Mikhail Gorbachev, a rising leader in the Soviet Union, implemented many reforms throughout his reign as general secretary of the Communist Party from 1985-1990, and president from 1990-1991. Born on March 2, 1931, Gorbachev was raised by a family of Russian peasants. In 1946, at the young age of fifteen, he joined the Komsomol (Young Communist League). After proving to be a promising member, he enrolled in Moscow Sate University and became a member of the Communist Party. Mikhail Gorbachev held many positions in the Komsomol, and in 1980 he became a full member of the Politburo, a political party in Russia whose methodology was to provide continuous stability and leadership during the Russian Revolution.
Gorbachev attributed the majority of his political success to Mikhail Suslov the leading Soviet Communist ideologue, and during the course of Yury Andropov’s tenure as general secretary, Gorbachev became one of the most visible members of the Politburo. However, Gorbachev was not Yury Andropov’s successor. After Andropov’s reign, Konstantin Cherneko became general secretary. When Cherneko passed away a year later, Mikhail Gorbachev was next in line. In March of 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev, the youngest member of the Politburo, was elected general secretary of the Communist Party.
Once elected, Gorbachev set out to establish his power in the Soviet Union. Formerly a powerhouse during the early years of rapid economic growth, the Soviet Union was withering away due to the lack of cheap materials available, stagnant population growth, and a lack of trade and mobilization because of previous reforms ratified by Stalin. After years of inert growth during Leonid Brezhnev’s reign, the Soviet Union was in vital need of a new economy, a rebuilding of the agricultural sector, and a more modernized technological structure. Although Brezhnev promised a rising standard of living during his reign, his ideals failed to materialize, leaving the Soviet Union in turmoil, and during his term the Soviet Union’s economy had grown only a mere two-percent annually per decade. Gorbachev, realizing the dire extent to which Brezhnev left the Soviet Union, focused on increasing the efficiency and responsiveness of the Soviet bureaucracy. In the beginning of his reign, Gorbachev focused his efforts on the need for Uskorienie or acceleration of the economy. After noticing his first trivial changes had little effect, Gorbachev decided to initiate deeper reforms in the Soviet Union’s economic and political systems.
Recognizing alcoholism as one of the Soviet Union’s many concerns, Gorbachev’s first reform centered on the reduction of alcohol in Soviet citizens’ everyday lives. In the early 1970s, alcoholism was linked to suicide, divorce, work related accidents, high rates of child-abuse, and a rising death rate among Soviet males. However, alcohol sales were also a sizeable source of revenue for the Soviet Union, who monopolized its production and distribution. Only two...