The new generation, which had grown up during the 'stable' years of 60-70s, was more educated and demanding. Modernisation of life-style had generated new demands and new dissatisfactions. People felt themselves more independent and demanding more respect for their human and civil dignity. The years of 'stability' had passed for the benefit of society: social bounds had been strengthened and people had a better conception of their interests. Not only the lower classes were seized with the discontent but also those at the very top. Mikhail Gorbachev was a representative of this new Soviet stratum. He was the youngest member of the Politburo when he became the Secretary of the CPSU in 1985. Unlike his predecessors he was healthy and active, which was the change in itself. Moreover he was a trained professional, a lawyer.
Many researchers argue that there has always been uncertainty about what Gorbachev wanted to achieve and whether he had a plan.
In my opinion he did know what he wanted. At least he had a general idea that the system needs massive improvement in economic performance. Although it is not clear if he had any idea how to achieve this. Perestroika was a vague and ever-changing policy without a direction. Many of his policies were incompatible and mostly achieved the opposite of what was initially intended. It did not represent a coherent agenda for economic transformation. There was a gulf between what Gorbachev said, the policies he promoted and what actually happened.
It is suggested that Perestroika is best understood as a rapid learning process for 'reformers' and for Gorbachev himself. It was believed that new 'democratic socialism' was possible to create by combining the strongest points of planning with the best of free market, popular sovereignty with one-party rule, which did not work, and...