Fall of Communism

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Account for the failure of Communism in Eastern Europe

The Failure of Communism in Eastern Europe Communism in the Eastern Europe was a result of various factors. 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 and the state owns and controls all enterprises and property. The Soviet model of communism was based on these ideals. Stalin wanted total control within an Eastern European sphere of influence. 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, private enterprise was not allowed and 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 aspects of life in Eastern Europe which eventually had to come to an end. Factors which contributed to its downfall were; influence from the West on the Eastern bloc, mainly from the US, Britain and France, declining communist morale, rising dissent, Stalin’s policy foreign policy and his inability to solve the decline in the Soviet economy. The introduction of Stalin’s successors, Nikita Krusshchev and Mikhail Gorbachev, along with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, was a major factor in the fall of Communism during the reforms of 1989-1991. In this essay I will discuss these factors and how they contributed to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. The first factor I will discuss which contributed to the failure and eventual collapse of communism was Stalin’s foreign policy. Most Eastern European countries were forced to follow Soviet economic and social patterns. 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 this minority retained absolute control. Stalin's domination was now total. After the war Stalin succeeded in establishing a communist buffer zone between Russia and Germany. Any resistance he met in establishing communist states was quickly suppressed by intimidation and terror. For example Stalin engineered a communist coup in May 1948 in Czechoslovakia in which a government minister Masaryk was killed and the president was forced to resign. (1) Therefore it can clearly be seen that from the establishment of the state that communism never had particularly popular public support. It cannot be denied that there was a significant minority who supported communism, but these were a minority. It seems that Communism was enforced upon the public in Eastern Europe and was allowed to as a result of Stalin’s policy of terror and intimidation. As a result of this it can be said that the fall of communism was inevitable. After the death of Stalin in 1953, his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced his legacy and drove the process of de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union. The question was now posed to Eastern European states whether they should remain loyal to Stalin or mirror the changes taking place in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev. Khrushchev openly criticised Stalin in 1956 saying: (2) ‘’Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation, and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion’’ With the continued break down of Stalin’s character and his policies, Eastern European countries began to experience unrest at the idea of Communism. During the period of 1956-1968, there were numerous upheavals among the eastern European countries, for example,...
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