Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 1985-1991

Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 1985-1991

Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 1985-1991

Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 1985-1991


"Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 1985-1991 presents a strikingly new view of the Gorbachev era and the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union. Written by one of America's most distinguished specialists on the former Soviet Union, this is the first comprehensive overview of the Gorbachev period, which it describes as a real revolution; not mere "reform."" "According to Hough, despite Mikhail Gorbachev's talk of a regulated market, he never understood that a market must be created on a solid institutional and legal base. Hough explains that Gorbachev was not alone in thinking that the destruction of old institutions was enough to unleash a market. Westerners also talked of leaping a chasm in a single jump, as if democratic and market institutions existed precreated on the other side. But precisely because Gorbachev (and later Boris Yeltsin) was encouraged in all his worst mistakes by Western advice, his failure has crucial implications for Western thinking about the process of democratization and marketization. This unprecedented book explores those implications in depth." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


At the beginning of the 1980s some Western observers expected a new generation of party leaders to liberalize the Soviet system; others believed change was unlikely. Some thought that the Soviet Union, ruled by a military-industrial complex, was inexorably driven to world domination; others considered the Soviets obsessed only with equality and security.

Everyone was proved wrong. Members of the Central Committee of the Communist party in 1981--Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and Eduard Shevardnadze--went far beyond liberalization to introduce elements of democracy and the realizable right of secession from the Union. Concerns in the West over a Soviet drive for world domination and security may well have been exaggerated; the defense industry was not able even to defend its own existence, and when the awesome military and KGB attempted a coup d'état in 1991, they did not use force or arrest anyone.

Events moved so rapidly and were so incredible that few could keep up with them. Now time has passed, and more than seventy memoirs have been published in Russian on the Gorbachev period. In this book Jerry Hough reassesses the old and new evidence on the period and comes to striking conclusions that revise a number of his own earlier interpretations as well as those of others. Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov and his colleagues emerge in Hough's study as more serious economic reformers than we thought. Gorbachev, lacking a theory of economic transition, was from the beginning and against his better judgment driven to a de facto policy of shock therapy.

Hough treats the events of 1990-91 as a revolution, one as sweeping as the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He does not limit himself to writing a . . .

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