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EgaoNoGenki's avatar

What mistakes did the USSR make, that China didn't make, that caused the USSR to break up into 15 pieces?

Asked by EgaoNoGenki (1141 points ) March 8th, 2010

What caused the USSR not to fare as well as China?

Or is it a “life expectancy” issue when sooner or later, the government is doomed to fail? The USSR survived 74 years, a typical human being’s lifetime.

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18 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

I wish I could give you more than one vote for ‘Great Question’.

I will take a stab at it. Not saying I am right, but just want to start the conversation.

While the USSR was distracted with the Cold War, China was able to put its energy into economic development. Deng Xiaoping led the country away from ideological fratricide and towards a market economy.

mammal's avatar

China mass produces consumer goods, USSR didn’t.

davidbetterman's avatar

China made a deal with Nixon not to send all of its populace marching into the US in return for the US outsourcing all of our jobs.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

The Chinese diagnosed the collapse of the USSR as the result of attempting economic and political reform at the same time. Hence, they took up the former but firmly squelched any suggestions of the latter.

YARNLADY's avatar

There were many countries that made up the USSR, and they simply went back to business as usual. China has been under the rule of a powerful Emperor for so long, that Communism just took over with very little effort.

Thammuz's avatar

It probably isn’t the main cause, but it sure enough helped: china already had a “national identity” (so to speak) before communism took over, the USSR conquered lots of smaller states in Europe, thus not giving its final form as much unity as china has.

dpworkin's avatar

The USSR was graced with Michael Gorbachev who understood that the old order was intolerable. After he introduced perestroika and glasnost there was no turning back. Unfortunately Yeltsin allowed an Oligarchy to develop, and to protect their wealth the decided they need an autocrat like Putin; thus failed the second Great Experiment. Maybe it’s not over yet.

ucme's avatar

As the guy above has already mentioned,Mikhail Gorbachev was absolutely the driving force behind the sweeping changes that transpired in the old soviet union at that time.A legend of a man,he became the first soviet president to show his human side. A man truly ahead of his time.

CaptainHarley's avatar

1. Their society wasn’t homogonous.
2. The Soviet “Republics” were compelled by force to remain part of the USSR.
3. They attempted to match a wealtier nation’s military arsenal at a prohibitive price.
4. Centralized planning.

jfos's avatar

I think that geography is also important to consider. Russia is colder and huge. I daresay it is harder to control a population that is spread out.

Sandydog's avatar

I think Yarnlady said the main reason and that is the old USSR was made up of several countries bound to Russia by fear. They are now independent ( or are trying to be ) It was never a natural “one” country.
Of course there are other factors playing into this as well and its still quite early to say how things will eventually level out in the long run

josie's avatar

@CaptainHarley Has the answer. Combine that with the fact that the Communist Party was unable to stop the flow of information about these truths into and through the old Soviet Union, and voila. The end of another authoritarion collectivist state.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@YARNLADY “very little effort?” Hunh? After the overthrow of the Qing dynasty they had numerous episodes of civil war interrupted by Japanese invasion.

wundayatta's avatar

China had held its possessions for a lot longer than Russia did. I don’t think it was so much mistakes as inexperience in pacifying populations.

Ron_C's avatar

The USSR was more involved in conquest and military might than it was in the life or ordinary citizens. They had a saying, “the government pretends to pay us and we pretend to work”. In China, they are really involved in building an infrastructure and bringing its citizens into the 21st century. I know that there is this big thing about China being a repressive society but, from my experience, the Chinese citizens are less afraid of their government and police than any American.

Sure there are politicians and business people that take advantage and cheat the system but the striking thing is that there are real repercussions when they are caught. They shoot CEO’s that cheat the government and customers. People like our leading bankers and Bernie Madoff would be pushing up daisies instead of running continuing to run their companies or appealing sentences.

I think we need capital punishment for big offenders of economic crimes. The Soviet Union had the same problem, The system was totally corrupted and individuals drained the state. Additionally, the state drained any progress people made.

Under Bush we descended into the Soviet model of government, Our military prospered while citizens paid. I hope it is not too late for us. We are heading for a Soviet style break-up. I just hope that my home state of Pennsylvania is able to join the Canadian confederation. That may be the only way we get a fair government in my lifetime.

Maximillian's avatar

The USSR fell, when compared to China, because of its multi-nation makeup, and its economic policy. The Soviet Union was unwilling to change its industry, while at the same time, China was accepting capitalism. Deng Xiaoping was introducing the Four Modernizations, while the reds were in the old style of doing business. Now, the multi-nation thing: Russia was the mainland: everyone else was forced to accept there culture. China already had one. (Not to mention that China had a VERY strict policy of dissenters.) This caused the people of the Soviet Union to talk out. It wasn’t loud, but it was enough. Mr. Gorbachev took action, and caused an economic revolution. Eventually, in 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell. And the Cold War ended. Hope this helps.

YARNLADY's avatar

@hiphiphopflipflapflop—There were many uprising by various war lords seeking to take control, and the deadly Japanese invasion, but the common people supported Mao tse-tung from the earliest days. They were used to oppression, and he made good on his promises of order and food.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Whatever the status of the communist party in the eyes of “common people” at any given time or place, I still wouldn’t characterize their rise to power as being of “very little effort”, and certainly they themselves did not do so!

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