Do you, on average, consider the collapse of the USSR to be more of a good thing or more of a bad thing?

Do you, on average, consider the collapse of the USSR to be more of a good thing or a bad thing?

  • More of a good thing

  • More of a bad thing


Results are only viewable after voting.

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#1
I voted more of a good thing because it allowed the ex-USSR countries to become independent (or, in some cases, to reacquire their independence). I do deeply regret the economic disruption that occurred following the collapse of the USSR but we can blame the Bolsheviks for that for making the USSR's economy so interconnected. Had countries such as Ukraine acquired their independence in 1918 and permanently kept it, the transition to independence might have been much less rough for them than it was after 1991 in real life. I also think that it might have been prudent for the West to give more aid to the ex-USSR countries after independence just as long as it would have managed this aid itself in order to prevent it from being looted and stolen by corrupt ex-USSR politicians and oligarchs.

Anyway, what are your own thoughts on this?
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,797
At present SD, USA
#2
More of a good thing. And primarily because of how the Soviet Union operated throughout its history.

And this relates little to "Communism" as a theory, but how it was ultimately put into practice, which ultimately got away from many of the theoretical concepts that Marx had originally wrote on. Much of the rise of the Soviet Union may have related to revolution and violence, which in and of itself may not be seen as a good thing, but then we should keep in mind that there have been other revolutions in which the end result was not judged to be bad. Take the American Revolution, for example, while Britain's defeat may have hurt some of its prestige, the US would develop a democratic government and one that didn't rely on murder after it was established. In this the people of the US could point to the Constitution and the stability provided by the new government as a means to justify the revolution itself. The Soviet Union couldn't and DIDN'T do that.

The Soviets were wracked by years of Civil War and internal instability, and while they did manage to win the Russian Civil War, much of their power was managed by their ability to terrorize those that would oppose them. Old Tsarist and even members of the Provisional Government that preceded Lenin were liable to be executed if caught and many were. It was something that sent shockwaves through Europe, particularly as in the 20s the Soviets also seemed to raise the specter of revolution elsewhere in Europe, which didn't win them support, particularly when copycat resolutions sprung up in Germany and Hungary.

And this wasn't something that went away with even after the Soviet Union was secured. Stalin was highly paranoid and even fellow Communists even ended up being killed or sent to Siberia for perceived transgressions against Stalin. And that would include the imposing of Communist rule over much of Eastern Europe at the end of WW2, despite the fact that with the possible exception of Yugoslavia, no one WANTED Communist rule. But yet Stalin imposed it on all of Eastern Europe and only Greece escaped that fate. This served to protect the Soviet Union from invasion from the west again, but it also meant that millions had to live under a government that did NOT represent their interests or desires. Some may have accepted it in 1945 in the aftermath of WW2, but that didn't mean they wanted it... Which would then fuel the years of defections and periodic uprisings through the Cold War.

In this, the collapse of the Soviet Union offered actual freedom to the peoples of Eastern Europe, much of which was probably desired since WW2 began.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#3
More of a good thing. And primarily because of how the Soviet Union operated throughout its history.

And this relates little to "Communism" as a theory, but how it was ultimately put into practice, which ultimately got away from many of the theoretical concepts that Marx had originally wrote on. Much of the rise of the Soviet Union may have related to revolution and violence, which in and of itself may not be seen as a good thing, but then we should keep in mind that there have been other revolutions in which the end result was not judged to be bad. Take the American Revolution, for example, while Britain's defeat may have hurt some of its prestige, the US would develop a democratic government and one that didn't rely on murder after it was established. In this the people of the US could point to the Constitution and the stability provided by the new government as a means to justify the revolution itself. The Soviet Union couldn't and DIDN'T do that.

The Soviets were wracked by years of Civil War and internal instability, and while they did manage to win the Russian Civil War, much of their power was managed by their ability to terrorize those that would oppose them. Old Tsarist and even members of the Provisional Government that preceded Lenin were liable to be executed if caught and many were. It was something that sent shockwaves through Europe, particularly as in the 20s the Soviets also seemed to raise the specter of revolution elsewhere in Europe, which didn't win them support, particularly when copycat resolutions sprung up in Germany and Hungary.

