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Stages of the Current Transition

 

Russiaís most recent modernization effort is hindered seriously by the countryís civilizational characteristics discussed above. In the light of the modernization theory, the contemporary transformation of Russian society that began with Gorbachevís rise to power has gone through three completed stages and one incomplete stage that began with the advent of Vladimir Putin and is still unfolding.  

During the first stage (1985-86) Gorbachev and his circle used mainly traditional Soviet command-administrative methods of reform, similar to those that had been used by their predecessors, Khrushchev and Andropov. They wanted to ďaccelerateĒ socialist development without touching the foundations of the Soviet system. These measures did not produce positive results. Quite the opposite, they only worsened the countryís economic and social problems.

Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev

During the second stage (1987-91) Gorbachev turned to a new reform strategy shifting the main focus to political democratisation. The intention was to remove from power the communist hardliners who blocked the reforms and to replace command-administrative socialism by some kind of democratic socialism that would release Soviet societyís economic and social potential. The new strategy produced the results totally unforeseen by the reformist leadership. The economic reforms stalled, but political democratisation developed, gained its own momentum, and soon escaped Gorbachevís control. It produced political and ideological pluralism, led to the emergence of a multi-party system, and the rebirth of civil society.

Eventually Gorbachevís political reforms brought about a peaceful political revolution that swept away the Soviet command-administrative system and the Soviet Union and removed from power the architect of perestroika himself. 

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