Historians discuss the question of whether the Soviet Union could have survived. One of the historians believes that the USSR collapsed because the Communist Party lost control of the media, exposing the corruption and problems the country faced.
The Soviet Union could not have survived, because by 1991 the Communist Party had lost control of the media and thus the public sphere. Key to the survival of any dictatorship is strict control of the media, which shapes public opinion and promotes tacit acceptance of a regime. Though many Soviet citizens may have claimed not to believe what was written in their newspapers, they were never aware of just how far removed from reality the reports were. When Mikhail Gorbachev ascended to power in 1985, it was his policy of glasnost that let the genie out of the bottle.In his attempt to ‘open up’ society, Gorbachev permitted the press more freedom of expression. Some historians have viewed this move as a result of the fact that Gorbachev (born in 1931) was the first leader of the Soviet Union to have cut his political teeth in a de-Stalinised USSR. But his policy backfired. Glasnost meant that news outlets could lay bare the failings of the Soviet system and the Communist Party. Perhaps more than anything else, their reporting of the horrific accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 illustrated the Party’s incompetence and shredded citizens’ belief not only in its ability to govern effectively, but also to keep them safe. In fact, in 2006, Gorbachev pinpointed Chernobyl and the resulting media fallout as the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.By 1991 the game was up for the Communist Party. Glasnost had permitted dissenting voices to be heard and political movements that had once been suppressed to gain traction and support. After a failed attempt by Communist hardliners to retake control in August of that year, the Party was banned and with it disappeared the glue that was keeping the Soviet Union together. If the Communist Party had retained control of the media, it could, perhaps, have survived anything. We need only look to the Chinese example for what can happen when a dictatorship remains in full control of the public sphere.
This is the danger the country faces today. The media is solidly behind the Democrats. And the Democrats favor socialist or communism.