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Launching the Third Reform Cycle

 

When in the 1970s the Soviet economy showed the first symptoms of a slowdown, the system began to lose the very rationale it was based on. The communist ideology presented economic growth as the necessary condition for the creation of the material base of the future Communist society. In other words, high growth rates were critical for justifying the system. The declining economic performance began to corrode peoples belief in the ability of the system to create the basis for a society of material plenty and therefore undermined the systems legitimacy. 

Cigarette shortages during perestroika

All this put pressures on Nikita Khrushchevs and consecutive Soviet governments to shift away from the Stalinist economic model. After Stalins death and until the USSRs collapse, the Soviet leadership for over thirty years was engaged in an almost continuous process of reforming the Stalinist system of socialist central planning.  

The objective of the reform programs of all Soviet leaders from Khrushchev (1953-64) to Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91) was to make the economy more efficient and receptive to technological innovation and more responsive to consumer wants, while retaining its socialist character.

The most far-reaching of these effort was undertaken by Gorbachev, who effectively initiated the third great cycle of modernization from above in order to help Russia catch up with its Western competitors in the new era of the scientific and technical revolution.

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