Mary McAuley sets out to describe the failure of communism in Russia and its sudden collapse in 1989-91. The Russian political experiment failed due to the following reasons, Communist theory assumes that all humans are basically good, well-motivated, and possess equal capabilities and motivation. This simply isn't so, and Communism never found any way to overcome the problems this assumption caused. The failure of communism is due to human nature. Power corrupts. If Stalin was not corrupted by his power, then the system may have worked. Also, since everyone would get paid anyway, they did not overly try at work and in turn their work was shoddy.
The Soviet economy was slowly becoming stagnant, whilst military spending went through the roof. Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative was seen as a threat to be countered, and in response the Soviets threw more money at their military industrial complex - the US was spending 15-18% of its Gross Domestic Product at the military, the Soviets were spending up to 35%, they were bankrupting themselves. To counter this stagnation Gorbachev introduced the policies of Glasnost' and Perestroika hoping that people would be open about how to rebuild the communist system, and make it work better. All it did was allowed people to openly criticize the system, something that had been rare in the previous system, and soon they were calling for it to be replaced. Communism was also simply not delivering the promised "workers paradise", wages were stagnant, housing shoddy, cars a rarity, and, from the 1970s they could see the differences between their lifestyle and the West on TV - especially when the Olympics were on. Soviet Youth were also growing tired of being told that they couldn't see certain films, couldn't listen to Western Music, or listen to Western Radio stations, even wearing jeans were frowned on. Glasnost' allowed them to speak out against the regime and enabled them to listen to the music they wanted...
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