How and Why Did The Soviet Union Collapse

Todays episode is sponsored by audible. Get a free audiobook with a 30 day trial today by signing up at Go to Or text infographics to 500-500 to get started Christmas day, 1991 Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev announced we are living in a new world. And with these seven words, Soviet Union was dissolved and Gorbachev stepped down from his post. After forty years of cold war and the threat of nuclear holocaust, the world’s largest communist state broke up into 15 independent republics meaning the USA was now handed the accolade of new world superpower. At it’s strongest, the Soviet Union had over 5 million soldiers stationed around the world. And they all stepped down without a shot being fired under the new regime. Today we will explore exactly what came to pass: In this episode of the Infographics Show, How and Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse? In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union appeared to be somewhat of a power house, exhibiting a rigid recovery from the invasion of Afghanistan, and with an economy that appeared to be performing well. The Union appeared from the surface as powerful as it was back in the 1950s, but looks can be deceiving. Beneath the façade, the Soviet Union was splitting apart, and it had been happening for decades. Although there were many factors at play, some reasons were as follows: Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in 1985, with plans to reform the Nation with a hybrid communist-capitalist system, similar to modern-day China. He also planned to ease restrictions on freedom of speech and religion. Before this, millions of Soviets were arrested for speaking out against the state. However, his plan backfired, as he discovered that the loosening of over the people, and reforming political restrictions meant the people used their new-found powers to critique the government until they eventually succeeded in pushing for reform. This brand of Communism had operated historically on tight central control, the loosening control led to the abandonment of the entire construct. Back in the days of Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, the Soviets were led with strong ideological beliefs tied to Marxism. By the 1960s, the radical policies of the past leaders were abandoned in favour of a more conservative approach. By the 1970s, the Soviet people noticed the rise of the political elite, who lived in posh homes, ate in fancy restaurants, and spent their vacations at luxury ski resorts, while millions of average Joe’s died from starvation. Younger generations were less keen to toe the line as their parents had, and were willing to step forward and protest for change. These newer generations were more in tune with world events, and slowly but surely, began to pull at the strands of the political regime. Cold War tensions with the United States rose in the 1970s and 1980s, and with Ronald Reagan’s leadership, and the resulting increase in military spending, it seemed that the US had won the nuclear standoff. The strategic defense initiative, or SDI, claimed to be able to blast Russian missiles as they fell, meaning, in theory, the US could win the long running battle of wits. Reagan also managed to isolate the Soviets from the rest of the World economy, and without export sales and oil, the Soviet economy was severely weakened and limited. The Soviets were unable to turn a corner, and in the 1980s, bread lines were commonplace as poverty soared. Many people didn’t have basic clothing or shoes, and under these conditions, it is only a matter of time before the people call out for regime change. And then there is the Nation structure itself. You have 15 radically different republics under one flag, with different ethnicities, cultures and languages, there are bound to be inherited tensions. 1989 Nationalist movements brought about regime changes in Poland and Czechoslovakia, as the Soviets’ satellite nations began to split away. As these nations began to pull away, the central apparatus was weakened until it finally collapsed. Due to all these factors, by 1991, the Soviet Union was unable to maintain a normal functioning economy, AND run a huge military simultaneously. Gorbachev, unwilling to go to war like his predecessors, Lenin and Stalin might’ve done, instead pulled the plug on the military and the 15 Republics went their separate ways, Although a devoted Marxist, Gorbachev was an independent thinker, who respected the need for reform, and planned a restructuring of the economy. This, along with his vision to lessen the control held by Central government, and a move towards uncensored media, laid the path for total reform. The seeds were planted, and the Soviet Union was no more. So today we looked at the downfall of the Soviet Union, but if you want to know more about specific stories during the war, we suggest listening to an audio book on Audible, called Stalking the Red Bear, the True story of a US Cold War Submarine’s Covert Operations against the Soviet Union. Audible is offering our listeners a free audiobook with a 30-day trial membership, so you can check out this book risk-free. The greaat thing about Audible, is that you can switch seamlessly between your devices, picking up exactly where you left off, whether it’s on your phone, through your car, from a tablet, or at home on an Amazon Echo. You can get through tons of books, while doing almost anything. Go to, and browse the unmatched selection of audio programs. Download a title – FREE! – and start listening! It’s that easy. Go to or text infographics to 500-500 to get started today. So, what do you think? Can comunism work as a political model? For the countries that still operate under this system, what does the future hold for them? Let us know in the comments ! Also, be sure to watch our other video called, Most Common Ways People Died In The Middle Ages. Thanks for watching! And as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time! 😉

  1. 2:20 "By the 1970's the Soviet people noticed the rise of the political elite who lived in posh homes, ate at fancy restaurants and spent their vacations in luxury ski resorts; while millions of average joes die from starvation." STOP! There was no Russian famine in the USSR during the 1970's, period. This is absolutely factually incorrect. As awful as the regime was, there was no famine during the 1970s. Being a Political Science major in a European country with a focus on Russian history and politics (and some google search skills) this is obviously wrong. You need to correct this.

