Perestroika

Last updated
Perestroika
Russian Перестройка
Romanization Perestrojka
Literal meaningRestructuring
Perestroika postage stamp, 1988 1988 CPA 5942.jpg
Perestroika postage stamp, 1988

Perestroika ( /ˌpɛrəˈstrɔɪkə/ ; Russian:Перестройка,IPA:  [pʲɪrʲɪˈstrojkə] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) [1] was a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s and is widely associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost (meaning "openness") policy reform. The literal meaning of perestroika is "restructuring", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system.

Contents

Perestroika is sometimes argued to be a significant cause of the revolutions of 1989 (referred to as counter-revolutions by the USSR's defenders, and color revolutions) and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which marked the end of the Cold War. [2]

Origin and time

Mikhail Gorbachev first time used the term 'Perestroika' in his speech during a visit to the City of Tolyatti in 1986. The timing of Perestroika lasted from 1985 until 1991. [3]

Summary

Perestroika allowed more independent actions from various ministries and introduced many market-like reforms. The alleged goal of perestroika, however, was not to end the command economy but rather to make socialism work more efficiently to better meet the needs of Soviet citizens by adopting elements of liberal economics. [4] The process of implementing perestroika created shortages, political, social, and economic tensions within the Soviet Union and is often blamed for the political ascent of nationalism and nationalist political parties in the constituent republics. Perestroika and its associated structural ailments have been cited as major catalysts leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. [5]

Economic reforms

In May 1985, Gorbachev gave a speech in Leningrad in which he admitted the slowing of economic development, and inadequate living standards. [6]

The program was furthered at the 27th Congress of the Communist Party in Gorbachev's report to the congress, in which he spoke about "perestroika", "uskoreniye", "human factor", "glasnost", and "expansion of the khozraschyot" (commercialization).

During the initial period (1985–87) of Mikhail Gorbachev's time in power, he talked about modifying central planning but did not make any truly fundamental changes ( uskoreniye ; "acceleration"). Gorbachev and his team of economic advisors then introduced more fundamental reforms, which became known as perestroika (restructuring).

At the June 1987 plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), Gorbachev presented his "basic theses", which laid the political foundation of economic reform for the remainder of the existence of the Soviet Union.

In July 1987, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union passed the Law on State Enterprise. [7] The law stipulated that state enterprises were free to determine output levels based on demand from consumers and other enterprises. Enterprises had to fulfill state orders, but they could dispose of the remaining output as they saw fit. However, at the same time the state still held control over the means of production for these enterprises, thus limiting their ability to enact full-cost accountability. Enterprises bought input from suppliers at negotiated contract prices. Under the law, enterprises became self-financing; that is, they had to cover expenses (wages, taxes, supplies, and debt service) through revenues. No longer was the government to rescue unprofitable enterprises that could face bankruptcy. Finally, the law shifted control over the enterprise operations from ministries to elected workers' collectives. Gosplan's (Russian : Госуда́рственный комите́т по планированию; Gosudarstvenniy komitet po planirovaniyu; "State Committee for Planning") responsibilities were to supply general guidelines and national investment priorities, not to formulate detailed production plans.

The Law on Cooperatives, enacted in May 1988, [8] was perhaps the most radical of the economic reforms during the early part of the Gorbachev era.[ citation needed ] For the first time since Vladimir Lenin's New Economic Policy was abolished in 1928, the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the services, manufacturing, and foreign-trade sectors. The law initially imposed high taxes and employment restrictions, but it later revised these to avoid discouraging private-sector activity. Under this provision, cooperative restaurants, shops, and manufacturers became part of the Soviet scene.

Gorbachev brought perestroika to the Soviet Union's foreign economic sector with measures that Soviet economists considered bold at that time.[ citation needed ] His programme virtually eliminated the monopoly that the Ministry of Foreign Trade had once held on most trade operations. It permitted the ministries of the various industrial and agricultural branches to conduct foreign trade in sectors under their responsibility, rather than having to operate indirectly through the bureaucracy of trade ministry organizations. In addition, regional and local organizations and individual state enterprises were permitted to conduct foreign trade. This change was an attempt to redress a major imperfection in the Soviet foreign trade regime: the lack of contact between Soviet end users and suppliers and their foreign partners.

