What problems were created by the fall of communism? What would have made the transition easier?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

If you have the chance to do so, I would check out John Mearsheimer's writings on the subject.  He's a fascinating thinker out of the University of Chicago who argued that one of the most challenging elements in the post- Soviet Union Europe was the growth of multipolar tensions that are smaller in scale than the Cold War antagonisms, but can prove to be equally destructive.  Given the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavian republic, he was quite right.  I would say that this multipolar tension was probably one of the problems that was created in the wake of the Soviet Union's decline.  What I mean to say is that the presence of the Soviet Union was based on repression and repressive elements.  This helped to keep a lid on much of the tension between rival ethnic groups.  Once this lid was gone, it was pretty much open season and different groups vied for control with disastrous results.  I think that an easing to a more autonomous form of political consciousness could have been present, if hindsight was able to guide policy.  The force and brisk pace of the Soviet dismantling was too high of a magnitude to work through any sort of transitioning period.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I assume you are talking about the Soviet Union and other countries in Eastern Europe.

There were a couple of major problems.  First, the fall of communism led to things like the rise of organized crime and of authoritarian government in Russia.  As the economy was privatized, the people most able to help it run relatively smoothly were the mafia who had some experience of running businesses on their own.

Second, the fall of communism led to authoritarian rulers like Putin instead of to democracy.  This is, presumably, because the people wanted some sort of order even at the price of freedom.

I don't know if the transition could have been made easier.  You would think it would have to have been much slower and more gradual and I do not know if the people would have tolerated that.

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