The causes of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe were that it had no popular support, political downfall, and economic problems. The fact that the USSR had gained all of its money from the Eastern European states (after world war 2), Stalin's paranoia of the West forced him to put all that money into defensive arms and therefore none of that money was being channeled into the country. Many historians would argue that it was at this point that the USSR began its downward spiral and this is were the country began its snowball effect. Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?
Communism is like Prohibition - it's a good idea but it won't work" (Will Rogers, 1927) (1) This essay will give a brief introduction to communism. It will then discuss the various factors which combined to bring about the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. It will examine each of these factors and evaluate the effect of each. Finally it will attempt to assertain whether Rogers' opinion (see above quotation) on Communism is true, that is, whether communism was truly doomed to fail from the start, or whether its collapse was a result of external influences. Communism is based on the ideas and teachings of Karl Marx as modified by Lenin. At its most basic, the ideal of communism is a system in which everyone is seen as equal and wealth is distributed equally among the people. There is no private ownership. The state owns and controls all enterprises and property. The state is run by one leading elite. The Soviet model of communism was based on these ideals. All opposition parties were banned although parties who were sympathetic to communism and who shared the communist ideals were allowed. All power was concentrated into the hands of the Communist party. Free press and civil liberties were suppressed. Censorship and propaganda were widely used. There was state ownership of the economy. No private enterprise was allowed. There was a collectivisation of agriculture. The Communist Party invaded and controlled every aspect of political, social, cultural and economic life. It was a totalitarian state with complete Communist control over all facets of life. In the early years, and up until Gorbachev's "new regime", the use of force and terror as a means of maintaining control was widespread. The first factor which contributed to the failure and eventual collapse of communism was the fact that the Communist party's domination was illegitimate from the beginning. Lenin came to power after a bloody Civil War between those who supported Lenin and those who opposed the Soviet regime. To Lenin, defeat was unthinkable and he was prepared to make any and every sacrifice to win the war and save "the revolution". The forcible requisitioning of food and supplies was approved by Lenin. This could only be achieved by enforcing strict and absolute discipline at every level of society. Terror was to become the chief instrument of power and Lenin was to assume the role of dictator. This was a phenomenon which was to become a symbol of communist regimes throughout their lifetime. This trend was followed when Stalin came to power as leader of the Communist party and the Russian government in 1929. (2) He had achieved this through plotting and trickery and by shifting alliances. This had begun in 1924 when Stalin systematically began to remove all opposition to his claim to power. His main rival was Trotsky and he used a number of underhand measures to discredit him. For example Stalin lied to Trotsky about the date of Lenin's funeral, thus ensuring that Trotsky could not attend and thereby blackening his name in the public eye. This Stalin versus Trotsky conflict led to Trotsky being eventually exiled from Russia and, ten years later in 1940, being assassinated by one of Stalin's agents. (3) Under Stalin any opposition was swiftly and brutally crushed. In no Eastern European country did the revolution have the support of more than a minority of people, yet...
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