Gorbachev's Reforms

Paper 1 practice - Rachel Buigas-Lopez


A. Cartoon by Murschetz on Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union

‘Ice-breaker Gorbachev.’ In 1988, the German cartoonist, Luis Murschetz, portrays the difficulties faced by Mikhail Gorbachev, the new First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, in his attempts at introducing economic and political reforms in the Soviet bloc as the basis for perestroika.

Source: MURSCHETZ, Luis. Nägel mit Köpfen. München: Droemersche Verlagsanstalt, 1988. 384 S. ISBN 3-426-02730-5.

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B. Mikhail S. Gorbachev, speech from the Socialist Idea and Revolutionary Perestroika

"....At the present complex stage, the interests of the consolidation of society and the concentration of all its sound forces on the accomplishment of the difficult tasks of perestroika prompt the advisability of keeping the one-party system. And in this case, the party will promote the development of opinions in society and the broadening of glasnost in the interests of democracy and the people. In the efforts to renew socialism, the party may not concede the initiative to either populist demagoguery, nationalist or chauvinistic currents or to the spontaneity of group interests."

C. Cartoon by Cummings on glasnost

On 24 August 1988, the British cartoonist, Michael Cummings, speculates on the ability of Mikhail Gorbachev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to bring his plan for reforms and transparency in the Soviet Union under control.

Source: Daily Express. 24.08.1988. London.

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D. 'Freedom? What freedom?' from Le Monde

On 28 May 1988, the French daily newspaper Le Monde outlines the political programme of the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, who is seeking to transform the Soviet Union into a ‘Socialist State’.

"In a nutshell, things are changing but all too slowly. While there can be no doubt about the Soviet leader’s will to reform or the energy that he expends on framing that reform in laws, it has to be admitted that, with very few exceptions, little of that reform has yet filtered down into everyday life or the economy of the Soviet Union. This is the ‘terrain’ that will make or break Gorbachev’s popularity and, with it, in the longer term, his success."

Source: Le Monde. dir. de publ. Fontaine, André. 28.05.1988, n° 13.477; 45e année. Paris: Le Monde. "Quelle liberté ?", p. 1.

E. USSR Perestroika stamp

USSR Perestroika stamp, 1988. "Restructuring is the reliance on the living creativity of the masses."
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1a. What does Source A suggest about the Gorbachev's Reforms?

1b. What is the message conveyed by the cartoon?

2. Compare and contrast the views expressed about Gorbachev's Reforms in Sources C and D

3. With reference to their origin and purpose, discuss the value and limitations of Source B and Source E for historians studying Gorbachev's Reforms.

4. Using these sources and your own knowledge analyze the it extent to which the “individual” in Soviet society was affected by his reforms?