July 21

Ep. 0014: The Collapse of the Soviet Empire

Join Prof. C.J. as he discusses:

  • The proximate causes of the fall of the Soviet Empire, i.e., the long term/inherent problems of communism as an economic system, which are the incentive problem & the calculation problem
  • How the Soviet system could produce AKs but failed at such basic things as agriculture and consumer goods
  • How the Soviets’ renewed aggressiveness after America’s failure in Vietnam may have led to Soviet overextension
  • Immediate causes (that caused the Soviet system to fall when it did): an unwinnable, costly war (in Afghanistan of all places!); a lack of good leadership (exemplified by the dimwitted & senile Brezhnev); and nationalist unrest (sometimes combined with religious unrest) in the satellite states, starting with the Polish Solidarity movement
  • Symptoms of decline & milestones in the loss of legitimacy for the Soviet regime in the 1980s
  • The rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985
  • Gorbachev’s 3-pronged plan to ‘fix’ communism:  glasnost; perestroika; and peredyshka
  • The success of (mostly nonviolent) resistance in the satellite states, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
  • Gorbachev’s renunciation of the use of force and the Brezhnev doctrine
  • The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan
  • Political reforms within the USSR, which led to its disintegration
  • How the US disbanded NATO and drastically slashed its defense spending, because after all, the Soviet Union was gone, the Cold War was over, so the rationale for those things no longer existed.  (Oh, wait, that last part didn’t really happen.  Actually, the opposite happened.)

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