The most significant of Gorbachev's reforms in the foreign economic sector allowed foreigners to invest in the Soviet Union in the form of joint ventures with Soviet ministries, state enterprises, and cooperatives. The original version of the Soviet Joint Venture Law, which went into effect in June 1987, limited foreign shares of a Soviet venture to 49 percent and required that Soviet citizens occupy the positions of chairman and general manager. After potential Western partners complained, the government revised the regulations to allow majority foreign ownership and control. Under the terms of the Joint Venture Law, the Soviet partner supplied labor, infrastructure, and a potentially large domestic market. The foreign partner supplied capital, technology, entrepreneurial expertise, and in many cases, products and services of world competitive quality.

Gorbachev's economic changes did not do much to restart the country's sluggish economy in the late 1980s. The reforms decentralised things to some extent, although price controls remained, as did the rouble's inconvertibility and most government controls over the means of production.

By 1990, the government had virtually lost control over economic conditions. Government spending increased sharply as an increasing number of unprofitable enterprises required state support and consumer price subsidies continued. Tax revenues declined because republic and local governments withheld tax revenues from the central government under the growing spirit of regional autonomy. The elimination of central control over production decisions, especially in the consumer goods sector, led to the breakdown in traditional supply-demand relationships without contributing to the formation of new ones. Thus, instead of streamlining the system, Gorbachev's decentralisation caused new production bottlenecks.[ citation needed ]

Comparison with China

Perestroika and Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms have similar origins but very different effects on their respective countries' economies. Both efforts occurred in large socialist countries attempting to liberalise their economies, but while China's GDP has grown consistently since the late 1980s (albeit from a much lower level), national GDP in the USSR and in many of its successor states fell precipitously throughout the 1990s. [9] Gorbachev's reforms were gradualist and maintained many of the macroeconomic aspects of the command economy (including price controls, inconvertibility of the rouble, exclusion of private property ownership, and the government monopoly over most means of production).[ citation needed ]

Reform was largely focused on industry and on cooperatives, and a limited role was given to the development of foreign investment and international trade. Factory managers were expected to meet state demands for goods, but to find their own funding. Perestroika reforms went far enough to create new bottlenecks in the Soviet economy but arguably did not go far enough to effectively streamline it.[ citation needed ]

Chinese economic reform was, by contrast, a bottom-up attempt at reform, focusing on light industry and agriculture (namely allowing peasants to sell produce grown on private holdings at market prices).[ citation needed ] Economic reforms were fostered through the development of "Special Economic Zones", designed for export and to attract foreign investment, municipally managed Township and Village Enterprises and a "dual pricing" system leading to the steady phasing out of state-dictated prices. [10] Greater latitude was given to managers of state-owned factories, while capital was made available to them through a reformed banking system and through fiscal policies (in contrast to the fiscal anarchy and fall in revenue experienced by the Soviet government during perestroika). Perestroika was expected to lead to results such as market pricing and privately sold produce, but the Union dissolved before advanced stages were reached.[ citation needed ]

Another fundamental difference is that where perestroika was accompanied by greater political freedoms under Gorbachev's glasnost policies, Chinese economic reform has been accompanied by continued authoritarian rule and a suppression of political dissidents, most notably at Tiananmen Square. Gorbachev acknowledges this difference but has always maintained that it was unavoidable and that perestroika would have been doomed to defeat and revanchism by the nomenklatura without glasnost, because conditions in the Soviet Union were not identical to those in China. [11] Gorbachev had lived through the era in which the attempted reforms by Khrushchev, limited as they were, were rolled back under Brezhnev and other pro-totalitarian conservatives, and he could clearly see that the same could happen again without glasnost to allow broad oppositional pressure against the nomenklatura. Gorbachev cited a line from a 1986 newspaper article that he felt encapsulated this reality: "The apparatus broke Khrushchev's neck and the same thing will happen now." [12]

