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Did Most Soviet People Support The Collapse?

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Soviet cogitations: 2407
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 10 Jul 2013, 07:37
In 1991 what were the general feelings of Soviet citizens? Did most support the break up of the Union in 1991? Why did not many more support the coup against Gorbachev?

Furthermore, I have heard that there was a strong pro-Western sentiment based on some naive ideas about what the West was and some illusions that they could live like the American upper middle class. Did people really have these ideas and how much of the population were wooed by them?

I have never been able to understand the atmosphere which existed in 1991. How could the collapse have happened when most people were generally not in favour of abolishing the state? Or by the late 1980s were they changing their ideas?
Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 10 Jul 2013, 08:34
Most people except in the Baltics and some other repulics voted for the preservation of the USSR.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Uni ... ndum,_1991

Quote:
Did people really have these ideas and how much of the population were wooed by them?

There's an Ukrainian nationalist poster from the early 90s "proving" that independent Ukraine would be something of a major power because it was in the top 10 countries in Europe in industrial and agr. production. We saw how that turned out, UKR is closer to African than European countries in pretty much everything.
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Soviet cogitations: 4386
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 10 Jul 2013, 14:32
Very few people, even among anti-communists and some liberals, wanted the breakup of the country. The breakup occurred mainly as a result of bureaucratic maneuvering among rising republican politicians (chief among them Yeltsin), and was set in motion long before December 1991. Many judge the June 1990 declaration of sovereignty on the part of the RSFSR to have effectuated the breakup. In his desire to take power away from Gorbachev, Yeltsin was willing to dismantle the union.

The August 1991 'coup' attempt was officially the response of Gorbachev's ministers to the proposed union treaty, which would effectively give every sub-national entity down to the autonomous oblast equal say in all sorts of matters normally reserved for the republican and national governments, effectively disintegrating the USSR into a federation of dozens of microstates if it were to go through. There is some evidence however as well that the coup attempt was planned by Gorbachev to bring down Yeltsin and to restore his own authority.

More people didn't come out to support the coup because by 1991 the KPSS had severely discredited itself, with Gorbachev at the helm, his own ministers now vying for control of the situation. Opposed to him was Yeltsin, a charismatic and authoritative figure who seemed to know what to say at exactly the right moment -a populist. At the time, not many among the public realized that Yeltsin was willing to destroy the country in order to gain power. Add to this the fact that the coup centered around Moscow, the home of an intelligentsia radicalized by nearly five years of anti-communist, anti-Soviet propaganda, and you'll see why in that city public support for the coup was rather low.

Integrating with the West and living a middle class lifestyle was certainly the desire of a selection of the intelligentsia and elements of the bureaucracy, but I can't bring myself to support the conclusions reached by some Marxist scholars that this group propelled the counterrevolutionary processes. I'm much more inclined to believe that they latched on opportunistically, just as they had initially latched on to the KPSS, and encouraged it to head in the direction it was headed, rather than driving the process. The ideals of the West, on the other hand -conceptions of modernity, liberalism -political and economic; these played a much more important role, in my estimation. They seemed to have mesmerized elements of the top leadership (Gorbachev, Yakovlev, Shevardnadze) to a much greater extent than any purely financial enticements. Gorbachev often talked about the USSR 'rejoining the community of civilized nations', indicating that in his mind the Soviet Union, with its ideology, polity, economy, society -its own 'alternative modernity' -was outside of this community.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 10 Jul 2013, 15:45
I think that in the long run the bourgeoisie shot itself in the foot in 1991. They could have had a single country ( sans the Baltic countries who really wanted to become independent ) to do business in and only one sort of corrupt bureaucracy to deal with and so on. The USSR was falling apart while the whole world was integrating stronger and stronger. Of course eventually we might see the Eurasian Union.
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Soviet cogitations: 4386
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 10 Jul 2013, 16:58
You are absolutely correct Loz. Lamenting about the collapse of the USSR is really official state policy in Russia, but it has much more to do with the idea of a 'common economic and political space' and markets than ideology, which very few among the present leadership accept was the main cause of the USSR's successes. The alternative modernity that was Soviet socialism, not simply a Great Rus', is what turned the USSR into a superpower and drove it to support socialism and progressive struggles around the globe. Russia may become a 'great power' again in the future, but it will never again become a superpower and a true global alternative to Western liberalism unless it reembraces those great ideals which it gave up so rashly and foolishly in the late 1980s.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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