And this wasn't something that went away with even after the Soviet Union was secured. Stalin was highly paranoid and even fellow Communists even ended up being killed or sent to Siberia for perceived transgressions against Stalin. And that would include the imposing of Communist rule over much of Eastern Europe at the end of WW2, despite the fact that with the possible exception of Yugoslavia, no one WANTED Communist rule. But yet Stalin imposed it on all of Eastern Europe and only Greece escaped that fate. This served to protect the Soviet Union from invasion from the west again, but it also meant that millions had to live under a government that did NOT represent their interests or desires. Some may have accepted it in 1945 in the aftermath of WW2, but that didn't mean they wanted it... Which would then fuel the years of defections and periodic uprisings through the Cold War.

In this, the collapse of the Soviet Union offered actual freedom to the peoples of Eastern Europe, much of which was probably desired since WW2 began.
Great points, Sam! That said, though, it is worth noting that there was a third way between a continuation of the status quo and a Soviet break-up and collapse. Specifically, have the Soviet Union reform its economy and maybe democratize but nevertheless somehow manage to hold together most of its territory (excluding its Eastern European puppet states, of course).
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,797
At present SD, USA
#4
Great points, Sam! That said, though, it is worth noting that there was a third way between a continuation of the status quo and a Soviet break-up and collapse. Specifically, have the Soviet Union reform its economy and maybe democratize but nevertheless somehow manage to hold together most of its territory (excluding its Eastern European puppet states, of course).
But by the 1980s... things had gone on for so long that that wasn't possible. The Soviet Union had had so much of its economy so heavily viewed by their own dogma for so long that any sort of "revision" was going to be chaotic, and after years of tyrannical rule, opening up to real democracy is going to be bound to lead to some form of separatism. It would be something similar to what happened with Austria-Hungary in the start of the 20th Century. Franz Joseph had ruled for so long in one way, that by the time that men like Franz Ferdinand began offering counter-ideas, there wasn't going to be much support and by the time that Karl actually began to offer some of those solutions … it was too late. Those who had been for years under autocratic rule will choose the option that will give them the perception that their rights are protected and that the tyrant can't easily come back. Thus why the Soviet Union broke up and why Austria Hungary broke up.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#5
But by the 1980s... things had gone on for so long that that wasn't possible. The Soviet Union had had so much of its economy so heavily viewed by their own dogma for so long that any sort of "revision" was going to be chaotic, and after years of tyrannical rule, opening up to real democracy is going to be bound to lead to some form of separatism. It would be something similar to what happened with Austria-Hungary in the start of the 20th Century. Franz Joseph had ruled for so long in one way, that by the time that men like Franz Ferdinand began offering counter-ideas, there wasn't going to be much support and by the time that Karl actually began to offer some of those solutions … it was too late. Those who had been for years under autocratic rule will choose the option that will give them the perception that their rights are protected and that the tyrant can't easily come back. Thus why the Soviet Union broke up and why Austria Hungary broke up.
What's interesting, though, is that the majority of people in a majority of the SSRs of the USSR actually voted to preserve the USSR in a somewhat different form in March 1991. There was a referendum on this topic in 9 out of 15 SSRs back then and it passed in all nine of these SSRs. (The other six SSRs were already separatist and thus didn't participate in this referendum. However, they were also very small territorially-wise and population-wise.)
 
Jun 2013
499
Connecticut
#6
It wasn't a good thing. The collapse was probably one of the BEST things that happened in modern history. Modern history = post 1945. The USSR contributed nothing but misery to the world.
Sometimes a totalitarian state is good for a region. An "iron hand" can force everyone in line or else they will pay dire consequnces. Modern examples are Yugoslavia (look what happened when it desintegrated) and the People's Republic (look at its dominance). Under the USSR everyone suffered.
Since this is a history forum, the USSR was the main contributor to the lousey history that was being written about and taught in each of the subservient countries. To this day they still haven't figured out their own histories, what they were all about, what they should teach the future generations. Since 1939 for some countries; since around 1920 for others their history is lost, buried under layers of pontificated doctrine.
 
