#OnThisDayInHistory in 1991, the parliament of the USSR (the Supreme Soviet), suspended all activities of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), putting an end to the Communist rule in the USSR.
The collapse of the Communist dictatorship was a result of the profound failures of the socialist system that the CPSU had imposed in the USSR. The party’s ultimate goal was to implement communism (the Marxist socialist model), but throughout its 70 year rule, despite all its radical policies including the abolition of private enterprise and extirpation of the capitalist class, it was only able to go as far as the “transitional stage” of “developed socialism”, as the economic system in the USSR was officially called.
After decades of stagnation and increasing poverty, as most of the population could not afford and easily access even basic necessities, the Communist government under the leadership of Gorbachev decided to implement a series of reforms.
These reforms introduced elements of the free market capitalist economy by de-criminalizing and allowing small scale private businesses (“cooperatives”) and also introduced a series of policies aimed at political democratization, which most notably included freedom of speech (“glasnost”).
These policies, especially freedom of speech, exposed to the public the failures and the inadequacies of the socialist system, as well as its bloody history of repressions and violence. Unhappy with Gorbachev’s reforms, the reactionary wing of the Communist Party staged a coup on August 18, 1991, in an attempt to seize power and turn the country back towards the path of “true socialism”.
The coup failed, resulting in the collapse of the Soviet system and a ban of the Communist Party, which for 70 years had kept the country hostage through repressions and violence in the name of socialism.
It’s alarming that today socialism is still popular with some groups in the West, especially young people who have never lived in a socialist country and think that the USSR was not “truly socialist”. But the truth is that every country in history that tried to achieve “true socialism” not only ruined their economies and subjected their populations to poverty, but also ended up with repressive political regimes that resorted to killings and persecution of its own citizens in attempt to control people.
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