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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 PROFILE OF BREZHNEV Born in 1906

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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
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
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
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
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



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
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
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



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
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
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
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
  • 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
  • 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
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
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
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
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
  • 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
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
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
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
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
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