The Soviet Union formally collapsed on December 26th, 1991. The dissolution of the world’s first and largest Communist state also marked the end of the Cold War. Mikhail Gorbachev (in office from May 25th, 1989- December 25th, 1991) was the leader of the Soviet Union mainly credited in driving the Soviet Union into near disaster.
This collapse has been debated by many historians, whether it was inevitable or it was pressured into collapse. I focused my research on the causes of the collapse. Mainly the information I collected, point more to the fact that it was inevitable. Some causes I found, and are not limited to, include the stagnant economy, reforms made to help the Soviet Union, but hurt it instead, and poor leadership.
My research question was, why did the Soviet Union collapse? I asked this question because according to some, the collapse was a surprise to many people. The Soviet Union was expected to last for a long time, yet it suddenly collapsed in 1991. I looked for information in reference sources because they seem more reliable than say a news article where propaganda can influence the information.
"Collapse of the Soviet Union: Was the Collapse of the Soviet Union Inevitable?" History in Dispute. Ed. Paul Du Quenoy. Vol. 16: Twentieth-Century European Social and Political Movements: First Series. Detroit: St. James Press, 2004. 38-48. World History In Context. Web. 2 May 2013 This source discusses the crucial aspects of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which include the politics, economic status, and foreign influences. This source is really helpful in defining the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the most significant geographical transformation in the world since World War II. The article provides both viewpoints- the collapse was inevitable or it had the chance of remaining stable- of the Collapse of the Soviet Union. This source also includes the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, which is extremely helpful. This source was pretty straight forward, easy to understand, and is most likely the most helpful in my research. I would definitely recommend this source to anyone who is researching this topic.
"End of the Cold War." Cold War Reference Library. Ed. Richard C. Hanes, Sharon M. Hanes, and Lawrence W. Baker. Vol. 2: Almanac Volume 2. Detroit: UXL, 2004. 347-376. World History In Context. Web. 7 May 2013. This source is by far one of the most through. Not only does it discuss the collapse of the Soviet Union, it discusses the Cold War in pretty much its entirety. It has tons of information on contributing factors to why the Soviet Union collapsed. I thought it was a great source, had a lot of information. I would definitely recommend this source to someone, but someone who is focused more on the Cold War, but it worked perfectly for my purposes.
HARRISON, MARK. "War Economy." Encyclopedia of Russian History. Ed. James R. Millar. Vol. 4. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 1660-1661. World History In Context. Web. 3 May 2013. This source contained information on how World War II affected the economy of the Soviet Union. It really focuses on how harshly and devastatingly the war affected civilian economy. I thought this source had some good information, but it really could've used more. It was easy to understand and was helpful in helping me determine that the economy was a predisposing factor to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
HYDER, JOSEPH PATTERSON. "Cold War (1972–1989): the Collapse of the Soviet Union." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence and Security. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 238-241. Student Resources In Context. Web. 2 May 2013. This source was helpful in my research as well. It held a lot of the vital information on the collapse of the Soviet Union. It really gave perspective on how sudden it seemed that the Soviet Union collapsed. I thought it was fairly easy to understand, it could've used some more information, but it had the minimum that was needed for my purposes. I would recommend this source for someone doing research like mine, but I would use it as a supporting article, and not a main article.
"Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr. 2nd Ed. Vol. 8. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 510-513. World History In Context. Web. 3 May 2013. This source was kind of helpful. The article looked at it more from a social science point of view, but it did include the main points I was trying to prove. I thought it was easy to understand, but I would not recommend this article for someone doing research like mine. It's a good source to use to help support your claims from a sort of different perspective, but it definitely couldn't stand alone.
So why did the Soviet Union collapse? According to my research, the Soviet Union seemed to collapse from many things like, economic hardships, unintentionally harmful reforms, and decades of deterioration from oppressive and brutish government policies.
I have concluded that the Soviet Union’s collapse was inevitable. I found that all the sources say that the government was the main cause of the collapse. The government from the beginning used terror and brutish policies to keep the citizens in line. This was only meant to be temporary, but soon the Soviet Union had dug itself into a hole and filled it with terror, oppression, and eventually Communism. At the height of Soviet power, this was around the 1970’s and 1980’s, the government started to try and dig itself out of the hole by instigating radical reforms of the government and the economy. These reforms were meant to help get the Soviet Union caught up to the other nations of the world, but ultimately were proposed too late. The damage had already been done and they just helped push the Soviet Union over the edge.