Solution: Daily Problem Practice for 2024 History Optional [World History: Day 26]

Q. “New World Order and internal reforms of Gorbachev was aimed at saving the USSR but had opposite effect.” In the light of this statement, discuss the New World Order and internal reforms of Gorbachev and its inability in saving the USSR. [10 Marks]


The USSR was a vast territorial region and it was said that “USSR was a prison of nations” as many nationalities were incorporated through force (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland etc.).
So aspiration of autonomy within Soviet Union were there which stood suppressed.
Its involvement in the cold war exhausted its economy by 1980s. The economy scenario in 1980s was marked by the fall in GDP, fall in export, import of daily use commodities and even food grain on a large scale, poor quality industrial goods etc.

This was the scenario when Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and he embarked upon a policy to reform Soviet Union internally by strengthening its economy, making communist party progressive, by giving people some freedom. Externally, he envisioned New World World based on peace and cooperation.

New World Order of Gorbachev

Gorbachev became leader of USSR in 1985 and began to present his ideas related to New World Order (NWO). Idea was to end the Cold War and create NWO for international peace and cooperation.
In 1988, he delivered speech in UNGA which was his principle statement on NWO.
The major elements of his idea of NWO were:

  • De-ideolising relations
  • Strengthening role of UNO
  • New level of cooperation
  • Restrain on use of force
  • Cooperation in the field of environment
  • Cooperation to provide relief to underdeveloped and poor countries.

Earlier Gorbachev had presented his concept of “our common European home” during his visit to Czechoslovakia in April 1987 in which he had opposed the division of European continent into military blocs and accumulation of military arsenals in Europe and everything that is the source of the threat of war.

He kept on repeating this ideas later on.

In December 1989, Malta summit with G.H.W. Bush, both reiterated some of ideas of NWO including human rights, disarmament, debt relief, German unification etc.

In September 1990, famous speech of G.H.W. Bush, known as “Towards a NWO” speech reiterated ideas of NWO.

Finally in November 1990 Paris meet of Conference on security and cooperation in Europe, which was created in Helenski conference (1975), treaty was signed which formally ended the cold war.

He had declared policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Eastern European communist countries which encouraged people there to throw away communist regime. Hence during 1989-91, USSR and Eastern Bloc disintegrated completely and Berlin wall was brought down leading to unification of Germany. All these were encouraged by his moderate policies visible in his ideas of New World Order.

Internal reforms of Gorbachev

Gorbachev’s internal reforms rested on three pillars:

  • Uskoreniye:
    • acceleration (in economy to improve GDP)
  • Prestroika:
    • restructuring (economy, bureaucracy, party etc.)
  • Glasnost:
    • transparency (freedom)

His idea was that some freedom should be there in order to ensure proper progress and restructuring is a basic requirement as entire system has become orthodox and unprogressive.

Prestroika was a kind of mark towards Market Socialism but it does not mean acceptance of capitalism, rather reconcile principle of socialism with dynamic of market capitalism.

He eventually allowed the soviet enterprises to disengage themselves from planning system altogether and to become self-financing and self-managing units.

It did not amount to re-introduction of capitalism because economic enterprises were all public. New thing was that these enterprises were not to operate according to central planning committee but within market environment shaped by competition, profits and incentives.

Situation in USSR was so bad and the freedom granted under Glasnost giving rise to pentup emotions, aspirations (which were long suppressed), demand by the people rose even higher. Gorbachev failed to manage the reforms effectively and several kinds of reactions emerged:

  • From orthodox elements of the party who were anti-reform.
  • From progressive elements of the party whose leader was Boris Yeltsin. They wanted even more reform.
  • From people, who were demanding immediate good results.
  • From republics of USSR, who wanted more autonomy.

Gorbachev eventually became victim of all these reactions and there was coup in Auguat 1991 by the hardliners/orthodox against Gorbachev but this coup was failed by Boris Yeltsin.
Roughly during the same time the republics began to declare independence and the process of disintegration set-in starting with Poland, Estonia, Latvia etc. Finally, Gorbachev resigned as president of USSR in December 1991 and with this there was a formal end of USSR.


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