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Candidate name: Fatima Sadat

Candidate number: 000740-069

A. Plan of investigation
This investigation will analyse Gorbachev and his reforms, focusing on the different parts of his career. The aim is to answer the question whether Gorbachev brought democracy to the USSR or not. During his time in power, he introduced two major reforms which changed the Soviet Union drastically and these were Perestroika and Glasnost. Two main sources will be used with different perspectives, one with Gorbachev`s own thoughts and one from a secondary source, a highly recognised historian. These are Gorbachev`s Memoirs by Mikhail Gorbachev and The Gorbachev Factor by Archie Brown. The essay will discuss: 1. Glasnost and perestroika 2. His political reforms i.e. the creation of the Congress of Peoples Deputies, and the Supreme Soviet.

B. Summary of evidence
1.

Glasnost and Perestroika

Mikhail Gorbachev`s most important step in his political life was the introduction of Glasnost. By introducing Glasnost and by introducing perestroika, a partly democratic system was formed. It meant that freedom of speech was allowed, freedom of association i.e. strikes and unions were allowed (to be formed). Some political freedom such as a secret voting system was initiated; politicians were allowed to be outvoted by the public etc. This step made it possible for Gorbachev to satisfy liberals while in the same time; he was also able to placate the more conservative groups who favoured socialism by not allowing full freedom i.e. a full multi-party system. Freedom of press was allowed and many took advantage of this by printing articles about the leading figures in the Soviet Union. Many actions of these leaders such as Stalin, Brezhnev etc. were brought to light. The people saw for the first time what kind of leaders they were and this also brought questions from the public which the government couldnt answer. It resulted in bad public relations and resistance from opposition groups. In order to get the full access to the past, almost all the archives were opened which meant that people, historians, journalists were able to read the documents and find the truth. It resulted in that all the history books in Soviet Union were replaced since they were not valid anymore. New history books were printed and the press slowly changed their course to the Soviet Unions system. Yegor Gaidar, the former Prime Minister of Russia concludes these events in one quote: As soon as the Soviet Leadership allowed the truth to be told about its own history, the Soviet empire was doomed1

Candidate name: Fatima Sadat

Candidate number: 000740-069

For the Soviet Union this was a big step towards modernization but later on this backfired on Gorbachev due to the fact that it was used against him politically, especially the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
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2.

Political reforms

Among many of Gorbachev`s political reforms the Congress of peoples deputies and Supreme soviet were the most significant ones. These two are important aspects of the Soviet Union political life which Gorbachev changed for the first time since Lenins time. In the 1989 elections for the Congress of peoples deputies for the first time several candidates were allowed to contest for the same position in elections to the congress. In total there were 2250 deputies where 1500 were elected by the electoral district and national territorial elections and 750 from officially sanctioned organizations in CPSU. Out of these 2250 deputies, 1957 deputies were nominated by the CPSU which meant that although Gorbachev brought changes to the Soviet Union, it was still not fully democratic. Only 14 % of the deputies were not controlled by the party and leading dissidents such as Yeltsin, Sakharov, and Medvedev etc, were now elected. The Supreme Soviet on the other hand, was elected by the Congress of deputies so that they could take care of issues which the Congress of deputies could not deal with because they only met twice a year and so they elected a permanent body to represent them. The head of the Supreme Soviet is usually the general secretary but in the beginning, Gorbachev didnt sit in the chair until much later. They also elected an executive body, a council of ministers. This was also a big democratic change although it was not fully democratic and a quote from Archie Brown underlines the importance of these steps: Here the institutional obstacles to fundamentally innovation were far greater than in foreign policy making, but the introduction of glasnost and its development into freedom of speech, followed by the crucial decision in 1988duly implemented in 1989 to introduce contested elections, were in themselves decisive breakthroughs which also altered the balance of forces in favour of more far-reaching change.2

C. Evaluation of sources
The Gorbachev factor, Archie Brown, Oxford University Press, 1997
The Gorbachev factor was published in UK, by Oxford University press. It is written by Archie Brown. 2 The purpose of this book is to inform the public about the Soviet Union and its political, economical and other reform done by Gorbachev and also his importance to the Soviet Union and the affects of his time in politics and as General Secretary. Archie Brown expresses his view of Gorbachev in the book: I was convinced that Gorbachev would be a serious reformer3 It is used for academic purpose and as an information book for the public usage. Brown also most likely wants to show his view. The very title of the book indicates: The Gorabachev
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Gaidar, Yegor, (2007) Collapse Of An Empire: Lessons For Modern Russia, (translation by Antonina W. Bouis), BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PRESS, Washington DC 22 Brown, Archie, The Gorbachev Factor Oxford University Press, 1997, page 132 3 Brown, Archie, The Gorbachev Factor Oxford University Press, 1997, preface, ix

