Research Notes

Climate and Geographic Factors
Events and Leaders
Socio-Political Structure
Agriculture and the Economy
Science and Mathematical Contributions

Works Cited

1.0 - Essay

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was an amazing country. July 1, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first earth-orbiting satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit (Humble, 6). The Soviet Union was then the "second largest producer of fuels and energy" in the world. It was admired, and feared across the globe. But the Soviet Union actually hated itself. It was on a path to capitalism, which was the opposite way it wanted to go. The economy was running into trouble, yet after reform, things just got worse (Wright, 120). The state-socialism, which was the Soviet economic system, naturally led down the path to a capitalistic society. This was in contrast to the communistic goals of the Union. Were the Soviet Union to follow the natural order of things, they may of survived. But the Soviet Union would not let nature take its route. They tried increasingly disruptive reforms, up until Mikhail Gorbachev's reform named "Perestroika" (Kotz, Weir, 3). Perestroika ultimately led to the disbandment of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's ending was tragic, but we can learn from it. We can learn from the Soviet Union that the dogmatic pursuit of an idealized society can be destructive.
SE Communism, the ultimate goal of the Soviet Union, is defined as "a stateless and classless society" (Kotz, Weir, 2). The idea behind the formation of the Union was that their "state socialism", where things required for general well-being are owned by the government, would naturally lead towards communism (Gooding, 13). The idea behind socialism is that everyone would be free to pursue their individual goals, while not jeopardizing the goals of others (Gooding, 1). This in itself has been implemented successfully in many other countries, such as Sweden. The Soviet Union, however; would not stop there. They would not rest until they achieved the perfect, stateless, classless society of their dreams, where every personal transaction was controlled by the government. This communist society is in fact unachievable,this is because that the pursuit of personal gain would not be tolerated, yet could not be controlled either. The problem that faced the Soviets in their pursuit of communism is that their society led in the opposite direction. In the 30's, a high class even emerged (Gooding, 12). This lead to the first of several reforms. Instead of accepting capitalism, they just kept on trying to swim against the tide. It is therefore no wonder that the Soviet Union disbanded because of this, and we can learn from the Soviet Union that the dogmatic pursuit of an idealized society can be destructive.
CR The Soviet Union had an admirable economy. It rose up from being a third-world country to a major superpower. The economy was really unstable, yet this was not what really sent it over the edge (Milar, 135). The way that the Soviets dealt with their problems is what really broke them. The economy under Stalin's rule was terrible, yet everybody looked away because of its success in bringing themselves a step closer to true communism (Gooding, 14). After Stalin's death, the economy came under harsh criticism (Wright, 117). In a capitalistic society, action would be taken immediately. The Soviets, however; were so careful about keeping the government's success, that they took too long to act. It was not until Nikita Khrushev had a strong political foothold that the economy was openly discussed. They decided that the system was too de-centralized, and in an effort to save the economy and move closer to communism, Premier Alexi Kosygin outlined a plan to centralize the system, which was implemented in 1965 (Wright, 117). After this plan was introduced, success indicators fell (Wright, 121). Were the Soviet Union less obsessed about their communist dreams, they might have acted sooner and quicker to save their economy. Instead they turned a blind eye to its failures and kept on pretending that everything was acceptable. We can learn from this that the dogmatic pursuit of an idealized society can be destructive.
ET The Soviet Union was going through tough times when Mikhail Gorbachev came into office in 1985. Energy supplies were straining, and coal production peaked in 1978(Hewitt, 8). The economy was failing as ever, and economic growth steadily decreased. But most importantly to the Soviet people, the society has shifted away from its core beliefs of communal growth(Gooding, 15). To stop this, Gorbachev launched a last-ditched effort to move the socialist society back to its Leninist roots (Gooding, 15). They thought that possibly the society might move towards communism as opposed to capitalism this time. This effort, named "Perestroika", worked great at first. The Union then crashed soon afterwards(Gooding, 18). These reforms gave a chance for people who were opposed to socialism speak up, and soon afterwards Gorbachev was forced to disband the union. This happened because the Soviet Union could not accept anything but victory. When the society naturally shifted from its original views they tried to force it back instead of letting it run its course. Instead of running the country first, and moving towards communism secondly, the Soviet Union let their dogmatic pursuit of communism corrupt them, and perestroika was the finishing blow. The rest of the world could only watch the Soviet Union destroy themselves attempting to achieve the perfect society, and we can learn from the Soviet Union that the dogmatic pursuit of an idealized society can be destructive.
!! The Soviet Union started out as an extremely successful nation. They lead the space race, nuclear developments, and economic success. What ultimately destroyed them was their dogmatic pursuit of true communism, a stateless and classless society. True communism was unobtainable, and the pursuit of it is what destroyed the Soviets. Economic successes turned sour as the emergence of classes failed to be repressed. Economic troubles also went unattended, while the Soviets were trying to preserve their socialism. Most importantly, last ditched reforms destroyed the Union, as trying to restart was not the right answer. Overall, we can definitively learn from the Soviet Union that the dogmatic pursuit of an idealized society can be destructive.

