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

By Andrei S. Grachev; Margo Milne | Go to book overview

Foreword
ARCHIE BROWN

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

-ix-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword - ARCHIE BROWN ix
  • Preface xv
  • Mending the Breach 1
  • Reinforcements From The Second Front 13
  • On a Crumbling Verge 33
  • A President Without a Country 47
  • One Last Mission For the Union 59
  • On the Eve Of the Seventy-Fourth Anniversary Of the October Revolution 85
  • The Mirage Of a Confederal State 97
  • A Free Man With Nothing to Fear 113
  • A Cloud in Trousers 119
  • Fight to the Finish 127
  • Final Hours 145
  • Checking the Pulse 153
  • Last Rites 159
  • Burying a Time Capsule 169
  • Departure 175
  • Afterword: - A Mythical Kingdom Vanishes--Again 195
  • Appendix: Resignation Speech of Mikhail Gorbachev - Delivered at 7:00 P.M. on December 25, 1991 203
  • Notes 207
  • About the Book and Author 214
  • Index 215
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