Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

News: No state funeral for Mikhail Gorbachev after his death at 91.

General Studies Paper 1: History of the World will include events from the 18th century such as Industrial Revolution, world wars, Redrawal of National Boundaries, Colonization, Decolonization, political philosophies like Communism, Capitalism, Socialism etc.— their forms and effect on society.

Who was Mikhail Gorbachev?

  • Mikhail Gorbachev was a Soviet politician. He was the  last general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1985–91) and the last president of the Soviet Union (1990–91). 
  • Gorbachev supported democratic reforms when he was general secretary and president.
  • He was known for  glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) policies.
  • His push for disarmament and demilitarization in eastern Europe is well praised.
  • Gorbachev tried to revitalise the moribund Communist system by shaping a new union based on a more equal partnership between the 15 soviet republics, instead of  two most powerful  Russia and Ukraine.
  • His ambitious political and economic reforms unleashed forces he could not control.
  • Collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990–91 was attributed to Gorbachev’s policies.
  • He was  awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,1990 for his role that in ending the Cold War without bloodshed.

What are Gorbachev’s reform mantras?

Gorbachev’s legacy is defined by  two words: “perestroika” and “glasnost”.

  • Perestroika: Perestroika, means restructuring. To counter inefficiencies of planned economy of soviet union(USSR) during the tenure of Gorbachev as the General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1985.In order to allow for a greater play of the market forces and restructuring  the economy of USSR  Gorbachev introduced Perestroika and perestroika was not only limited to the economic sphere. He wanted social and political renewal perestroika as ill-effects of a top-down planned economy had spread through the social and moral fabric of Soviet life.
  • Glasnost: Glasnost means openness. Gorbachev hoped that through greater transparency in the functioning of the government and the economy, everyday people’s life in the USSR will get reordered. During his time ,officials have radically inflated and falsified  the scale of Soviet achievements. Even top dozen political figures in the entire country was not allowed to see the country’s consolidated figures for revenue and expenditure during soviet rule. Richard Sakwa in his  book  “The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union” mentioned  that thereis huge difference in official and real account. Official account mentioned that  Soviet income in 1985 had multiplied 84 times compared to the 1928 level, but  the actual increase had been less than 7 times. The lack of transparency  in USSR led to Glasnost.

Some of the mistakes of Gorbachev:

  • He attempted political and economic reforms simultaneously and on too ambitious a scale, hence unleashing forces he could not control.
  • Gorbachev failed to earn popular mandate for himself as he never stood for election unlike his great rival Boris Yeltsin.
  • On the other hand, Boris Yeltsin who was voted into power as president of Russia and was instrumental in the dissolution of the USSR and the ousting of Gorbachev won popular mandate.
  • His  failure in anticipating the strength of nationalist feelings  in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and  others like Georgia and Ukraine created unstoppable momentum that  escaped from the grip of  Moscow.
  • Like all Soviet leaders, he saw the Soviet Union as synonymous with Russia and he simply could not understand why nations wanted to be independent.
  • He didn’t really understand the Soviet Union, Soviet society and how it worked: Fear, repression, command economy was preserving the Soviet system but he thought it could be reformed and still preserve the system  But they turned out to be the actual essential elements of the Soviet system – having removed them, the system unravelled as well.
  • Ultimate tragedies of Gorbachev is  that none of the points that he ultimately came to accept and espouse have been preserved by the leaders of Russia today:
  •  Putin smashed the idea embodied by Gorbachev that Russia could retreat from empire and still remain a major power.
  • Putin’s lurch into confrontation with the West and his invasion of Ukraine have destroyed the Gorbachev legacy of detente with the West and nuclear arms agreements with the United States.
  • With Putin pointedly boasting of the size and destructive power of Russia’s arsenal, politicians in both Moscow and Washington have evoked the risk of World War Three.

Conclusion on Mikhail Gorbachev’s  personality:

  • For all the adulation he inspired in the West, Mikhail Gorbachev was a tragic figure who failed in the historic mission he had defined for his own country. But Russians have long been accustomed to viewing him as a weak leader who was duped by the West as witnessed from the fact that there will be no state funeral for Mikhail Gorbachev.

Sources: Indian Express

Source Links:

  1. Indian Express:-https://bit.ly/3cYOWmu ; https://bit.ly/3xaiwMH

Yojna IAS Daily current affairs eng med 2nd Sep

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