Social Question

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Do you think the fall of the Soviet Union was a good thing for the world as a whole?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5785points) February 28th, 2010

Al Gore in a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times stated:
“The decisive victory of democratic capitalism over communism in the 1990s led to a period of philosophical dominance for market economics worldwide and the illusion of a unipolar world. It also led, in the United States, to a hubristic “bubble” of market fundamentalism that encouraged opponents of regulatory constraints to mount an aggressive effort to shift the internal boundary between the democracy sphere and the market sphere. Over time, markets would most efficiently solve most problems, they argued.”
He goes on to point out this caused the possibility of legislation on climate change to seem like restraints on the market, so no action was taken.

What are other ways in which the fall of the Soviet Union may have been a bad thing for the world? Do you think it’s important for the health of the world for there to be multiple superpowers keeping each other in check?

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22 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I don’t think we know yet. There is no more USSR, but there never was Communism, and there is still Russia which seems to need and love autocratic leaders who behave idiosyncratically. This story has not yet been written.

filmfann's avatar

Stalin killed 18 million of his own people. I vote it was a bad thing that cannot be counterbalanced.
So, it’s fall is a good thing.

CMaz's avatar

I don’t know. There was a romantic feel to a nuclear holocaust.

dpworkin's avatar

The killing and the persecution aren’t over, either, though one hopes the scale will never be as large again.

davidbetterman's avatar

Yes. It was a great thing, especially when they made the Pink Floyd song come true and they tore down the wall!!

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Bad because now a good portion of the US just will not shut up about Ronald Reagan ever.
Reagan didn’t bring down the USSR. That was an internal collapse.

The Stalin thing is a non starter here. Stalin and his exterminations were a long time past before the fall of the USSR.

ucme's avatar

Gorbachev, what a legend.Also strikes me as a stand up cool guy,right down to his funny little ink blot.The kind of guy you’d have a drink with.

mammal's avatar

it’s a pity Stalin let Ayn Rand through the net.

Mamradpivo's avatar

It did completely destabilize the global balance of power. Disregarding Europe, the collapse of the USSR left giant power and political voids across central Asia, where everyone is now racing to drill and build pipelines.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’m sure there were positives and negatives that occurred after it fell. There is usually an imbalance after pivotal events like this occur. It can’t be entirely good or entirely bad since life doesn’t work that way.

kevbo's avatar

Would we have done any more about climate legislation with our former mortal enemy just a stone’s throw from Sarah Palin’s front door?

I think Gore’s argument is fallacious to say the least.

davidbetterman's avatar

If Ayn Rand had not gotten through the net, Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper might never have had their torid love affair while they were filming “The Fountainhead.”

During the filming of The Fountainhead (1949), Neal had an affair with her married co-star, Gary Cooper, whom she had met in 1947 when she was 21 and he was 46. By 1950, Cooper’s wife, Veronica, had found out about the relationship and sent Neal a telegram demanding they end it. Neal became pregnant by Cooper, but he persuaded her to have an abortion”

The affair ended, but not before Cooper’s daughter, Maria (now Maria Cooper Janis, born 1937), spat at Neal in public. Years after Cooper’s death, Maria and her mother Veronica reconciled with Neal.”

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The collapse of the USSR dis lead to a hubris in the US. That socialism=bad, unbridled capitalism=good. The lack of oversight in the US finacial system and gutting of social safety nets are a resultant mess we live live with today. The Cold War created a fear of anything “socialist” in the US, even though most western democracies had adopted a capitalist/socialist hybrid system.

The fall of the USSR created problems in the states that emerged from it, largely due to Stalins redrawing of borders and mass relocation of populations, the problems in Ukraine and Georgia being notable.

Like @dpworkin , I think it’s too early to tell what the long-term implications of the Soviet Union breakup will be. Russia is re-emerging as an economic power, but the government seems to be heading back to a “strong man” leadership model.

