Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Synopsis

"As press secretary to Mikhail Gorbachev, Andrei Grachev witnessed and recorded many events unobserved by the general public. In this engaging and compelling book, he recounts these episodes in vivid detail, interpreting them in the context of the time. Highlighted are top-level meetings with Western leaders; State Council debates on a new treaty of union (promising, until Gorbachev and Yeltsin sparred over Russia's policy toward the Chechen republic); and Gorbachev's private talks with leading members of government, business, and religious and cultural circles from around the world." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Behind the monolithic facade that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) presented to the outside world until at least 1985 there was in reality a great variety of political opinion. Because it was generally expressed behind closed doors or in veiled or Aesopian form in books, journals, and newspapers, this was poorly understood in the outside world. But taking cognizance of this diversity of belief within a party that had preserved a monopoly of power for seventy years is basic to an understanding of the radical reforms and increasingly open debate of the Gorbachev era and of the ultimate demise of the Soviet system.

The "monolithic unity" that the Communist Party claimed as one of its greatest assets was a reality inasmuch as discipline was rigid; until the second half of the 1980s the Party spoke with one public voice. Yet the very fact that the CPSU had ruled throughout the entire lifetime of most Soviet citizens, that it was an integral part of the ruling structures of the society--a party-state rather than a political party in the Western sense of the term--meant that ambitious people of various views and of very different personalities and abilities were keen to join that party or were invited to join. Membership was a precondition of exercising political power or (with rare exceptions) even substantial influence within the society, and in almost every walk of life promotion to senior posts was reserved for the minority of the population who were within the CPSU. Although lip service was paid to the Party's supposed proletarian roots and care was taken to ensure that approximately 10 percent of manual workers were Party members, the CPSU became increasingly dominated by its "white-collar" component and, above all, by the full-time officials within the extensive Party bureaucracy. Even though talented professionals in, for example, the social sciences could be frustrated by the ideological constraints that Party doctrine placed upon their freedom of publication and action, the majority of them preferred to be inside the Communist Party than out. Indeed, the higher the education a person had, the more likely she or (especially) he was to be a Party member.

Party membership was, more often than not, linked to career ambitions. It was generally a sine qua non of holding down a position of executive responsibility. For some Party members it undoubtedly reflected a wish to be part of a ruling political class, although many rank-and-file members were far removed from the . . .

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