The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was an enormous entity that formally existed from 1922 to 1991. It along with the United States of America was considered the two superpowers in the bipolar world order post World War II and the subsequent Cold War dynamics period.
The USSR was a gigantic state that comprised a total of 15 Republics. Russia was the largest of all the republics followed by Ukraine. There are several reasons why the USSR fell. There are five prominent reasons for the downfall of the socialist state.
The first reason was Mikhail Gorbachev’s two-fold reforms: The Glasnost and Perestroika. The glasnost stood for “political openness” and the primary objective of this policy was to remove all traces of the coercive and draconian Stalinist repression.
Through this policy, newspapers and media could openly confront the government and multi-party systems other than the Communist Party could participate in elections. The construction of the hybrid communist and capitalist system was the main driving force behind Perestroika.
The Politburo would still control the direction of the economy and enabled the market forces to dictate production and development decisions. The already weak and volatile Soviet Union government received a death blow from the newfound freedom movement and subsequent activities of the individuals.
The second reason behind the disintegration of the USSR was the ideological purity tied to Marxism that did not exist in the future generations. In 1963, when the former Premier of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev was removed, the politburo gradually began to move away from Lenin’s core principles.
The ordinary masses and citizens of the Soviet Union faced and died due to starvation and illness in 1960s and 1970s. In sharp contrast, the politburo enjoyed all luxuries one could dream of. The younger generation witnessed these atrocities and refused to adapt to the Party ideology.
Thirdly, during the Cold War Period (1945-1991), the Soviet Union and the United States of America were involved in a heated arms race involving missiles, nuclear warheads, and weapon delivery systems. The Americans had isolated the Soviets from the international world economy and brought a huge reduction in oil prices. The USSR began to crumble due to this.
The Soviets spent much of their resources and money on defence spending and developing new weapons to counter the Americans such as solid and liquid-fuelled ballistic missiles and Multiple Independent Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV). The MIRV allowed many warheads to be fixed on a single missile.
Forth, for every country, strategic goods are called “Guns” and consumer goods are called “butter”. If any state focuses solely on guns, then people are left behind without consumable goods. Similarly, if a state focuses too much on butter (consumer goods) then it may lack the economic resources to defend and protect itself.
Joseph Stalin and his five-year plans were aimed at increasing the number and production of strategic goods and they completely ignored other areas of focus. The USSR used all of its resources in competing and countering with that of the USA and its Allies.
The fifth reason behind the crumbling of the USSR, was its diverse ethnicity. Russia being the majority, began bullying ethnic minorities and creating tensions in the outlying provinces. To further aggravate the damage, nationalist movements began in Eastern Europe. The movement brought regime change in Poland and it began to spread to Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia and eventually entered the Soviet Union.
One by one, gradually, all the Soviet Union provinces and sub-states fell prey to these movements. In 1991, the USSR disintegrated completely and a new nation called Russian Federation emerged under Boris Yeltsin.
However, it is important to look into the destruction caused by Communist forces. According to ‘The Black Book of Communism’, the number of people killed by the Communist governments in Soviet Union amounts to be 20 million. The statistics of victims include deaths through executions, man-made hunger, famine, war, deportations, and forced labor.
According to Stephane Courtois, Editor of ‘The Black Book of Communism’, the crimes by the Soviet Union included the following:
• The execution of tens of thousands of hostages and prisoners
• The murder of hundreds of thousands of rebellious workers and peasants from 1918 to 1922
• The Russian famine of 1921 which caused the death of 5 million people
• The decossackization, a policy of systematic repression against the Don Cossacks between 1917 and 1933
• The murder of thousands in the Gulag during the period between 1918 and 1930
• The Great Purge which killed almost 690,000 people
• The dekulakization, resulting in the deportation of 2 million so-called kulaks from 1930 to 1932
• The death of 4 million Ukrainians (Holodomor) and 2 million others during the famine of 1932 and 1933
• The deportations of Poles, Ukrainians, Moldovans, and people from the Baltic states from 1939 to 1941 and from 1944 to 1945
• The deportation of the Volga Germans in 1941
• The deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944
• Operation Lentil and deportation of the Ingush in 1944
In this background, it is worth mentioning that even before the disintegration of the USSR happened, it was first analysed and observed by Dattopant Thengadi, the founder of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, in 1970 at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He unanimously announced that Communism/ Marxism is going to collapse in end of the year 1989. The USSR too will be withered by then. He further forecasted the end of imperialism will decline by 2010. Both of his forecasts came true.
He had predicted that after 2010, there will be decline of American imperialism, which exactly we are witnessing today. During Dr Hegdewar, birth centenary year in 1989, Thengadi declared, while addressing a congregation of Pracharks at Nagpur that “standing in front of this small ‘Prakriti’ (Replica) of Hindu Rashtra and taking in view the national/international events and based on hard realities, I can say that in the next century that is when sunrises in 2001, then Suryanarayana will be pleased to see that before the end of 20th century in the economic field of Bharat all flags from red to pink and dark red have dissolved in Hindu Rashtra Sanatan Bhagwa Dhwaj”. This prediction has also come true.
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During his visit to Russia along with a Parliamentary delegation in 1968, the veteran communist leader Hiren Mukherjee said “Thengadi! You have found your place in the universe. I have not.” Thengadi ji once said ‘I would prefer to remain a small stone dug and pressed in the foundation of our great national edifice’.