The day that changed the 20th century

November 9, 2015

An excerpt from an OUPblog article published on Friday 6th November 2015, written by Geoffrey Hosking, formerly Professor of Russian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL from 1984 to 2007, and author of Russian History: A Very Short Introduction.

Russian History: A Very Short Introduction


"What then brought about the end of the Soviet Union? Its leaders held to the messianic promise of MarxistLeninism, mixed with a good dose of Realpolitik, and they sought and tried to sustain great power status as an equal of the USA, the great capitalist adversary. The Cold War was the product of this ideological rivalry. In the long run the centrally directed Soviet economy proved too inflexible to keep up with the military innovations required for that purpose. The Soviet education system fostered an intelligentsia which became increasingly disillusioned with Communism and hankered after the greater cultural diversity and intellectual liveliness, as well as the greater affluence, of the West.

But there was another crucial factor too, another product of the paradoxical blend of Communist success and failure: the creation and/or consolidation of national identity among the various Soviet peoples. This was so contrary to Marxist principles that it needs dwelling on."

Discover more: Read the rest of the article on the OUPblog. 


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