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The Demise Of Communist States

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several communist states transformed their governments to free-market economies. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev was named leader of the Soviet Union, and he immediately embarked on a program to liberalize and democratize the Soviet Union and its Communist party. By 1990, the campaign had won enough converts to unsettle the power of communism in the Soviet Union. In August 1991, opponents of Gorbachev

From 1950 to 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy led highly publicized hearings that focused upon alleged Communist infiltration of the U.S. government and military.

attempted to oust him from power by force, but many in the Soviet military supported Gorbachev, and the coup failed.

The Soviet Union was formally dissolved in December 1991. The republics previously controlled by the All-Union Communist party held democratic elections and moved toward participation in the world business market. Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, and Poland also established their independence. Romania had conducted its own revolution by trying, convicting, and executing its communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, at the end of 1989.

Communist control of governments may be dwindling, but communist parties still exist all over the world. China and Cuba have communist governments, and Spain and Italy have powerful Communist parties. In the United States, though, Communism has had a difficult time finding widespread support. The justice system in the United States has historically singled out Communists for especially harsh treatment. For example, JOSEPH MCCARTHY, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, led an anti-Communist campaign from 1950 to 1954 that disrupted many lives in the United States.

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