Communications and the fall of communism:

The Cold War

The dramatic and sudden collapse of communism in Eastern Europe came after a generation of communication interactions between the Western nations and the socialist nations of Eastern Europe. In Eastern and Central Europe, the personalized media -- video- and audiocassette players and shortwave radio receivers -- "were key weapons in the peoples' revolutions because they broke their governments communication monopolies and piped in the siren songs of the West."(Hachten, p.66)

One Russian general said the USSR lost the Cold War because it was hopelessly behind the West in computer technology. This is interesting to the "Catch-22" theory because the general said the lack of communication technology aided the fall of communism. If both the lack and presence of communication technology hinder government control, it seems even harder for authoritarian governments to find a balance where their citizens feel informed about the world without pervading their minds with Western ideas.

Moscow, 1991

In 1991, coup leaders in an organization called Emergency Committee(Imse, p. A1) arrested Gorbachev in Russia and tried to convince the citizens to accept the fact that communism was in power again. Yet, communication was one of the major reasons the right-wing coup d'etat failed. Yeltsin and others utilized every communications tool to their advantage. They used facsimiles, photocopying machines, and cellular phones to tell citizens that it was not too late to resist the coup.(Hachten, p.69)

As Newsweek commented:

The coup leaders apparently relied on popular indifference and fear of authority. But those are not the attributes of people in the know. And last week Russians proved that they have entered the information age.(How the Internet..., p.39)

Because of Yeltsin's complete use of communications technology, the Russian people knew there was still a fight to be waged against communism and they refused to sit back. Being "in the know" also encouraged the Chinese students of 1989 to continue to protest for democracy.