Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations

By Ralph Summy; Michael E. Salla | Go to book overview

10
Whose Cold War.

Rick Kuhn


DEFINITIONS AND PREHISTORY

If we are to understand the end of the "cold war" it seems useful to first consider what it was, as conceptions of the nature of the "cold war" are likely to shape the position commentators take on its demise. The following argument begins with a discussion of the "cold war" as the conflation of the class conflict between capital and labor (cold war) with conflicts between two imperialist powers, the U.S.S.R. and the United States (Cold War). The demise of the Soviet workers' state during the. 1920s is considered in this context. The achievements of the Russian state capitalist model of economic development are then examined. The subsequent sections deal with structural elements in, and then factors associated with, perestroika which immediately precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union. The final section very briefly assesses the implications of the Cold War's end.

The conflict that underlay the Cold War predated not only post- World War II superpower rivalry but also the 1917 Russian revolution. It is the conflict between capital and labor, or international civil war. 1 This cold war saw its own arms race and hot conflicts. Thus, for example, popular unrest in England during the French revolution, struggles of trade unions against masters, and the Chartist movement against the oligarchic English state

____________________
I am grateful to Jim Craven of Clark University for his observations on the end of the Cold War, which inspired the broad concept of the "cold war" used in this chapter, although his own analysis is a distinct one. John Passant's and Mary Gorman's thoughtful comments on drafts were the basis for substantial improvements in content and presentation.

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