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19 The Collapse of Communism.docx

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McGill University
HIST 215
Sarah Waurechen

The Collapse of Communism 4/9/2013 7:36:00 AM Question: What sorts of changes brought about the end of communism, and how did Europe change as a result? I.Shifting Contexts in the West a. Student protests i. Youths across Europe and the US rebelled against their elders 1. Paris Protest, 1968 a. Radical student activist was expelled from the University of Paris for his activities b. Students and faculties occupy the building at the Sorbonne c. Barricades put up and students were killed and injured d. Followed by a general strike i. People calling for raises, improved working conditions, and right to self-management e. Usual institutions of the left are not organized around this issue (not socialist/communist party) 2. Protests disappeared when the workers got a small raise a. De Gaulle was losing touch with modern France b. Wanted better standards of living and to match Europe c. De Gaulle retired in 1969 b. Moving away from extremes i. Forced to take on a more centrist position 1. Brandt in Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR paving the way for increased trade between the two states a. Also called for an opening b/w East and West Germany 2. UK: See-saw effect between left and right a. Margaret Thatcher was swept into office i. Sold nationalized services ii. Embodied modern fiscal conservatism 3. France: Traditional agendas of the right and left were abandoned and more centrist ideologies were adopted c. Democracy and southern Europe i. In Greece, Portugal and Spain 1. All became democracies from dictatorships ii. Greece: Generals ruled Greece 1. Uprising at Athens polytechnic and then it lead to elections and a republican constitution iii. Portugal: Dictator 1. Economy was so unstable a simple change in regime would not change anything iv. Spain: Francisco Franco 1. Catalonia and the Basque country uprising 2. Juan Carlos would be allow to succeed him upon his death a. Carlos became king but political parties had been organizing secretly for a constitutional monarchy v. Both right and left wing parties had to pursue their agendas 1. Consolidation of democracy within Western Europe a. Liberal Democratic multi-party system II. Communism Under Pressure a. The Brezhnev Doctrine (1968) i. Dubcek and the Prague Spring 1. The attempts from the Czechoslovakian leader that was attempting to democratize decision-making to introduce freedom of expression 2. Made it clear that he didn’t want to break with the Warsaw Pact 3. Dubcek was airlifted to Moscow and was forced to stop his reform a. Fell under the category of anti-Soviet force b. USSR sent tanks into Prague in 1968 to reaffirm Soviet control over satellite states 4. Caused tension within the Cold War a. Opposition to communism and Russian dominance grew in the wake of the Brezhnev doctrine b. Western Communists distanced themselves from USSR c. Real awareness that the communist states failed to provide the same material goods that Western capitalist regimes could provide b. Poland and the Solidarity Movement i. Opposition to the communist regime was greatly developed ii. Strikes, demonstrations and literature were all a reality iii. Lead by Walesa and came out with its own reform program 1. Solidarity had nearly 10 million members 2. Call for change was loud enough and organized enough that the Polish government tolerated unions so long as they didn’t organize politically 3. USSR formally acknowledges existence of solidarity and force the Polish government to leave a. New Polish government declared Marshall government and declared solidarity illegal b. Walesa was imprisoned c. Mikhail Gorbachev and the Glasnost and Perestroika i. First head of state since Lenin to have a university degree ii. He was a reformist; wanted to bring the Prague Spring to Moscow iii. Followed Glasnost and Perestroika 1. Glasnost: Increased transparency in all governmental institutions and policies a. Believed that it would reduce party corruption and state censorship 2. Perestroika: Reconstruction of Russian economic system a. Wanted to make communism work more effectively b. Increased ministerial independence and non-communists were allowed to sit on congress c. Some market-based reforms were allowed 3. They highlight and explain the eventual dissolution of the USSR a. They opened up the floodgates of change iv. Gorbachev also dealing with 1. Nationalist
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