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.
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.