The Stalinist regime of communist Russia was considered the country’s most defining moment. Russia turned into a strict country full of fear and full of failure. After the death of Lenin, Joseph Stalin did not waste anytime in basically turning the country upside down. With his reforms in agriculture by collectivized farming, the industry through the creation of more capital, and the party members through his purges, Stalin knew what he was doing and where he was taking the Soviet Union. However, through the failures of his ideas, and overall failure of Stalin himself, the Soviet Union was doomed to begin with. With the death of Stalin in 1953, the country turned upside down must be corrected or would end in peril. The Soviet Union immediately saw the beginning of anti-Stalin reform policies in order to revive the country (Pipes, 1995). The origin of the anti-Stalin ideas were initiated due to the repeated failures of Stalin programs. Collectivized farming was a disaster due to its inefficiency and of course to famine. The country of Russia was living in a state of fear, because if you are not with them, you were against them. The purges of Stalin did not hesitate to remove anyone who opposed his leadership and the communist party. Labor lamps were unsuccessful and were the cause of deaths of thousands of Russians across the country. With the way things were going in Russia, things needed to change. With the death of Stalin’s in 1953, the politburo chose a man by the name of Nikita Khrushchev as their party leader.
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Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was the leader of the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. Khrushchev was the new person and a safe choice for the party. Being agriculturally inclined official, Krushchev immediately went to work and began his reform that would undo the work of Stalin. Through the origins of the ideas of Nikita Krushchev, Russia continued to undo the great misfortune and struggle that Stalin had imposed on the country.
Krushchev first took a plan of attack on agriculture. He sought to lower taxes and higher prices for peasants as well as use unused land like Virgin lands is in order to increase their produce. Although Khrushchev’s reforms affection only very small sector of the household plots, these changes produce rapid and dramatic economic result. With this farming changes laid down, the rest of the anti-Stalin reforms were on their way and would only be a matter of time until finally Russia will cease to be communist. Another important reform from the way things were dealt with housing. During Stalin’s reign, housing was a major crisis. In order to increase housing expansion, Krushchev ordered that new methods of prefabrication are used. Krushchev did not only help the housing conditions but as well as the road highways to raise the low standard of living. Khrushchev was always looking towards the west in order to help his country. With his increased admiration, Khrushchev improved relations with America and in time finally ended the cold war that Stalin had started.
However, along with the economy and the ordinary citizen, the biggest problem that Stalin created was during the great purges. Stalin indicated and murdered thousands of Russians that would dare to defy his power. Although Khrushchev understood the terror that Stalin had done, and wanted to explain what went wrong and in order to accomplish what he wanted to do, he made a Secret Speech that was very vague but did not get the job done. Now that the Stalin’s mistakes were out in the open, correcting them would only be a matter of time. Khrushchev failed his leadership that is why a coup went underway and removed him from his position. But still, his contributions to the anti-Stalin reformation serve as a cornerstone to a movement that would successfully change the Soviet Union.
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union. As the last communist leader, he was the key reformer to finally reconfiguring the country of Russia (Taubman, 2000). Gorbachev took great strides in reforming the once Stalinist Russia. Gorbachev set out to restructure Russian and also try and better its Socialistic problems. People were simply corrupt and bribed each other to get what they want. Instead of siding with the political party, people just wanted to sit and do nothing. They were apathetic and wanted nothing to do with the party. Gorbachev came to Russia during a prolonged state of idleness, and brought radical economic reforms with the Law on Cooperatives. This forms of new economic policy permitted private ownership of businesses in all sectors. Gorbachev is also reliant on giving the people of Russia more freedom in speech with glasnost and openness. With this greater freedom of speech, the press finally did not have a leash and political prisoners were freed. Slowly the nuts and bolts that held the ideals of a Stalin Soviet Union were falling apart. Gorbachev then set to out to introduce perestroika and restructuring to Russia. By allowing market regulators and breaking up central planning, this planning almost introduces a type of economy that is very similar to that of capitalistic society. People were encouraged to make better goods to sell. Gorbachev set out the goal of efficiency through competition. If people had to compete each other to survive, than the better and more efficient the products will be made. In foreign policy, Gorbachev like Khrushchev set also better relations with the west. Gorbachev officially ended the Cold war with the United States. He also improved foreign relations by demanding Eastern Europe to reform and stands on their own. Gorbachev also pulled out Afghanistan and reduced aid to Cuba in order to cut back on foreign commitments that were a waste of both time and money.
