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What was the USSR?

Updated on June 3, 2016

What was the USSR?

Imperial overstretch?

In 1991 the USSR collapsed. This political system is often being ridiculized; people depict it as something extreme - an example of 'imperial overstretch'. We could argue though that it wasn't something ridicule.


Until 1918 Austria-Hungary was an important force in Central Europe. It encompassed many of the peoples that live here and was a force of civilization. In 1918 this empire was no more. The result: a power vacuum in central / eastern Europe.

The gap

After Austria-Hungary was no more two powers were candidates to fill the gap: Germany on the one hand and Russia on the other. In 1945 the regions, that before fell under the sphere of influence of Austria-Hungary came under Russian control.

The current situation

In 1991 the Russians left the above mentioned region. How do things look now? How have things developed since the Russians left? Nowadays we see, among others, the following phenomena:

- Nationalism and xenophobia (Poland)

- 'Rogue' capitalism

- Prostitution (Ukraine)

- Political fragmentation (Yugoslavia, Czechoslowakia)

The unified system that existed until '91 is gone. A culture of fragmentation has replaced the former situation. Behind the facade of the EU a new culture of strongmen, a culture of anarcho-capitalism has emerged.

New tensions?

Since a couple of years the Poles are adopting a nationalist line. Media and clergy fill the minds of the people with anti-Russian feelings. The situation is becoming more and more hot. If Poland holds on to such a politics they might be crossing a "red line". Poland could, if it maintains the current political line, come in conflict with Moscow. It could become the theatre of a new armed conflict.

M de Loo



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