Nov 2011
4,767
Ohio, USA
#7
More of a good thing in terms of the end of the Soviet totalitarian Communist system and the Warsaw Pact, but a little bit more of a bad thing in terms of the breakup of the traditional Russian Empire. Unless you want to make an incredibly flimsy argument that the independence of the Ukraine is some ultimate fulfillment of Cossack autonomy, then you have to accept that it was pretty much traditionally Russian, with Kiev as basically the primary origins of the Russian state. I also don't see how Central Asian countries that were once a part of the Russian-Soviet empire have benefitted one bit from independence. The Soviet authorities were fairly hands-off in a lot of these predominantly Muslim areas to begin with. As much as the Soviets have gotten a bad rap for environmental degradation and relative lack of conservation efforts for certain species, some of these issues have gotten a lot worse ever since independence for these countries. The Saiga Antelope population, for instance, has plummeted over 90 percent since the independence of Kazakhstan.

As for other areas in Europe though, such as the Baltic states and Belarus, it probably was better than what the Soviets had to offer, and where they exercised much more heavy-handed control than in most of Central Asia, and which were also not traditionally Russian to begin with (with Belarus a possible exception and even that's a maybe). The mixed bag of it all makes it almost impossible for me to answer this one either way. The end of Communist/Soviet control was a good thing but the break-up of the older Russian polity was mostly not.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
#8
More of a good thing in terms of the end of the Soviet totalitarian Communist system and the Warsaw Pact, but a little bit more of a bad thing in terms of the breakup of the traditional Russian Empire. Unless you want to make an incredibly flimsy argument that the independence of the Ukraine is some ultimate fulfillment of Cossack autonomy, then you have to accept that it was pretty much traditionally Russian, with Kiev as basically the primary origins of the Russian state.
Western Ukraine was actually largely Polish before the late 1700s, with Kiev being a notable exception.

I also don't see how Central Asian countries that were once a part of the Russian-Soviet empire have benefitted one bit from independence.
Well, Kazakhstan is doing pretty well nowadays, is it not? :)

The Soviet authorities were fairly hands-off in a lot of these predominantly Muslim areas to begin with. As much as the Soviets have gotten a bad rap for environmental degradation and relative lack of conservation efforts for certain species, some of these issues have gotten a lot worse ever since independence for these countries. The Saiga Antelope population, for instance, has plummeted over 90 percent since the independence of Kazakhstan.
Yeah, that is a downside, unfortunately. :( I guess that it also doesn't help that Central Asia with the exception of Kyrgyzstan is stuck with authoritarian governments. :(

As for other areas in Europe though, such as the Baltic states and Belarus, it probably was better than what the Soviets had to offer, and where they exercised much more heavy-handed control than in most of Central Asia, and which were also not traditionally Russian to begin with (with Belarus a possible exception and even that's a maybe). The mixed bag of it all makes it almost impossible for me to answer this one either way. The end of Communist/Soviet control was a good thing but the break-up of the older Russian polity was mostly not.
Why do you equate Belarus with the Baltic countries here?
 
Nov 2011
4,767
Ohio, USA
#9
Western Ukraine was actually largely Polish before the late 1700s, with Kiev being a notable exception.



Well, Kazakhstan is doing pretty well nowadays, is it not? :)



Yeah, that is a downside, unfortunately. :( I guess that it also doesn't help that Central Asia with the exception of Kyrgyzstan is stuck with authoritarian governments. :(



Why do you equate Belarus with the Baltic countries here?

I only equate Belarus strongly with, say, Lithuania because they both used to be a part of the overall Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth and thus were more tied to it historically than to Russia. That's why I said a 'maybe.'
 
Likes: Futurist
Oct 2012
676
#10
What's interesting, though, is that the majority of people in a majority of the SSRs of the USSR actually voted to preserve the USSR in a somewhat different form in March 1991. There was a referendum on this topic in 9 out of 15 SSRs back then and it passed in all nine of these SSRs. (The other six SSRs were already separatist and thus didn't participate in this referendum. However, they were also very small territorially-wise and population-wise.)
I am not sure, but i recall that the options were : preserve the USSR in a somewhat different form or as it is. So, maybe the outcome was not what the people really, really wanted.
 

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