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Another view which is in fact closely linked to the above analysis is that the fall of communism began from within the system. This view is supported by the fact that that the very strict totalitarianism of the Soviet Union began to change after the death of Stalin. After Stalin's death the rigidity of Soviet Communism began to weaken, which was so to result in a reassertion of personal and nationalistic will and aspirations within the various countries and regions in the Soviet Union.
People also began to feel more positively disposed towards the West as the strict and regimented tenets of communism started to loosen. In a sense communism was only successful while it kept all of it disparate parts together and cohesive through often brutal dictatorial coercion. After Stalin there was a decline of the rule of mass terror and an"...opening up partially to the outside world." (Malia, 1993, p.80) as one commentator describes the changing situation; "...the system indeed softened and "de-ideologized..." Malia. (1993)
As this slow but intense change began to grow within certain areas of the Soviet Union there was more dissent and open debate about the negative aspects of the communist system. This dissent emerged from within Russia and was often dealt with harshly by the authorities. However the end result was a critique from within, which gradually began to eat away at the iron facade of communism.
However, what has to be continually kept in mind in attempting to understand the failure of communism in Russia is that one single reason is not adequate to explain the massive and sudden change in the society. This is a view held by scholars such as Paul Winters. In the Collapse of the Soviet Union, he states that there many complex and interrelated reasons for the demise of communism. (Winters, P.A., 1999)
Some of the other factors that contributed to the fall of the communist regime in the Soviet Union included the prevalence of internal corruption within the party and the state; disagreements and conflict within the communist party itself and the problems that the centralized bureaucratic structure of the government created.
In a review of theory, Wilcoxson (2004) states that there are three themes that can be seen to be important throughout the communist period in Russia. These are defined as "productionism, careerism, and bureaucratism." (Wilcoxson, 2004, p.51) Protectionism is the emphasis on industrial output that was achieved at, "... costs in the short and medium term in order to build the revolution in the long-term." (Wilcoxson, 2004, p.51) Careerism is the process whereby individuals joined the communist party not necessarily to serve the higher ideals of the party but rather to further their own careers.
Possibly one of the most negative developments in communism was the emphasis on plutocracy and bureaucratic control. "...the revolution gave rise to endless agencies that employed large numbers of apparatchiki (bureaucrats) and yet seemed to accomplish very little." (Wilcoxson, 2004, p.51)
Wilcoxson and others state that these three themes were major influences and factors in weakening the internal cohesion and integrity of the communist organization and government and that these problems were "... never successfully overcome." (Wilcoxson, 2004, p.51)
Another aspect that weakened structure of communism was the manifestation and the enduring presence of internal strife and even rebellion in the various regions of the Union. There was a gradual revolt from many of the countries and regions in the Soviet Union against the hegemony of the Soviet communist party and its centralized bureaucracy. This was particularly the case in Eastern Europe and refers to, "The huge outbreaks of popular protest and rebellion that periodically convulsed Communist systems" (Sharman, 2003, p. 1)
Briefly stated, the communist system does not allow for the normal expression of dissent and complaint. "In Communist systems a specific combination of a centralized and unelected state apparatus, command economy, and scarcity or absence of independent civil associations tightly restricted the repertoire of action for those looking to defend their interests or press demands on the government." (Sharman, 2003, p. 2) This was to result in many serious social and political expressions of dissent against the communist system.
In this regard some analysts are of the opinion that, "... The 1956 revolt by Hungarian freedom fighters against the Soviet Union was the seminal event in the fall of that communist empire..." (Watson,1998, p 16) This revolt against the communist regime was a strong indicator of the hidden revolt and inner turmoil that lay within the Soviet Union.
After eight years of Stalinist repression and communist tyranny, revolution breaks out as the whole world watches. Freedom fighters, most of them working-class teens and their parents, confront Russian tanks with rifles and homemade weapons, seeking independence from the Soviet Union and basic human freedoms.
Watson,1998, p. 16)
There is a general consensus from many scholars that although the Hungarian uprising in 1956 was repressed, yet the revolt was "...a mortal wound delivered directly at the body of Soviet power," and it was a wound from which the Soviet Union and communist Eastern Europe never fully recovered, and which contributed to their ultimate collapse 34 years later." (Watson,1998, p. 16)
Furthermore, dissent was to foment and grow during the next thirty years in the Soviet Unions and an anti-Soviet movement took shape in the Warsaw Pact countries in October 1989. These were all signs of growing nationalism that was to shake the rigid structure of communist rule. This was eventually to result in the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and communism was "...repudiated in each of the Warsaw Pact countries." (Watson, 1998, p 16)
Another reason that is put forward for the collapse of communism is that in many senses the communist system became 'inefficient'. This can be particularly related to the economic arena. In general it was the inability of the communist system to relate to and integrate with the developing global system of commerce and other aspects of modernization that were to have a negative effect on the Soviet Union.
A the Soviet Union "became" inefficient and collapsed when it attempted to integrate itself into a world system that was passing from its modernizing to its postmodern stage, a system that by its new rules of operation was therefore running at an incomparably higher rate of "productivity" than anything inside the Soviet sphere. (Young, 1996, p. 235)
In essence what this meant was that the rest of the world and the capitalistic countries were driven by personal incentives and profit motives, and this enabled larger countries to develop at a pace which the communist country could not match. This was mainly due to the central ethos of communism which placed state and ideological motives over personal profit and individuality. In simple terms the ideological restrictions imposed by communism meant that it reduced incentives to compete economically on the global market.
All of the above facets can be combined to create a more holistic picture of the reasons of the failure of communism. If one had to select a central factor for the decline of communism from a historical and political perspective, it would be the continual and increasing pressure of dissent and rebellion from within the Soviet Union itself.
It should be remembered that communism was an ideology that was enforced through a strict and often tyrannical application of doctrine. Coupled with this is the fact that the acceptance of communism in many areas of the Soviet system was weak from the beginning. "In the countries subjected to Soviet domination after 1945 indigenous communism was generally weak and revolution was enforced from above with Soviet assistance." (Young, 1996, p. 235)
This is a factor which is possibly not always fully recognized by those viewing the fall of communism from the outside. In other words, there was a resentment in many societies and countries within the Soviet Union to the way that communism in essence usurped their traditions and societal norms. The communist governments "...began to introduce Stalinist-type reforms in the economy: breaking up the old aristocratic estates and sharing them out between landless labourers and smallholders, nationalising important industrial and mining concerns..." (Young, 1996, p. 235)
There was also the issue of corruption that added to the revolt from many communist countries.
For example the elections held in many areas were perceived by many to be "rigged" in favor of the party elite. "...since everyone knew the elections were rigged, the new regimes never did obtain real legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Instead, whatever the Marxist insistence on the inevitability of communism... The Eastern European governments were an alien political form... (Young, 1996, p. 235) This view of the causative factors of the failure of communism would suggest that the suddenness of the fall of communism is a perception from a Western point-of-view; and in fact communism had been undermined for many years.
The gradual demise and the movement away from the structure and ideology of Soviet communism…[continue]
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