Name: Chum Angvichet Professor: Stan Starygin
The Fall Of The Soviet Union
This is a paper on the topic of Communism. I will take The Soviet Union Communism into discussion especially trying to point out the reasons why the USSR communist fail in term of economics, management and how they applied the communist theory. Moreover I will discuss the concept of dictatorship of the proletarians and try to reflect it into Soviet practiced during the time that it collapsed.
In 1917, an important year for the Russia history, Russia became the first communist state, led by Vladimir Lenin, in the world and changed its name to The Soviet Union. The Soviet was trying to build a society without private ownership of the mean of productions. Under Lenin, the Communist Party controlled al level of government. Power was centralized and all economics assets were state own. Lenin died in 1924 and his successor, Joseph Stalin, created a totalitarian regime. Power was even more centralized. Under Stalin iron fist, the regime had so much power that it could destroy any undesired political opposition. However, economy was going downhill and the living standard for the population drop dramatically. Stalin left the state in such a bad cripple that none of his successor could reform the system without undermining the communist rule itself. But none were able to make any dramatic change until Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, came to power. What dramatic change did he make?
Mikhail Gorbachev, at 54, was the youngest member of the Politburo at the time he was name party leader. When he came to power, he used the power that the system granted the General Secretary to strengthen his political base and to carry out a program of reform. His first step was the transparency in the society. He also stressed that the ultimate test of the party’s effectiveness lay in improving the economics well being of the country and its people. He legalized private enterprise for individual and cooperative business and encouraged them to fill in the many gaps in the economy left by the in efficiency of the state sector. He even called for a “law governed state” in which state power, including the power of his own communist power, would be under the law. He welcomed any informal social and political associations that formed. He made major concession to the United State in the sphere of arms control which resulted in a treaty, for the first time in history, called for the destruction of entire classes of nuclear missiles.
Using his General Secretary’s power, Gorbachev planned his proposals for democratization through the Supreme Soviet, and in 1989 and 1990 Gorbachev’s plan for free election and a working parliament was realized as election were held, deputies elected, and new Soviets formed at the center and in every region and locality. When nearly half a million cal miners went out on striker in the summer of 1989, Gorbachev declared himself sympathetic to their demand. Gorbachev’s radicalism received its most dramatic confirmation through the astonishing development of the 1989 in Eastern Europe. All the regimes making up the socialist bloc collapsed and gave way to multi party parliamentary regimes in a bloodless popular revolutions and the Soviet Union stood by and supported the revolutions. The fall of the communism in the Eastern Europe meant that the Soviet was weakening. With all these change that Gorbachev made, then why was The Soviet Union still weakening? The economic growth model followed by Stalin and his successors attempted to realize economies of scale by concentrating much production in large enterprises. This meant that local government re entirely dependent on the economics health of a single employer. The country vast size and the heavy commitment of the resources to the military production in the Soviet complicated further the task to reform Soviet in a short period as Gorbachev intended to do.
As mentioned earlier, The Soviet Union abolished private ownership when it adopted communism. This is the biggest contribution to the fall of the Soviets. Mark saw that private ownership was the cause of exploitation and a prosperous society should not allow private property. Following Marx theory, when Lenin came to power and created the first communist state, he soon declared that there should be no private business. Everything should be state own. He thought that by doing this will the people have a secure job and be equal. They biggest problem arise from this is the productivity problem. Since everyone get equal share no matter how hard he try and since that jobs are secure, then he see little reason for trying to work his best. As everyone come realize this then productivity started to fall. People lost the motive to work and quality drops. Soviet goods were unable to compete in the foreign markets. With no private business then there is no inflow of capital since no one could come to invest. Investment is one of the key factors that push the economics forward and Soviet was without investment due to its communist principles.
Jobs were created by the government and they were unattractive. Human resources were misallocated because there was no competition on the market for labor force. Everything was decided by the government. Everything was planned, hence planned economy. Soviet had to suffer to these problems for many decades since Lenin came to power in 1917 until radical reform made by Gorbachev in 1989. It was at its worst condition when reform took place. I believe that the reform was a little too late since people were fed up with the government and its planned economy. People became tire of a life that had little room or none at all for improving. People were tired of the equity that the Soviet was trying to achieve. They want liberty and a “free life”. Gorbachev saw what the people wanted and he did try to change but from my point of view he was a little too late to come to power and try to reform. People wanted a radical change meaning then want communist out.
