Collapse of the Soviet Union from 1985-1991 Term Paper by scribbler

A history of the demise of the former Soviet Union.
# 151966 | 3,436 words | 12 sources | MLA | 2012 | US
Published on Oct 31, 2012 in History (Russian)

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This paper charts the period in the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991, that saw a great deal of change and a period of reform under Mikhail Gorbachev. It gives an historical account of the Czar's downfall in the last century and goes on to explain the part Gorbachev played in the Union's eventual demise. The paper also details the economical situation and the wars that the country was involved in, and goes on to explain how Boris Yeltsin brought further changes to the country. The paper concludes with the suggestion that the actions of these two mean provide great insight, as to the main causes that led to the country's downfall.

Gorbachev's Contributions to the Soviet Union's Demise'
Boris Yeltsin's Contribution to the Soviet Union's Demise

From the Paper:

''Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost would play a role in the collapse that would lead to the demise of the Soviet Union. What happened was, after the downfall of the Czar (following the 1917 Revolution); all private land ownership was outlawed. (McCauley, 2007, 17 - 220) Then, as the economy was a facing a serve economic collapse in 1920, a policy was implemented that allowed for strict control of the ownership of land with limited privatization. (McCauley, 2007, 17 - 220) This policy would be called the New Economic Policy (NEP). The way it worked, was it allowed for limited ownership of small businesses for profit, such as: shops and farms. While, the central government would maintain control over all of large sections of the economy to include: control of the financial, industrial and service sectors. This would provide the basic model for the Soviet economy until 1985. There were changes to the NEP during that time, as the element of privatization was continually brought into question under programs such as collectivization. This is where the profit element was eliminated, as any excess profits or inventory was taken by the central government. Over the course of time, central planning would be the economic system used under the Soviet system. This would prove to be successful until the mid 1970's, as the authority of the central government to regulate prices; would set the stage for: hyper inflation and a depression in the economy. These two factors would push Gorbachev to engage in the policies of perestroika. (McCauley, 2007, 17 - 220)
''However, there were other factors that would shape these views on economic reform: an unpopular war and sinking oil prices. One of the largest exports of the Soviet Union was oil, after the price of oil peaked in 1980, the mindset of consumers changed dramatically. (McCauley, 2007, 17 - 220) As they wanted more vehicles that were fuel efficient. This caused demand for oil to drop and sent the prices into a long term decline. As a result, the Soviet Union began to experience a dramatic slow down because of the collapse in oil prices. Then, when you combine this with the central government's control over the economy, meant that the Soviet system was broken. To make matter worse, the Soviet Union was fighting war in Afghanistan that was bleeding the economy of vital investment capital. The collapse in the price of oil meant that any foreign capital that was coming into the country would quickly dry up. Then, the war in Afghanistan only fueled the severity of the downturn as the government was forced to spend large amounts of money, while the economy was suffering. The combination of the economic system that was used, the collapse in the price of oil and the war in Afghanistan; would be the three factors that would lead to the reform the system. This was the original intentions of the reforms that Gorbachev initiated, as he wanted to fix the economic model.''

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Cotrell, Allin. "Socialist Planning After the Collapse of the Soviet Union." University of Michigan. (1993). 1 - 17. Print.
  • Heuvel, Katrina. "Gorbachev on 1989." The Nation 289.16 (2009): pp. 11. Web. 12 Mar. 2010.
  • Head, Tom. Mikhail Gorbachev. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2003.
  • "The man who trusted his eyes; Mikhail Gorbachev and the fall of the wall." The Economist 393.8656 (2009). Web. 12 Mar. 2010.
  • Gorbachev, Mikhail. Gorbachev: On My Country and the World. New York: Columbia University Press. (2000). 38 - 175. Print.

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