Long Term Causes for the Collapse of Communism

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EH1The Road to Revolution of 1989Lecture 64
Collapse in Eastern Europe was very sudden – but it how did it come to this so quickly? It’s a complicated question; this lecture focusses on the longer term causes, Lecture 65 focusses on comparatively short term causes. 1) ECONOMIC TROUBLES IN THE SOVIET BLOC: Eastern European leaders should have been more aware of economic issues. They were inherently familiar with the works of Marx i.e. economic state of society dictates the rest of society. Basic economic model established in Eastern Europe was Stalinist i.e. economic system centralised from the top down. A model where some widely accepted capitalist economic factors i.e. supply and demand – were ignored. Production was based on central planning regardless of profitability consideration or environmental concerns. It had seemed that this model had been working well i.e. in the 1950s where there had been high growth rates in the Eastern bloc and industrialisation was progressing in converting what had been a rural society prior to the 2nd World War. Still essentially lagging behind Western countries. In the latter 50s and 60s changes were made to this system as a result of Khrushchev – he wanted to destalinise Russia and decentralise the country to an extent to making the system more responsive to local and regional demands. Priorities shifted to pay attention to consumer goods and local issues. Therefore the Soviet model plodded on in the 1960s – things still seemed to be moving forward but slower. In the 70s – oil crisis. War in the middle East between Israel and its neighbours made Arab states impose an oil embargo on Western Europe – stopped exporting oil unless at very high prices. This impacted both Eastern and Western Europe. Consequentially growth levels in Eastern bloc countries fell. Various bottlenecks in the economy became increasing obvious i.e. Consumer goods situation where supply simply couldn’t meet demands of consumers. Especially in...
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