Mikhail Gorbachev was a Russian politician who was born on March 2, 1931 in Privolnoye, a place near Stavropol. He served from 1985 to 1991 as the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. During his younger years, Gorbachev had worked in farms while studying. As he had joined the Communist Party in 1952, he also completed a degree in law at Moscow University. In the early 1960s, Gorbachev had become the chairperson of the department of agriculture for the region of Stavropol. Consequently, Gorbachev had risen to the top of the party hierarchy for the said region. In 1971, the Politburo members Yuri Andropov and Mikhail Suslov had taken notice of Gorbachev’s presence and elected him to the Central Committee. The two Politburo members had arranged international trips for Gorbachev in order to expose him to other members worldwide. Gorbachev had returned to Moscow in 1978 and was chosen as a candidate member of Politburo the following year. The governance of Gorbachev in the Soviet agriculture was not able to obtain success, prompting him to realize that the collective system was impaired in terms of its fundamentals.
The Rise of Mikhail Gorbachev
In 1982, Mikhail Gorbachev had become significant as his mentor, Andropov, ousted Leonid Brezhnev. Gorbachev had earned the reputation of being an enemy of inefficiency and corruption. In March 1985, he had risen to the top spot of the party while continuing to make significant reforms in order for the system to work more democratically and efficiently. Thus, Gorbachev had instituted two key phrases of his era: “perestroika,” which means reform and “glasnost,” which means openness. More so, Gorbachev had begun arguing at the side of ending the arms race with the West in order to bring resources to the civilian sector of the Soviet’s economy.
Mikhail Gorbachev: Influences and Contributions
Mikhail Gorbachev had been a role model of the Communist Party during his political career. He had focused on the perception set forth by Vladimir Lenin and maintained his Communist ideas until the end of his rule. As the Soviet Union had experienced stagnant economic conditions while the central economic planning necessitated for reform, Gorbachev had focused on attending to these needs and aimed for early reforms to stimulate growth in the economy. On the other hand, the abrupt reforms made had not yielded to the desired results planned by Gorbachev; thus, considerable changes were needed to be made in order to save the economy of the Soviet.
In this light, Gorbachev had established an economic plan based on “perestroika” or reform of the Soviet system. He had acknowledged that the necessity to present the desperate condition of the system so that his plan can be implemented efficiently. Consequently, Gorbachev had launched a “glasnost” or openness campaign in order to ameliorate awareness as well as encourage public opinion in support of his actions. While keeping the leading role of the Communist Party alive, Gorbachev had aimed to save Communism by reforming it for the better.
Gorbachev had drafted a set of radical proposals, which became “perestroika.” He had realized that he would have to open up the secret Soviet society in order to implement his comprehensive measures efficiently. “Glasnost” had ultimately become a complete openness program, in which public opinion was alleviated. More so, attacks on the Party elite had become common and investigative journalism succeeded.
Gorbachev had initiated on freeing the Soviet Union of fiscal burden imposed upon by the dependent economies of the Soviet bloc. This was a part of his aim to improve economic performance. He had never intended to instigate a full market economy; instead, he wanted to persuade efficiency and initiative through promoting more public involvement to stimulate the economy. Democratic governments had come up to power when Gorbachev kept his distance from the Eastern Europe Communist regimes. The Warsaw Pact had been dissolved, Germany had been reunited, and the Cold War had finally reached a peaceful end.
The end of the Soviet Union had become inevitable when Boris Yeltsin obtained victory in the presidential election. Towards the end of 1991, Gorbachev had resigned from the Communist Party while the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics transpired.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had ceased to exist on December 31, 1991. It has been a Communist empire, which had taken over seventy years in order to be established. Because of Gorbachev’s efforts, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had been destroyed in over six years. The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as well as the unexpected end of the Cold War was all attributed to the actions of Mikhail Gorbachev.
Mikhail Gorbachev had set actions that prompted changes growing beyond his control. However, this was due to his motive of saving the socialist system and restoring the integrity of the Communist Party. Had a traditional hardliner or Chernenko lived longer and had gained authority in 1985, Cold War would have pursued and the status quo would have been upheld. Thus, if Gorbachev did not become General Secretary, the long-lasting order of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would have been endured for many more years. Even United States President Jimmy Carter acknowledged Gorbachev as the “most humanitarian” of the leaders of the world; thus, he had received the Noble Peace Prize in 1990 for his non-intervention in Eastern Europe. Although Mikhail Gorbachev had been the first Soviet leader to be valued internationally while being despised in his own land, people living beyond the Soviet Union saw Gorbachev as the man who concluded the Cold War. On the other hand, people in his native land had held him responsible in the collapses of the economy as well as the decline of the nation as one of the world’s powers.
The urging of Mikhail Gorbachev in persevering Communism had undermined his reform efforts. However, some critics claimed that while Communists believed in the possibility of perfecting or reforming the system of Communism, Gorbachev’s method was viable. Although the same critics had determined that the principles in which the Soviet system was established upon had to be changed. This includes the monopoly on political power of the Communist Party and the monopoly of the state on the economy. Nevertheless, Mikhail Gorbachev was considered the catalyst for three significant occurrences in contemporary history: Eastern Europe’s democratization, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. Ironically, as people hailed Mikhail Gorbachev for his achievements, he was a failure in saving and reforming the Soviet Union from his own point of view.
Brown, Archie. The Gorbachev Factor. NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Matlock, John. Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended. NY: The Random House Publishing Group, 2004.
Schmidt-Hauer, Christian, E. Osers, and C. Romberg. Gorbachev: The Path to Power. London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.