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CAN GORBACHEV'S REFORMS SUCCEED



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FINAL REPORT TO NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SOVIET AND EAST EUROPEAN RESEARCH TITLE CAN GORBACHEV S REFORMS SUCCEED AUTHOR George W B r e s l a u e r University of C a l i f o r n i a CONTRACTOR Berkeley National Council f o r Soviet and East European Research PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR V I Toumanoff COUNCIL CONTRACT NUMBER 1724 120189 DATE December 1988 The work lead ing to this report was supported by funds provided by the National Council for Soviet and East European Research The analysis and interpretations contained in the report are those of the author Can Gorbachev s Reforms Succeed George W Breslauer Department of Political Science University of California at Berkeley Can Gorbachev s radical reforms succeed It is striking to note how different the discussion of this topic would have been only 7 10 years ago At that time most academic discussion was dominated by skepticism of radical or reactionary images of the future The emphasis was rather on the ways in which Soviet leaders might muddle through rationalize the command economy or foster moderate reform Ruble 1981 Bialer 1980 Colton 1984 Breslauer 1978 The prevailing assumption which I shared was that the Soviet or at least the Russian population was exceptionally passive and patient that the regime needed only to deliver incremental improvements in the standard of living to maintain political peace and that moderate reforms would make that possible We also overwhelmingly assumed that should a reformist leadership come to power and seek to anticipate or preempt crisis it would push for economic reform but not far reaching political liberalization much less democratization These assumptions and projections were based upon a relatively undifferentiated image of the Soviet population s political aspirations and a view of the political establishment that posited little likelihood of high polarization between conservatives and reformists We accepted the Stephen Cohen 1985 argument that these tendencies existed but assumed



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