasnost and Perestroika was to eradicate the corruption in the  political, economic and social control exemplified by Marx, Lenin and Stalin. This gave people much more freedom in their economic dealing and censorship was reduced throughout the country: people were allowed to discuss politics like never before. Eventually, Gorbachev's plans would change the history of the Soviet Union and mold it into a free capitalist society. Word Count:  291  3 Table of Contents   Contents Pages Abstract 2 Table of Contents 3 Introduction 4 Section 1: Life in the U.S.S.R. Prior to Gorbachev 5 Era of Stagnation 5 Economic Stagnation 6 Section 2: Ideological Basis for Perestroika & Glasnost  7 Perestroika: Ideology & Objectives 7 Glasnost: Purposes, Theory, & Background 9 Section 3: Causes of the Soviet Union Collapse  10 Gorbachev ’ s Weak Approach to Economic & Social Reform 10 Impact & Effects of the Perestroika - 11  Influence on Soviet Economy  Political & Public Criticism Consequences & Results of the Glasnost - 14 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Censorship & Information Section 4: Other Contributing Factors 16 External Factors - 16  Influence of U.S. & Ronald Reagan Administration  Disintegration of Yugoslavia (1989-1992)  Revolutions of 1989 & Baltic Independence  Internal Factors - 18 Corruption in the Soviet Union  Attempted Coup d’état of 1991   Conclusion 19 Bibliography 20  4 Introduction   This investigation consists of a thorough analysis of the Perestroika reform and Glasnost policy  programs introduced by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev between 1985 and 1991. The collapse of the Soviet Union drastically changed the worlds political and economic environment at the beginning of the 1990s There will be detailed explanations of how the Perestroika intended to restructure the Soviet Union economic and political system or in which ways the Glasnost planned to increased transparency in government activities and institutions and how these effects contributed to the collapse of government control of media, information, and economy un the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The aim of the Glasnost and Perestroika reforms was to strengthen the Soviet Communist rule and to release it from the authoritarian rule that had taken over the nation prior to Lenin, however these modifications allegedly contributed to the breakdown of the Soviet political and economic system. These changes had achieved exactly what they aimed to prevent when they were first elaborated. There was additionally a prior political setting and background in the Soviet Union that caused Gorbachev to seek for these innovative policies, and this was due to the continuous abuse of administrative power in the Soviet Central Committee prior to 1985 and also primarily because of the huge criticism that the Soviet Union faced in violating human rights by the practices of religious persecution and exiling those who spoke or expressed themselves against the Socialist regime. The role of the United States and the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1991 Soviet collapse will also be examined. Key events will be pointed out such as the 1986 Chernobyl  Nuclear Disaster, the Revolution of 1989, the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the 1991 Coup d’état . Analysis will therefore examine how internal and external pressure contributed to the failure of both policies which eventually led to the total disintegration of the Soviet Union and to what extent Mikhail Gorbachev’s aims can be held  responsible for the outcome.  5 Life in the U.S.S.R. Prior to Gorbachev   Era of Stagnation The Era of Stagnation was an era of political, social, and economic immobilization that had no considerable growth at all in the Soviet Union which began during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev in 1964 and lasted until 1982. It continued under Yuri Andropov from 1982 to 1984 and Konstantin Chernenko from 1984 to 1985 up until the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. It is uncertain what caused the stagnation although it is thought that Soviet economy was destined to fail from the beginning. The lack of social reform along with high expenditures on defense also contributed to this period of stagnation. However social stagnation began earlier with Bre zhnev’s revocation of Nikita Khrushchev’s reforms  and his adoption of Stalinist policies. In the political aspect, the establishment of an oligarchy started the political stagnation, done with the objective of achieving stability. Brezhnev received considerable criticism for doing little to try to improve the Soviet economy. This was because during his government there were no major reforms that were issued and if they existed they did not have the potential to revoke the period of stagnation. The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, Alexei Kosygin, favored social & economic reform and introduced reforms in the 1970s in an attempt to reverse the situation of declining growth in the nation, but Brezhnev did not allow his ideas to transcend completely. Yuri Andropov rose as the Soviet leader after Brezhnev, and like Brezhnev he did not provide any economic relief and could not even his finish and campaign against corruption. Andropov introduced modest reforms during his time in power yet they did not change the course of stagnation that the Soviet Union was going through. Chernenko followed him and continued Andropov’s policies. It is still arguable whether these policies actually ameliorated the economic situation back in the day.
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