Roots and Causes of Communist Collapse
Communist political system in Central and Eastern Europe collapsed at the end of the 1980s primarily because of long-standing internal weaknesses that denied them the popular legitimacy needed for long-term survival. They collapsed also as a result, paradoxically, of Soviet policy toward them in the late 1980s that encouraged their adoption of perestroika-style reformism but called for restraint when reform got out of hand and endangered their survival. The West also had a hand, though an oblique one, in the collapse by doing what it could when it could to undermine their credibility at home as well as abroad.
The major internal weaknesses of the communist systems in Central and Eastern Europe were political, economic, and environmental. Subservience to the Soviet Union, which had helped to get most of them started after World War II and subsequently had heavily influenced their domestic and foreign policies, also greatly weakened them by making them appear as little more than colonial-style dependencies of the Kremlin. By the late 1980s, despite efforts in some countries to reform communist rule, all the communist systems had lost whatever legitimacy they may have had, which at best was very little. They were ripe for overthrow.1
The Central and East European communist systems, which largely resembled the Soviet dictatorship, remained throughout most of their history repressive, rigid,