Jack79's avatar

Personally I think that the Soviet Union was a good thing for the world as a whole. I wouldn’t like to live there, but having an opposing force to US dominance helped, both to restrain US aggression, but more importantly (as far as history goes) to push the US and its allies to excell in any way they could (sports, space exploration, art).

Every little thing was seen as a competition between “our ideals” and “theirs” and, should an Albanian athlete run faster than his Luxemburgian opponent in some insignificant race in Europe, it was because of the wonderful communist infrastructure, the victory of Marxist ideology over the evil capitalist pigs, and because Lenin was a better person than Truman or Reagan or whoever. Yes, this competitiveness got tiring sometimes, but it did get us to the moon, and kept our fingers off them triggers for 50 years. The Cold War was more peaceful than anything else before it, as well as what was to follow.

On the ground, the fall of the Soviet Union meant utter chaos. Lawlessness, exploitation, unemployment and criminality, inflation, environmental and health problems, you name it. Most Russians today are a lot worse off than they were 20 years ago. Sure, they now have the right to speak out. But nobody’s listening. And many people in Eastern Europe (even those who fought to overthrow Communism) now long for the stability it offered. They are just as disillusioned by the empty promises of Capitalism as they were by Communism 50 years ago.

The fact is, as people are slowly discovering, that the problem lies not in the ideology itself, but in its implementation. Communism works great in a society where everyone is honest, hard-working and able, and when people have a common goal and co-operate towards it. Similarly, Capitalism is a wonderful system which offers freedom and enough food for everyone, as long as nobody’s too greedy and everybody is a good Christian and loves their neighbour.

Unfortunately, both systems were tried on human subjects.

Cruiser's avatar

@ChazMaz You can keep romanticizing…you can now have your pick between many end of the world scenarios and no longer have to make do with just a Rooskie ending!

China is making the cold war look like a play date.

CMaz's avatar

SO true @Cruiser so true. There is still hope. :-)

Imagineer's avatar

I suppose one bad thing that came out of the fall of the USSR is that NASA no longer really had a big competitor anymore. The USSR is essentially the reason we had NASA in the first place. You can argue that the Japanese or Chinese programs keep them in check, but even our aged Space Shuttles are ahead of their rockets (many of which have crashed, in the Chinese case).

I suppose the fall of the USSR was sort of the beginning of the end for manned space travel, as it doesn’t seem like now its a high priority nor receiving more funding.

mammal's avatar

ultimately the American capacity to provide trite entertainment via, the media and electronic gadgetry superseded the more serious and disciplined objectives of the Politburo…. and was just way more fun than chess and the Bolshoi…. i guess. It was all very painless in the end wasn’t it? Russia was a tired old bear that went into hibernation, sad really.

DrMC's avatar

I think the soviets will be back. The downfall was due to numerous factors, and I’m quite sure some of them were engineered from inside and out. Others inherent in the system design.

Every hero needs a nemesis, and North Korea, and Iran just don’t cut it. I think the soviets, in their aggressiveness, unfortunately helped spawn the McCarthy fiasco, and kept western thinking anti Marxist. Hitler was actually a socialist (IMHO) – this harmed the open mindedness of the masses.

China has fared better, and stood up against being assimilated at great cost (deaths from starvation during the repayment period). There is no love lost between those two, a pity we didn’t ally with china at that time, it would have been profitable. (this is what Nixon actually did – he is hailed as a great diplomat in China-per the wife)

With US nemesis power on the weak, then we get stuck dealing with Iran – should we sanction them yet another time – and does that really make a difference. Without sufficient counter threat, Israel or the US might actually try something – and that would not be good, but the drama would be interesting (as in times)

mattbrowne's avatar

I think the vast majority of Europeans would answer with a resounding yes.

mammal's avatar

@DrMC Hitler was a socialist, in what sense? in that he organised the construction of the Autobahn and the Volkswagen? what policies were socialist? the Hitler Youth movement? the National Socialist movement was all about Nationalism and never Socialism.

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