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A look on two collapses of governments: the Soviet Union versus Tokugawa Shogunate

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The sudden death of a ruler, a defeat in war, or a successful revolution has often led to the collapse of a government. Political, social, and economic changes have occurred as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Tokugawa Shogunate

Although the Soviet Union stood to as a major opposing force to the United States, the second half of the 20th century the country’s national struggles ultimately led to its downfall. The fall of the Soviet Union, or the USSR, can be said to begin with its last leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He came to power in 1985 and had it until 1981. Gorbachev implemented a large number of reforms to try and deal with the growing unrest within the country. He entered the office following the “era of stagnation”. The term was credited to Gorbachev and was used to describe the financial difficulties that developed when Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union. Even though the causes of the stagnation varied, it was largely based on the economy, social, and military issues during the reign of Brezhnev and several other leaders. The Soviet Union was so desperate to outperform the United States in two major categories; military and spaceflight. This led to extreme spending on both sides, but the Soviet Union established a well functioning military that lead to underproduction and stagnation. Domestic attitudes towards the Communist government lead to greater decent and unrest so Gorbachev quickly set out to reverse the lack of progress. There were two massive programs put into action that Russia has never seen before. The first was called Glasnost translating to “transparence”. The communist party had banned books, ordered secret police force against the people and arrested citizens if political disagreements occurred. Glasnost actually encouraged new freedoms. Also the policy made an effort to reduce the communist’s hold on the entire government, allowing competitive multiple candidate elections to occur. The next stage, Perestroika which translates to “restructuring”. This opened a way ownership that included business and semi-free market access. These two new efforts shifted the focus of Soviet politics and economy closer to western ideals that had already previously made so many countries successful. But the major shift could not remove decades of state rule. In this period of time, the economy got worse as did standards of living for all members of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. Slowly, these eastern European satellite states began to hold elections as a result of the Glasnost reform. The first one to move away was Poland. It wanted a non-communist party and independence. Soon, other satellite states saw their own peaceful transitions of power. Eventually, these efforts all led to widespread of conflict so the people threw out the government. In August of 1991, a group of hardline communist members attempted a coup d’etat (which means a sudden over through of government) against Gorbachev. The group believed that he was bringing the whole country down to failure by implementing such western ways instead of communist values. The coup did not work and Gorbachev resigned being head of the communist party that had tried to overthrow him. The party was then just dissolved entirely. In the midst of the the coup, serval Baltic states announced their independence which triggered a domino effect within the next few months. By 1991, about a dozen of other countries left the Soviet Union. Then the powerless USSR that only really had power over Georgia was dissolved by Gorbachev after 69 years of communist rule in the country.

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In Japan, the Tokugawa Shogunate in the nineteenth century was a very feudalistic military government referred to as Bakufu. The collapse of Japan’s government was because of internal and external factors. The internal factor was involving how the people were mad at the government because of how they were ruling and the social structure. External factor were from foreign affairs. Under the Tokugawa rule, the government’s dictator was at the highest. The emperor was the head of state however he didn’t rule; he was solely a power figure to be idolized. It was the shogun military dictator who truly dominated Japan, supposedly serving as a regent for the emperor. He dominated directly over 1/4 of the country; the remainder of it was divided among the daimyo or social system lords. In Japan’s social classes, below the shogun was the daimyo. Following that was the samurais, farmers, artisans, and at the lowest place on the social pyramid would be the merchants. Tokugawa society placed extreme importance on obedience to authority. Individuals were controlled by the state. The gap between the power of Japan and the United States caused naval officer Matthew Perry’s arrival in 1853. That great contributed to the collapse of the Tokugawa rule. Firstly, it created socio-economic issues within the country. Many Clans began to lose faith in the Bakufu and its ability to stand up to the more powerful West. Samurai’s lived on a stipend pay taxed on the farmers. This was very bad for the farmers and took most of their production. The speculation within the gold and silver exchange by foreigners once the sign language of the treaties upset the domestic value structure. There was variation within the terms of the costs of native product and brought economic hardships to the Japanese individuals. The import of low-cost foreign merchandise drained native cottage industries, inflicting state and despair because then people were not buying from within the country, but of the cheaper items from outside the country. The economic distress ensuing from the gap of Japan compared to the West shortly unfolds throughout the country. The Japanese were terribly dissatisfied so they turned to support the anti-bakufu crusade. By invite, a number of the daimyo were representatives at the Council of Land and the dictator provided a golden chance for them to create a movement against the Tokugawa autocracy. The Sonno Joi (revere the emperor and expel the foreigners) movement was then found out. It was extremely supported by the peasants, samurai, court nobles and daimyo. During this, the treaties with the West not solely created the downfall of the autocracy however sped up its collapse. There were anti-foreign outbursts. The bombardments of Kagoshima and Shimonoseki in Satsuma and Choshu in June. In August of 1863 were two events, the two clans completed the importance of military and started to hold out military reforms and they gave up the policy of Joi. This weakening of the shogun’s power sped up the downfall of the autocracy. As the dictator had a challenge from the inner and external forces, he determined to relax the Sankin Kotai System so as to achieve support from the daimyo. The Sankin kotai, was a framework of military benefit which served as a central piece of the Tokugawa shogunate’s frameworks for controlling the daimyo and keeping up control. Ever since the eighteenth century, most of the shoguns were weak and therefore the bakufu was corrupt. This resulted in power struggles. The luxurious lifetime of the shoguns led to inflation and extensive discontent as they were situated far away from the key urban centers in southwestern Japan. The growing power of Satsuma and Choshu modified the balance of power inside the Tokugawa administration. The growth of the cash economy led to a increase of the merchant category, as their social and political standing persisted low, they wished to overthrow the government. The new economy along with the position of the Daimyo and Samurai as a result became poor and were not able to solve their money issues. They wished to overthrow the Tokugawa rule also. The peasants were hit by the unsteady rice value and natural disasters as heavier taxes were enforced on them by the Daimyo. Eventually, they rose up in riots. The rise of faith placed the emperor in an exceedingly additional vital political position and lots of Japanese wished to revive the rule of the emperor. The Dutch learning inspired the Japanese students to criticize the autocracy for the shortcomings of the closed door policy which prevented the Japanese to leave Japan, or let foreigners in. This weakened the government. The final collapse of the autocracy was led to by the alliance of Satsuma and Choshu. These two associate degree agonistic western clans, shaped an alliance as a results of the Shogunate’s mission against Choshu in 1866. The alliance puzzled out a proposal for a whole overthrow of the autocracy. In January of 1868, they tried a group action to overthrow the throne dictator Tokugawa Keiki. After fighting, Emperor Meiji took supreme management of the country. Throughout his reign from 1867 to 1912, Japan was fully remodeled and it became a great power.

In the past 27 years Russia has somewhat managed to recover its former glory although it is still lagging behind Russia global power is a testament to its influence of the soviet unions. The isolated Japan from the rest of the entire world ended with the results of both negative and positive impacts on their nation. Slowly Japan is progressing into the Japan we continue to grow each day


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