Perestroika (/ˌpɛrəˈstrɔɪkə/; Russian: Перестро́йка, IPA: [pʲɪrʲɪˈstrojkə] (listen)) was a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s and 1990s 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.
Perestroika allowed more independent actions from various ministries and introduced some market-like reforms. The 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. The process of implementing perestroika arguably exacerbated already existing political, social, and economic tensions within the Soviet Union and is often blamed for furthering 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.
In May 1985, Gorbachev gave a speech in Leningrad in which he admitted the slowing of economic development, and inadequate living standards. This was the first time that a Soviet leader had done so.
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. 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, was perhaps the most radical of the economic reforms during the early part of the Gorbachev era. 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. 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 ruble'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.
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 modernize 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. Gorbachev's reforms were gradualist and maintained many of the macroeconomic aspects of the command economy (including price controls, inconvertibility of the ruble, exclusion of private property ownership, and the government monopoly over most means of production).
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.
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). 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. 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.
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. 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."
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.
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". This report was in such high demand in Prague and Berlin that many people could not get a copy. One effect was the sudden demand for Russian dictionaries in order to understand the content of Gorbachev's report.
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.
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."
| History of Russia
History of the Soviet Union
10 March 1985 – 25 December 1991
Dissolution of the USSR
Legislative elections were held in the Russian SFSR on 4 March 1990.
A total of 1,068 deputies were elected to the Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR for a term of five years, 86% of them from the Communist Party, the rest were non-partisan. Parties other than the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) were not formally allowed to participate in the election, however the elections were competitive and the Democratic Russia movement, an organization uniting many opposition political groups, won about 190 seats. The elected Congress began its first session on 16 May. Among the elected deputies from the CPSU was Boris Yeltsin, who was then elected by the Congress as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of RSFSR, effectively the leader of Russia. Many CPSU members, including Yeltsin, subsequently resigned from the CPSU. The CPSU was temporarily banned by Yeltsin in August 1991 in the aftermath of the August Coup, and the CPSU, along with the Soviet Union, collapsed completely by December of the same year.
It was the first and only free election to the Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR. It became the Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Federation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and was dissolved by Yeltsin in October 1993 during the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993 and replaced by the Federal Assembly of Russia.1991 Russian presidential referendum
A referendum on creating the post of President of Russia was held in Russia on 17 March 1991. The referendum was held alongside a referendum of the preservation of USSR. Prior to the referendum, the Russian head of state was the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR, elected by the Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian SFSR. With 71.4% of voters approving the proposal, the post of President of the Russian SFSR was introduced, and two months later Boris Yeltsin was elected as the first president.Alexander Yakovlev (Russian politician)
Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev (Russian: Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Я́ковлев; 2 December 1923 – 18 October 2005) was a Soviet politician and historian. During the 1980s he was a member of the Politburo and Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He was called the "godfather of glasnost" as he is considered to be the intellectual force behind Mikhail Gorbachev's reform program of glasnost and perestroika.
Yakovlev was the first Soviet politician to acknowledge the existence of the secret protocols of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact with Nazi Germany.Angels in America
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is a two-part play by American playwright Tony Kushner. The work won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. Part one of the play premiered in 1991 and its Broadway opening was in 1993.The play is a complex, often metaphorical, and at times symbolic examination of AIDS and homosexuality in America in the 1980s. Certain major and minor characters are supernatural beings (angels) or deceased persons (ghosts). The play contains multiple roles for several of the actors. Initially and primarily focusing on a gay couple in Manhattan, the play also has several other storylines, some of which occasionally intersect.
