• 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...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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. How important was Stalins Leadership in relation to other factors, in accounting for the ...

    and those in regular manual employment were guaranteed survival through the network of Ors (workers provisionary department) shops at their places of work. Obviously the Red Army must be accredited with at least some of the war success. Although it was initially disorganised and was unable to adapt to the

  2. UNIT 6: PAPER 6b: THE SOVIET UNION AFTER LENIN

    * Trotsky was also repeatedly ill during this period. Perhaps, deep down, Trotsky realised he could not successfully oppose Stalin. He certainly didn't really help himself with his tactics. * The Triumvirate (Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin) gradually isolated Trotsky. He was replaced as Head of the Red Army in 1925.

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

    living but in reality, by 1991 the Soviet economy was experiencing a serious economic crisis and a huge increase in the number of people whose living conditions were worse-off than the Gorbachev era. This produced an embittered and angry population, many of whom saw themselves as victims of Perestroika rather than its beneficiaries.

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

    In the month before his death, FDR had evidently begun to question that presumption, becoming increasingly concerned about Soviet behavior. Had he lived, he may well have adopted a significantly tougher position toward Stalin than he had taken previously. Yet in his last communication with Churchill, Roosevelt was still urging

  1. How important were ideological differences in the split between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia ...

    The USSR called these newly created states "people's democracies"7; in the West, they were labeled 'satellites' because they were backed by the Soviet Red Army, and as such, were at Moscow's beck and call. It is not really clear what the exact definition of a 'people's democracy' was but the

  2. American History.

    - Subsequently, a group of Congregationalist merchants obtained a royal charter in 1629 and formed the Massachusetts Bay Company, which soon attracted middle-class Puritans who were concerned about the deteriorating situation in England. Although they remained committed to reforming the Anglican Church, they felt they would be better able to continue in America.

  1. How far did Kennan's ideas actually shape US policy towards the Soviet Union?

    Kennan did not predict China's future status as a major power, but neither did most other experts at the time. In the Third World, Kennan felt that, though the US could offer some modest aid to "help the emergent states," he didn't feel it was worth too much focus in power and resources.

  2. Khrushchev's attempts at modernisation.

    He also had very firm ideas about how the problems could be put right. Unfortunately for him, he was frequently not ready to listen to advice from experts, especially in agriculture, and he was also not prepared to allow the creation of a genuinely free market in the Soviet Union.

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