To the general public one of the greatest shocks at the end of the twentieth century was the demise of the power of the Soviet Union. “The greatest surprise of the end of the twentieth century has been the suddenness and completeness of the Soviet system's collapse. “(Malia, 1993, p.80) In effect the ‘fall’ of the Soviet Union meant that communism as a working and viable social and economic reality had in fact failed. In the years since the decline of the Soviet Union as a communist state and its adoption of more open and free market principles, there have been numerous studies, reports and conjecture on the reason or reasons for the failure of communism in this particular instance. This ...view middle of the document...
The reasons given for the failure of communism cover many diverse fields and disciplines. One view that has become popular follows from a critique of the communist system as being essentially unable to cope with internal and external tensions due to the very nature of its social and political structure. Other theories focus on an economic analysis of the fundamental cause of Soviet decline; while others point to the internal inconsistencies, conflicts within the system as well as to the overemphasis on bureaucratic procedures and the neglect of culture and nationalistic interests as well as the natural diversity of the different regions.
Possible the most appropriate view of the cause of the decline and eventual failure of communism is expressed by one critic who states that, "... the collapse of the Soviet Union was a complex event with no clearly identifiable single cause." (Wilcoxson, 2004. p.51) In other words, it would be more correct from an historical, sociological and political point of view to see the collapse of the communist ideology in the Soviet Union as a complex mixture of various aspects. A study by Malia, (1993) neatly encapsulates this aspect.
After three quarters of a century of communist expansion, and forty-five years of Cold War contest for global hegemony between "socialism" and "capitalism," the world had settled into the view that although the Soviet Union might not be eternal, it was at least permanent. Yet in the short span from 1989 to 1991 the whole Leninist edifice imploded without any of its guardians offering any serious resistance to the debacle. The most militant political movement of the modern age, which in its time had made a career of armed insurrections and minority coups d'etat, at the end proved capable only of the pitiful farce of August, 1991.
(Malia, 1993, p.80)
In the first instance, the fall of communism is attributed by many scholars and researchers to the inherent fault lines in the very system itself. In simplistic terms, the failure of communism was due to the fact that it attempted to implement a system which was too idealistic and could not work, given the reality and the trends in human society and the world. Malia ( 1993) states that “… what the Soviets were trying to accomplish was from the very beginning impossible.” (Malia, 1993, p.80)
In essence the central and historical aim of the communist ideology was to achieve a form of social and ideological utopia, which would bring about the end of history and resolve the conflicts between social classes and groups.
…let us recall that their aim was nothing less than to bring history to its culmination and its final perfection with the "building of socialism"; thus they understood socialism in its maximalist sense as the fullness of equality in the stateless, classless society, the overcoming of all alienation, and the passage of humanity "from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom."
(Malia, 1993, p.80)