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Archie Brown emphasizes the need to make a clear distinction between the transformation of the Soviet system and the end of the Soviet state and also holds that “reform” of the system does not do justice to the extent of the change in the polity. In contradistinction to Cohen, he argues that to regard the pre-perestroika system as “communist” rather than “socialist” brings out more clearly the extent of the transformation, whereby a communist system had been abandoned by 1989–90 even though the Soviet Union did not come to an end until December 1991. Brown also draws on recent evidence showing the large element of contingency involved in the dramatic changes of 1985–1991, including the opposition to Gorbachev's acquisition of power which, had it been successful, would have led to very different policies being pursued in the second half of the 1980s.
‘The Gorbachev revolution’ was of decisive importance in relation to the end of the Cold War. The wording itself, though, requires some elaboration. The profound changes that occurred in the Soviet Union during the second half of the 1980s were not, it goes without saying, simply the work of one man. However, reform from below, not to speak of revolution in a more conventional sense of the term, was infeasible. Not only was the system rigidly hierarchical, but it also embodied a sophisticated array of rewards for conformist behaviour and calibrated punishments for political deviance. The Communist Party was, moreover, able to devote vast resources to propagating its version of reality, especially successfully in the realm of foreign policy. Average Soviet citizens did not have the kind of personal experience which would have enabled them to call into question the story of the Soviet Union’s struggle for peace in the face of provocative acts by hostile imperialist forces.
The term ‘Gorbachev revolution’ is apt inasmuch as changes of revolutionary dimensions – especially pluralisation of the political system – occurred under Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership and with the full weight of his authority and the power of the office of Communist Party leader behind them. The notion of revolution from above is also, though, paradoxical, for Gorbachev was by temperament a reformer rather than a revolutionary. The resolution of the paradox is to be found in Gorbachev’s pursuit of revolutionary goals by evolutionary means, phraseology he frequently used himself.
No period in peacetime in twentieth-century Russia saw such dramatic change as the years between 1985 and 1991. During this time Russia achieved a greater political freedom than it had ever enjoyed before. The Cold War ended definitively in 1989 when the Central and Eastern European states regained their sovereignty. One of the most important developments in the Soviet Union following Mikhail Gorbachev's selection as General Secretary was a change of political language. New concepts were introduced into Soviet political discourse and old ones shed the meanings they had been accorded hitherto by Soviet ideology. The most immediate stimulus to change in the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Gorbachev era was the long-term decline in the rate of economic growth and the fact that the Soviet economy was not only lagging behind the most advanced Western countries but also was being overtaken by some of the newly industrialising countries in Asia.
Genetically modified cotton varieties have the potential for increasing returns and/or decreasing labor requirements. A nonlinear optimization model is applied to a whole farm analysis for evaluating cotton production technologies. This model maximizes farm utility, composed of expected returns and their variability, at various risk aversion levels in order to evaluate cotton production technologies. Results show that while conventional cotton maximizes utility in a risk-neutral situation, transgenic cotton varieties entered into the optimal solution as higher levels of risk aversion were considered.
The task of leadership in the conditions of collapse of the Soviet Union has been a conspicuously difficult one. The legacy from the Communist period of a decaying economy, vast ecological disaster areas, uncertainty about the legitimacy of political institutions and the character of Russia's statehood meant that the problems facing the leadership in both the executive and legislative branches of government were grave indeed. They were compounded by a sense of loss of superpower status, together with concern for the fate of twenty-five million Russians, formerly Soviet citizens, who now found themselves in the Near Abroad–the former union republics of the USSR.
Yet, as President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin had a number of advantages both over his de facto predecessor, Mikhail Gorbachev, and as compared with the leaders of almost all the other Soviet successor states. Yeltsin's victory in elections in three successive years–in the Moscow constituency of the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR in 1989, from his native Sverdlovsk (now restored to its old name, Ekaterinburg) in the election to the Congress of People's Deputies of Russia in 1990, and in the Presidential election of June 1991–gave him a greater democratic legitimacy than any other politician in the country.
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