Gorbachev the Technocrat: Uskoreniye and the Attempt to Modernize
Having begun with a very limited vision of reform, once in power Gorbachev’s views were to change dramatically. After all, his early approach was one he inherited from Andropov. This presupposed that the system simply needing modernization, streamlining and discipline. Behind this was an essential belief in the existing order and a glib assumption that the USSR’s underlying economic, social and political problems could be solved by managerial reforms. In many ways, the catch-phrase of the day said it all: uskoreniye, ‘acceleration’. In other words, more speed, but no change in basic direction. Gorbachev would come to appreciate the enormity of the task facing him, though, and thus develop new strategies. Above all, he would come to question the direction of the USSR’s process. The uskoreniye of the period 1985–6 would prove a disastrous failure; what it was accelerating the Soviet Union towards was not a glorious future but a precipice.
KeywordsShadow Economy Party Secretariat Soviet Economy Defence Budget Soviet Citizen
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