Communism failed in Eastern European countries for the same reasons it routinely fails in others — corruption and mismanagement of goods results in the needs of citizens not being met, which usually leads to a civil uprising, and eventually the end of communist rule. While the economic system known as communism may have worked well on paper, the political form forced on Eastern European countries brought little more than oppression and hardship to the working class citizens it exploited. Many of the Eastern European governments were puppet regimes handpicked by communist party leaders working remotely from Russia; communications between Russia and its Eastern European satellites were rarely two-way streets.
One main reason why communism failed in Eastern Europe was due to the human nature. Under economic communism, control over production is supposed to be given to the workers, ostensibly with the guidance and oversight of a strong central State. Communist farmers who produced corn, for instance, would donate the vast majority of their yearly crops to the government; in exchange, the government would provide each farmer with a supply of corn for personal use, along with a portion of all the other goods produced by other self-controlled communes. Unfortunately, the timely distribution of goods was severely hampered by corruption and mismanagement, a common problem in communist countries. Many citizens felt the provisions they were given were fair and satisfactory, while many others felt restricted and did not have enough means to survive.
When any form of government, whether capitalist or communist, fails to meet the basic needs of its people, civil unrest is bound to follow, and this was especially the case in Eastern Europe after World War II. Tyrannical communist leaders, such as Joseph Stalin, used economic communist rule as a means to support their own agendas, while millions of civilians were systematically imprisoned or summarily executed. The message to Eastern European countries became clear — dissension would simply not be tolerated. During the 1950s and 1960s, country after country in Eastern Europe began to revolt against the oppressive Soviet system that sought to keep them enslaved to a corrupt form of political communism.
Appeal of a Free Market Society
By the time of the Soviet Union's disintegration in 1991, economic communism was fast becoming a failed experiment in the eyes of the Western world. Many collective companies in Eastern European countries discovered the advantages of a free market society, including the right to deal directly with buyers. Under economic communist rule, there were very few incentives offered to more industrious workers; the idea of profit through increased production proved to be one of the strongest arguments against communism. Many Eastern European countries were eager to move towards a freer economic system.
End of Soviet Communist Rule
Some historians credit former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev with implementing the policies leading to the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe. Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, meaning openness, allowed eastern European countries the freedom to replace Moscow-controlled governments with local leaders. Once free of Soviet rule, the individual countries were free to create their own economic systems, many of which still retain some elements of economic communism while embracing capitalism and socialism as well.