What are the main factors leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union?


The attempt to reform the Soviet system led to its collapse.

The revolution from above initiated recessions from below. The search of real socialism led to the demise of barracks socialism and a group­ing towards capitalism.

In this regard this is also highly debated subject that whether Soviet disintegration was a breakdown due to long term weakness of the Soviet Union or it was the collapse of the great socialist order by re­forms initiated by Gorbachev. A brief analysis of the reforms and the processes which emerged as their consequences, would show that it was conjunction
of the objective and objective contradictions-the long term accumulation of weakness and short-term methods of their resolution, which broke the Soviet Union into 15 independent Republics.


Basically after 1980’s onwards the Soviet system was running into problems in meeting the require­ments of a modern industrial state with super power status. The communist system in USSR had no doubt a great success in modernising the whole Russia and its different states.

Infrastructural development and economic upliftment of the masses were the two im­portant factors which played important role maintain­ing Russian integrity and unity. First significant the Russian unification and its emergence as USSR was based on the need of economic development of the different regions or states.

This it was a major weak­ness. No nation can be unified for a long span of time without nationalist spirit of the people and the most vital factor of modern state that is cultural national­ism. Soviet Union lacked cultural nationalism and union itself was nothing a kind of federation based on eco­nomic cooperation and single standing army system.

This is also a significant inject that industrial growth of nation depends always on a fare competi­tion in the domestic market. Such kind of competition is also needed for technological up gradation and qual­ity improvement. The USSR had a centralized bureau­cratic ordered in which work for an industrial setup was a compulsion and worker, technicians and other had no share in the profit.


This is also a well under­stood fact that love for labour also depends on per­sonal benefit. Maintaining parity in development was also a great problem for USSR. Its Central Asian re­gions were comparatively less developed than Rus­sian and Ukraine despite being important in terms of natural resources. This is also noticeable fact that many of the Central Asian Republics having oil re­serves had always a feeling that resources of their native land were used for other regions of the Union.

USSR as a communist system of governance not only established secular norms and notions but it also banned the religious practices. This is also a well known fact that people cannot live without religion or belief system. Very especially religious feeling in the Central Asiatic region had always been very strong. Even in Russia people were indeed in need of vital change at the sphere of society and religion and no doubt the Soviet system itself was the biggest ob­stacle in this field.

People in USSR had nostalgia for the art and ar­chitecture of the period of medieval period. They had accepted the values established by the communist order, but there were people who were proud of the old glory and had different view prints on issues re­lated with Russian history and culture.

International economic scenario is equally impor­tant in this regard. After WTO’s convention and the process of globalization and privatization facing in­ternational challenges became difficult for the com­munist economy of USSR. With the evolution of new world order and process of democratalization also changes had become inevitable in USSR. In this situ­ation Gorbachev has to introduce reform procedures which he termed as Perestroika, Glasnost and Demokratia. Gorbachev’s reforms were not evolu­tionary and systematic, they attacked the system from all sides and a number of issues were raised simultaneously.


Reforms introduced by Grobachev brought eth­nic problems to the forefront. The demand from the Baltics for independence was the most serious issue. Gorbachev appointed a commission to look into the 1939 Hilter-Stalin pact which brought the Baltics into the Soviet Union.

The condemnation of this pact as illegal and invalid by the Congress of people’s Depu­ties in December 1989 endorsed the demand of seces­sion instead of healing the old wounds. Lithuania declared independence in March 1990, followed by similar demands by Latvia and Estonia.

Further nationalist uprisings in Ukraine and Geor­gia, and inter-ethnic clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, indicated that reforms were aggravating ethnic nationalism. The demand for independence was not restricted to the Baltics. Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine, voiced this demand.

Gorbachev suggested a three tier system but that was also opposed and so realizing his failure the state committee of emergency ordered his arrest and seized control of the centre which has already disintegrated. The resolution by Slav states on ending the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Inde­pendent states was the last blow on the dismantling Soviet system and it caused the emergence of new states and the final disintegration of USSR.

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