Chapter 31 - Revolution, Reunification, and Rebuilding, 1985 to the Present

    Decline of communism in eastern Europe

    1. The Soviet Union had shifted back and forth between a desire to reform itself and aggressive dictatorship--then Gorbachev opened a new era of reform.
    2. The Soviet Union to 1985
      1. The Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 was the most important event in the Brezhnev era.
      2. Re-Stalinization followed, but with a collective not a personal dictatorship.
        1. Living standards improved until the 1970s, when economic decline set in; the gap between the elite and the ordinary person grew.
        2. Nationalism held the country together in a common belief; the dominant Great Russians feared that minorities within Russia might desire autonomy.
        3. The Great Russians feared that liberalism and democracy would cause minorities to revolt.
        4. Nonconformity and protest were severely punished; Jews were persecuted, and some dissidents (such as Solzhenitsyn) were expelled.
      3. Nevertheless, a social revolution was in the making.
        1. The urban population grew to two-thirds of the total and became more sophisticated.
        2. A class of educated and self-confident experts grew and became connected to the West.
        3. The public became more educated and political.
    3. Solidarity in Poland
      1. The Polish communists dropped efforts to impose Soviet-style collectivization on the peasants and to break the Catholic church.
      2. The Polish economy suffered greatly because of poor leadership and the world depression of the 1970s.
      3. The "Polish miracle" occurred when the economic crisis became a spiritual crisis as well.
        1. Pope John Paul II, former archbishop of Cracow, called attention to the rights of all people.
        2. Strikes in August 1980 led to revolutionary demands, which were accepted by the government in the Gdansk Agreement.
        3. Lech Walesa led the new democratic trade union movement called Solidarity. Its demands were for industrial, political, and economic rights.
        4. Solidarity had massive support and a sophisticated organization.
        5. It stopped short of directly challenging the communist monopoly of power.
      4. When Solidarity lost its cohesiveness, the Polish communist leadership under Jaruzelski smashed the movement (1981) and imposed martial law.
        1. After 1981, Solidarity went underground and fought on with great popular support.
        2. Polish cultural and intellectual life remained vigorous despite the repression.
    4. Gorbachev's reforms in the Soviet Union
      1. A new era of fundamental change began under Gorbachev in 1985.
        1. By 1982, economic decline was worsened by mass apathy and lack of personal initiative.
        2. Andropov tried to reinvigorate the old system but with no success.
        3. Gorbachev set forth a series of reforms to restructure the economy (perestroika), centering on a freer market economy, but the economy stalled midway between central planning and free-market mechanisms.
        4. He instituted glasnost, or openness in society and politics, leading to much more freedom of speech.
        5. Democratization of the Soviet state was begun; free elections were held in 1989 for the first time since 1917; meetings of Congress were televised.
      2. Democratization encouraged demands for autonomy by non-Russian minorities.
      3. Gorbachev withdrew troops from Afghanistan and encouraged reform in eastern Europe, repudiating the Brezhnev Doctrine.

