In 1917, facing a military crisis from the German Front and a plethora of domestic problems such as poverty, famine, and disease, the Russian peasantry banded together with the Bolshevik Party in what became the movement known as the Russian Revolution. The ruling aristocracy was overthrown by the Bolsheviks, and in its place a new government was created; the world saw the rise of the first communist state, a self-proclaimed workers’ paradise: the Soviet Union. On paper, communism was a welcoming philosophy, suggesting a society based on the idea of equality for the entire population. Yet Soviet leaders were naïve to believe that such a state as their Russia, in which the majority of the populations was impoverished, could simply reinvent itself as they wished to see occur. The Soviet Union constantly functioned as a war-time economy, as prompted by USSR involvement in the Second World War and the Nuclear Arms Race with the United States (i.e. the Cold War). For the Soviet economy to prosper, it required expansion. This eventually led to the attempted Soviet infiltration into Afghanistan, immediately causing the Western World to react. The United States in particular became involved, albeit indirectly, in the form of war materials given to Afghani rebels, mirroring what the Soviets had done during the American wars in Korea and Vietnam. With American involvement and the stern resistance of the Afghani rebels, the Soviet economy began to crumble along with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika. Specifically, the war in Afghanistan could easily be seen as one of the causes of the fall of the Soviet Union and proof that a closed economic system like the Soviet Union’s, dependent on constant mobilization, was doomed to fail from the beginning.
The inspiration behind my little history lesson comes from the movie night we at the ANCA-WR had this Thursday night. We watched a personal favorite of mine, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, and the Cold War in general is, to me, the most interesting war from the 20th century to study. It comes to show that no matter how perfect a form of government may seem on paper, the standards to which it is usually set are unrealistic and eventually falls to corruption. Forms of government are usually molded to fit each individual nation, straying away from what it originally was written to be. With the example of communism alone, there are at least five various forms of the ideology. The same goes with democracy, monarchies, dictatorships, etc. I guess my point is that there is no perfect form of government. Instead, it is the responsibility of those who are put into power to fit the ideology to how they think is best to their individual country, nation, and region.