History Flashback: The End of the Soviet Union

Ferd posted a clip on In Bona Fide about the last days of the Soviet Union, referring to the secret meeting between the leaders of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia that broke up the Communist empire for good. Here I’ve posted another shorter clip of contemporary news coverage of the final whimpering hours of Communist rule.

The fall of the Soviet empire was the final act in a wave of geopolitical madness going all the way back to the opening salvos of World War I in 1914, a century of diplomatic bluster and bloody internecine cruelty whose extents boggled even the imaginations of hardened cynics.

From my childhood I distinctly recall watching the night shot of the Communist ensign being lowered from the Kremlin’s flagpole (2:32). My father told me “you’ll never see that flag fly again.”

I say good riddance. Communism sucks.


Filed under history, media

13 responses to “History Flashback: The End of the Soviet Union

  1. John G

    Yeah, the 80’s were kinda crazy. I was in elementary school when the Iranian hostages were released. Regan was being sworn in as the plane was landing. Fast forward 8 years, I was in the Air Force, he was still president and communism was collapsing. I actually ended my tour early when the bloodthirsty warmonger Sec. of Def. Dick Cheney had the temerity to reduce the size of the military due to the fall of communism. Basically, they asked who wanted out, I had my GI Bill and was ready to press on w/life, so I took them up on the offer. Then Saddam invaded Kuwait…

  2. ASF

    The good old days.

  3. I had a friend whose mom was Czech and had come to the US around the time of the fall. I asked him what his mom thought of communism and he snapped back, “oh, fuck communism.”

    “The good old days.”

    Of course, greatbooksformen could stop by and tell us the fall of Communism just freed the fiat bankers to further Bernankify the western world.

  4. flyfreshandyoung

    I am too young for all of this, which is too bad. All I get to do is read about it.

    Communism may be dead, but Marxism is still here. And still fucking up things.

  5. deti

    Communism sucks because it put millions of people into misery, poverty, slavery and starvation. The Russian people were not free under Soviet rule — by Gorbachev’s own admission..

  6. Bob

    I visited West Berlin back in the ’60s. I saw the wall. Those people turned entire countries into maximum security prisons.

    And my classmates in the States wondered why I hated Communism.

    I had to explain that a U.S. passport isn’t permission to leave. It’s a guarantee of permission to come back.

    Nowadays the IRS follows you wherever you may go.

  7. Höllenhund

    I’m sure Gorbachev and his cronies already regret what they have done. They were given bullshit diplomatic guarantees that NATO won’t be expanded eastwards etc.

  8. Höllenhund

    A video to remind people of the good old days (“West-81” exercise of the Soviet Army):

    I’m sure both the public and academic erception of the USSR will keep changing in the future, drifting away from the relentlessly hostile attitude of the ’90s.

  9. Höllenhund

    erception = perception, of course

    Just to avoid any misunderstanding: I was referring to the change of perception, driven largely by the declassification of archive sources, in Eastern Europe, where I’m from. Here the consequences of the Soviet collapse are ambivalent at best. It seems the small peoples of Eastern Europe, being the dedicated boot-lickers they are, have simply found new boots to lick instead of the Russian one. Their economic and military sovereignty have been stripped from them after 1945. After 1991, they have willingly signed away both to the EU and NATO, respectively. The people’s welfare hasn’t improved either. In fact, the economic problems of the Soviet bloc in the ’80s seem downright minuscule compared to the current situation of the world economy.

  10. At first I thought Hollenhund was an apologist for communism, but he does make a good point: it’s not that communism is good, but soft-leftists and NGOs have fetishized democratic government, which hasn’t exactly earned its stripes in eastern Europe in the post-Communist era. (Some would argue the GWB administration did the same thing with the invasion of Iraq, we’ll just have to wait and see).

    As an aside, it’s interesting to consider that the USSR lost on the order of 20 million people in “the great patriotic war” (World War II), by far the hardest-hit country by numbers and the second-hardest by percentage of population, after Poland.

    Also, for every ten Nazi soldiers killed, nine were killed by a Russian.

  11. While I do agree with you that Communism may suck.Democracy isn’t all it cracked up to be neither.

    Cuba for instance: system is beloved by Cubans who actually live in Cuba,and not those traitor ones who fled to Miami.

    So when you say Communism sucks:I wonder if you defining that based on Western Media,or research?

    Because ppl in Cuba LOVE their system.Same as thy would say Democracy and Capitalism sucks

  12. Bob


    The Batista government was a classic kleptocracy. It was easy to look good compared to that in the beginning.

    Cuba has an island. They don’t have to guard the borders to keep people in. They can let off pressure by letting the truly motivated get away. They control people’s information. They can dump their prisons on us in a “humanitarian gesture”.

    The Castro regime may be less nasty than the Soviets were. Certainly their system is more mixed.

  13. Bob

    Also, the Soviets subsidized Cuba heavily before the collapse.

    Also, people confuse democracy and freedom. Democracy is a form of government. Freedom may not depend upon it.

    One should be able to know little of the law, but be confident that following the Golden Rule will keep one out of trouble with the law.

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