2.0 - Research Notes

2.1 - Climate and Geographic Factors edit
external image P1100045.jpg
Siberia was a really cold part of the USSR (http://www.wideview.it/travel/Yakutia_2007/Big/P1100045.jpg)
New York
Year Mean
(Cole, 61)
  • Siberia, -65 temperatures are common (in the winter)(Cole, 61)
  • The large size of the USSR put a constraint on human impacts
  • People cannot travel very far
  • There are very few railroads to the resource rich north
  • It would take a large investment to reap rewards from northern resources
  • Conventional builds have trouble in the Soviet Union
  • Steel is more brittle in the cold
  • Oil solidifies quickly in the cold
  • Buildings have to be insulated from permafrost
  • Summer is shorter due to the USSR's northern latitude
  • Farming is hindered
  • Lack of rainfall also hurts crops badly
  • Soviets created numerous large dams
  • There were many soviet plans to change their environment
  • One such example is they wanted to divert, and reverse certain rivers

2.2 - Events and Leaders edit
external image Stalin_Dead.jpg
Stalin's death was a shock, and disappointment for everyone (http://www.ushanka.us/blog/images/Stalin_Dead.jpg)
  • Joseph Stalin died March 5, 1953.
  • Stalin died during a dinner with other Soviet leaders.
  • Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, claimed that Internal Affairs Commissariat Lavrenty Beria claimed to of poisoned Stalin.
  • There is various evidence for this.
  • Stalin had symptoms which matched those of the pesticide Warfarin.
  • Warfarin is tasteless, colorless, and odorless.
  • There was a power struggle for the new leadership.
  • Beria's close ally, Georgy Malenkov became the Premier of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death.
  • Beria was at the head of a liberalization movement post-Stalin.
  • Malenkov, Molotov, and many other Soviet leaders united under "General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev"
  • Khrushchev, and co. Met with Beria, where Khrushchev accused Beria of being paid by British Intelligence.
  • Others then also spoke out against Beria, and passed a motion for his "instant dismissal"
  • In Febuary, 1956, Khrushchev made a "secret speech", in which he denounced Stalin
  • After that point, a "de-Stalinisation" campaign started.{3}
  • In this campaihn, Khrushchev tried to improve Soviet standards of Living.
  • He also tried to give Soviets more freedoms.{3}
  • USA attempted to invade Cuba, April 17, 1961, which was an ally to the USSR
  • The Soviets responded by sending defensive long, and intermediate range missiles to Cuba
  • This initiated the "Cuban Missile Crisis".
  • After a long standoff between the USA, and the USSR, a deal was reached, October 28, 1962
  • The Soviets removed the missiles from Cuba, with the USA promising not to invade
  • The USA also removed nuclear missiles from Turkey, which was close to the Soviet Union
  • This deal was made in secret
  • Khrushchev fell out of favor after this crisis
  • October 14, 1964, Leonid Brezhnev, and many others removed Khrushchev from office
  • November 12, 1982, Yuri Andropov replaced Brezhnev
  • February 13, 1984, Konstantin Chernenko replaced Andropov
  • March 11, 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev replaced Chernenko
  • Andropov, and Chernenko lasted in office both very briefly because of medical problems
  • Soviet system collapsed 1990-1991(Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • Party collapsed, socialism collapsed, nation collapsed
  • Surprising is an understatement
  • Attempt to reform system called "Perestroika" (Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • This lead to Soviet demise
  • Two main downfall theories
  • Socialism can not ever work (Kotz, Weir, 3)
  • - Socialism worked perfectly for 60 years
  • - Soviets encountered some difficulties in 70's, 80's
  • Repression wasn't complete enough (Kotz, Weir, 3)
  • - First serious attempt at reform gave way to resistance
  • - It became clear Gorbachev would not use force to repress this (Kotz, Weir, 3)
  • - This let the rebellion breed
  • - Nobody actually wanted American capitalism (Kotz, Weir, 3)
  • - Referendum supported union by 76.4%, 9 months before disbandment (Kotz, Weir, 3)
  • Foreign pressure might of disbanded the union (Kotz, Weir, 4)
  • Gorbachev might have actually been pro-disbandment (Kotz, Weir, 4)
  • There are truths, and lies to all these theories

