The “Mystery” of the Soviet Collapse

Issue Date April 2006
Volume 17
Issue 2
Page Numbers 21-35
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As we approach the fifteenth anniversary of the demise of the Soviet Union, its sudden collapse remains mysterious. At the time, virtually no Western experts, Soviet or foreign officials, or even Soviet reformers foresaw the impending collapse of the system of one-party dictatorship, state ownership of the economy, and Kremlin control over its domestic and East European empires. Structuralism alone does not provide a satisfactory account of the chain of events. One must also consider the central role of intentionalism—that is, individuals inspired by ideas, which they impart to others—in the inception and course of the change. One such individual was the “godfather of glasnost” Aleksandr Yakovlev.

About the Author

Leon Aron is resident scholar and director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute. His books include Yeltsin: A Revolutionary Life (2000) and Roads to the Temple: Memory, Truth, Ideas and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987–1991 (2012).

View all work by Leon Aron