The two parts of the play are separately presentable and entitled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, respectively. The play has been adapted into an HBO 2003 miniseries of the same title. The Seattle Times listed the series as among "Best of the filmed AIDS portrayals" on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of AIDS.Angels in America (miniseries)
Angels in America is a 2003 American HBO miniseries directed by Mike Nichols and based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play by the same name by Tony Kushner. Set in 1985, the film revolves around six New Yorkers whose lives intersect. At its core, it is the fantastical story of Prior Walter, a gay man living with AIDS who is visited by an angel. The film explores a wide variety of themes, including Reagan era politics, the spreading AIDS epidemic, and a rapidly changing social and political climate.HBO broadcast the film in various formats: two 3-hour chunks that correspond to Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, as well as six 1-hour "chapters" that roughly correspond to an act or two of each of these plays; the first three chapters ("Bad News," "In Vitro," and "The Messenger") were initially broadcast on December 7, 2003, to international acclaim, with the final three chapters ("Stop Moving!" "Beyond Nelly," and "Heaven, I'm in Heaven") following.
Angels in America was the most-watched made-for-cable film in 2003, and earned much critical acclaim and numerous accolades: at the 56th Primetime Emmy Awards, it became the first (and currently only) program in Emmy history to win in every major eligible category, and the second (and to date, last) program to win all four of its eligible acting categories (after 1956's Caesar's Hour). It also won in all five eligible categories at the 61st Golden Globe Awards. In 2006, The Seattle Times listed the series among "Best of the filmed AIDS portrayals" on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of AIDS.Banking in Russia
Banking in Russia is subject to significant regulations as banks in the Russian Federation have to meet mandatory Russian legislation requirements, and comply with numerous Bank of Russia instructions and regulations.Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union
The Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union (Russian: Съезд народных депутатов СССР, translit. Sʺezd narodnykh deputatov SSSR) was the highest body of state authority of the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991.Demokratizatsiya (Soviet Union)
Demokratizatsiya (Russian: Демократизация, IPA: [dʲɪməkrətʲɪˈzatsɨjə], democratization) was a slogan introduced by 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. The slogan of Demokratizatsiya was part of Gorbachev's set of reform programs, including glasnost (increasing public discussion of issues and accessibility of information to the public), officially announced in mid-1986, and uskoreniye, a "speed-up" of economic development. Perestroika (political and economic restructuring), another slogan that became a full-scale campaign in 1987, embraced them all.
By the time he introduced the slogan of Demokratizatsiya, Gorbachev had concluded that implementing his reforms outlined at the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress in February 1986 required more than discrediting the "Old Guard". He changed his strategy from trying to work through the CPSU as it existed and instead embraced a degree of political liberalization. In January 1987, he appealed over the heads of the party to the people and called for democratization.
By the time of the Twenty-Eighth Party Congress in July 1990, it was clear that Gorbachev's reforms came with sweeping, unintended consequences, as nationalities of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union pulled harder than ever to break away from the union and ultimately dismantle the Communist Party.Drug policy of the Soviet Union
The drug policy of the Soviet Union changed little throughout the existence of the state, other than slowly becoming more repressive, although some differences in penalties existed in the different Union Republics. Policies were focused on prohibition and criminalisation, rather than more liberal policies such as harm reduction and the rehabilitation of users and addicts.Glasnost
In the Russian language the word Glasnost (; Russian: гла́сность, IPA: [ˈɡɫasnəsʲtʲ] (listen)) 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.In the Russian Empire of the late-19th century, the term was particularly associated with reforms of the judicial system, ensuring that the press and the public could attend court hearings and that the sentence was read out in public. In the mid-1980s, it was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev as a political slogan for increased government transparency in the Soviet Union.O.C. (rapper)
Omar Credle (born May 13, 1971), better known by his stage name, O.C., is an American rapper and member of the group D.I.T.C., who has been involved with several renowned underground hip hop groups:
Crooklyn Dodgers '95, Luv NY, Perestroika.President of the Soviet Union
The President of the Soviet Union (Russian: Президент Советского Союза, Prezident Sovetskogo Soyuza), officially called President of the USSR (Russian: Президент СССР) or President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russian: Президент Союза Советских Социалистических Республик), was the head of state of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 15 March 1990 to 25 December 1991. Mikhail Gorbachev was the only person to occupy the office. Gorbachev was also General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between March 1985 and August 1991. He derived an increasingly greater share of his power from his position as president until he finally resigned as General Secretary after the 1991 coup d'état attempt.Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation (Russian: реабилитация, transliterated in English as reabilitatsiya or academically rendered as reabilitacija) was a term used in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states. Beginning after the death of Stalin in 1953, the government undertook the political and social restoration, or political rehabilitation, of persons who had been repressed and criminally prosecuted without due basis. It restored the person to the state of acquittal. In many cases, rehabilitation was posthumous, as thousands of victims had been executed or died in labor camps.
