• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why were the Prague Spring reforms unacceptable to the Soviet leadership?

Extracts from this document...


T.Tyson - Poli 310 Why were the Prague Spring reforms unacceptable to the Soviet leadership? "The Party was created for the workers, it exists to serve the workers and it is the main political force of the workers. The party does not have a life of its own, above or outside society - on the contrary it is an integral part of society. This must be the basic premise of all communist thought and it is inconceivable that the party, which is the whole of society in effect, should not be willing to recognise this." - Alexander Dubcek, Nova mysl, 31st December 19671. The events of 1968 in Czechoslovakia amounted to a serious crisis in the then Soviet bloc. Alexander Dubcek succeeded Antonin Novotny as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC) bringing with him the assurance of 'Socialism with a human face' promising to abolish censorship, restrict the role of the secret police and introduce greater parliamentary rights according to the so-called 'Action Program'2. During the year 1956, Khrushchev had begun to initiate the process of 'de-stalinisation', dismissing the 'cult of personality' whilst also allowing more public denunciations of Stalin by other high-ranking members of the Communist Party (such as Mikoyan and Suslov). Novotny and his associates had resisted calls for 'de-stalinisation' due to their own 'complicity' in its crimes3. However, in 1960 a new constitution was adopted in order to reflect the 'progress' made by the previous 12 years of social revolution and class struggle. ...read more.


the decision to invade was necessary because of pressures from leaders of other Warsaw pact countries."16. Jiri Valenta who developed this theory further backs up this view. "Party leaders in non-Russian Soviet republics, regional party officials, apparatchiki in ideology, the KGB, the political control network in the armed forces and the Warsaw pact command - had gathered enough influence to be able to override a counter-coalition that was sceptical about the use of force and push a vacillating Leonid Brezhnev into action."17 However, this model of explanation has its flaws, and the intervention of Soviet forces cannot be simply explained by pointing towards 'bureaucratic wrangling' and dissatisfaction amongst administrations in other Warsaw pact states. However, there does seem to be a certain amount of truth to this view and must surely have played a part in the eventual decision to invade Czechoslovakia. "As far as I know, the impression Dubcek gained from this private meeting [with Brezhnev on August 1st 1968] was that Brezhnev was in conflict with the "hawks" in his own politburo... and was genuinely looking for a way out of the predicament that would vindicate his moderation and enable him to stand up to pressure from Ulbricht and Gomulka."18 Much has been made of the influence of certain 'products' of the Prague spring on the decision of the Soviet leadership to intervene. Perhaps the most well known, Ludvik Vaculik's 'two-thousand word' statement that outlined the reformists' calls for liberalisation whilst also outlining the very real fear of conservative resistance to the liberalisation movement and the possibility of Soviet Intervention. ...read more.


Ideologically, Moscow was challenged by the Prague reformers as they suggested that Lenin had developed his own system of Marxism to fit Russian conditions. This was totally unacceptable to Moscow as the self-professed chief 'ideologue' in the communist system. Also, the Soviet leadership was very worried about the position of the 'leading role of the party'. As the party in all Leninist systems must have complete control over all branches of government, including the judiciary, Moscow was very concerned about the 'dismantling' of party control in Czechoslovakia. "Party control over the National assembly underwent substantial erosion in Czechoslovakia during 1968. Votes of no confidence were passed on leading officials, open and free debates marked Assembly sessions, and a system of Assembly committees with rights to subpoena and examine witnesses began to function."27 There are a number of factors involved in explaining why the Soviet leadership could not tolerate the Prague Spring reforms of 1968. Perhaps the most important one is the most basic, namely 'imperial ambitions' on the part of the USSR. The soviet empire was largely based on total conformity throughout the entire soviet bloc, and the philosophical incompatibility of dissent within a Leninist system must have influenced the Soviet leadership into invading Czechoslovakia due to the reform package of the 'Action Program' being largely based on a 'loosening' of the CPC's control over the press and the right to freedom of Speech. This must surely have been completely intolerable to the Soviet leadership, particularly after the Hungarian uprising in 1956. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Superpower Relations 1945-90

    This ensured that the Soviet Union would boycott the Los Angeles Olympic Games four years later. Why did Soviet forces invade Afghanistan? Like the USA in Vietnam, the USSR was afraid of losing its influence, and losing face: * In 1978 a Marxist4 government had come to power in Afghanistan

  2. Khrushchev's attempts at modernisation.

    The Soviet economy was therefore extremely weak. There was almost no investment, exports were down and it was by no means certain how much longer the peoples of the Soviet Union would accept such a dreary lifestyle.

  1. What were the causes of the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a socialist ...

    In the 1970's growth rates fell in Russia and were never to regain their highs of the 1960's again. In China, another centrally planned economy, growth rates were stagnating until introducing market reforms in the 1980's. Throughout that decade, growth averaged 9.3%.10 It should also be remembered that, as shall

  2. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    Molotov and Mikoyan encouraged such optimism, with the Soviets promising "a voluminous and stable market such as no other customer would ever [offer]." As the European war drew to a close, however, the American attitude shifted from one of eager encouragement to skeptical detachment.

  1. Armed forces.

    Zip, Traffic lights and 35mm camera are all invented 1915 Gallipoli landings; Gilbert and Ellice islands annexed Zeppelin raids Japan imposes 21 demands on China Einstein's General Theory of Relativity 1916 Mesopotamia campaign; Easter rising in Dublin; Troops enter Yaounde in Cameroons; Drive Germans out of Kenya Somme; Jutland Verdun;

  2. Gorbachev(TM)s reforms and policies, which were intended originally to strengthen the Soviet system, eventually ...

    This also led to severe shortages of basic consumer goods like children's food, washing powder and tooth paste. The government aggravated the situation by printing more money to pay the increased in labour wages, which resulted in inflation. For millions of people the economic reforms meant a higher standard of

  1. American History.

    But the main reason for its repeal was the appointment of Lord Rockingham as prime minister instead of Grenville. - Rockingham felt the law was a bad idea, but he still believed Parliament had the rights to tax the colonies and consequently passed the Declaratory Act [we can tax you

  2. The Hollywood Ten - House Un-American Activities Committee.

    Refusing to answer the HUAC's questions about his involvement in the Communist Party, Ornitz ended up as one of the famed "Hollywood Ten," in the company of such screenwriters as Ring Lardner Jr., Albert Maltz and Dalton Trumbo. He served a year in prison for contempt of court, during which

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work