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Yuri Andropov

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Soviet cogitations: 882
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Oct 2004, 02:34
Komsomol
Post 21 Feb 2006, 04:19
I don't know all that much about Yuri Andropov, but I generally think he was a good leader. He made attempts to improve the economy (through socialist means?) and reduce corruption (from the Brezhnev era?). Andropov was also remembered for his anti-alcohol campaign and struggle for enhancement of work discipline.

What is your opinion of Yuri Andropov? What do you know about him? I would be interested if anyone could tell me.
"Unpolitisch sein heißt: politisch sein, ohne es zu merken." - Rosa Luxemburg
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Feb 2006, 18:11
Pioneer
Post 21 Feb 2006, 05:21
He did take a much more aggressive forign policy toward the imperialist powers than Brezhnev or Khrushchev I`ll give points for that.
Soviet cogitations: 823
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Dec 2004, 18:03
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 21 Feb 2006, 06:51
I personally like Andropov him trying to clean up the party and fight corruption. Unfortunately he did not live long enough to fix the Soviet Union. The world would have been better if Andropov had lived longer.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 21 Feb 2006, 12:18
Mabus: He actually did try to fix the tumultuous relationship that the USSR had had with the US and the UK since the intervention in Afghanistan. He publically proposed reductions in nuclear weapons, knowing that the media in the United States would pressure Reagan, so Reagan proposed an unrealistic and impossible 'total' reduction of all intermediate range missiles. Andropov refused; and so he was branded the uncompromising one. Reagan further complicated matters when he called the Soviet Union an 'evil empire', thus scuttling any real hopes for meaningful exchange (you can't get very far in diplomacy when the other guy's country is 'evil').
Interestingly as well, Andropov was making renewed advances toward healing relations with China. It would have been interesting to see how that would have turned out (to see if China would have continued pro-market reforms, for example).

Overall, a great man. Not much to say -it's difficult to compress his efforts into a post, but Rabble Rouser and Rajin Cajun summed it up quite nicely. There have been no new Western books on Andropov since the mid-1980s, and the one major Russian book to come out recently (exclusively on him) is by Soviet dissident Roy Medvedev, portraying Andropov as a soft-tyrant, while proclaiming that his failures were proof that the USSR's administration was hopelessly rotten to the core.
It's difficult to guess what he was going to do when he had so little time to try to do it. Needless to say, he was the USSR's last hope.

A fairly balanced Western book by British Journalist Jonathan Steele is 'Andropov in Power: from Komsomol to Kremlin'. Quite a short book, but makes some bold and powerful assertions (that I've mentioned on this forum before) about the challenges Andropov faced, the solutions he proposed, and a brief biographical outline about his time in the KGB.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Soviet cogitations: 882
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Oct 2004, 02:34
Komsomol
Post 21 Feb 2006, 16:11
[off topic] Princess Laika: 'Help me, Yuri Vladimiroch Andropov. You're my only hope [/off topic]
"Unpolitisch sein heißt: politisch sein, ohne es zu merken." - Rosa Luxemburg
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Nov 2005, 17:55
Party Bureaucrat
Post 21 Feb 2006, 18:16
Quote:
[off topic] Princess Laika: 'Help me, Yuri Vladimiroch Andropov. You're my only hope [/off topic]


Sadly, Andropov's "padawan learner" was Gorbachev.

As many people on this forum, I also think Andropov was the only available hope for the USSR in the 80s, although given the experience of Prohibition in the US, I wouldn't have agreed with his anti-alcohol campaign.

For those among my acquaintances who have at least heard of Andropov (i.e. very few), their stream of thinking regarding Andropov is the following:
Andropov --> KGB --> NKVD --> secret police --> gulags ==> Andropov was evil. Such ignorance.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 15 May 2005, 17:11
Komsomol
Post 21 Feb 2006, 18:20
i think he was a great leader, it's really shitty he died so fast
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Feb 2006, 18:11
Pioneer
Post 21 Feb 2006, 23:42
This morning I went to the library at school and reserched andropov turns out he did some down right capitalist things like reducing the pay of workers in factories who did not produce enough.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jul 2005, 01:11
Party Member
Post 22 Feb 2006, 01:54
I used to really like Andropov, as a matter of fact my first login name was "Yuri V. Andropov". I don't really see anything productive about him though. All the things you speak about, clamping down on corruption and reorganizing the state, sure this is good stuff. But what DID he do for socialism? He was yet another Soviet leader who did no more than just administer a bureaucracy that stood over the people.

