Perestroika (Russian: перестройка) was a political movement for reform within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) during the late 1980s widely associated with CPSU general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost (meaning "openness") policy reform. The literal meaning of perestroika is "reconstruction", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system, in an attempt to end the Era of Stagnation.
Perestroika allowed more independent actions from various ministries and introduced many market-like reforms. The alleged goal of perestroika, however, was not to end the command economy but rather to make socialism work more efficiently to better meet the needs of Soviet citizens by adopting elements of liberal economics. The process of implementing perestroika added to existing shortages, and created political, social, and economic tensions within the Soviet Union. Furthermore, it is often blamed for the political ascent of nationalism and nationalist political parties in the constituent republics.
Mikhail Gorbachev first used the term in a speech during his visit to the city of Tolyatti in 1986. Perestroika lasted from 1985 until 1991, and is sometimes argued to be a significant cause of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This marked the end of the Cold War.
- Perestroika is an urgent necessity arising from the profound processes of development in our socialist society. This society is ripe for change. It has long been yearning for it. Any delay in beginning perestroika could have led to an exacerbated internal situation in the near future, which, to put it bluntly, would have been fraught with serious social, economic, and political crises.
- Mikhail Gorbachev Perestroika: New Thinking For Our Country and the World (1987).
- After the XX Congress, in an ultra-narrow circle of our closest friends and associates, we often discussed the problems of democratization of the country and society. We chose a simple – like a sledgehammer – method of propagating the "ideas" of late Lenin. A group of true, not imaginary reformers developed (of course, orally) the following plan: to strike with the authority of Lenin at Stalin, at Stalinism. And then, if successful, – to strike with Plekhanov and Social Democracy - at Lenin, and then – with liberalism and "moral socialism" – at revolutionarism in general... The Soviet totalitarian regime could be destroyed only through glasnost and totalitarian party discipline, while hiding behind the interests of improving socialism. [...] Looking back, I can proudly say that a clever, but very simple tactic – the mechanisms of totalitarianism against the system of totalitarianism – has worked.
- Alexander Yakovlev, in the introduction to Black Book of Communism.