JMcD – Gorbachev’s Reformist Policies

By the late 20th century the economy of the Soviet Union was failing due to the global overstretch of its influence, which had meant too much money and resources were being spent to support the governments of the Eastern Bloc.

Because of this, committed communist, Mikhail Gorbachev- upon gaining Soviet leadership in 1985- began to implement new political thinking through his policies of Glasnost and Perestroika (meaning openness, and reconstruction of economy and politics) and as a member of the new generation wished to move away from intervention in third world countries so as to end the suffering of their people’s,as well as the USSR’s.

Perestroika under-pinned Gorbachev’s actions in dismantling the Soviet Style of command economy, placing some areas of industry into private hands, and ending the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. These measures would help to stimulate a growth in the economy and production rates that had previously been declining since 1975, and allow the USSR to transition into the new world from the Stalinist era of oppressive forced work to one of modern Communism, in which democratic aspects were formed to bolster trade and, ultimately, the Soviets’ survival.

Glasnost on the other hand incorporated measures of releasing political prisoners, lenience on the rights of the media and dissolving censorship, granting greater freedoms for those involved in management of industry, and also the replacement of backwards thinking leaders such as Andre Gromyko who had a lack of vision for the Party with modernised forward thinking Communists. In doing so, Gorbachev hoped to reform the Communist reputation for Stalinist government and establish a policy of openness, so as to break down the wall of fear between the Communist Party itself and its people, advancing towards greater freedoms of expression for workers and the media alike.

Despite the fact that Perestroika had a lack of effect because of the amount of time a semi- free market system took to thrive and people found themselves stuck in a worn-out economy, and Glasnost resulted in widespread exposure of government corruption (thus along with further criminal activity), the attempts made by Mikhail Gorbachev represented a significant shift in the perspective of new Communists and abolishment of the tyrannical regime of the Soviet Union that had dominated international affairs of the 20th century. The peaceful agendas of Gorbachev and his willingness to negotiate with foreign superpowers inferred a gradual warming in relations and the beginning of the end to the Cold War.


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