Modern Culture21 Nov 2008 11:11 am
A new edition of The Intellectual Devotional, this time with a focus on Modern Culture, will be available in stores on October 14. (Click here to pre-order your copy.) As well as continuing to expand on posts from the General Edition, “The Devoted Intellect” blog will introduce and expand on material from the Modern Culture devotional. Today’s entry on Glasnost is from the “Ideas and Trends” section.
At the end of today’s entry in the new Modern Culture edition of the Devotional on glasnost — Mikhail Gorbachev’s series of reforms meant to encourage greater “openness” in Soviet society — there is a brief mention of the economic counterpart to Gorbachev’s cultural policies: perestroika, or “restructuring.” As with glasnost, the consequences of perestroika were far wider-reaching than anybody could have imagined.
Gorbachev’s program of economic restructuring began modestly, like his program of “openness,” but soon took on a momentum of their own and could not be contained to the confines he had initially envisioned for hem. However, looking at the fundamental components of perestroika are a shocking reminder of just how different the Soviet system was from capitalism. The Law on State Enterprises, for instance, stipulated that businesses could determine output levels based on consumer demand, and allowed businesses with costs that exceeded revenues to fail rather than receive state support. This is nothing but the most basic application of “supply and demand” economics and competitive business practices, but it was a huge shock to the Soviet system. As it happened, it was a fatal shock. As with glasnost, the small fissure opened up by perestroika eventually became a torrent that swept away the Soviet Union and nullified the Warsaw Pact. Introduce a little “openness” into a system founded on having none, many commented at the time, and it should come as no surprise that the entire structure would falter. (Though, of course, it came as a surprise to nearly everyone.)
But, then again, at nearly the same time that Gorbachev was restructuring the Soviet Union’s economy, Deng Xiaoping, leader of the Chinese Communist Party, was doing precisely the same thing. But while the U.S.S.R. was obliterated by Gorbachev’s reforms, China’s growth still has not abated.
What do you think?
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