I also don't think Andropov would have really made a difference in the long run. The USA was in the middle of the "Reagan Revolution" and the USSR had already been so degenerated by this time its doom was pretty close to being absolutely inevitable.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Nov 2005, 17:55
Party Bureaucrat
Post 22 Feb 2006, 14:38
I believe that it was the bureaucracy under Brezhnev that had lost touch with the Soviet workers that caused the downfall of the USSR. Given that, don't you think that if Andropov had more time to clamp down on corruption, he could have salvaged the situation? Sure, there would be another bureaucracy over the people, but it would at least temporarily be one that could identify more with the workers.
About the Reagan Revolution, Reagan would not have warmed up to Andropov the way he did to Gorbachev, so I think Andropov's less corrupt bureaucracy would have been able to put its foot down over certain drastic reforms in the USSR and could have at least partially averted doom.

Quote:
This morning I went to the library at school and reserched andropov turns out he did some down right capitalist things like reducing the pay of workers in factories who did not produce enough.


Well that at least follows the socialist principle: "He who does not work shall not eat." I would imagine that the mentioned pay reduction would only be temporary, and besides, he had to fix at least 10-15 years of relative economic stagnation.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 23 Feb 2006, 03:33
Koba:

Quote:
But what DID he do for socialism? He was yet another Soviet leader who did no more than just administer a bureaucracy that stood over the people.


A streamlined bureaucracy would enhance benefits to the Soviet people. A modern nation cannot run without a bureaucracy. A modern socialist country like the USSR especially could not do so. But there was massive corruption (institutionalized corruption), and some wasted potential (people moving the same papers around all of which mean nothing, making products which could not be used, wasting time constantly changing jobs for no legitimate reason), but as you mentioned, Andropov worked, especially on the former, to fix the situation.

Soviet workers already had many rights and freedoms not guaranteed in most Western countries even today, including the guaranteed right to a job and the right to express yourself about your working conditions, both privately and together with your union (which actually worked, unlike many of their Western counterparts, to accomplish many great advances for the various groups they represented, such as better working conditions, arrangement of low cost sports events, relaxation and vacation facilities, prosecution of individual negligent managers, solving wrongful firing cases, etc). Andropov sought measures of increased freedom of the press in cases related to work, exposing fraud, corruption, environmental disregard, and mismanagement, and this included giving a voice to the ordinary individual employed in the industry undergoing investigation, not merely the voice of the journalist.

In the area of productivity, Andropov faced a daunting task, but called for the set up of dozens of experimental 'prototype' industrial facilities seeking to streamline productivity and reduce inattentiveness, skipping work and poor quality. Below is an example of a piston factory in the Crimea taken from the book Life in Russia by Michael Binyon (1983):

"A piston factory in the Crimea suffering from the usual turnover, absenteeism and noisy, dirty surroundings decided to raise the low morale of the mainly female workforce by making them look and feel better. It set up a hairdresser's saloon in the factory, offering hair-dos and manicure during working hours. The effect was immediate: women exhausted by housework and with no time to look after themselves used to be moody and quarrelsome, but after regular coiffeuring began to take pride in themselves and their surroundings and the atmosphre improved. The factory then opened a bookshop and employed a librarian to organize discussions, lectures and social evenings. Talk on the shop-floor changed from routine exhortations to fulfil the plan to debates on style and taste. The director brought in a seamstress to run up some elegant working clothes. Next came a shoe repair section, evening classes, physiotherapy units, a dentist, cake shop, cafe, fruiterer, fishmonger and so on. The labour turnover began to slow down as staff loyalty grew. Absenteeism fell twenty times and production increased. The factory built comfortably furnished hostels for its young workers and even employed someone whose sole job was to scour the local shops, using his wits and connections to obtain for the workers goods that were in short supply."

->In Andropov's time, dozens of such commune-like industrial facilities sprang up all over the USSR, and with its massive factories producing much or sometimes all of one good, it was possible to do it on a mass scale. Relaxation rooms, kindergartens, reception halls, health clinics, bath houses, massage rooms and stores filled with goods not to be found (or rare) out in the the outside world were set up inside or close to factories. Experiments like this actually began in the early 1970s, but it was Andropov who popularized them in the 1980s and attempted to electrify local party officials and citizens themselves by arguing for full-scale implementation.

