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The Collapse of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe

Essay by   •  June 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,744 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,980 Views

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The unstable political and economic environment in the 1989 movement encouraged internal actors to oppose communism and left no choice to external actors but to take actions that put their power in jeopardy. Chaos occurred simply because ''communism is in conflict with human nature.' Evidently it was neither external nor internal actors that brought the fall of communism, since both were passively responding to a chaotic economic and political environment. And just like any other political regime that suppresses human drives its longevity can only be promised in a theoretical level. This reflected the deep economic and political crisis that communist systems had created in all east European states.

Communism was Lenin's interpretation of Marxist ideologies. From Lenin to Gorbachev, terror, force and coercion were key mechanisms to power and influence. The political failure was inevitable since the 'communist party's domination was illegitimate from the beginning' and made it impossible for the communist population to be socially and culturally developed.

The economic failure was first observed in the year 1918-21 when people were working for insignificant wages and the Bolsheviks seized pretty much all the harvests. Lenin was responsible for the complete devastation of the agriculture sector and the complete decline of the standard of leaving that neither Krushchev nor Breznev managed to restore. In regards to the volatile economic environment, the influence of the West on the Eastern bloc, should also be taken into consideration; people were already exposed and attracted to the freedom of capitalism. This exposure led to the birth of the European dream. Europe started sounding as 'a code word for individual rights, freedom of expression, market economy, modern way of leaving. In a way the opposite to communism was not capitalism, but Europe.'

Several external actors, were called to respond to the rising demand of the 'European dream' and to the political and economic instability in an attempt to secure the Soviet rule. Its because of their motive that they cannot be held responsible for the fall of communism. However, it is undeniable that Gorbachev, the Pope and several foreign powers, as external actors facilitated the process and in some cases acted as the catalyst for changes.'

Gorbachev is accountable by many scholars for the speed of the collapse of communism. His policies of Perestroika and Glasnost had ''a riffle effect of weakening the authority of communist governments economically, socially and ideologically.'' Gorbachev tried to tackle the lack of innovation and the wrongful use of resources by imploring Perestroika, that only worsened the economic situation. Glasnost was the cherry on the cake that 'armed' the internal actors by allowing people to openly express their disapproval. Moreover, Gorbachev in an attempt to bring the union together, granted more freedom to the unwilling population of Eastern Europe. This freedom created the 'domino effect' that teared the union apart. Solidarity was legalized in Czechoslovakia and Poland on January, the following month Hungary adapted a multi-party system, and in March Hungary was independent. Gorbachev was a catalytic external factor because he handicapped communism from its basic undemocratic principles.

Another important external actor was the pope, John Paul II. He wanted to build a church to offer to the people an alternative source of authority and moral teachings. He had no plans of going against communism he just genuinely believed in God. His very own existence offered an alternative. The Soviet rule had police officers everywhere to prohibit the building of a church, yet the Pope appeared with several old people carrying the foundation stones. The riot police did not have the heart to stop them. The epic figure of the Pope was a catalyst for the collapse of communism, he kept the public 'united and peaceful around a clearly articulated set of objectives, and setting out the moral and spiritual parameters of a reunited Europe.'

It is commonly argued that without John Paul II, solidarity wouldn't have emerged and with no solidarity there would be no Gorbachev and without Gorbachev the collapse of communism would not have taken place. Although this statement to some extent may hold true, it definitely does not imply that it was these two external actors that were solely responsible for the fall of communism. Christianity throughout the course of history always has advocated for human rights and an economic disaster always requires a reform. The reason why communism did not survive was not because of external actors but because in its very core it was dysfunctional. As far as the rest of external actors are concerned, they played a diplomatic role to the fall of communism. They influenced the event of 1989, but not in an absolute way. Most significant Western leaders watched the evolving events with disapproval. The United States was concerned that the crisis of the Soviet rule would 'explode' and distract the international political arena in a crucial and unsatisfactory way. The US even promised to the Soviet rule that it would not take advantage of the opportunity that the weakness of the Soviet rule imposed as long as they would not resort to violence. France was against any change, they wanted to keep the European community small so they could eventually rule it. Last but not least Great Britain was explicit about maintaining the status

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