WI: No Chernobyl Disaster

With such a late PoD, I don't really see how the Soviets can avoid the economy going haywire. Though it may be significantly less than OTL, it's still going to be hard times.
I agree.

So when I say "bribes" I am talking about things like the massive over-funding of agriculture. The Soviet Union already used excessive amounts of fertilizer and pesticides in agriculture before Gorbachev came to power, but to buy off the patronage clique in the agricultural ministry Gorbachev sent spending on a breakneck rise - a rise that mostly, as far as I can tell, really went into more pesticides and fertilizers that the Soviets didn't need. Of course, in the short term this meant the patronage network enjoyed increased prominence and the allied industries could over-fulfill their production quotas for fertilizer and pesticide and thus enjoy bigger bonuses... In other words petty corruption, systemic waste and what people genuinely thought would be useful investment were all entangled in a nasty snarl.
Since Gorbachev had no other choice but to continue this if he maintains CPSU supremacy, I guess the only way this could have occurred is if oil prices stayed at around $100, preventing the loss of Soviet oil money. Come to think of it, if Iran actually went for the Soviet embassy as well, killed Soviets, and the USSR doesn't go into Afghanistan, maybe this could have happened.

On the other hand, was there some way that Gorbachev participate din that corrupt system for political gain, but the allocation of funds is done in a more holistic way, say agricultural/industrial scientific research? In a different thread, someone mentioned how the original 1986-1990 Five-Year Plan called for such things, and the OTL glasnost and perestroika were far different from the Five-Year Plan.

Well, the issue here is that Gorbachev isn't Deng, the Soviet Union isn't China and Brezhnev surely was no Mao.
Being willing to break CPSU monopoly was what made him different from Deng, I agree. Yes, Brezhnev was at least far better than Mao. Surely the USSR didn't experience 60 million deaths under him unlike in China.
 
Since Gorbachev had no other choice but to continue this if he maintains CPSU supremacy, I guess the only way this could have occurred is if oil prices stayed at around $100, preventing the loss of Soviet oil money. Come to think of it, if Iran actually went for the Soviet embassy as well, killed Soviets, and the USSR doesn't go into Afghanistan, maybe this could have happened.
Oh, Gorbachev had other choices. Not GOOD choices, but maybe better ones (and worse ones for that matter). He could have continued Andropov's anti-corruption campaign, cracked down on the worst abuses and inspired better behavior in those who saw corruption at last being punished.

However, Gorbachev was in an almighty rush, and consolidating his position and then waging a sufficient anti-corruption campaign probably would have taken years. IMO he tried to do too much at once, and the result was cut corners and increased Soviet weakness.

Being willing to break CPSU monopoly was what made him different from Deng, I agree. Yes, Brezhnev was at least far better than Mao. Surely the USSR didn't experience 60 million deaths under him unlike in China.
Deng had been one of the top people in China for decades he had experience and also started off as a pretty sharp guy. His path to reform started with the reform of the Party itself, meaning that when Deng tackled the economy, he didn't need to waste money buying off competing power-brokers. Gorbachev, while I rate him as an above-average statesman, was inexperienced.

And for all that Mao was a disaster, after he died, he'd certainly left the Chinese Party full of people who were willing to try an alternative path. So while Brezhnev was a much kinder and more humane soul, he didn't inspire people with the willingness to contemplate deep reform.

(Please note, I am NOT saying the Soviet Union would have been better under a Mao-type figure - such an idiot would have destroyed the Soviets - my point is that Mao gave Deng's reforms a very different context than Brezhnev gave Grobachev's reforms.)

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