  2. The Russians need strong ruthless hands as their leader . From Ivan the terrible to Stalin to Putin , Russia would fall under a weak leader .

  3. It got too big with too many different cultures. History is full of these scenarios. Even now with the EU

  4. It failed in large part because there is no pricing structure in socialism. What’s a loaf of bread worth? Answer: what someone is willing to pay for it. Not, what a government bureaucrat thinks it should be worth.

  5. Gorbachev himself said in a 2006 interview, “I truly believe that Chernobyl was the true cause of the Soviet Unions collapse. My people were starving and half of our own food supplies were running low every day because of Chernobyl. It was a disaster that should’ve never happen to begin with I completely agree! After Chernobyl was contained properly, I realized and feared that my people were going to revolt again all of us. The people wanted change and live in a more democratic world. I knew it was coming soon but I didn’t know when. In 1991, we ended it all!” 🙌🏻 Bravo Gorbachev!!

  6. The Soviet Union failed for a number of reasons but two of them stand out; 1 – the Soviet republics were sick and tired of being under Russian rule; first by the Russian Empire and then by the Soviet Union. They wanted their freedom, including the freedom to speak their own languages (Ukrainian, Georgian, Kazakh, etc). 2 – state atheism was the religion of the USSR, and all others were discouraged. There were many Christians (mostly Orthodox), Jews, and Muslims living throughout the Soviet Union, and Jews were especially persecuted and still are in Russia. That about sums it up. And btw, Manchuria and Mongolia were NOT part of the USSR.

  7. When Gagarin ejected from the Vostok on April 12, 1961 and parachuted back down to Earth (something the Russians didn't reveal until 1971), Gagarin was ill-prepared for what was waiting for him on the ground. He was propped up by the Communist Party as a superstar, a propaganda tool and a man whom a nation should look to as inspiration. This wasn't easy for Gagarin.He began to question the whole communist system and of course the KGB needed him silenced

  8. Without a shot being fired? Western buddy I got news for you: I saw tanks rolling into Moscow. My grandfather was at the barricades. People died. Shots were fired.

  9. NATObot. No one starved to death in the 60s USSR. That was AFTER USSR collapsed. Thats why they called it shitocracy. BTW in student journals there was always a separate line for grades for NATIVE LANGUAGE of your republic unlike in your indirect "democratic" electoral college states. Now most of these "democratic states" want visas to Russia because they're failing and turning into Wahabi caliphate if not Romania.

  10. @3:33 that is exactly why President Trump won in 2016 and will win again in 2020. European Americans will give him their vote. They know that the "diversity" experiment is one that is destined to fail. Contemporary immigrant people want to be represented by their own people, aka not European-Americans, more generally called "white" people. This is division, this is fracturing. I bet White people are not willing to give up their ruling status, and supra majority within America so that diversity can be given a second chance. President Trump, you have my vote in 2020. (it's also ethically and morally wrong to make European-Americans who colonized; settled; conquered; expanded; and have ruled North America for hundreds of years at around 90+% of the population, a minority — that would be morally wrong.)

  11. Chenobyl, Afghanistan, Reagan's arm's race, US client states over production of oil, Breznev's stagnation. The World is a far more dangerous place now that the USSR is gone.

  12. 9-11, ISIS, Ai-Quada, Russian mafia, the longest wars in US history, World wide terrorism. Be careful what you wish war!

  13. So…
    The Soviets didn't fail because they gave the people too much free stuff, they failed because they didn't provide the people enough.
    They didn't fail to give the people enough because of insufficient economic growth (they went from poverty to world power faster than any), they failed because of over investment in military and the greed of a new bureaucrat/government elite class (public capitalists instead of private capitalists).
    They didn't fail because they gave too much power to the people, they failed because there was no democracy at all.
    So Communism in the USSR failed because the people rose up against corruption, authoritarianism, and militarism. Not because of failure due to too much free stuff.

  14. This is why. When Gorbachev was elected, he was an American pro government. Several spies snuck into Soviet Union and destroyed the beautiful socialist country.

  15. Mongolia, Manchuria is part of the USSR? Famine in 70s? Is it a joke? Author, your source is CNN or anti-communism propaganda movies of 50s?

  16. The first country that joined Socialism, and the country that left it. Cuba and NK still supports socialism. I think USSR is proud of them.

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