Revolutions in East Europe

in Late 1980s and Early1990s; A Parallel!

Continued from:  Arab Revolts: A Symptom of Decline of US Hegemony

Just recall the 'Revolutions' of 1989 in Eastern Europe leading to the collapse of Communism. The revolts began in Poland and then spread to Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and finally Romania. Only in Romania, the Communist regime was overthrown violently and Nikolai Ceausescu and his wife were shot dead in cold blood after a Kangaroo trial. 

Even earlier East Europeans had tried to overthrow the totalitarian regimes in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and elsewhere but were brutally suppressed. 

By end 1980s it was clear that the Soviet Union itself was ready and on the brink for a makeover with resurgent Orthodox Slav nationalism with what many Russians felt unhappily carrying the heavy baggage of Turkic and other Soviet Socialist republics. US led West Human Rights and democracy promotion organizations (to suit western objectives) had been encouraging overtly and covertly groups in Communist states for change and freedom, by using civil resistance methods of Mahatma Gandhi adopted by Martin Luther King and others. In any case, an overall popular opposition had emerged against the one-party rule in East Europe enforced since WWII when Communism rolled in on the backs of Soviet tanks after the defeat of Nazi Germany, which was accomplished basically by the Soviet resistance and very heavy sacrifice in men and treasure.

By 1989, the Soviet Union had repealed the Brezhnev Doctrine in favor of non-intervention in the internal affairs of its Warsaw Pact allies.

While the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 failed to change or even dent Communist regime in China, the powerful images of courage and defiance sparked many and thus began the series of changes in East Europe and elsewhere in Russian Soviet republics. (Based on events in Cairo and elsewhere attempts to organize a ‘Jasmine revolution’ in China seem to have fizzled out so far.)

Seeds of Soviet collapse were sown by the policies of perestroika and glasnost by a naïve Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, an agriculture engineer by training, who apparently did not comprehend fully either Communism or Capitalism. Western media flattered him by hailing him as a great democratizer. Gorbachev was followed by a Boris Yeltsin, remembered for being mostly drunk or drugged. They destroyed the Soviet state, undermined its ideology and the concept of scientific socialism. The break up and dissolution of USSR was achieved by the end of 1991.

Russian federation and 14 new nations emerged with little local fight or desire for independence in most of the new states except in the Baltics, who then declared independence.

Albania and Yugoslavia discarded the Communist ideology between 1990 and 1992. USA and Europe soon encouraged dissensions in Yugoslavia, with US led NATO troops bombing Yugoslavia illegally and helped break up the state in place since WWI. By 1992 five successor states emerged i.e. Slovenia, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. But Russia friendly Orthodox Slav Yugoslavia was too much for the triumphal and hubris laden New Rome in Washington. Coastal Montenegro was detached from Serbia completely isolating Moscow’s ally in the Balkans. 

The Soviet Union's collapse was ruthlessly exploited by US led West while its capitalist controlled media sang praises and promoted economic reforms and so called democratization bringing economic disintegration and ruination to Russia and former communist states leading to the worst kind of depression in modern history with economic losses more than twice those suffered by USSR in World War II. Russian GDP was trimmed to half and capital investment fell by 80 percent. People were reduced to penury and misery, death rates soared and the population shrank. And in August 1998, the Russian financial system collapsed. 

Wealth running into a trillion US dollar and more was transferred to the West from the former Soviet Union and socialist states in East Europe and Balkans under the charade of ushering in democracy, free market capitalism and globalization. In Moscow Vladimir Putin has stabilized the situation from rampant exploitation by the West. He remains very popular with his people unlike leaders in the West. In most of the East European states, groups aligned and in league with Washington and Brussels have captured power along with mafia groups, local and from neighboring countries. (Three years ago, in a poll Romanians voted West demonized Ceausescu as the most important leader in its history). Yes , elections are held, as they have been in Iraq and for that matter in 2000 in USA and with the banksters gifting nearly $ 500 million to Barack Obama for his election fund. No wonder, there is little of, “yes, we can” in a country ruled by financiers , bankers, military-industry, energy and other corporate interests. 


Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we are seeing the beginnings of the collapse of the other Wall (Street), financial nerve center of till recently described the New Rome. The decline and coming fall of the US led Western hegemony was brought home by the 2008 September collapse of Lehman brothers, Merrill Lynch and other venerable US and Western financial institutions, thus beginning an era of power shift, perhaps, for the passing of the baton from the West to the East. Washington’s debt amounts to almost $ 10 trillion while its GDP is around 14 trillion. The creditors have discussed replacing US dollar as the reserve currency with a basket of currencies. US led West is deeply mired in the Iraqi quagmire and enmeshed into a non-winnable war in Afghanistan, the graveyard of many empires in history. In North Africa and Middle East, five/ten years ago US might have threatened sending an aircraft career to evacuate its citizens as it did against India in 1971. 

With the loss of dominance in the Middle East and north Africa and if Saudi Arabia gets embroiled in serious turmoil what will happen to US dollar as the reserve currency. 

The confrontation and the wars for hegemony began with Indo-European chariot riders from East Central Asia and later horse riding tribes; the Turks, the Mongols, the Tatars and others galloping west and southwards in their victorious march. A safari by Alexander and his Macedonian hordes to Middle East, Central Asia and North India has little to show in Buddhist records in Asia. It only shows how Western propaganda exaggerates its achievements and misinforms, as is evident from its media exaggerations and misinformation now-a-days. 

The world is now poised for paradigm change. US led Western attempts to enter and install NATO forces into central Asia and around the Caspian were stalled. US and Israeli puppet Georgia’s attempts to take south Ossetia were rebuffed with Moscow inflicting heavy losses. Azerbaijan with its strategic location and energy resources firmly in the Western camp is having second thoughts about the tight Western embrace after the Georgian outcome. US installed puppet in Ukraine. Victor Yushchenko’s was defeated last year. US is just about hanging on in Kyrgyzstan with Moscow watching Washington’s discomfiture in Afghanistan and now in the Middle East. The shoe is on the other feet now.

End of History

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Communist ideology, regimes and economics in Eurasia was described as the ‘End of History’ and a victory for US style liberal capitalism (since1978, China is more an authoritarian Communist state with capitalist methods of production). 

It is Prof Francis Fukuyama who wrote “The End of History and the Last Man” in 1992, argued that the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies was largely at an end, with the world settling on liberal democracy at the end of the Cold War and the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989. Fukuyama predicted the eventual global triumph of political and economic liberalism:

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history but the end of history as such... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

Soon he revised his thesis after the rampant capitalism and its excesses in Enron and elsewhere suggesting some kind of centralized direction.

Opposed to ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’, Fukuyama in an essay in the New York Times Magazine in 2006 identified neo-conservatism with Leninism. He wrote that “neo-conservatives believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States. Neo-conservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.”

So much for thinkers in USA and their instant philosophies, the other being Samuel Huntington, who wrote about the ‘Clash of Civilizations.’ What is happening is the struggle for power and hegemony by use of the Gods by followers of three revealed religions in the Middle East. 

With the collapse of the liberal capitalism because of human nature i.e. rampant corporate culture of reckless greed in USA along with over spending on defense and imperial over-reach, there are clear symptoms similar to those which brought about the down fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago.

Ironically, it is the public money, used as stimulus, amounting to nearly $ two trillion and 600 billion which is temporarily keeping private sector afloat in USA. (This money exists on computer screens only and is lent at little interest, sloshing around the world’s stock exchanges making them behave like casinos. It is also used to hoard up commodities which raise their prices.)  Public shareholders ought to run the now effectively 'nationalized' banks and other institutions in USA. So much for the final triumph of the US neo-liberal model; defeat of Socialism and the 'End of history'.

Is it the beginning of the end of the ‘End of History’ 

Economist Hyman Minsky had predicted that “Keynes's collective work amounted to a powerful argument that Capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a cliff".
Whatever be the outcome , the turmoil in north Africa and west Asia is like the historic shifting of sands in what can be called Washington’s ‘near abroad ‘, 

In history, centuries of Roman-Byzantine and Persian confrontation and wars led to their exhaustion. Soon their territories were overrun by bands of Bedouins from the deserts of Arabia.   


More by :  K. Gajendra Singh

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