Another difference is that Soviet Union faced strong secession threats from its ethnic regions and a primacy challenge by the RSFSR. Gorbachev's extension of regional autonomy removed the suppression from existing ethnic-regional tension, while Deng's reforms did not alter the tight grip of the central government on any of their so-called autonomous regions. The Soviet Union's dual nature, part supranational union of republics and part unitary state, played a part in the difficulty of controlling the pace of restructuring, especially once the new Russian Communist Party was formed and posed a challenge to the primacy of the CPSU. Gorbachev described this process as a "parade of sovereignties" and identified it as the factor that most undermined the gradualism of restructuring and the preservation of the Soviet Union. This caused a situation in the USSR whose closest analog would be if English sovereignty undermined that of the United Kingdom at a time when the entire UK society and economy was under significant stress and reform, or if North China had a party and state emerge as a challenge to the CCP and PRC during Deng's reforms.

Perestroika and glasnost

One of the final important measures taken on the continuation of the movement was a report from the central committee meeting of the CPSU titled "On Reorganization and the Party's Personnel Policy". [13] This report was in such high demand in Prague and Berlin that many people could not get a copy. One effect was the abrupt demand for Russian dictionaries in order to understand the content of Gorbachev's report. [ citation needed ]

The biggest weapons used during Perestroika was Glasnost as a Political Weapon. For the last fifty years, the USSR was a bureaucracy that needed restructuring and Gorbachev saw it needed to shift towards conservative. It was said that the theory of glasnost is perceived as being Leninist, in reference to Leninist socialism. In an interview with Miezeslaw Rakowski he states the success of perestroika was impossible without glasnost. [14]

The role of the West in Perestroika

During the 1980s and 1990s the United States President George H. W. Bush pledged solidarity with Gorbachev, but never brought his administration into supporting Gorbachev's reform. In fact, "no bailout for Gorbachev" was a consistent policy line of the Bush Administration, further demonstrating the lack of true support from the West. President Bush had a financial policy to aid perestroika that was shaped by a minimalist approach, foreign-policy convictions that set Bush up against other U.S. internal affairs, and a frugal attitude, all influencing his unwillingness to aid Gorbachev. Other factors influenced the West's lack of aid as well like "the in-house Gorbi-skeptics" advocacy, the expert community's consensus about the undesirability of rushing U.S. aid to Gorbachev, and strong opposition to any bailout at many levels, including foreign-policy conservatives, the U.S. Congress, and the American public at large. The West seemed to miss an opportunity to help reform the Soviet regime into a more democracy-like society. The Soviets aided in the expansion of Western capitalism to allow for an inflow of Western investments, but the perestroika managers failed. President Bush had the opportunity to aid the Soviet Union in a chance to improve their government, like Harry S. Truman did for Western Europe.

Early on, as perestroika was getting under way, I felt like the West might come along and find it a sensible thing to do—easing Russia's difficult transition from totalitarianism to democracy. What I had in mind in the Preface iv first place, was the participation [of the West] in conversion of defense industries, the modernization of light and food industries, and Russia's inclusion on an equal-member footing in the frameworks of the international economic relations ... [U]nlike some democrats, I did not expect "manna from Heaven," but counted on the Western statesmen to use their common sense. [15]

President George H.W. Bush continued to dodge helping the Russians and the President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel, laid bare the linkage for the Americans in his address to a joint session of Congress on February 21, 1990:

... I often hear the question: How can the United States of America help us today? My reply is as paradoxical as the whole of my life has been: You can help us most of all if you help the Soviet Union on its irreversible, but immensely complicated road to democracy. ...[T]he sooner, the more quickly, and the more peacefully the Soviet Union begins to move along the road toward genuine political pluralism, respect for the rights of nations to their own integrity and to a working—that is a market—economy, the better it will be, not just for Czechs and Slovaks, but for the whole world.

When the United States needed help with Germany's reunification, Gorbachev proved to be instrumental in bringing solutions to the "German problem" and Bush acknowledged that "Gorbachev was moving the USSR in the right direction". Bush, in his own words, even gave praise to Gorbachev "to salute the man" in acknowledgment of the Soviet leader's role as "the architect of perestroika ... [who had] conducted the affairs of the Soviet Union with great restraint as Poland and Czechoslovakia and GDR ... and other countries [that had] achieved their independence", and who was "under extraordinary pressure at home, particularly on the economy."

