The Soviet Union during the reign of Konstantin Chernenko as the General Secretary of the Central committee of the communist Party was the most powerful in the world with a powerful military that had military bases in different parts of the world such as Africa (Angola), South Eastern Asia (Vietnam) and Cuba in South America. When his time in power came to an end in 1985, Milkhail Gorbachev took over from him. During this time, nobody could have thought that the USSR was to disintegrate within a span of less than seven years (Gitz, p.83).
According to Ishiyama (p.251), it was during the reign of Gorbachev that the authoritarian Soviet Union collapsed when he tried to restore democracy with the hope that it could help bring about better living standards and improve productivity among workers as part of the reconstruction plan. He changed laws such as the cooperative laws allowing individual possession of businesses in both manufacturing, foreign trade sector and the services sector so that the private sector could be encouraged to grow.
He brought freedom to people through introducing openness that saw the return of the freedom of speech and expression that had previously been suppressed in the previous regime. The press became free and could conduct its activities without interference. Prisoners were released in the spirit of openness. Later in 1987, he called for democratization that brought about multi-candidate elections in the political process. He also initiated fundamental reforms that were aimed at reducing the influence of the party on apparatus of government. After this, in December 1988, through constitutional amendments, the Congress of People’s Deputies was created that became the new Soviet Union governing body (Van, p.171).
According to Watson (p.53), Gorbachev moved to enhance the Soviet Union’s relationship with countries from the west through numerous meetings with its leaders. This led to a decision to reduce the number of intermediate-range nuclear arms with the signing of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement.
The following year 1988, Soviet Union forces were removed from Afghanistan and the Brezhnev Doctrine was abandoned which allowed Warsaw Pact countries to run their internal affairs on their own without interference. This brought about a chain of revolution in 1989 throughout Eastern Europe that led to the collapse of communism. This put to an end the cold war that was going on. This and other reforms had accidentally taken away the Soviet Union’s power of the CPSU and brought about a force that eventually led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
The economic growth of the Soviet Union had slowed down by the year 1970 despite its earlier rapid growth because of the policies that they used that mainly depended on Rapid growth inputs but inefficiently used them. This brought about comprehensibility which meant that the inputs could not match with their output and also because the input-oriented growth was naturally a limited process, it was certain that the Soviet Union could finally slow down (Cebulak, p.113).
The political and economic systems of the Soviet Union Proved to be less efficient to the systems used in the west because, unlike the West, their economy was based on Rapid Growth input policies with less out put which were by far below the policies used by the west that ensured productivity. Politically, the west was democratic which ensured that countries worked together in harmony while the Soviet Union was under communist rule which meant some rebellion from some of the countries who felt suppressed by system.
The countries in the Eastern Europe were not able to institute reforms because financial inefficiencies that had piled up with any effort of reform hastening crisis-generating trends. There dependency of the Soviet Union for virtually everything and the economic systems that needed party-state planning in virtually all levels partially contributed (Zwass, p.79).
Cebulak, Wojciech. “Social Turmoil in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe – a Revolution Gone Astray?” East European Quarterly 31.1 (1997): 113. Questia. Web. 21 May 2010.
Gitz, Bradley R. Armed Forces and Political Power in Eastern Europe: The Soviet/Communist Control System. New York: Greenwood Press, (1992) p.83. Questia. Web. 21 May 2010.