Subverting the System: Gorbachev's Reform of the Party's Apparat, 1986-1991

Subverting the System: Gorbachev's Reform of the Party's Apparat, 1986-1991

by Jonathan Harris
     
 

This book analyzes the efforts by Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), to transform the relationship between the bureaucratic core of full-time party officials (the "inner party") and the Communists who manned the Soviet state (the "outer party"). Jonathan Harris argues that the efforts

Overview

This book analyzes the efforts by Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), to transform the relationship between the bureaucratic core of full-time party officials (the "inner party") and the Communists who manned the Soviet state (the "outer party"). Jonathan Harris argues that the efforts of party officials, headed by the secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee, to direct members of the "outer party" were the essence of so-called party leadership of the entire political system, and that Gorbachev's reforms destroyed the basis of this leadership. Finally, Subverting the System shows how orthodox party officials not only directly challenged Gorbachev's definitions but worked vigorously to restore their own authority during the last years of Gorbachev's reign; opposition contributed significantly to the attempted coup against him in 1991.

Editorial Reviews

The Russian Review
Perhaps the most satisfactory account that has yet appeared of what the Gorbachev reforms meant to those who were engaged in them at lower levels of the party structure. . . . Serious students of the CPSU will find themselves in its debt for some time to come.
— Stephen White
Russian Review
You might have thought that there was little more to be said about the Gorbachev period, and about its ruling party in particular. Jonathan Harris's book suggests a rather different conclusion…. An illuminating essay on the dynamics of political change through the perspective of party officials who were responsible for implementing the Gorbachev reforms, but who all too often had little to guide them.
— Stephen White, University of Glasgow
Europe-Asia Studies
A useful contribution to the literature on that last, remarkable period of Soviet history which witnessed the dismantling of the communist system, a process which was largely completed more than two years before the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist.
— Archie Brown
The Russian Review - Stephen White
You might have thought that there was little more to be said about the Gorbachev period, and about its ruling party in particular. Jonathan Harris's book suggests a rather different conclusion…. An illuminating essay on the dynamics of political change through the perspective of party officials who were responsible for implementing the Gorbachev reforms, but who all too often had little to guide them.
Journal of Cold War Studies, Summer 2005 Issue 7:3 - Graeme Gill
The collapse of the Soviet Union remains a matter of both great interest and of continuing research. Crucial to that collapse was the disintegration of the Communist Party, a process that is the focus of the book under review. Jonathan Harris seeks to explain the differing views among party functionaries about the course and desirability of reform of the party apparatus and its role….His reliance on close reading of the documents, often allowing them to talk for themselves, is a strength because it enables us to get a flavor of the arguments and a feel for the different positions that individuals adopted at various times…. An excellent addition to our understanding of elite attitudes to change during perestroika.
Europe-Asia Studies - Archie Brown
A useful contribution to the literature on that last, remarkable period of Soviet history which witnessed the dismantling of the communist system, a process which was largely completed more than two years before the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist.
Richard Sakwa
Subverting the System addresses an issue of fundamental importance, namely the internal evolution of the regime in the final years of Soviet power, and in particular the contradictory approach taken by Gorbachev in relation to the role and organization of the Communist Party. The author's exploration of Party materials and debates combined with a detailed reading of memoir literature and the party press results in crucial insights into the breakdown of Party rule. Many books have touched on these issues, but this is the first to tackle head on developments in the apparat and thus makes a significant and original contribution to the field.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742526792
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.65(d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Harris is professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh.

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