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

History of the Soviet Union (1982–1991) aspect of history

The history of the Soviet Union from 1982 through 1991 spans the period from Leonid Brezhnev's death and funeral until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Due to the years of Soviet military buildup at the expense of domestic development, economic growth stagnated. Failed attempts at reform, a standstill economy, and the success of the United States against the Soviet Union's forces in the war in Afghanistan led to a general feeling of discontent, especially in the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe.

In the Russian language the word Glasnost has several general and specific meanings. It has been used in Russian to mean "openness and transparency" since at least the end of the eighteenth century.

Mikhail Gorbachev 20th-century General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991. He was also the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and president of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he initially adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a federal sovereign state in northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, in practice its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centers were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometers (4,500 mi) north to south. Its territory included much of Eastern Europe, as well as part of Northern Europe and all of Northern and Central Asia. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Yegor Ligachyov Soviet politician

Yegor Kuzmich Ligachyov is a Soviet politician who was a high-ranking official in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

Nikolai Ryzhkov Soviet official and a Russian politician

Nikolai Ivanovich Ryzhkov is a former Soviet official who became a Russian politician following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He served as the last Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Responsible for the cultural and economic administration of the Soviet Union during the late Gorbachev Era, Ryzhkov was succeeded as premier by Valentin Pavlov in 1991. The same year, he lost his seat on the Presidential Council, going on to become Boris Yeltsin's leading opponent in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) 1991 presidential election.

The Era of Stagnation was the period in the history of the Soviet Union that began during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev (1964–1982) and continued under Yuri Andropov (1982–1984) and Konstantin Chernenko (1984–1985). The term "Era of Stagnation" was coined by Mikhail Gorbachev in order to describe the negative way in which he viewed the economic, political, and social policies of the period.

Microeconomic reform comprises policies directed to achieve improvements in economic efficiency, either by eliminating or reducing distortions in individual sectors of the economy or by reforming economy-wide policies such as tax policy and competition policy with an emphasis on economic efficiency, rather than other goals such as equity or employment growth.

Demokratizatsiya was a slogan introduced by Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1987 calling for the infusion of "democratic" elements into the Soviet Union's single-party government. Gorbachev's Demokratizatsiya meant the introduction of multi-candidate—though not multiparty—elections for local Communist Party (CPSU) officials and Soviets. In this way, he hoped to rejuvenate the party with progressive personnel who would carry out his institutional and policy reforms. The CPSU would retain sole custody of the ballot box.

Uskoreniye was a slogan and a policy announced by Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on 20 April 1985 at a Soviet Party Plenum, aimed at the acceleration of political, social and economic development of the Soviet Union. It was the first slogan of a set of reforms that also included perestroika (restructuring), glasnost (transparency), new political thinking, and demokratizatsiya (democratization).

500 Days Program was an ambitious program to overcome the economic crisis in the Soviet Union by means of transition into market economy.

The Law on Cooperatives was a major economic reform implemented in the Soviet Union during General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost reforms. It was implemented in May 1988, allowed for independent worker-owned cooperatives to operate in the Soviet Union, as opposed to just state-owned enterprises, and gave guidelines as to how these cooperatives should be managed. While originally the law imposed high taxes and restrictions on employment, it was eventually revised so as not to discourage activity within the private sector.

Abel Aganbegyan economist

Abel Gyozevich Aganbegyan is a leading Soviet and Russian economist of Armenian descent, a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and an honorary doctor of business administration of Kingston University, the founder and first editor of the journal EKO.

Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania

The Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania or Act of March 11 was an independence declaration by Lithuania adopted on March 11, 1990, signed by all members of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania led by Sąjūdis. The act emphasized restoration and legal continuity of the interwar-period Lithuania, which was occupied by the USSR and lost independence in June 1940. It was the first time that an occupied state declared independence from the dissolving Soviet Union.

