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My impression was that Gorbachev, Shevardnadze and others had come to the conclusion that the command control centralized state had become massively sub-optimal and undertook a process of restructuring and openness in an attempt to transform the nature of the Soviet Union into one that would provide a better version of socialism. But the process got out of their control. Given the centralized nature of the state it was an orderly process until they had dismantled enough of the state that opponents could challenge them. Gorbachev and Shevardnadze underestimated the malignancy of the worms in the cans they opened and over estimated their ability to continue to control events. But had they not started glasnost and perestroika and tried to create a less oppressive state the dissolution of the Soviet Union might not have even happened yet.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 10th, 2013 at 10:31:24 PM EST
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