2.3 - Socio-Political Structure edit
external image Communism.jpg
The hammer and sickle has become a symbol for communism, along with the flag of the Soviet Union (http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o72/release-me-from-me/Communism.jpg)
  • In capitalism, private businesses do everything
  • In USSR, almost all production is owned by government (Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • State plans took place in Moscow
  • This is opposed to capitalistic de-centralized businesses(Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • Normal businesses elsewhere would be criminal in USSR (Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • Others called it "Communism", but Soviets were saving that term for a stateless, and classless society (Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • Soviets called their system "State Socialism" (Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • It is often just referred to as socialism. (Kotz, Weir, 2)
  • Everything necessary for well being would be owned by the commons (Gooding, 1)
  • Communal rather than competition (Gooding, 1)
  • Everyone would live and work in harmony
  • Everyone would reach their full potential
  • Everyone would pursue individual goals, without risking the goals of others (Gooding, 1)
  • Socialism was based upon communal farming that was historically done by Russian peasants (Gooding, 2)
  • Socialism focuses more on self-development than protection of its people (Gooding, 3)
  • Socialism kills individuality, and silences the minority (Gooding, 4)
  • It demonizes everyone against it (Gooding, 4)
  • In the 30's, a high class emerged (Gooding, 12)
  • This pointed the USSR away from its communism goals (Gooding, 13)
  • Stalin made major changes to the Soviet model (Gooding, 14)
  • This was a much more violent, war focused system
  • This system was bad for the economy (Gooding, 14)
  • By the 80's, it was a huge economic problem (Gooding, 15)
  • This system forgot its peasant heritage
  • Gorbachev tried to reform the system back to its Leninist foundation (Gooding, 15)
  • This was called "Perestroika" (Gooding, 18)
  • Perestroika worked fantastically (Gooding, 18)
  • Everything soon afterwards crashed (Gooding, 18)

2.4 - Agriculture and the Economy edit
external image c?q=ec42ef92a20458c4_landing
|| Soviet Farms were expanseful (http://tbn0.google.com/hosted/images/c?q=ec42ef92a20458c4_landing)
  • "The Soviet village is indeed the weakest point of the Soviet system, its Achillies' heel." Naun, Jasny, Soviet Studies (October 1951)(Millar, 135).
  • Agricultre made more progress since 1953 than anyone anticipated (Millar, 135)
  • Increased 3.5% on average since Stalin (Millar, 135)
  • Food consumption per capita doubled since 1951 (Millar, 135)
  • Diets were a high priority
  • Food went from near-bottom, to near-top of non-war priorities (Milar, 135)
  • Soviet growth was un-balanced
  • Premier Nikita Khrushev introduced radical changes to agricultural model
  • "De-Stalinization" brought many changes to econemy (Wright, 117)
  • Economic problems led to criticism of economic system
  • Until Khrushev had a strong political foothold, econemy was not openly discussed (Wright, 117)
  • It took a while for change
  • Stalinist economic system was really de-centralised (Wright, 117)
  • This meant a huge lack of control
  • Premier Alexi Kosygin outlined a plan for change (Wright, 120)
  • This was implemented in autum 1965
  • This plan abolished a lot of the previous system
  • It focused more on economic control(Wright, 120)
  • Sucess indicators fell(Wright, 121)