    The revolutions of 1989

    1. Gorbachev's plan to reform communism snowballed out of control
      1. A series of anti-Communist revolts spread across eastern Europe.
      2. Gorbachev's reform plans in the Soviet Union backfired as anti-Communist revolts took hold.
    2. The collapse of communism in eastern Europe
      1. Gorbachev's plan to reform communism snowballed out of control. [NOTE: THIS COMMENT REPEATS THAT OF ITEM II A ABOVE. OK ANYWAY?]
      2. In Poland, Solidarity was again legalized and won overwhelmingly in free elections.
        1. Gorbachev refused to send Soviet troops to keep Polish communists in power.
        2. Many radical political and economic reforms were instituted.
      3. In Hungary, popular resistance and communist liberation ended one-party rule and brought free elections in 1990.
        1. A multiparty democracy was established.
        2. Borders between Hungary and East Germany were opened.
      4. Growing economic dislocation brought revolution in East Germany.
        1. The Berlin Wall was opened.
        2. Communist leaders were swept out of power.
      5. The people of Czechoslovakia ousted the communist bosses in 1989.
      6. Only in Romania was the revolution violent and bloody.
        1. Ceausescu was executed.
        2. Romania's political prospects remained uncertain.
    3. The disintegration of the Soviet Union
      1. In 1990, the moderate Gorbachev was in between hard-line communists and revolutionary democrats and anti-Communists.
        1. Groups (i.e., in Lithuania and the Caucasus) still within the Soviet Union were challenging Soviet (Great Russian) control.
        2. In February 1990, the democrats and anti-Communists won local elections; Gorbachev's new constitution abolished the Communist party's monopoly of power.
        3. Gorbachev was elected president of the Soviet Union.
      2. The radical Boris Yeltsin was elected leader of parliament while Gorbachev tried to keep the Soviet Union intact.
        1. In an attempted coup, hard-liners kidnapped Gorbachev; Yeltsin saved the government and brought about more reform.
      3. By declaring Russia independent from the Soviet Union, Yeltsin caused the dismemberment of the Soviet Empire.
        1. Gorbachev's job ceased to exist.
        2. Russia now concentrated on building a strong Russia.
    4. German unification and the end of the cold war
      1. The death of communism in East Germany reopened the question of German unification.
        1. East German reform communists had feared unification and looked for a "third way."
        2. This idea failed because half the population fled and because West German Kohl offered a generous economic plan to bankrupt East Germany.
        3. The key to unification was Gorbachev's approval (1990) in exchange for aid; Germany was officially unified in 1993.
      2. The Paris Accord of 1990 brought twenty-two European countries to agree to arms reductions and to affirm existing borders.
        1. The Americans and the Soviets followed with a significant reduction in nuclear weapons.
        2. With Russia in decline, only the United States was left as a world superpower.
      3. The United States used its new power to turn back an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
        1. France, Britain, and the UN supported this massive operation, which smashed Iraqi forces.
        2. A new era began with the United States and the United Nations working together to impose peace and stability throughout the world.

    Building a new Europe in the 1990s

    1. Common patterns and problems
      1. European states accepted neo-liberal, free-market capitalism.
        1. Former communist states such as Poland and Hungary turned state industries over to private owners; western states scaled down welfare benefits.
        2. In doing this, they were following the successful American economy model.
      2. A new global economy encouraged these trends.
        1. Europeans joined in the new global economy that stressed open markets.
        2. The computer-electronic revolution encouraged the global economy--and leveled the playing field between big and small companies.
        3. Some workers and unions saw the global economic trends as a threat to wages, job security, and health care.
        4. Protesters charged that global neoliberalism hurt the world's poor.
        5. Liberal democracy united Europe in a common political-cultrual ideology.
      3. Liberal democracy triumphed throughout most of Europe but was accompanied by a return of nationalism.
        1. But the national and ethnic hatreds of Yugoslavia's civil war did not spread widely elsewhere.
        2. Most nations wished to become members in the European Community.
    2. Recasting Russia
      1. Yeltsin and Russia opted for breakneck economic liberalization in 1992.
        1. Industries were sold to the workers; but prices and inflation soared for five years.
        2. New firms did not emerge to replace the old state monopolies--as the old managers joined up with criminals to block true reform.
        3. A new capitalist elite became rich while many fell into poverty.
        4. Huge profits were made by some in oil; wealth became overconcentrated in Moscow.
        5. Life expectancy fell, and only in 1997 did living conditions begin to improve.
      2. Yeltsin was more successful in politics.
        1. In 1993, he won in a struggle between those who wanted a strong presidency and those who wanted a strong parliament.
        2. But Russia does not yet have a tradition of strong political parties and rule by law and an effective court system.
      3. Military spending declined, and Russia did not protest that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO.
        1. Russia's intervention into Chechnya was an exception to her moderation in foreign affairs.
        2. Popular dissatisfaction within Russia led to Yeltsin's withdrawal from Chechnya.
    3. Progress and tragedy in east central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary)
      1. Three major trends occurred.
        1. The socialist-state planning economies were replaced with market capitalism.
        2. Western-style electoral politics took hold.
        3. Social/economic inequality increased--as the young and the ex-communists became a new elite, and gangsterism increased.
        4. In addition, nationalism was reborn.
      2. The economic results were impressive: Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary all made great gains.
        1. As well, each made impressive gains in creating new civic institutions, such as legal systems and the presidency.
      3. The three nations were accepted into NATO and the EEC.
      4. Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria had a more difficult time in economic and political transition from communism to Western tradition.
      5. The tragic post-communist experience was in the old Yugoslavia.
        1. Yugoslavia was broken up at the fall of communism in 1989--three separatist republics began to fight it out.
        2. Milosevic led the Serbian Republic to grab territory, which caused Slovenia and Croatia to declare independence.
        3. Serbia retaliated with a war of aggression on Slovenia and Croatia, and then on Bosnia, which had been a part of Serbia.
      6. Bosnia declared its independence, which led to a dirty war between Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians.
        1. Many became victims of murder, rape, destruction, and were herded into concentration camps.
        2. United States President Clinton used U.S. troops to impose peace, and an agreement was reached that divided Bosnia between Bosnian Serbs and Croatians in 1995.
        3. In 1998 the Albanian Muslims of Kosovo fought for independence from Serbian repression.
        4. Milosevic's Serbian army drove 780,000 Kosovars into exile.
        5. United States and NATO bombing raids led to the defeat of Milosevic and the Serbian government turned him over to the War Crimes Tribunal.
    4. Unity and identity in western Europe
      1. The Single European Act of 1986 gave a powerful second wind to western European unity.
        1. It set the ground rules for a single market, which was established in 1993--as the European Union (EU).
        2. The Maastricht Treaty of 1990 established the rules for a single currency.
        3. Single currency (monetary union) is seen as a step toward political unity to come.
        4. Some Europeans, opposed this monetary union--partly because of fears of a centralized bureaucracy and fears of cuts in social benefits.
        5. Unpopular views of Maastricht in France led to defeat of the Socialist party--and struggles over cuts in social expenditures, like transportation service.
      2. The possible inclusion of eastern European states into the EU led some to question how effective a huge European state could be.
        1. German unification problems (particularly for women) led to increased unemployment and the defeat of Kohl in 1998.
        2. Although new members (Sweden, Finland, Austria) were brought into the EU, a host of complex issues need to be resolved before its expansion into eastern Europe.

