Communism in Crisis 1976-89

This prescribed subject addresses the major challenges—social, political and economic—facing the regimes in the leading socialist (Communist) states from 1976 to 1989 and the nature of the response of these regimes. In some cases challenges, whether internal or external in origin, produced responses that inaugurated a reform process contributing significantly to the end of the USSR and the satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe. In other cases repressive measures managed to contain the challenge and the regime maintained power in the period.

Areas on which the source-based questions will focus are:

  • the struggle for power following the death of Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), Hua Guofeng (Hua Kuofeng), the re-emergence of Deng Xiaoping (Teng Hsiao-p’ing) and the defeat of the Gang of Four
  • China under Deng Xiaoping: economic policies and the Four Modernizations
  • China under Deng Xiaoping: political changes, and their limits, culminating in Tiananmen Square (1989)
  • domestic and foreign problems of the Brezhnev era: economic and political stagnation; Afghanistan
  • Gorbachev and his aims/policies (glasnost and perestroika) and consequences for the Soviet state
  • consequences of Gorbachev’s policies for Eastern European reform movements: Poland—the role of Solidarity; Czechoslovakia—the Velvet Revolution; fall of the Berlin Wall.