But Gorbachev, still thinking in Communist categories, blamed bureaucratic resistance for the failure of his reforms and thus declared glasnost to encourage internal criticism.
What he got was the birth of a genuine Soviet public opinion, a reemergence of autonomous organizations in society, and more than 300 independent journals (by the end of 1989) publicizing and denouncing Communist military and economic failures, murder and oppression, foreign policy “crimes” such as the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and the invasion of Afghanistan, and even Communist rule itself.
The totalitarian state, however, thoroughly suppressed civil society, while even the Communist party, stifled by its jealous and fearful (official hierarchy), was incapable of adjusting.
In sum, the Stalinist methods of terror, propaganda, and mass exploitation of labour and resources had served well enough to force an industrial revolution in Russia, but they were inadequate to the needs of the postindustrial world.
Finally, Gorbachev hinted at a repudiation of the Brezhnev Doctrine—i.e., the assertion of the Soviets’ right to intervene to protect Socialist governments wherever they might be threatened.
Western observers were divided at first as to how to respond to this “new thinking.” Some analysts considered Gorbachev a revolutionary and his advent a historic chance to end the Cold War.
Young, educated, and urban members of the Communist elite came gradually to recognize the need for radical change if the Soviet Union was to survive, much less hold its own with the capitalist world.