Autism Education Project

To What Extent Did Gorbachev Effect the Fall of the USSR

Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1990. He became famous as the last leader of this communist empire and the man whose policies led the USSR to its destruction. The focus of Gorbachev’s political program known as Glasnost was the core reason responsible for the fall of the USSR.

In order to understand the magnitude of the changes caused by the policy of Glasnost, one must know a bit about the Soviet Union. One of the central ideas of this totalitarian society was to deny the public access to any information that was not pre-approved by the communist party. This allowed the politicians to control the country through propaganda and indoctrinate their citizens giving them false perceptions of the foreign governments. The soviet public was literally isolated and could not rely on any outside source of information. The policy of Glasnost changed this opening the eyes of people to the real world as well as uncovering the communist party’s power abuse. This led to the rise of nationalism and independence ideals among the countries members of the USSR. The media underwent complete change and managed to show the people that they have been lied to.

Glasnost had its limits, but once a plug has been pulled, it was impossible to stop the flow of information. However, this alone would not have been enough to destroy the USSR so quickly. People’s minds became too inflexible due to the policy of active propaganda that prevailed in the country for decades. Gorbachev’s attempts at democratization pushed those who were too indoctrinated to believe the revamped news broadcasts. These political reforms forced people to start thinking for themselves. As the citizens of the USSR were taught to believe everything the government states, they had no choice but to change their minds and see the policies of the previous soviet leaders for the horror that they were.

Some people today claim that Gorbachev’s role in the fall of the USSR was not particularly important. Their strongest argument states that the soviet society has already been pushed to its limits and the same changes would have occurred regardless of the leader’s policies. This may be true, but in this case, the dissolution of the USSR would have taken years. The member countries would have needed to fight for their freedom and the whole world could have been dragged into this conflict. Gorbachev’s policy pushed the fall of the USSR and made it possible to avoid bloodshed.


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