The Soviet Administrative Elite

By Kenneth C. Farmer | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Iron Teeth: The Gorbachev Transformation

We will grow up!

James M. Barrie

Peter Pan

In perhaps his most quoted passage, Alexis de Tocqueville writes that "the most perilous moment for a bad government is one when it seeks to mend its ways."1 Tocqueville's comments, written more than 135 years ago, have more than a little import for the situation Gorbachev finds himself in today. Relatively sudden decompression--the abolition of censorship, the lifting of controls on voluntary associations, and the partial legalization of private enterprise--have made the country more, not less, difficult to govern and have raised expectations beyond the regime's ability to satisfy them.

Russian and Soviet history does not bode well for would-be reformers. Alexander Yanov observes that all 14 of the major reformist attempts since the 1550s have ended either in "reversal by a counter-reform" or have "faded into political stagnation."2 This is true as far as reforms per se go, but leaders outstanding for their energy and ruthlessness--Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Josef Stalin (who compared himself to Ivan the Terrible)--have transformed the country, for better or for worse.

In this final chapter, I will examine the process of the succession to Leonid Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbachev's ongoing effort to shape an elite

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The Soviet Administrative Elite
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1- Introduction: The Theoretical Context 1
  • Notes 25
  • Chapter 2- Educating the Elite 31
  • Notes 66
  • Chapter 3- Elite Structure 73
  • Notes 96
  • Chapter 4- The Stalinist Transformation 101
  • Notes 140
  • Chapter 5- Elite-Society Relations 149
  • Notes 180
  • Chapter 6- Elite Recruitment and Mobility 189
  • Notes 220
  • Chapter 7 - Venality 225
  • Notes 245
  • Chapter 8- Iron Teeth: The Gorbachev Transformation 251
  • Notes 280
  • Selected Bibliography 285
  • Index 291
  • About the Author 297
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