Marshall Irwin Goldman was an expert on the economy of the former Soviet Union. Goldman was a Professor of Economics at Wellesley College and Associate Director of the Harvard Russian Research Center. Goldman received his Ph.D. in Russian studies from Harvard University in 1961. Goldman was well known for his study of the career of Mikhail Gorbachev. His books on the former Soviet Union include The USSR in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System, Lost Opportunity: What Has Made Economic Reform in Russia So Difficult, and Petrostate.

Privatization in Russia

Privatization in Russia describes the series of post-Soviet reforms that resulted in large-scale privatization of Russia's state-owned assets, particularly in the industrial, energy, and financial sectors. Most privatization took place in the early and mid-1990s under Boris Yeltsin, who assumed the presidency following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and collapse of Russia's controlled economy, a new Russian Federation was created under Boris Yeltsin in 1991. The Russian Federation had multiple economic reforms, including privatization and market and trade liberalization, due to collapse of communism. Though the economy is much more stable compared to the early 1990s, inflation still remains an issue for Russia.

The Government of the Soviet Union, formally the All-Union Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, commonly abbreviated to Soviet Government, was the executive and administrative organ of state in the former Soviet Union. It had three different names throughout its existence; Council of People's Commissars (1923–1946) and the Council of Ministers (1946–1991).

History of the Soviet Union Aspect of history

The history of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union reflects a period of change for both Russia and the world. Though the terms "Soviet Russia" and "Soviet Union" often are synonymous in everyday speech, when referring to the foundations of the Soviet Union, "Soviet Russia" properly refers to the few years between the October Revolution of 1917 and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

New political thinking was the doctrine put forth by Mikhail Gorbachev as part of his reforms of the Soviet Union. Its major elements were ideologization of international politics, abandoning the concept of class struggle, priority of universal human interests over the interests of any class, increasing interdependence of the world, mutual security based on political rather than military instruments, which constituted a significant shift from the previous principles of the Soviet foreign politics.

References

  1. Professor Gerhard Rempel, Department of History, Western New England College (1996-02-02). "Gorbachev and Perestroika". Mars.wnec.edu. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-31.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Katrina vanden Heuvel & Stephen F. Cohen. (November 16, 2009). "Gorbachev on 1989". Thenation.com. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012.
  3. "Горбачев объяснил необходимость перестройки" [Gorbachev explained the need for perestroika]. UDF.BY (in Russian). Lenta Ru. November 12, 2019. Archived from the original on January 12, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  4. Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika (New York: Harper Collins, 1987), quoted in Mark Kishlansky, ed., Sources of the West: Readings in Western Civilization, 4th ed., vol. 2 (New York: Longman, 2001), p. 322.
  5. Kotkin, Stephen (2001). Armageddon Averted . Oxford University Press.
  6. "Leningrad under Gorbachev: Perestroika and the fall of Communism (1984-1991)".
  7. Bill, Keller (1987-06-04). "New struggle in the Kremlin: How to change the economy". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  8. Brooks, Karen M. (1988). The Law on Cooperatives, Retail Food Prices, and the Farm Financial Crisis in the U.S.S.R. (PDF). University of Minnesota. Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Retrieved on 14 August 2009.
  9. "IMF World Economic Outlook Database April 2006". International Monetary Fund. 2003-04-29. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  10. Susan L. Shirk in The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China, University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1993. ISBN   0-520-07706-7.
  11. Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeevich (1996), Memoirs, Doubleday, pp.  494–495, ISBN   9780385480192.
  12. Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeevich (1996), Memoirs, Doubleday, p.  188, ISBN   9780385480192.
  13. Gidadhubli, R. G. (1987, May 02). Perestroika and glasnost. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/4376986
  14. McForan, D.W.J. (Autumn 1988). "Glasnost, Democracy, and Perestroika". International Social Science Review. 63 (4): 166. JSTOR   41881835.
  15. LaFeber, Walter (2002). America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-2000. New York, New York: McGraw Hill.
Preceded by
Brezhnev stagnation
History of Russia
History of the Soviet Union

10 March 1985 – 25 December 1991
Succeeded by
Dissolution of the USSR
In Russia:
Yeltsinism