The government also rehabilitated several minority populations which it had relocated under Stalin, and allowed them to return to former territories and in some cases restored their autonomy in those regions.Singing Revolution
The Singing Revolution is a commonly used name for events between 1987 and 1991 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The term was coined by an Estonian activist and artist, Heinz Valk, in an article published a week after the 10–11 June 1988, spontaneous mass evening singing demonstrations at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.Supreme Soviet
The Supreme Soviet (Russian: Верховный Совет, Verkhovny Sovet, English: literally "Supreme Council") was the common name for the legislative bodies (parliaments) of the Soviet socialist republics (SSR) in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). These soviets were modeled after the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, established in 1938, and were nearly identical. Soviet-approved delegates to the Supreme Soviets were periodically elected in unopposed elections. The first free or semi-free elections took place during perestroika in late 1980s. The soviets until then were largely rubber-stamp institutions, approving decisions handed to them by the Communist Party of the USSR or of each SSR. The soviets met infrequently (often only twice a year for only several days) and elected the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, a permanent body, to act on their behalf while the soviet was not in session. Under the 1936 and 1977 Soviet Constitutions the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet served as the collective head of state of the USSR.
The Supreme Soviets also elected the Council of Ministers, an executive body. After the dissolution of the USSR in late December 1991, most of these soviets became the legislatures of independent countries.Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash)
The Syrian Communist Party (Arabic: الحزب الشيوعي السوري, translit. Al-Hizb Al-Shuyū'ī Al-Sūrī) is a communist party in Syria. The party emerged from a split in the Syrian Communist Party in 1986, as formed by the anti-Perestroika faction led by Khalid Bakdash. Khalid Bakdash died in 1995 and was succeeded as secretary of his party faction by his widow, Wisal Farha Bakdash.
At the time of the 2000 Damascus Spring, the party was able to publish a newspaper called Sawt al-Shaab ("Voice of the People").Syrian Communist Party (Unified)
The Syrian Communist Party (Unified) (Arabic: الحزب الشيوعي السوري (الموحد)), initially known simply as Syrian Communist Party (الحزب الشيوعي السوري Al-Hizb Al-Shuyū'ī Al-Sūrī), is a communist party in Syria. The party emerged from a split in the Syrian Communist Party in 1986, formed by the pro-Perestroika faction led by Yusuf Faisal.
At the time of the 2000 Damascus Spring, the party was able to publish a newspaper called an-Nour ("The Light").
The 11th party congress, held in March 2011, re-elected Hanin Nimir as First Secretary of the party.Uskoreniye
Uskoreniye (Russian: ускоре́ние, IPA: [ʊskɐˈrʲenʲɪɪ]; literally meaning acceleration) 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 democratisation.
In May 1985, Gorbachev gave a speech in Leningrad, during which he admitted the slowing down of the economic development and inadequacy of living standards. This was the first time in history that a Soviet leader had done so.
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). The acceleration was planned to be based on technical and scientific progress, revamping of heavy industry (in accordance with the Marxian economics postulate about the primacy in development of heavy industry over light industry), taking the "human factor" into account, and increasing the labour discipline and responsibility of apparatchiks. In practice it was implemented with the help of massive monetary emission infused into heavy industry, which further destabilised the economy and in particular brought an enormous disparity between actual cash money and virtual money used in cashless clearings (безналичный расчёт) between enterprises and state and among enterprises.
The politics of mere "acceleration" eventually failed, which was de facto admitted in June 1987 at a Party Plenum, and the "uskoreniye" slogan was phased out in favor of the more ambitious "Perestroika" (restructuring of the whole economy).
Soviet Union topics