Of the four transformations outlined in Ch. 6, two of the four had, by the end of the 1980s, been successful beyond the dreams of Soviet dissidents and of the most optimistic Western observers at the time Gorbachev came to power. That is to say, the political system had become substantially pluralist and partially democratized and international relations had been still more comprehensively transformed. Economic reform and nationalities policy – along with some bad (as well as good) appointments – were, in contrast, areas of relative failure for Gorbachev. A decisively important achievement, however, was the dismantling of Communism (defined in the chapter) that occurred remarkably peacefully in a country that had been under Communist rule for seven decades. There was nothing inevitable either about the timing of the end of the Soviet state or about the way in which, under Gorbachev's leadership, the system was transformed. Taking all his mistakes and some undoubted failures into account – along, however, with the almost insuperable obstacles he had to overcome – Gorbachev has strong claims to be regarded as one of the greatest reformers in Russian history and as the individual who made the most profound impact on world history in the second half of the 20th century.
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