[lbo-talk] Gorbachev: I Should Have Left the Communist Party Earlier

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Thu Aug 18 08:41:07 PDT 2011

On Aug 18, 2011, at 11:22 AM, SA wrote:

> On 8/18/2011 11:14 AM, Doug Henwood wrote:
>> That's a different point. Starting with the Reagan buildup, the Soviet elite worried about falling technologically behind the U.S. in the arms race. That was one of the prods to "reform."
> Sure, it was a prod to "reform," but not system-changing reform. It was a prod to the traditional sort of "let's find new bright ideas to improve our technology" type of reform. That doesn't threaten the system. The reforms that really threatened the system were the relaxation of restrictions on speech, the expansion of elections and public debates, etc. That's what eventually made the elite lose control of the process (including the process of economic reform). But that's not the type of reform that SDI encouraged - if anything the opposite. It made them more wary of loosening up.

But the Soviet public didn't want the end of socialism or the breakup of the USSR. What they wanted had nothing to do with it. Yeltsin shelled the parliament building as part of his "democratic" revolution - then handed over state assets to his cronies, most of whom were in the CP. The push for the transition to capitalism came from within the elite, aided by the World Bank and Jeffrey Sachs, not from below.


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