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  • Stalin dies in 1953 and is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev.
  • After being elected, Khrushchev began the process of de - stalinization, as he believed that Stalin's reign of terror was wrong.
  • Stalin was a piece of crap!
  • Khrushchev not only rejected Stalin's system of terror, but reinstated the communist party as a vital political institution. He also subordinated the KGB to party authority, and allowed liberalization of the media in regards to Stalinism-centered criticism.
  • Leonid Brezhnev, who succeeded Khrushchev, tightened control in the cultural sphere, making sure people who expressed dissenting views through publication were punished.
  • In exchange for political compliance, the population enjoyed job security, a lax work environment, low prices for basic goods, housing, and transport, and other benefits. This is called the tacit social contract.
  • Economic growth rates declined, and many consumer goods were left in short supply. Pollution levels and the costs of exploiting new resource deposits soared.
  • Liberalization in some Eastern Europe states and the telecommunication revolution made it increasingly difficult to shield the population from exposure to western lifestyles and ideas.
  • Aspirations began rising just as the capacity of the system to fulfill them was declining.
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