The Context of Reform
A SOVIET general secretary who wants to implement a major reform faces a fundamental dilemma. Reform must be incremental, or the result will be economic chaos. Yet the economy is so interconnected that reform in one sphere may well fail without simultaneous and comprehensive changes in other spheres. In addition, if economic reform is gradual, opponents have a long time to sabotage it. A general secretary's central concern must be how to sequence the various steps of reform in a way that solves this predicament. To understand what Mikhail Gorbachev is doing, one must understand the economic and political logic of a successful reform. The first step in that direction is to understand the economic and political context in which Gorbachev is operating.
Gorbachev should be quite familiar with the nature of Soviet economic problems, as well as their most basic causes.1 These issues have been extensively discussed in the Soviet press for thirty years, and they must be doubly familiar to any person who served as regional party secretary for as long as Gorbachev did. Furthermore, he has promoted some of the best economists in the country to high positions, and they____________________