Other economic reforms included:

* Increasing factory manager training
* Increasing the use of computers in the workplace
* Criminal conviction and imprisonment for the most severe cases of manegerial and worker negligence.
* Greatly increased freedom to Pravda and Isvestia, and their local dirivatives, regarding cases of corruption and mismanagement, to increase workers' awareness that their issues are being tackled and their problems brought to light
* A serious discussion on the idea of reinstituting the possibility of unemployment in a controlled socialist environment (known as the Shchekino Experiment) meant to solve the problem of lazy workers
* Experimentation in making bonuses more meaningful by making factories compete for them, and making the prizes coupons for rare or imported consumer goods and food
* Increasing serious and public discussion about waste, including that coming from laziness and lack of care, and of theft (an increasinlgy serious problem in the USSR since Stalin's time)
* Increasing efforts to root out and put to work those who have no legitimate reasons not to
* Making quitting a job more difficult (to reduce worker turnover and the costs associated with not working, training, etc) both by increasing incentives and possible legal penalties
* More vigourously enforcing quality control standards
* Increasing the use of efficient mechanized technology in agriculture to improve output and reduce inefficiency
* Concentrating and improving villages scattered inefficiently throughout the USSR so as to reduce major stresses on infrastructure and collection of agricultural output

-> Some of these initiatives seem obvious. Others are more ingenious. Most importantly for the Soviet people at the time was the fact that a leader came on tv and publically discussed problems and possible solutions to economic woes. The energy he brought, the new ideas he talked about, the enthusiasm that he tried to create; these were just as important to success as the specific initiatives themselves. Andropov may have been a typical-looking party bureaucrat with no theoretical contributions to socialism, and his successes were on paper few and relatively insignificant, but this is what makes his case so sad. He had so many positive and important ideas attempting to 'fix' the Soviet Union, many of which looking back upon seem genuinely possible and positive. Andropov was briefly the head of a country destined to be the leader of world socialism. That is why his contributions, or attempted contributions, were so important.

Quote:
the USSR had already been so degenerated by this time its doom was pretty close to being absolutely inevitable.


If there was a revolution in the former USSR today, comrade, I may agree that success would be impossible, considering how much of the Russian economy is based in a group of less than a dozen people whose accounts are situated outside the country. In the 1980s, I don't believe the situation was so grim. The USSR was a backwards, unindustrialized pariah state surrounded by hostile states in the 1920s. An intense and uncertain fight was carried out with the powerful kulaks in the 1930s. The largest land battles in history were carried out in the Great Patriotic War in the 1940s. The USSR had to rebuild itself quickly to face a new threat shortly after. Surely the country could handle a less daunting (though I admit still grave) problems that existed in the 1980s.

Comrade Marshal Konev: I totally agree with your line of thinking.

Comrade Mabus: [edit to make myself sound less of an ass]: Andropov's ideas (very rarely implemented) to reduce wages were based not on capitalist reform, but on reducing the disbalance that existed within the Soviet economy in regards to the amount of money circulating vs the amount of things available to buy. The wages, Andropov argued, were too high, considering the goods available to consumers, and this created shortages. In his desire to reduce shortages, and also to increase productivity, Andropov theoretically contemplated reducing wages, or increasing prices, so that the shortages that existed would be less problematic. As to practical application, his actions were merely based on the desire to improve quality of production. If the worker living in a socialist nation comes to work drunk, does a crappy job, or doesn't come in at all, it is natural that he shouldn't be paid as much, or rewarded as much as someone who does, and works hard. This is not capitalism, in my view, because nobody is getting exploited; on the contrary, this type of wage and incentive reform means that those who work harder for society's interests get more benefits back.
Last edited by soviet78 on 13 Mar 2006, 23:14, edited 1 time in total.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Soviet cogitations: 91
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Feb 2006, 18:11
Pioneer
Post 23 Feb 2006, 04:52
Book: The Andropov File

the book Andropov in Power: from Komsomol to Kremlin'. was also there but did not have time to investigate it.
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Soviet cogitations: 1
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Dec 2006, 20:20
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 01 Dec 2006, 21:50
he rocks!
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Soviet cogitations: 857
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Nov 2006, 09:01
Komsomol
Post 01 Dec 2006, 22:13
His aggressive stance exemplified the contradictions between the two imperialist superpowers, the US and USSR.
"Read some of the works of Marx and Engels... couple this with a reading of the Bible and note the parallelism of Communism and the program of Satan." Thomas O. Kay, National Association of Evengelicals
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Soviet cogitations: 3969
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 01 Dec 2006, 22:20
Quote:
His aggressive stance exemplified the contradictions between the two imperialist superpowers, the US and USSR.


This doesn't make any sense. Aggressive in relation to whom? Was the lackey Gorbachev better for you? Andropov took exactly the foreign policy stances that were necessary at the moment of his leadership. He wasn't willing to give up his country's position and foreign and domestic interests for the sake of appeasing an unfriendly, militarily aggressive power.
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Soviet cogitations: 35
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Dec 2007, 01:35
Pioneer
Post 10 Dec 2007, 13:36
I stayed at the same hotel as Yuri... The President Hotel in Moscow. His picture was on the wall next to Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze and Chuck Norris.

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