Candidate name: Fatima Sadat

Candidate number: 000740-069

factor which discusses the most important factor in the reform of the USSR according to Brown. The value of the books is that since the archives were open to the public, the book contains valuable and good information regarding the events. It is written by a specialist in that area and thus is a valuable source with all the other important facts such as footnotes, endnotes etc. which makes this a good book to be used in historical investigations. Archie Brown has also written many books about the Soviet Union and thus one can see that he might have enough experience and knowledge in order to write this book. That he is a professor and has been so a long time and that he knows Gorbachev personally from his early years in politics is a plus. Since it is written in the UK one can assume that the perspective of events might be from an outsider view. Not all information might be available for the author such as classified information and hidden documents etc. which limits the books value regarding Gorbachev and his time as General Secretary. Brown was very sure in his view of Gorbachev as Serious reformer and thus could have, consciously or unconsciously, provided facts according to his view and this could then contain bias.

Memoirs, Mikhail Gorbachev, Doubleday Publication, 1996


Memoirs is written by Mikhail Gorbachev and published by Doubleday publication. The purpose of this book is to give the public the reasons why he made the reforms and primary information regarding meetings and relations with both foreign powers and national powers. The book can be used to get information regarding Gorbachev`s stand in the political struggle and it also shows his view The value of the book is that it is written by Gorbachev himself which makes it a very good book to use in the investigation. The book emphasizes his official stand about certain issues and one can assume that the information is valid in many aspects. Much of the facts explain why certain events happened and the Soviet Union`s reaction to those events, which makes it a very good and intriguing book. The limitation of the book is that it is written by Gorbachev himself where he emphasizes his actions and tries to justify these actions.

D. Analysis

Candidate name: Fatima Sadat

Candidate number: 000740-069

The question which is investigated is whether Gorbachev brought democracy or not to the USSR. Archie Brown argues that although Gorbachev tried to change the system, there were also other factors which played a role in stopping the process of changing the system. Freedom of speech was clearly shown in newspapers which were printed and in archives which were open for the public etc. Though it is clear that Gorbachev contributed a lot to the process and thus one can hold Gorbachev responsible for the changes. Gorbachev did bring semi-Democracy to the Soviet Union such as the Congress of the deputies and the way it was elected. Glasnost and perestroika were the driving forces in this process and played a valuable part in all this. He gave the people a chance to see the truth by opening the archives. Yeltsin, Sakharov, Medvedev and other important figures were allowed to speak freely in the Soviet Union and in the Congress. But Brown argues that Glasnost was in fact not really exclusively promoting freedom of speech but also an instrument for Gorbachev`s struggle against the party conservatives: while Gorbachev envisaged Glasnost initially in terms of increasing and diversifying the flow of information to the public rather than anything resembling complete freedom of speech and publication an instrument in his struggle against conservative forces within the party-state bureaucracy3. 3 Although he made many changes in the government, the elections were still controlled by the party, 87 % of the seats in the Congress of people`s deputies were communist party controlled and only 13 % by the non-communists. The Congress of people`s deputies also elected the Congress of soviets which meant that the party controlled the majority in both these bodies Also contestation was allowed which meant that a party boss or leader could be outvoted by the public in one region and be replaced. It was a Semi-democratic government and if he brought democracy can be discussed because from this point of view, he didnt bring full democracy to the USSR. They never really had a multi-party parliament where every seat was contested. Thus one can discuss this point in many ways and come to different conclusions but he did play an important role in ending the old regime and start a new semi-democratic one. E. Conclusion To conclude this investigation, one can see that Gorbachev to some extent brought democracy to the USSR even though it was Semi-democratic. He also made economic and other important reforms which contributed to the new era. Freedom of speech was allowed in contrast to how it was before, but politically he did not change much, the government was Semi-democratic, only 13 % of the delegates in the Congress were non-communists. But there were contested elections for the parliament without the opposition fearing repercussions from the government which showed the extent of Gorbachev`s reforms In Gorbachev Memoirs, one can see that Gorbachev describes many points which in our point of view might be small steps but for the old and battered USSR were big steps in regard to their history and the process of democratization. There are of course also big steps mentioned such as cooperation with the USA, economic reforms etc.
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Brown, Archie, The Gorbachev Factor Oxford University Press, 1997, page 163

Candidate name: Fatima Sadat

Candidate number: 000740-069

As Archie Brown writes in the preface of his book The Gorbachev Factor: how important Gorbachev was as a mover or facilitator in the Soviet Unions transition from Orthodox Communism to a different kind of political system.4

Sources

Brown, Archie, The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford University Press, 1997 Gaidar, Yegor, (2007) Collapse Of An Empire: Lessons For Modern Russia, (translation by Antonina W. Bouis), BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PRESS, Washington DC

Gorbachev, Mikhail, Memoirs, Doubleday publications, 1995

Brown, Archie, The Gorbachev Factor Oxford University Press, 1997, page ix