The Rise and fall of Soviet Union
The Russian state has been characterized by its strong heritage of powerful, autocratic leadership. This denomination by small ruling elite has been seen throughout Russia’s history and has transferred into its economic history. Russia has been a country marked by strong central state planning, a strict command economy and an overall weak market infrastructure To this day, Russia still struggles with creating a competitive and fair market. The Russian people’s unwavering belief in their rulers eventually evolved into a docile acquiescence. The Russian people were happy with their leaders as long as they could survive. Even if there was blatant corruption. The last few years of the legacy of communism and the Soviet Union were characterized by the widespread struggle for the sovereignty and autonomy among the nations under the Soviet Union, political tension and upheaval, and deep political battle for power between Gorbachev and Yeltsin (Remnick, 1994). Gorbachev wanted to improve the system he inherited while Yeltsin wanted to destroy that very system. The Russia which Yeltsin inherited had enormous deficit, an erratic currency, a sharp drop in foreign trade and many people dealing with the reality of starvation. Russia during this time period was messy and misguided. Privatization in Russia was inefficient, general little revenue and left those who needed the most help even further into poverty. To uproot the entrenched economic stagnation and depression in his county, Yeltsin consulted a liberal economic advisor, and that advisor was chosen by the name of Anatoly Chubias who become the First Deputy Prime Minister. Although Chubias had a strong belief in the market, his actual experience with the market and private ownership was extremely limited. Chubias was the most integral person in pushing the Russian privatization movement and constructing the semblance of a market which Russia soon had. Chubias did succeed in his most important goal, ensuring the Communist Party did not regain power in Russia. His political goal of ensuring that the Communist Party will not have a rebirth in Russia, thus a mixture of lackluster and hollow economic reform along with the reelection of Yeltsin paved the way for the emergence of the Russian oligarchs. Before oligarchs became prominent players in the society of Russia, polls showed that Yeltsin’s communist opponent Gennady Zyuganov was the popular favorite. The oligarchs acted more out of self-interest than actual adamant support for Yeltsin. The oligarchs supported Yeltsin because he was the candidate who would actually ensure that they received all of the enterprise and assets they had amassed.
Yeltsin believed greatly in the importance of loyalty and believed that the oligarchs showed great loyalty to him by helping him succeed in his re-election. The oligarchs also played a part many of the political shifts and changes within the Yeltsin regime. Yeltsin routinely made many efforts to appease and support those loyal oligarchs who had helped him earlier. With the help of the oligarchs, Yeltsin retained his position as a President of Russia. The intense affluence of the oligarchs only continued to burgeon under the final years of Yeltsin.
Throughout the history, especially during the seventy years of communism, the people of Russia believed in their strong leaders and did not question the motives or actions of these individuals (Solzhenitsyn, 1956). The priorities of the state were always greater than that of any individual. Those who did act against the state were considered anti-Russian and were dealt accordingly. Following the fall of Soviet Union, Russia jumpstarted it’s transition from communism and command way of life to a more and free market lifestyle. The idea of capitalist reforms had a polarizing affect on both the people and elite Russia. The Russia which Yeltsin inherited after the rule of Gorbachev had enormous deficit, an erratic currency, a sharp drop in foreign trade and many people dealing with the reality of starvation. Expectations for Yeltsin’s new Russia were high, and many Russians had hope in Yeltsin and his liberal economic plans.
The oligarchs came to be known as the concentrated centralized economic class of corrupt men who took advantage of Yeltsins privatization movement. These economic elite ascended to power during Yeltsin’s terms. The intense influence of oligarchs only continued to burgeon under the final years of Yeltsin’s term. The oligarchs did not only maintain dominance in their empires, they made sure that their competition was wiped out. The oligarchs worked along with the government to overpower and overtake many weak, small Russian businesses and turn them into integral portion of their empires. (Hoffman, 2002). Oligarchs have actually become symbols of success in the post communist Russia to many people, especially among young children (Pravda, 2004). Conclusively, the fate of both policies of Khrushchev and Gorbachev and the leaders that were in between them came out on top in reforming the policies of the Stalinist Russia. Although there were bumps on the road to reformation, the ideals that these two party commanders laid down, set the path for the way Russia is today. Russia still conflicted with corruption and economic problems would have still been undergone with terror if it weren’t for Khrushchev and Gorbachev.
Pipes, Richard. A Concise History of the Russian Revolution. New York: United States by Vintage Books, 1995.
Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man in his Era. Yale University: Library of Congress Cataloging-in Publication Data, 2000.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: First Vintage Books Edition, 1994.
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Gulag Archipelago Volume One. New York: Harper & Row, 1956.
Hoffman, David. The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power of Russia. Travel with Longitude 1997. New York: 2004. Web.
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Pravda. Oligarchs in Russia: Neither Love nor Hatred. 2004. News from Russia Pravda. Web.