Mikhail Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931, in Privolnoye, Russia. Gorbachev’s parents were peasants. His father, Sergei, operated a combine harvester for a living. Sergei was drafted into the Russian Army when the Nazis invaded the USSR in 1941. Three years later, he was wounded in action and returned home to resume operating farm machinery. In the 1930s, when Gorbachev was still very young, he suffered the trauma of seeing his maternal grandfather, arrested during the Great Purge. Gorbachev’s academic record was great , and he was accepted into Moscow University, the premier school in the Soviet Union, without having to take the entrance exam. Gorbachev graduated from Moscow University with a law degree in 1955 and shortly afterward returned to his hometown with his new wife, Raisa, a fellow Moscow University alumnus.
Rise to power
Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo in 1985. Already before he reached the post, he had occasionally been mentioned in western newspapers as a likely next leader and a man of the younger generation at the top level. in his teens operated combine harvesters on collective farms. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a degree in law. While he was at the university, he joined the Communist Party, and soon became very active within it. In 1970, he was appointed to the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee, First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet in 1974, and appointed a member of the Politburo in 1979. Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Gorbachev was elected General Secretary by the Politburo in 1985.
Style of Government
He was the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) from 1985 to 1991 and president of the Soviet Union in 1990–91. His efforts to democratize his country’s political system and decentralize its economy led to the downfall of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The Soviet Union was a communist country. Communism is a theory made by Karl Marx, where very person in the society only gets the amount of money that they need to stay alive according to their needs. Before 1985, political and social freedoms in the Soviet Union were minimal. Citizens were closely monitored about what they said about their country, as they were not free to openly criticize their nation’s leadership. Gorbachev aimed two types of concurring reforms, economic and political. The economic reforms were planned as a way to improve efficiency of the centrally planned economy, not destroy it.
"New Thinking" was Gorbachev's slogan for a foreign policy based on shared moral and ethical principles to solve global problems rather than on Marxist-Leninist concepts of irreconcilable conflict between capitalism and communism. United States-Soviet relations began to improve soon after Gorbachev became general secretary. Gorbachev also assiduously pursued closer relations with China.
"The world is on the brink of a new Cold War," said Mr Gorbachev, speaking at an event, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, to mark the 25th anniversary after the fall of the Berlin Wall. "Some are even saying that it's already begun." The 83-year-old, who ordered his Soviet troops stationed in East Germany to remain in their barracks on the night of November 9 1989, has been looking in his view of what he termed Western "triumphalism".
Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Communist Party who initiated changes known as 'perestroika' and 'glasnost' which melted the rigid Soviet system and liberated 15 republics of the Soviet Union to become independent states, ending the existence of the USSR in December 1991.
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"Why Did Mikhail Gorbachev Start Reforming the Soviet Union?" YourDictionary. Web. 18 Dec. 2014. <http://biography.yourdictionary.com/articles/why-did-mikhail-gorbachev-start-reforming-the-soviet-union.html>.