A few weeks ago a hailstorm broke the wings off the chaos butterfly, which I thought mildly amusing. I was sitting out front whittling a newer, more elaborate butterfly from a chunk of root wood I had lying around, thinking about the old Slaviat Onion.
I guess it was Rosseau's Confessions actually led me along that path of thinking. I was nearing the end of the read, him telling of life in France during those years just before the French Revolution. I couldn't help thinking from the position of hindsight that a goodly portion of the characters, friends and enemies he was describing, petty battles and wars, were historical moments away from having something a lot more worthy of their concerns.
In fact, I'd bet, without checking the history books, a sizeable portion of the people in his circle ended up getting their heads and their bodies not talking to one another.
Anyway, thinking along those lines, the abruptness with which history has a way of surprising everyone led me, first into thinking about what happened with similar abruptness in Germany in 1932. Weimar Republic one day, the Third Reich the next day. Sudden and unexpected.
But I've done so much thinking on that one I didn't linger long with it. Instead, my mind wandered to the USSR, and how they were on the map in 1990, and weren't on the map by 1995. Poof.
One of the two most powerful nations on the planet, and one of them decides to spontaneously implode without even knowing precisely why. Historians and 'Sovietologists' are still arguing the issue.
So what happened to the Evil Empire?
In retrospect, I'd say it was several things.
They were bankrupt, same as we were and are. Soviet workers weren't turning out any products worth owning except tanks and airplanes. Everything else from watches to shoes looked and behaved as though it was manufactured by blind dwarfs using ball-peen hammers.
They were spending too much of their resources in war and rumor or war activities.
They'd just had their butts kicked in Afghan, which might have been something of a downer for them.
It was a matter of a lot of concern to them that in the year 2000, more than half the Soviet people were going to be folks from down on the south end of things, Kazakstan and so on, the Soviet Muslim states. A lot of pondering was going on about what the impact of that demographic change would be.
I sat there whittling wondering which, or whether all those explained it. I decided it was some, but probably another major factor was that everyone from top to bottom just got tired of the BS.
They couldn't believe in Communism anymore. They took the easiest way out of it. Probably the only way that didn't involve something similar to what happened in France 'way back there that got all this started.