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The Fall of Communism


Last Updated: Thursday, 27. May 2004 22:26 -0400

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Francisco Gironza

Fall of Communism

            The late 80’s and early 90’s was a period of devastation for communism. The Berlin Wall was torn down on November 9, 1989 and a year later on October 3, 1990 the desperate East German people in total economic failure and poverty united their torn country with the West. Communism fell there. Lech Walesa from Poland led a movement to change the government and he succeeded when he was elected in 1989. Poland no longer was a communist country. Communism fell there. In the December of 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu, the leader of Romania, was overthrown by his own people and communism fell there. Soon communism also fell in Bulgaria and Albania. Communism was at its end.

Why did Communism fail? The system that sounds like Utopia on paper fails with human attempts. The system needs involvement from all the countries in the world, which was not happening. Small countries such as those mentioned simply could not sustain itself without a workable economy leaving poverty to the citizens. The weapons race and the contest to see who has the greater technology between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. had spent much of the Communists nation’s money, which was diverted from helping the populace living there. The people living under the Communist rule in the nations could no longer endure the conditions they were living in and demanded a change.

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, who rose to power in the U.S.S.R. in 1985, tried to stop this disaster of failing Communism. He would be the last U.S.S.R. leader. His most famous actions he took to try boost Communism back to working order was two reforms, glasnost and perestroika. Glasnost gave freedom of speech to the people and perestroika or “rebuilding” which was a series of economic reforms. The reforms did not have the effect he wished and the people used their newly acquired right of speech to criticize him and the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R. soon began to pull itself apart.

The Baltic Region nations were the first to demand to leave the U.S.S.R. Next came the southern part of the Soviet Union. With the end in sight, on August 19, 1991, a group of dedicated Communist believers led a coup d'etat kidnapped Gorbachev and told the public that he was too “ill” to lead. Protests across the country erupted, including Leningrad and Moscow. The group tried to bring in the military to stop the protests but the soldiers declared they cannot shoot their own people and rebelled alongside them. After 3 days of the inability to control the military, the coup organizers gave up. After the protests in August during the kidnappings, Gorbachev realized he could no longer have the power to control his people. He resigned on December 25, 1991.

By January, the U.S.S.R. no longer existed, replaced by the “Commonwealth of Independent Republics”, an organization for some of the former U.S.S.R. nations. A total of 15 independent republics appeared after the Soviet Union collapsed. These new nations had to struggle to completely reform their government and economic policies. Their people suffered poverty and unemployment after communism fell. Today most of the people living in the nations of the former Soviet Union still suffer poverty conditions in still struggling nations that will probably struggle for a long time.

With the collapse of Communism, the Democratic West believed they scored a victory. The West though soon after found out that after the collapse, thousands of scientists who were working on the arms race were now jobless. The early 90’s was a dark time for America. The Middle East hated America and so did some African nations. Any terrorist group with enough money would be able to hire anyone of the scientist to build a weapon of mass destruction. Maybe they do not even need to hire a scientist. The tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, chemical, and biological weapons that were in the former U.S.S.R. soon after were too costly to guard. The U.S. fearing their own safety stepped in to help guard and dispose of these weapons. Even with the U.S. helping the former Soviet nations with their stockpiles, it may be only a matter of time before a big bomb or vial of a deadly virus appears in the hands of a terrorist.