Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Perestroika

Perestroika, meaning "restructuring" in Russian, was an important aspect of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reform agenda, designed in conjunction with glasnost ("openness") and demokratizatsiia ("democratization") to renew socialism and end the political and economic stagnation that had plagued the Soviet state for nearly two decades. At the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress in 1986, Gorbachev first promoted his ideas of perestroika, which included reduced centralization and bureaucratization, a de-emphasis on state economic planning, and modest moves toward private ownership of commercial enterprises. In 1987, in an attempt to further promote his reform ideas, Gorbachev published Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World. In doing so, he propounded new economic concepts, novel ideas on foreign policy, and his thoughts on socialist ethics.

Gorbachev's lack of detailed expertise on economic matters combined with great resistance among staunch defenders of the ancien régime made significant changes in the Soviet Union exceedingly difficult to enact. In the end, his commitment to reforming communism rather than abolishing it meant that his reforms were too limited to satisfy those individuals and groups calling for more dramatic change. Although some parts of his reform agenda were successfully implemented, continued sociopolitical problems and a failed coup attempt in August 1991 led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the simultaneous resignation of Gorbachev in December 1991. Perestroika may not have been successful domestically, but it was definitely influential on the international scene, allowing the Soviets and Americans to engage in revolutionary nuclear and conventional arms reduction agreements.

Melissa Jordine


Further Reading
Gorbachev, Mikhail. Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World. London: HarperCollins, 1987.; MacKenzie, David, and Michael W. Curran. Russia and the USSR in the Twentieth Century. 4th ed. New York: Wadsworth, 2002.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer