Glasnost/Perestroika in 1968 instead of 1989

uk 75

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When I chatted with East German friends in the 80s before the Wall came down I was interested in how both Regime critical church people and pro Regime journalists agreed that 1968 had been a missed opportunity to reform the Communist system.
Since the fall of the Wall it has been claimed that the grim Yuri Andropov knew that reform was needed and prepared the way for Gorbachev. East German Spymaster Marcus Wolf was another who was said to have been dismayed by the likes of Chernenko and Honnecker.
Dubcek in Prague wanted reform not a break with Moscow. Let us imagine that a Soviet leader had recognised the need for Glasnost and Petestroika twenty years before Gorbachev.
No Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The new US President in 1969, Hubert Humphrey, realises that the changes in Moscow and E Europe offer a chance to reduce the burdens of the Arms Race.
Sadly not all is sweetness and light. In Peking as Beijing was still refered to in the West, Mao denounced the Moscow Revisionists and increased support for North Vietnam.
Without Moscow's support Hanoi found the going hard. The US had started to draw down its forces in Europe and transfer them to the Pacific.
A winner was Boeing. Its 2707 was now seen as essential to links in the Pacific.
But a slew of defence programmes from the AMSA bomber to the MBT70 tank were axed. The AX programme chose a prop rather than a jet design.
In Europe the "defence dividend" led Britain and France to take a fresh look at civilian programmes starting with Concorde.
 

kocovgoce

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Something similar happened in Yugoslavia in 1968 and that process ended in 1974 with the new constitution. In that period the idea of forming independent states in Yugoslavia reappeared Especially among the generals of Jna of Croatian origin especially in 1972 when there was a plan and preparation for secession of croatia but Tito's swift response and the arrest of those generals delayed the situation until 1991. But what if there was a breakup in 1972 that new Yugoslav war would quickly spread to all of Yugoslavia's neighbors.
Especially the war in Cyprus which would have resulted in a major Greek-Turkish conflict and the collapse of the NATO pact
 

uk 75

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Are you removing Tito somehow earlier than in our timeline? His removal in 1972 might have led to problems but there is no unified Germany to weigh in as it did in 1991. It was German Foreign Minister Genscher who supported the breakaway republics

Socialism with a human face a la Dubcek does not destroy the Eastern Bloc it allows it to become less militaristic and devote more resources to the civilian economy.
Honnecker does not succeed Ulbricht in this timeline, instead a moderate like Dubcek. With Willy Brandt in West Germany surviving (no East German spy scandal) relations between the two German states evolve more openly.

What war in Cyprus? The Turkish invasion in 1974 would have the same stalemated outcome as in our timeline. Noone comes on either Greece or Turkey's side..Why would they?
 
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kocovgoce

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Are you removing Tito somehow earlier than in our timeline? His removal in 1972 might have led to problems but there is no unified Germany to weigh in as it did in 1991. It was German Foreign Minister Genscher who supported the breakaway republics

Socialism with a human face a la Dubcek does not destroy the Eastern Bloc it allows it to become less militaristic and devote more resources to the civilian economy.
Honnecker does not succeed Ulbricht in this timeline, instead a moderate like Dubcek. With Willy Brandt in West Germany surviving (no East German spy scandal) relations between the two German states evolve more openly.

What war in Cyprus? The Turkish invasion in 1974 would have the same stalemated outcome as in our timeline. Noone comes on either Greece or Turkey's side..Why would they?
no no what i wrote about yugoslavia is true the croats tried to seceded in 1972 but Тito prevented them for example Tudjman how was a Yugoslav general was retired in 1972 and was sent to prison. We never know which superpower you are sitting behind this attempt But if this disintegration had taken place, there would have been a great war in the Balkans which would include Bulgaria, Albania and Greece in relation to the issue of Macedonia . While Greece and Turkey have never been openly at war in 1974 but if the Warsaw Pact were to fall apart, then NATO would fall apart as well in the Aegean wing of NATO. Turkey will enter into its hidden Ottoman imperialism this will strengthen the Greek junta who will start forming an alliance with Syria, Egypt and Iraq against this Turkish imperialism.


Тhe Soviet Union will begin a process of internal conflict between Stalinists and those who are for the moderate human face of socialism .

That is why the Red Army, with the help of the KGB, will carry out a military coup and seize power by force.
 

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China will use this situation in the USSR to invade the USSR around the Amur River and Central Asia ,this would provoke a fierce response from the Soviet Union using tactical nuclear warheads or chemical attacks on Chinese troops
 

Dilandu

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China will use this situation in the USSR to invade the USSR around the Amur River and Central Asia ,this would provoke a fierce responselu from the Soviet Union using tactical nuclear warheads or chemical attacks on Chinese troops
Why should we? Soviet army have near-absolute conventional superiority over Chinese, and due to better organization & logistic - we actually have local numerical superiority as well.
 

Michel Van

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Why should we? Soviet army have near-absolute conventional superiority over Chinese, and due to better organization & logistic
it's odd that Soviet diplomat in 68 were questioning US diplomat this:

"a theoretical Question, let assume we used tactical nuclear weapon on China, how would US react ?"
 

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Nah, it worked the following way.

On March 1969 the Chinese Red Guards went bonkers and ambushed Soviet troops, killing a number of them. The Soviets were taken off guard and beaten over the next two weeks.

On August 13, 1969 they got their revenge: ambushing and killing a number of chinese.
But they were no fools: they never intended to go any further. They knew that nuking China would have in turn 10 million or 100 million or even 500 million Chinese soldiers and guerillas attacking the 4200 km frontier in the far-east. Even with 10 000 nukes they could not stop THAT many numbers of guerrillas; even less if they staged guerrila warfare hiding in small groups in the remote countryside.

And so the Soviets got their revenge and stopped right there. No intent to escalate.

Unfortunately the Chinese were scared to death, Yamamoto post PH quote "Ooops ! we may have awaken, and pissed-off, a once sleeping colossus."

Over the next two months the Chinese braced for a Soviet onslaught, paranoia cranked well past 11

- September 11 when Kosyguin landed in Beijing to cool down tensions

- October 1, PRC 20 th anniversary

- October 20, when according to Kosyguin promise, peace & border talks were to start in Beijing.

The PRC leadership did not thrusted the Soviets and feared a nuclear or decapitation strike come in place of the border talk deleguates.

The Chinese put their nukes in alert for the only time in its history.
 

uk 75

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The 1968 reform argument was never tested. I have taken the optimistic views of Socialist supporters at face value.
There is a paradox. By loosening up life in the Eastern Bloc and in particular boosting the civilian economy the Soviet Union might have been able to deliver a better place to live than the troubled Western Europe of the 1970s.
Ideological Conservatives of both Right and Left will at once dismiss this as emotional tosh.
But a Soviet Bloc becoming more like Finland or Yugoslavia makes for a very different world post 1968.
 

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USSR cannot relax it's grip. Empires of this sort depend on perception, and such weakness would trigger revolts across it.
 

uk 75

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Leonid Breshnev, Erich Honnecker and Nicolai Ceaucescu agreed with you. So that is what happened. But many people in Russia, East Germany and Romania wanted the alternative I have described.
 

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China will use this situation in the USSR to invade the USSR around the Amur River and Central Asia ,this would provoke a fierce responselu from the Soviet Union using tactical nuclear warheads or chemical attacks on Chinese troops
Why should we? Soviet army have near-absolute conventional superiority over Chinese, and due to better organization & logistic - we actually have local numerical superiority as well.
In fact, in 1969 there was a clash between the Chinese Red Army and the Soviet Army when the Soviet Union first used primitive thermobaric weapons against the Chinese although they may have used other secret weapons that the Russians are hiding until now. But if the Soviet Union in alternative history had been attacked by the Chinese, they would have used nuclear weapons. because the greatest fear of the Soviets in the 1970s was a war on two fronts they would especially panic if someone invaded Central Asia and Siberia which were the main industrial and mining complexes in ussr.

Archibald We should not forget the Soviet arsenal of mass destruction was not only nuclear weapons but a large amount of chemical weapons but also biological weapons
 

kocovgoce

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The 1968 reform argument was never tested. I have taken the optimistic views of Socialist supporters at face value.
There is a paradox. By loosening up life in the Eastern Bloc and in particular boosting the civilian economy the Soviet Union might have been able to deliver a better place to live than the troubled Western Europe of the 1970s.
Ideological Conservatives of both Right and Left will at once dismiss this as emotional tosh.
But a Soviet Bloc becoming more like Finland or Yugoslavia makes for a very different world post 1968.
In the alternative history depending on who would win because in 1967 the power was taken over by Brezhnev who is a more pronounced Stalinist but if Khrushchev's people remained in power it is possible that we had the beginning of Yugoslav communism in the USSR and the Warsaw Pact.

But the whole key would be in a united Germany with two social systems but outside of NATO as was France in this period . This situation would allow France and Germany to start building good relations with the USSR in terms of supply of cheap oil and grain from ussr and on the other hand, a process of strengthening Eastern Europe would begin which would become economically strong enough to buy products from Germany and France
and this would be a step towards of the formation of a pan-Eurasian economic zone.
 

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It is a multi-layered cake for the E.Bloc nations.

Let's not forget that the Communist parties of the Eastern bloc nations took over their countries (with Moscow's ample help), they overthrew the fragile democratic systems and wanted to rule.
The Czech reforms were needed in 1968, but they were framed in a way to make Communist rule of Czechoslovakia more palatable to the people. How human really was "socialism with a human face"? As it happened the tanks rolled in and they stuck it out 24 more years. Would they have bought more than 24 years extra rule by bribing the people with a few white goods and some political 'freedoms'?
In Poland in the early 80s, they just called out the tanks even if Moscow was lukewarm to that idea. Hungary in 1989 triggered the collapse of the Iron Curtain, it led to too much pressure on East Germany and that infamous garbled press conference - relaxations that were to placate the people to let the leadership of the GDR rumble on. Instead they found themselves past the social breaking point.

Economically, reform in the late 1960s could have matched that of some aspects of Western consumer culture but only so far, its not likely a Hire Purchase boom for example could fund serious acquisition of white goods. Creeping market economics would have weakened aspects of state control and ideology. The people might have demanded more, "we want a new car, we want a holiday to Majorca".
Also deals with the capitalist West were not rare (e.g. RR Vipers to Yugoslavia and Romania, ROMBAC 1-11s, Airbuses to E Germany), but the calls might come thick and fast, draining foreign reserves and indebting the Communist bloc to the West and for Moscow its worrying, COMECON loses control, who's going to buy all those smoky Tupolevs when CSA and Interflug want to buy new Boeing 737s?
Population migration was another issue, it wasn't easy to keep people in if they hated the system. And unless you disband the secret polices and informers and political indoctrination then you can't improve people's image of the regime.

Politically Moscow sees the Bloc as a buffer, they built it to protect themselves against Barbarossa 2.0. They put the puppets in charge, they owe Big Daddy Secretary General everything. The puppets want to relax things to keep the grumbling people on side, ok but what if the people grumble about Moscow or Soviet nukes on their territory, or why they need Communist rule from Moscow at all? How far could this go? How far does the Communist elite want to go? Tito had already told Moscow to take a jump, Hoxa went paranoid, Ceaucescu seemed a hardliner but even he told Moscow to get off his back. What if Honnecker goes rogue next? They don't trust them.
Maybe if the USSR had come up with "socialism with a human face" and exported it to the satellites it might have been more palatable. They just didn't like the puppets coming up with the ideas - ideas are dangerous.
Even if they recognise the need to reform, its not easy to control reform or its effects. After all the West in 1968 was gripped by social unrest in the USA, France and UK - it didn't look unlikely that major societal change could lead to anarchy.

So in summary, reform in 1968 lets off some of the steam from the pressure cooker that erupted in 1989, but its not likely to have dissipated and at some point the people would demand a true free democratic and economic freedom. Even if it postponed 1989, its hard to imagine Communism surviving the rampant global capitalism of the 1990s.
As to reforming the USSR - well that boat sailed in 1953, had a sea change occurred after Stalin's death with some sensible economic ideas and a reduction of the military burden in addition to a more sweeping de-Stalinisation, its possible that "socialism with a human face" could have been created in Russia by the late 50s and spread throughout the Eastern Bloc during the 1960s. Where that may have led is anyone's guess, either disintegration of the Bloc during the 1970s or lingering death into the 90s - or perhaps as the cheap labour/factory source for the EEC the bloc might have emulated China and turned into a true mixed economy?
 

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China will use this situation in the USSR to invade the USSR around the Amur River and Central Asia ,this would provoke a fierce responselu from the Soviet Union using tactical nuclear warheads or chemical attacks on Chinese troops
Why should we? Soviet army have near-absolute conventional superiority over Chinese, and due to better organization & logistic - we actually have local numerical superiority as well.
In fact, in 1969 there was a clash between the Chinese Red Army and the Soviet Army when the Soviet Union first used primitive thermobaric weapons against the Chinese although they may have used other secret weapons that the Russians are hiding until now. But if the Soviet Union in alternative history had been attacked by the Chinese, they would have used nuclear weapons. because the greatest fear of the Soviets in the 1970s was a war on two fronts they would especially panic if someone invaded Central Asia and Siberia which were the main industrial and mining complexes in ussr.

Archibald We should not forget the Soviet arsenal of mass destruction was not only nuclear weapons but a large amount of chemical weapons but also biological weapons

Presently filling my brain and HD reading stuff about Biopreparat, the Soviet BW weapon program.
Scary stuff !
But it didn't started before 1972, on the smoldering ruins of Lysenkism (that SOB died in 1976 !)
Ovchinnikov made a faustian bargain with the Soviet military, whch was the one and only organization with enough resources to catch back with the twenty years lost to Lysenkism. He wanted to compete with the West on biotech, but of course the military only agree if he churned BW like crazy - which he did, up to insane levels. Dear God. They toyed with Marburg, Smallpox, Ebola, Plague, Anthrax (Sverdlovsk paid 100 dead to the latter craziness) and plenty other.
 

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Archibald they seem to have had a serious program and may have had smallpox-based weapons in the 1960s . although their program began as early as 1925 most commonly based on typhus and anthrax but during World War II German troops were reportedly attacked with tularemia. All I know is that bio-weapons experiments in 70 s were performed on an island in the Aral Sea.
 

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West Germany's first Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, famously said he would rather have half of Germany intact than the whole of Germany incomplete. As a Rhinelander he felt much more at home in Bonn than West Berlin.
But even the Social Democra
t mayors of West Berlin, notably future Chancellor Willy Brandt had no love for Soviet Communism.
Large numbers of people in West Germany had fled the Red Army or been expelled from Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Stalin's offer of a unified Germany outside NATO had some pretty hefty resistance in West Germany.
The 1968 student movement in Western Europe and in particular the later terrorists in Germany and Italy"s Red Army groups were middle class kids with no support from working class youths much more interested in popular entertainment and rising living standards.
Ironically those two aspects of life helped make young people in the East look to the West.
 

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Germany's entry into NATO was the reason for the creation of the Warsaw Pact because the formation of the German state and army in 1955 violated the Yalta agreement for a neutral ground from the Adriatic to the Baltic Sea.
 

uk 75

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Germany's entry into NATO was the reason for the creation of the Warsaw Pact because the formation of the German state and army in 1955 violated the Yalta agreement for a neutral ground from the Adriatic to the Baltic
"the creation of the Warsaw Pact" was only possible or necessary because of the Soviet Union's occupation of its members.
As soon as that ceased in 1990 guess which organisation survived?
 

uk 75

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The "German question" was neuralgic for NATO as well as the Soviet Union.
UK Prime Minister Macmillan was very unsympathetic to any attempts to use force over Berlin in 1961.
The access of Bundeswehr units to US supplied nuclear delivery systems was controversial both in neighbouring countries but also led to the "Spiegel Affair" in West Germany.
I had not realised that Pershing 1 was originally intended to be used by UK amongst others (it features in a NATO Defence Planning Questionnaire for UK).
But it does go into service with the German Air Force.
The US remain solidly behind West Germany. Continued German membership of NATO is the only US condition for German unification in 1990 much to the public annoyance of Mrs Thatcher.and private annoyance of M.Mitterand.
 

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Everything is ОК that you wrote. But from the point of view of the Russians they were quite afraid of a new German army because two world wars they fought with them and they would almost lose the war and there was great fear that if the fought with the Germans again tomorrow.
 

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uk 75​


The unification of Germany took place because the Russians allowed it and the Germans paid $ 2 billion to soviet to leave East Germany. Аlthough the Germans thought the Russians would ask for $ 20 billion to leave East Germany and they just asked for a miserable $ 2 billion .

 

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China will use this situation in the USSR to invade the USSR around the Amur River and Central Asia ,this would provoke a fierce responselu from the Soviet Union using tactical nuclear warheads or chemical attacks on Chinese troops
Why should we? Soviet army have near-absolute conventional superiority over Chinese, and due to better organization & logistic - we actually have local numerical superiority as well.
And those dug in fortified T-10M tanks.;)

Regards
Pioneer
 

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I think you are missing the point. The communist elite must "grow tired" of communism in order to allow transformation. What happened in the 80s couldn't happen in the 60s.
Ideology was not just a shell of the Soviet system, it was a state-forming force. Ideology dictated the conditions for the perception of the world, for managing the economy, for the prohibition of certain branches of science and technology. All of this was based on a muculature called "Marx", which was based on German philosophy of the early 19th century. That is, in fact, the communist ideology is just a set of dogmas with varying degrees of insanity. An attempt to introduce a market economy automatically meant abandoning the "class struggle". Any attempt to "negotiate with the West" would have the same meaning. The USSR proclaimed itself a kind of "beacon of true science in the midst of an ocean of bourgeois pseudosciences", this included, among other things, the science of economic management, psychology, etc.
At the same time, most bosses and most ordinary people perfectly understood the delusionalness of Soviet ideology. But, the entire Soviet political system was built on the fact that each chief reported "upward" on the tremendous successes, on the fulfillment of the plan for the release of nuts or corners, and received "bonuses" for this, and so on, just like his boss did, and chiefs of all chiefs. Only one general secretary, who "managed" this kingdom of eyewash, did not do this. In a market economy, all these bosses will suddenly become incapacitated, because they can practically do nothing except sell all equipment for a penny and various shenanigans (and Soviet bosses knew how to deal with fraud very well). In the 80s, information appeared in the Soviet press that machines of the 19th and early 20th centuries were used in textile production. Who needs modernization? It drops productivity because it takes time to install new machines. And the bosses will demand from you that you produce the required number of square kilometers of textiles.
Why do you need to think with your head, compare with the modern West, focus on the market when you can compare the smelting of pig iron with 1913? The communists were very proud of comparisons with 1913, not only the production figures of something, but also the technologies. Yes, I'm serious, the communists were proud of the fact that during the Second World War they had more advanced technology than they had in tsarist Russia during the First World War. Absurd? Yes. In addition, the communists considered their ideology to be the only correct one, including thanks to the victory of the USSR in World War II. All these manipulations were mixed into a single huge mythological system, if you touched on the uselessness or excessiveness of some Soviet aspects, it means that you touched upon the Second World War, and the class struggle, and in general everything at once, and could instantly turn from a reformer into a Trotskyist, a fascist, a Zionist, an enemy agent.
I would estimate the possibility of transforming the Eastern Bloc in 1968 at about 0%. The Soviet system could either be maintained or destroyed.
The small likelihood of a successful "Perestroika" could have occurred if Lavrenty Beria came to power in 1953. He proposed sweeping reforms, in fact the same as Deng Xiaoping later carried out in China. But, the Soviet military was opposed to Beria. He would have had some chance if he could win over to his side Zhukov (whom the entire USSR knew as the "Marshal of Victory").
In fact, the only reliable option for "Perestroika" and at the same time preserving a certain division of Europe into two camps is the preservation of the monarchy in Russia in 1910s. Nicholas II wanted to divide Germany "in order to prevent the emergence of revanchism." At the same time, Russia at that time resembled modern China, only without the communists. The Russians had very big plans for the construction of the military industry even after the war, and, it seems, all factories were built with such a calculation in order to then be able to fight simultaneously with all former allies, at least this concerned the production of small arms, heavy field and siege artillery and rifle cartridges. Here "Perestroika" is not needed, the state-controlled market economy already exists here. I thought to create a thread about this version of an alternative history, there may be a lot of interesting things, including the implementation of economic and military projects.
 

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