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The Rise and Fall of Communism in Russia$
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Robert V. Daniels

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780300106497

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300106497.001.0001

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Gorbachev's Opportunity

Gorbachev's Opportunity

(p.356) Chapter 30 Gorbachev's Opportunity
The Rise and Fall of Communism in Russia

Robert Daniels

Yale University Press

As perestroika was getting under way, Mikhail Gorbachev remarked that it would be politically risky for the cause of reform in the Soviet Union to reopen questions of the past. However, genuine and durable reform of the Soviet system could have been unattainable unless its relation to the historical past that generated it, including its origins in the Russian Revolution of 1917, was reexamined. Joseph Stalin's postrevolutionary synthesis of revolutionary rhetoric, traditional values, and totalitarian methods, combining socialism with nationalism and bureaucracy, remained the basis of the Soviet political system until the end. Yet it was not the final phase in Russia's revolutionary process; a new and profound reform loomed on the horizon. The death of Stalin presented the first opportunity for a moderate revolutionary revival. For Gorbachev, reform required a reconsideration of the bureaucratic, centralist, Russian-style socialism that had persisted since the time of Stalin.

Keywords:   reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, socialism, bureaucracy

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