Another problem that brought the Soviet to its downfall was the bad management. The problem was that power was too concentrated at the top and system was working too slow. Paper works were not getting through the crowded bureaucratic layers. It distorted the flow of information, created fragmented authoritarian, and created miscommunication. Employers as well as the employees receive wages, not profit. Good management was not important because it did not link with any profit for the employers. Bureaucratic officials were generally more devoted to protecting and advancing their personal interest and career than serving the public interest. The government function inefficiency. There were producing surplus of unwanted good and generate shortage of desire goods by the population. Stores were full of out of fashion products and there weren’t enough food in the market. Thus, this situation created black markets. These markets became the channel in which the mass use to access into goods that they need rather than waiting for the planned economy to produced them. Black markets even bring the economy further downward because but what choices do he population had at the time.
The lack of management from the government showed the people that it is time for a change. But the people did see it as a change of leaders within the communist context; they saw it as a time to change the ideology. Communism was no longer working to their perspective. I think The Soviet gave communism a bad name. Moreover, as successors of Stalin, such as Gorbachev for example, relaxed on media controlled, the mass started to expose to the freedom and prosperous of the life that the Americans were enjoying. This gave them something to think about. This gave them something to make comparison and this gave them the urged of asking, why the Soviet communism can’t provide them with such a life as the Americans had, when the party claimed that communism was better than any other ideology. People saw a better solution to all their problems and it wasn’t just mere reforms that Gorbachev made. They saw the need to remove communism and adopted something else, which is nothing else beside Democracy. It was not the time to reform the market and change the way the economy worked, but it was the time to throw the old system out and adopted a new one. Planned economy must be replaced by free economy. Power must decentralize and passed on to every layer within the government. The people want radical changes beyond any reform that their leaders could offer. Communism in Soviet was coming to an end by choice and desire of the mass.
Now I will turn to discuss one concept in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, which is the dictatorship of the proletarians. I will try to reflect this concept into the practiced by the Soviet Union, which I believe also contributed to the downfall of the Soviet Union.
Marx believed that the proletarians should be the revolutionary group. Why? “Owing to the extensive use of the machinery, and to the division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character and consequently, all charm for the workman. He became an appendage of the machine and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the mean of subsistence that he requires for maintenance and for the propagation of his race...”stated in the Manifesto of the Communist Party. The proletarians were being exploited due to the technology revolution. They were the one who work to keep the economy running but they were treated unfairly. The proletarians should be the one who own the mean of the production and be the master of themselves. They should be the one who own machines, factories and get a greater share out of the profit than anyone else. They should be the one who rule because they were the one who put in labors. The society should be under the dictatorship of the proletarians.
Soviet was in support of the dictatorship of the proletarians. It was the reasons that the Russia Revolution took place. They were trying to create a society that the working class ruled. Everyone who works in that factory is the owner of that factory. No one alone owns that factory. It is a collective property. The Government must protect the proletarians because the proletarians are the government. However, I think this was not the case when Stalin and his successors came to power. Proletarians, in my perspective, were not better off at all. In any case, they were even in worst conditions. Power was centralized in the hand of a few people in the government. They are the one who made all the decisions and all the planning and I’m sure that they were not at all under any influence of the proletarians. There were still exploitation, killing without reasons and they did not own anything. Collective property means that everyone is the owner which I translate that everyone owns nothing because all goods belong to other people beside you. The true cause of the revolution and the creation of the communist in Soviet were lost. As people realized this and later found out that life was not going to get better under communism, they demanded a radical change. They wanted communism out and adopted democracy.
In conclusion, I believe that the Fall of Soviet Union was due to the fact of economy inefficiency, mismanagement and how the government applied the communist theory. They did not stay true to the cause of the revolution and fail to deliver what they promised to the people. There were things that could have been done to extend the life of communism in the Soviet Union but I believe that their doom was unavoidable.
Communism can apply to a society that is already prospering where everyone is satisfied with what they need. It does not work to a poor society. For communism to wok I believe that we have to first use capitalism to bring up the living standard of the people and then apply communism little by little. Capitalism is the first step to a success communism. Every attempt to start with communism without passing through capitalism will fail.
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JOSHUA S. GOLDSTIEN, International Relation, Brief Edition, Library of Congress, 2002
GABRIEL A. ALMOND, G. BINGHAM POWELL, Jr. KAARE STORM, RUSSELL J. DALON, Comparative Political Today, 8th Edition, Person Education Published, 2004
AUSTIN RANNEY, Governing: An Introduction to the Political Science, Prentice-Hall International Edition, 1993
Compiled by STAN STARYGIN, Communism, Fascism, and Democracy Supplement, Pannasastra University of Cambodia, 2007