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Abstract

According to conventional Western narratives, the collapse of the Soviet Union brought with it economic prosperity, social progress, and greater European unity. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Soviet collapse, and is therefore an occasion reflect on the significance of this event. This paper rejects the conventional narrative of Soviet collapse and posits an alternative, darker narrative: the Soviet collapse was a geopolitical disaster in which durable authoritarianism persisted alongside neoliberal policies that dismantled the former Communist social safety nets and contributed to the rise of jungle capitalism. I argue that the Cold War was not simply a geopolitical rivalry, but a competition over how best to organize society.