    New challenges in the twenty-first century

    1. The prospect of population decline
      1. Europeans fear that decline in population is a "ticking time bomb" that will hurt the social welfare system and the economy.
        1. The fact of careers for women and the drive for gender equality is the decisive reason for the decline of the birth rate.
        2. It is not clear if Europeans will fail to reproduce themselves--as many women stop with a single child, or no children at all.
    2. The growth of immigration
      1. In the 1990s a surge of migrants from Africa, Asia, and eastern Europe has led to a debate over the value of large-scale immigration.
      2. Many of these new immigrants are political refugees escaping from conflicts in Afghanistan, Rwanda, and other problem areas.
      3. Illegal immigrants are in search of jobs--some are young women who are forced into prostitution.
        1. Some Europeans, particularly rightist politicians, oppose immigrants, who are accused of taking jobs and undermining national unity.
        2. Others believe that Europe needs newcomers to limit population decline and provide technical skills.
    3. Europe's role in the global era
      1. European intellectuals and opinion makers began to envision a new historic mission for Europe: the promotion of peace and human rights in the world.
        1. This rests on more global agreements and institutions to set moral standards and the regulation of society to conform to standards of "human rights."
        2. The United States, after George W. Bush was elected, reacts coolly to this idea.
        3. Some European states have pushed for greater rights in the area of sexuality, smoking of pot, and euthanasia.
        4. Some have criticized unrestrained capitalist globalization and seek greater social and economic equality
      2. Terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led to further Western struggle against oppression in the non-Western world.
        1. The September 11 terrorists used four hijacked American planes to attack the United States--killing thousands of people from many different countries.
        2. The U.S. and its allies launched a military campaign in Afghanistan against the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network.
        3. Swift punishment of the terrorists brought about a new government and the liberation of Afghanistan.


You just read "". Keep learning!

How to cite this note (MLA)

Shah, Shalin. "" MiddleSchoolNotes.org. MiddleSchoolNotes, Inc., 10 Jan. 2013. Web. <http://middleschoolnotes.org/social-studies/european-history/chapter-31-revolution-reunification-and-rebuilding-1985-to-the-present.php>.