Question Holly Politics & International Relations

The fall of communism in the Soviet Union

What were the causes of the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union?

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Answer Internal Staff

From the end of World War II, there had been escalating animosity between the United States and the Soviet Union. This manifested in an arms race of both nuclear and conventional weapons, as well as competing space programmes, all of which were extremely costly. An enormous proportion of productive capacity was devoted to this effort on both sides, but the Soviets had been spending significantly more as a proportion of its GDP than the United States, resulting in a highly imbalanced economy in which resources were not being employed effectively. There was, as a result, insufficient investment in the social welfare of its citizens and insufficient investment in its economic future. This produced a serious economic stagnation, which threw into question the ability of the existing communist system to secure the economic future of the state. It is this doubt that motivated Gorbachev to begin restructuring the Soviet Union by introducing liberalising reforms, which opened the door to the voicing of discontent from multiple quarters of the Union and, ultimately, to the breakup of the Union.