Did Gorbachev actually have any sort of plan what to do with USSR? Or any idea what he was doing?
For me it seems that all he planned was "let's shake things up and hope for the best".
Note: he governed since 1984, so no 25-year rule violated.
Yes he did, and the plan was brilliant*. His idea was investing largely in heavy industry to kickstart the economy, along with allowing for small cooperatives to supply people's basic demands state plan could not account for, and Glasnost (which is not even close to freedom of speech) to let off some steam.
Yet it was way too late, after Stagnation USSR could not be saved. However, there were new Union Treaty plans which would allow for the country to be reorganized into a "Union of Sovereign States", but then August Coup happened and everyone ran away.
*from a Marxist standpoint so it was possibly extremely fucking retarded
Consider the Soviet Union through the analogy of a construction project. Let's call this project Hotel Communism.
Lenin is the first director of this project. He rallies the workers and convinces them that even though much hard work lays ahead, generation from now the worker's children will be able to in this luxurious hotel.
Next, Stalin comes along. Stalin is determined to complete the construction project within his lifetime. To this end, he practically enslaves the workers and kills a great number. A lot of progress is made during Stalin's reign (he transformed a deeply backwards agricultural society into a spacefaring nuclear superpower).
When Stalin dies, he is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev. During Khrushchev's management, the general consensus is that although Stalin made a great deal of progress on the construction project, the human cost of doing so was far too great. Khrushchev lightens up on the workers a bit, at the cost of significantly slowing down the pace of construction of Hotel Communism.
After Khrushchev comes a series of mediocre managers; Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko. These are all old, tired men with little energy to rock the boat, so each more or less continues the policy of Khrushchev.
At last comes Gorbachev. At this point, the workers are exasperated. They have made hardly any progress in decades on the construction project, and yet they still live rather shitty lives, toiling away in bad working conditions. Gorbachev finally decides "fuck it", he puts the breaks on construction of Hotel Communism. From now on, all energies will be directed towards making the building site as comfy as possible. We may never build the hotel, but at least we won't live in utter shit.
Gorbachev's policy causes two major problems. Some of the foremen on the project don't want to halt construction. Some even want to go back to the days of Stalin. These foremen revolt against Gorbachev in an attempt to take over the leadership; however he manages to overcome and subdue them.
The more prescient problem is that Gorbachev's reforms end up reminding the workers that they have other things they would rather be doing. Those other things being nationalism, making bank, and being super religious. These forces eventually overcome Gorbachev, and the entire building project comes crashing down.
>Yet it was way too late, after Stagnation USSR could not be saved.
It could have been saved, providing hat the state maintained its iron grip. Just like in China.
Gorbachev main cause of failure was that he loosened the yoke over the population. He reasoned that more freedom = happier and more productive population that supports the glorious leader in his ambitious program. That was an abysmal miscalculation. As a member of the privileged elite, Gorbachev failed to understand that fear of the omnipotent state was the only thing that glued the whole thing together. Once fear was gone, each part went its own way.
from 1917 onward teetotalism was always in some way part of soviet political debate
there's plenty of failed campaigns on the matter that it's a wonder the idea survived up to gorbachev
He didn't remove vodka entirely. Just made it more expensive and obtainable on specific hours, i.e. after noon. This was obviously in an attempt to raise efficiency during working hours. Both Soviet Union and other Communist states had huge problems with drinking and absenteeism during work. This was because workers were not afraid. Since the state guaranteed a job for everyone, the worst they could do to a drunkard was reshuffling him to another factory.
Obviously, this policy backfired since people simply switched to moonshine. And the state suffered twofold. Firstly, because it lost one of its main sources of income and secondly because people no longer respected it.
I don't think he had any sort of plan. He got elected as the chairman simply because the leadership realized that things suck and cannot go on line that any longer. So they chose that young bright guy named Gorbachev, despite the fact that he had no agenda to speak of.
Most of Gorbachev's moves look like complete improvisation. Almost all of them were terribly late and inadequate. It looked like Gorbachev was fearfully reacting to the forces he foolishly unleashed rather than steering them into a predefined direction.
>As a member of the privileged elite, Gorbachev failed to understand that fear of the omnipotent state was the only thing that glued the whole thing together.
That's a bit of a simplification.
I think it's safer to say that he added a great deal of instability to the state by creating a whole bunch of unprecedented changes, and most crucially implementing them far too quickly. Opportunists seized on the chaos and the rest is history.
Interesting, have you got any reading material about that?
To clarify I meant unprecedented in implementation, not in concept (I hoped this was clear). There's always capitalist and communist elements in all countries, just their proportions vary greatly.
>no agenda to speak of
that is a virtue, they needed pure pragmatism in case shit started to fuck up
>Most of Gorbachev's moves look like complete improvisation. Almost all of them were terribly late and inadequate. It looked like Gorbachev was fearfully reacting to the forces he foolishly unleashed rather than steering them into a predefined direction.