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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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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
Source:
The Gorbachev Factor
Author(s):

Archie Brown (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0192880527.003.0001

Obstacles to democratization and pre‐conditions for transformative change are examined, as are changing evaluations of Mikhail Gorbachev. The weakness of the dissident movement in the first half of the 1980s and the modesty of expectations of change when Gorbachev succeeded Konstantin Chernenko as Soviet leader are noted. The radicalization of Gorbachev's policies is related to his learning process, to the strengthening of his political power between 1985 and 1988, and to societal pressures. Gorbachev outwitted the traditional holders of institutional power who imposed constraints upon the General Secretary's freedom of action but he was also responsible for the creation of new countervailing powers, more broadly based than the old ones, which ultimately undermined his institutional authority. The diversity of view within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union became increasingly apparent as the novel phenomenon of a serious reformer in the Kremlin allowed these divergent opinions to come out into the open.

Keywords:   Konstantin Chernenko, Communist Party, democratization, dissidents, General Secretaryship, Mikhail Gorbachev, institutional authority, learning, radicalization, USSR

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