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LEONID BREZHNEV

LEONID BREZHNEV

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LEONID BREZHNEV

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  1. LEONID BREZHNEV • Coalition that brought down Khrushchev included anti-Stalinists and diehard Stalinists • Settled on compromise successor in Brezhnev • Bland enough to be acceptable to both groups

  2. PROFILE OF BREZHNEV • Born in 1906 • First leader to have been too young to participate in 1917 Revolution • Belonged to generation of communists who made their careers as party bureaucrats • Trained as an engineer • Climbed ladder as protégé of Khrushchev • Imposing and conventional • Would hold power for nearly 20 years despite declining health during last decade of his life

  3. SOCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT • Brezhnev brought Soviet society closer to Western societies • Population became more urban • 66% of people lived in urban areas by 1968 • Industrial development • 12-15% annual growth rate continued into the 1970s • Soviet Union became world’s leading producer of oil, iron ore, steel, and chemical fertilizers by 1970 • Profits invested in the military • Arms expenditures increase by annual rate of 4% between 1964 and 1976 • Allowed Soviet Union to achieve nuclear parity with U.S. and superiority in naval strength

  4. CONSUMER PRODUCTS • Eighth Five-Year Plan (1966-1970) and Ninth Five-Year Plan (1971-1975) emphasized consumer production • 50 million apartments built between 1966-1975 • By 1980, 75% of all families in Moscow had their own apartments • By 1983, 83% of families had a television, 82% had refrigerators, and 58% had a washing machine • But only 25% had a car and country had fewer phones than France and fewer miles of paved roads than Texas

  5. REPRESSION CONTINUES • Brezhnev’s rule can be described as Neo-Stalinist • First political trial of an intellectual since 1953 held in 1966 • Alexander Solzhenitsyn forbidden from accepting Nobel Prize in literature in 1970 and forced into exile in 1974 • Impromptu open-air art exhibit demolished by bulldozers in 1974 • Andrei Sakharov exiled for speaking out against war in Afghanistan in 1980 Sakharov Solzhenitsyn

  6. SELF-PERPETUATING ELITE • Brezhnev never interested in mass support or popularity • Viewed shared by the bureaucratic oligarchy of top Party officials • His real source of support • A self-perpetuating elite • Soviet society had fewer chances for social mobility than Western societies • Only 11% of Soviet young people went to college • Children of top party officials and factory managers were five times more likely to go to college than children of ordinary people • They thus continued to enjoy privileges of the elite

  7. BREZHNEV’S SORRY LEGACY • Unscrupulous officials gathered around Brezhnev who used their connections and power to amass tremendous wealth for themselves • Often simply through embezzlement • Meanwhile, economic growth began to slow down and stagnated by 1976 • Mainly because of huge military expenditures • Soviet workers felt powerless and manipulated • Brezhnev’s legacy was the impulse to cynical self-gratification

  8. DEATH OF BREZHNEV • Quality of Soviet life actually began to decline by 1980s • Brezhnev responds by refusing to face the problem • Brezhnev dies in 1982 • Replaced by Yuri Andropov • Dies in year and a half • Followed by Constantine Chernyenko • Died within a year Andropov Chernyenko

  9. MIKHAIL GORBACHEV • Mikhail Gorbachev elected General Secretary in March 1985 at age 54 • Had worked his way up in CP youth organization and studied law the University of Moscow • Both grandfathers had been arrested under false charges during Stalin era • Charming, flexible, and determined • Master of CP politics • Knew that fundamental reforms, ones in which Soviet people would actively participate, were necessary • Spoke opening of failure of economic planning • But was convinced that communism could be rescued by reforms, once the inefficiency and brutality of Stalinism had been eliminated

  10. BIG ECONOMIC PROBLEMS • Soviet Union no longer keeping up with tremendous pace of economic and technological change of the 1980s • Problem was that only 5% of its GNP came from international trade • Raw materials that USSR exported suffered from depressed prices • How could they generate revenue needed to buy necessary technology? • Soviet manufactured products not competitive in world market • Poor quality because Soviet factories were out-of-date and workmanship was poor • High rates of absenteeism, alcoholism, and worker turnover

  11. GORBY’S DILEMMA • For the USSR to improve productivity, it had to acquire new technology and provide greater incentives to a workforce that wanted, but couldn’t afford, sophisticated consumer products • But how could the USSR do this and simultaneously keep up in the arms race, retool its factories, and improved its underdeveloped transportation network? • USSR was caught in a vicious circle • It needed greater investment and greater incentives to stimulate greater productivity. • But as long as productivity remained low, the Soviet economy could not generate the resources for greater investment and more incentives

  12. NEW POLICIES • To break vicious circle, Gorbachev launched: • Perestroika (“restructuring”) • Economic revolution • Glasnost (“openess”) • Re-examination of Soviet history and encouragement of public discussion in an unprecedented way • Teach Soviet citizens to understand their relationship with the government in a new way

  13. PERESTROIKA • Not a complete abandonment of socialism • State continued to own factories and set broad economic targets • But role of huge planning bureaucracy was targeted for huge reduction • Managers told they would be responsible for their own finances • No longer receive subsidies • No more subsidies to keep prices on consumer goods artificially low • 50% of service sector and 20% of consumer industry turned over to private ownership • Begin to reverse collectivization • Work to attract foreign investment

  14. GLASNOST • Gorbachev knew that the way to make USSR a more productive society was to make it a more open society • Every subject that had formerly been taboo was now openly discussed • Gorbachev stated Stalin’s guilt in the horrors of the Great Purge and collectivization • Public officials subjected to tough questions • Documentaries probed damaging effects of long war in Afghanistan • Environmentalists stated sit-ins to prevent destruction of historic buildings

  15. MIXED REACTION TO GLASNOST • Reaction of ordinary people to glasnost was mixed • Many older people resented attacks on Stalin • Soviet conservatives saw talk about multi-party democracy and the right to emigrate as evidence of social decay • Insisted that freedom in Russia always led to anarchy and that Russia needed a strong master

  16. RACE AGAINST TIME • Gorbachev insists on multiple candidates and voting by secret ballot for factory managers and members of parliament • Knew that his program would provoke obstruction of Soviet power structure • Wanted to win wide popular support before unrest with short-run hardships caused by his reforms and resistance of the bureaucracy doomed his plans to failure

  17. PROBLEMS WITH PERESTROIKA • Perestroika did create economic hardships • Less planned economy meant higher prices and rising unemployment • Soviet people had been taught that socialism would protect them from high prices and unemployment • Also resented new class of entrepreneurs • Finally, reforms did not dramatically increase consumer products—maybe even decreased their supply

  18. INTRODUCTION OF DEMOCRACY • To make it more difficult for conservative elements to depose him, Gorbachev begins fundamental democratic reshaping of political institutions in late 1988 • Drew up new constitution • Called for elections to new National Congress of People’s Deputies • 2250 seats • 750 seats chosen from various organizations such as Communist Part • 1500 seats left to democratic choice of voters • First free election in Russia since 1917

  19. ELECTIONS • Results of election • Deeply humiliated CP hierarchy • Demonstrated that opportunity to make real changes had shaken the Soviet people out of apathy • Only 25% of districts were uncontested • Even in uncontested districts, CP leaders who were critical of Gorbachev were defeated • Election pitted younger, reform minded CP members against older generation • Younger generation usually won

  20. DEMOCRACY IN ACTION • New Parliament meetings broadcast on television • Intense criticism of KGB • Gorbachev elected president of body • But only after days of intense grilling • Gorbachev won more secure political position • Could not be removed unless majority of Parliament agreed to it • Gave him alternative power base to the CP hierarchy • Which he also continued to purge

  21. RISE OF NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENTS • Glasnost gave national minorities freedom to express their discontent with Soviet government and also their hatred for each other in many regions • Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia were most discontented • Gorbachev tried to appease them by setting up “mixed economy” • Did not work—demanded complete independence

  22. GORBACHEV’S “PANDORA’S BOX” • Gorbachev had no intention of presiding over dismantlement of Soviet Union • Alternately employed concessions and threats to keep non-Russian republics in USSR • But nothing seemed to work • Demands of Baltic states inspired others to demand independence • Georgians, Ukrainians, Armenians, and others • Gorbachev did not want USSR to fragment but the only way to handle problem was to back off from glasnost and stifle talk of independence • This would jeopardize all the other progress Gorbachev had made and perhaps represent a return to bad old days of Brezhnev

  23. BACKGROUND TO AFGHAN WAR • King of Afghanistan overthrown by his prime minister Mohammed Daoud in 1973 • Daoud overthrown and killed by military officers in 1978 and power turned over to a Marxist-Leninist party • Islamic fundamentalist guerillas launch guerilla war and push regime to verge of collapse • in December 1979, USSR airlifts troops into country to protect regime • Ultimately commits 100,000 men • But guerillas prove impossible to defeat

  24. “BLEEDING WOUND” • Reaction from world to Soviet invasion swift and harsh • Condemned by UN • 56 countries boycott Moscow Olympics in 1980 • Criticism of Islamic countries fierce • U.S. supplies Afghan rebels • Wounded veterans from war become dissonant element in Soviet society • Gorbachev vows to end “bleeding wound” of Afghanistan and pulls troops out in January 1990