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    Mikhail Gorbachev's policies in the Soviet Union

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    How Mikhail Gorbachev's policies changed the Soviet Union, would consider him a patriot, or in a sense, a subversive?

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    You could consider him both, depending on your point of view.

    Mikhail Gorbachev was a Soviet patriot in the sense that he wanted to save the USSR and preserve communism through reform and adaptation. He was an idealist who believed in the fundamental values of communism, and sought to fix the Soviet systems many economic and social problems through reform. His reforms failed to achieve their stated purpose and actually led to the weakening of the Communist regime and it's eventual collapse.

    To many Communists, Gorbachev was a subversive. His political reforms in particular undermined the legitimacy of the Communist Party as the sole source of political authority. Lenin himself had warned famously of the danger of factionalism - that communism could not survive the plurality of political ideologies and parties. Gorbachev, by allowing for greater political freedom and participation and tolerating criticism of the government, officials and parties, opened the flood gates and ultimately proved that Lenin was right. In the end, Gorbachev himself was shunted aside as he struggled to maintain the Soviet state as a representative of the Communist party as Boris Yeltsin, a former Communist, became President of Russia and the USSR collapsed.

    Here are some old notes on Gorbachev that should help you to understand his role and develop your argument further.

    "Evolutionary in origin, revolutionary in aims and impact." Assess this comment on Gorby's domestic and foreign policy 1985-1991.

    Gorby did not really have a plan or grand strategy for his reforms. He wanted improvement of communist/socialist economic system, but would not challenge the foundations of state ownership, the Party's leading role or the ultimate goals of Communism. His early approach was inherited from Andropov - the system needs only modernization, streamlining an discipline; the economic problems could be solved through managerial reforms. These reforms wanted quick results and they were actually counterproductive.

    Uskorenie 1985-86- acceleration - calls for tighter labor discipline, faster growth, greater effort, stronger incentives, stricter accounting. (reward hard work and crackdown on laziness or obsolete methods) "activate the human factor."

    -Higher production targets 5 Year Plan ('86-90) - impractical for period of reform, no breathing space to modernize, managers/workers associate reforms with high targets/overwork
    -streamlining bureaucracy with new "superministerial" bodies - (another layer?)

    -Gospriemka- (campaign for quality control Nov 1986) - rejection of shoddy goods by inspectors with penalties for factories/workers (factories often lack time or resources to make up shortfall, plus higher targets set!, supply of good to consumers falls, some workers no longer entitled to bonuses they expect) campaign dropped after 1988. Under-investment in economy causes even relatively efficient enterprises problems.

    -By 27th Party Congress in Feb '86 40% of key posts had new faces -1/3 of govt ministers and republic party secs replaced.

    -Anti-alcohol campaign (May '85) was a naive disaster- did not stop drunkeness, but lost much state revenue. Close down some breweries, distilleries, etc, limit hours for alcohol shops causes people to go to black market and sugar shortages. In 1982, revenue for alc tax was 12% of entire budget, loss of this revenue caused govt to print more $, and higher inflation. High alcoholism is not a cause of the Soviet systems problems, it is a result! Later completely abandoned (1990?)

    Glasnost and Perestroika
    By April 1985, Gorby had announced perestroika (restructuring of economy). These reforms would escalate as the deep seated nature of the problem prevented rapid progress - and were resisted by managerial elite.

    - By Feb/March 1986 - 27th Party Congress -Uskoreniye gives way to pere/glasnost
    Gorby more clearly sees people as solution and bureacracy as problem, not vice-versa.
    People have increased say in system still dom by CP, more freedom of speech/individual economic. Activity (eventually pol pluralism works against Gorby). He wants more public/media freedom to get support of lit/cultural intelligentsia to convince elites/masses of need for major reform

    June 87 - 1st multi-candidate elections in about 5% of local constituencies for local el.

    One way Gorby attempted to force through his reforms was through glasnost - new openess and encouragement of intellectual freedom. By 1987, 30,000 neformaly (informal orgs not under direct Party control) exist. In the end, rather than generate enthusiasm for reform, glasnost served to undermine the process itself as ...