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It was in February 1986 during the 27th congress of CPSU that Mikhail Gorbachev’s ideas of glasnost (openness), perestroika (restructuring), and demokratizatsiya (democratization) were launched. Gorbachev came up with the ideas with a key focus on the economy.
The main reason for doing this was to improve the soviet’s economy, which all along had been poor as it had no signs of growth (Gibbs, 1999, p.1). To him, success in all his attempts could not be realized if social and political reforms were to be left out. In fact, efforts to bring such reforms began immediately. Gorbachev’s ideas had several impacts on the communist society and the soviet economy in general.
Impacts of Gorbachev’s idea
Glasnost encouraged freedom of speech and expression in the society. Freedom of speech was critical towards ensuring great awareness was raised concerning the shortcomings and strengths of the Soviet Union as compared to the past where information was held in secret.
It was under this principle of openness that people talked freely against communism and spoke positively about democratization. Democratization on the other hand had an effect of undermining not only CPSU power but also, Gorbachev’s power. A feeling for nationalism was raised in several parts of the Soviet Union where a number of riots were staged up.
Restructuring both the social and political arena had its own outcome. One profound change consisted in encouraging free markets and appointment of non- ruling party members into the government. The three changes had the great impact of turning U.S.S.R from communism to a democratic union. All the gains were registered because the members realized the positives of democracy.
Gorbachev believed that moving from traditional command to market economy would see the economy improve greatly. To him, Perestroika and Glasnost would favor this a great deal.
His principles were incompatible with collectivization and command economy. Adjusting to the new reforms was quite difficult and the traditional communists were not ready to adopt them. Lack of support from the commoners and the leaders led to very slight changes in the economy. To the leaders, introduction of such reforms would compromise standards and doctrine of the communist.
The idea of dismissing some of the workers from the factories in order to cut down on cost was not received warmly. Because Glasnost had been effected and gave people freedom to express themselves, the dismissed workers engaged into open protests. Factory managers, equally, did not understand the new policies of the government on the same matter. Consequently, they continued to oppress workers.
Contrary to the initial aim of Gorbachev ending communism and introducing democracy, his three principles led U.S.S.R into capitalism (Gibbs, 1999, p. 2). It is during this era that the Russian economy collapsed and even up to date it has never picked. Therefore, Gorbachev’s idea did not work; instead, it led to an economic turmoil in the Soviet Union. Apart from the economic turn down, U.S.S.R as a state ceased to exist.
Gorbachev’s efforts were opposed strongly; in fact, bureaucrats, apparatchiks and unemployed caused a lot of delay in the achievement of his aim. Gorbachev was greatly blamed for all the problems that the country faced at the time (Namiesniowski, 1994). The fact that he did not get support from other leaders is further demonstrated by his arrest and detention.
In conclusion, not all of Gorbachev’s efforts to improve the country’s economy bore much fruits. At first, all things seemed to work out well and people embraced the idea of openness and democratization. Contrary to the expectation, the country’s economy deteriorated. A lot of awakening among laborers happened and the country faced many open protests. His three changes, that is, openness, democratization and restructuring had diverse effects on the economy and the communist society.
Gibbs, J. (1999). Gorbachev’s Glasnost: The Soviet Media in the First Phase of Perestroika. Texas: A&M University Press
Namiesniowski, C. (1994). Commentary No. 41: Russia – An Odyssey of Change. Web.