chapter  28
20 Pages

The demise of the Soviet Union

ByRichard E. Ericson

Introduction For most of the twentieth century, the Soviet Union stood like a colossus over Eurasia, a political, military, and economic challenge to the West and its way of life. As discussed by Hayek (1994), the Soviet Union represented a way of organizing economic life and development that was diametrically opposed to the natural market ordering that had supported, indeed driven, Western economic development and prosperity into the early twentieth century. With its authoritarian, indeed (at least initially) totalitarian, political system and centrally planned “command” economic system, it appeared to turn a backward, illiterate, overwhelmingly rural/agricultural society into an industrialized, urbanized, scientifically advanced, military superpower in record time. From an agrarian backwater, the Soviet Union became a viable alternative model of the potential future of the social, political, and economic organization of humanity.