2.5 - Science and Mathematical Contributions edit
external image Sputnik1modelTass.jpg
Sputnik 1 was the first satellite to ever orbit the earth (http://www.spacetoday.org/images/Sats/Sputnik1modelTass.jpg)
  • Premier Nikita Khrushchev was enthusiastic about rockets
  • He "virtually rammed rockets down the throats of Red Army traditionalists" (Humble, 4)
  • He created the "Strategic Rocket Forces" (Humble, 4)
  • It was comnmanded by Marchal Nodelin, and later, Marshal Nikolai 1 (Humble, 4)
  • In the 50's, Khrushev decided to focus less on land armies
  • Instead, he put focus on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)(Humble, 4)
  • The "space race" accelerated in the 60's (Humble, 5)
  • The space program was supported widely
  • First earth-orbiting satelite, Spitnuk 1, was launched
  • It was used July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958(Humble, 6)
  • Cosmos satilites were created for single missions
  • These were generally military missions (Humble, 6)
  • Since the cosmos missions began, over 700 were launched (Humble, 6)

2.6 - Energy edit
external image 134562280LqInXo_ph.jpg
Soviet oil fields were a major part of the economy (http://image10.webshots.com/10/6/22/80/134562280LqInXo_ph.jpg)
  • Soviets did not always use the same methods to record energy reserves as the west
  • This maks comparisons hard
  • Soviets have a substancial percentage of the world's fuel
  • This is compared to the world's population
  • USSR was "second largest producer of fuels and energy" in the world (next to USA) (Hewitt, 1)
  • Consumes most of energy produced
  • This is because it is industrial superpower (Hewitt, 1)
  • Some of the excess energy is exported (Hewitt, 1)
  • The rest is used for more complicated exchanges with "client states" (Hewitt, 1)
  • Energy and natural resources were huge part of Soviet Union
  • Abundant resources let planners meet ever-increasing domestic needs (Hewitt, 1)
  • Over 70% of "hard currency earnings" came from energy exports
  • Eastern Europe, and Cuba were huge clients (Hewitt, 2)
  • Energy supplies started straining in the 80's (Hewitt, 2)
  • Coal production peaked in 1978 (Hewitt, 2)
  • Soviet energy future became uncertain
  • "Energy production growth rate" has been falling (Hewitt, 4)
  • Soviet energy exports decreased (Hewitt, 6)
  • Planners were put in tough descision
  • Plans that required consistant groth were unhealthy
  • Soviet energy problems meant less energy for eastern Europe too
  • This would put a strain on east-west relations (Hewitt, 8)

3.0 - Works Cited

Humble, Ronald. Soviet space programme. London: Routledge, 1988. Print.
Soviet Union since Stalin. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1980. Print.
Hewett, Edward A. Energy, economics, and foreign policy in the Soviet Union. Washington, D.C: Brookings Institution, 1984. Print.
Kotz, David, and Fred Weir. Russia's Path From Gorbachev to Putin The Demise of the Soviet System and the New Russia. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Cole, J. P. Geography of the Soviet Union. London: Butterworths, 1984. Print.
"Soviet Union (former) Climate - Flags, Maps, Economy, History, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System." Photius Coutsoukis; Photius; Photios; Fotis Koutsoukis. 26 Apr. 2009
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"BBC - History - Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971)." BBC - Homepage. 26 Apr. 2009 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/khrushchev_nikita.shtml>. Web.
"Georgy Malenkov." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 24 Apr 2009, 16:01 UTC. 26 Apr 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Georgy_Malenkov&oldid=285874780>. Web.
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"General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Apr 2009, 21:39 UTC. 26 Apr 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=General_Secretary_of_the_Communist_Party_of_the_Soviet_Union&oldid=285527452>. Web
"Cuban Missile Crisis." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 26 Apr 2009, 17:16 UTC. 26 Apr 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cuban_Missile_Crisis&oldid=286260156>. Web.
"Bay of Pigs Invasion." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 25 Apr 2009, 11:41 UTC. 26 Apr 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion&oldid=286026888>. Web.
On the Brink of Destruction: The Cuban Missile Crisis. Dir. Jdshapirowiscedu. Perf. Jdshapirowiscedu. YouTube. 05 Feb. 2007. 25 Apr. 2009 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2ZyeG4tdOQ>. Web Film.