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1989 and why we got it wrong

1989 und warum wir es falsch verstanden haben
[working paper]

Cox, Michael

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Abstract The Cold War generated more discussion and controversy than any other topic since 1945. Yet, the possibility that the Cold War might end was neither on the radar of scholars nor of politics and the military. This essay seeks to explain why 'we' got it wrong by focusing in the main on how 'we' in the West understood the Soviet system. Part one thus deals with the Cold War itself and its impact on what came to be known as western 'Soviet Studies'. Part two then looks at the way in which the USSR was understood by an emerging group of new social scientists in the 1970s and 1980s. Part three considers the Gorbachev problem. And part four examines the ways in which the socialist left thoughts about the USSR in the context of the Cold War. In conclusion, I offer reflections on how the generally flawed understanding of the Soviet Union precluded the anticipation of Soviet collapse.
Keywords political change; transformation; reunification; USSR; cold war; international relations; political left; true socialism; political system; Western Europe; protest movement; Europe
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy
Method descriptive study
Free Keywords Cold War; Soviet collapse; Soviet economy; Soviet Studies; social science; Gorbachev; Socialism; Stalinism
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
City Berlin
Page/Pages 14 p.
Series Working Paper Series of the Research Network 1989, 1
Status Published Version; not reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works