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The Gorbachev Factor$
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Archie Brown

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780192880529

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0192880527.001.0001

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Gorbachev and Economic Reform

Gorbachev and Economic Reform

(p.130) Chapter 5 Gorbachev and Economic Reform
The Gorbachev Factor

Archie Brown (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Gorbachev's two major failures were in economic reform and in resolution of the ‘national question’, although that statement has to be qualified by the observation that the problems involved were so intractable that the idea that a new leader could have come along and ‘solved’ them would be the height of naivety. The tension between two contradictory aims – improving the system and constructing the system on different principles – was especially acute in the economic sphere. It was in the attempted radical reconstruction of the economic system that Gorbachev encountered the most effective resistance on the part of agencies whose co‐operation was necessary both for the everyday running of the economy and the implementation of reform. As in other spheres of policy, Gorbachev's own views became more radical over time, and by 1990, partly under the influence of economist Nikolay Petrakov, he accepted that an essentially market economy (albeit one closer to a West European social democratic variant than to capitalism American‐style) was desirable. When a team of economists jointly appointed by Gorbachev and by Boris Yeltsin produced in 1990 a ‘500 Hundred Days Programme’ that would allegedly have created a market economy in the Soviet Union within that short time period, Gorbachev hesitated, at first supporting the proposals and then, partly under pressure from within the system, retreating from them. During 1991, Gorbachev attempted to keep in play several economic options; indecision and inconsistency in this area left the economy in limbo and weakened Gorbachev's authority.

Keywords:   500 Days, Economic reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, limbo, market economy, national question, Nikolay Petrakov, resistance, Boris Yeltsin

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