Book Review Foreign Policy Robert Scheer Russia

Robert Scheer: Remembering Mikhail Gorbachev, the Greatest Modern Champion of World Peace

ScheerPost revisits Robert Scheer’s 1987 Los Angeles Times review: “From Moscow, First Report of an Unprecedented Call for Change: The Gorbachev Manifesto.”
Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev sign the INF Treaty in the east room of the White House. [White House Photographic Office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Editor’s Note: In 1987, Robert Scheer, then a LA Times staff writer, had been in Moscow for a month when he received an early copy of Mikhail Gorbachev’s “Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World.” For the LA Times, he provided a detailed and insightful review regarding a pivotal moment in American as well as world history. Today, following the news of Gorbachev’s death, it is worth revisiting the ScheerPost publisher’s essential review. Originally published on November 15, 1987, the review ran simultaneously in various languages, including in Russian and English in Moscow News, the Soviet Union publication where Scheer was a visiting exchange journalist.

By Robert Scheer / Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW — When Mikhail S. Gorbachev comes to the United States next month for his summit conference with President Reagan, he will convey the main theme of this book: The Soviet Union is now in the grip of a new realism about its domestic crisis and world priorities.

His top foreign policy advisers are convinced that the “new thinking” of perestroika in foreign affairs has permitted a breakthrough on arms control beyond the signing of a ban on intermediate range nuclear force (INF) missiles. They speak openly of a dramatic deal to halve each side’s strategic missile force in return for continued strict observance of the existing Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Whether or not such a breakthrough is announced at the summit’s conclusion, Gorbachev will be seeking to leave behind in the United States an image of his perestroika as a domestic policy whose foreign policy postulate is an end to the Cold War as we have known it, thus providing a much needed period of peace for the remaking of Soviet society.

Perestroika, or restructuring, as vividly and conversationally described in this remarkable manifesto, is based on a profound criticism of the “stagnation” of Soviet society and an insistence on radically reordering its essential economic mechanisms. But perestroika requires for its success a breeze of glasnost blowing through the country’s stultified intellectual and political life.

A Second Russian Revolution?

If perestroika–for now a top-down movement with all of the limitations thus implied–succeeds in cutting through the morass of bureaucratic inefficiency and stupidity to ignite grass-roots support, it will represent a second Soviet “revolution.” Or so Gorbachev claims, writing as a new Lenin in this modern rendition (or revision) of the Soviet Founding Father’s “What Is to Be Done?”

“Perestroika means initiative,” Gorbachev writes, “and creative endeavor, improved order and discipline, more glasnost, criticism and self-criticism in all spheres of our society. It is utmost respect for the individual and consideration for personal dignity. . . . The essence of perestroika lies in the fact that it unites socialism with democracy. . . .” Reading those bold words in the historic National Hotel up the hall from Room 107 where Lenin sat in 1918 looking out at the walls of the Kremlin where his party inexplicably and suddenly held power leaves one wanting to dash out into the streets, like John Reed in the movie “Reds,” to witness the change.

Reinforcing the movie-land image of revolution is the presence of actress Vanessa Redgrave, here for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, who sits each morning in the hotel restaurant huddling with her British Marxist adviser, speaking as if nothing has changed since 1917.

But it’s not that sort of revolution. When tanks move here as they did dramatically one recent night, sweeping through Red Square, it’s not for the seizure of power but rather practice for a parade.

This is a settled-in society, and nobody knows this better than Gorbachev does. He must now manage a society that he admits was, when he took power, close to “unmanageable” and yet quite comfortable for the people whose privilege and power might be lost in his reform. As he puts it, “The atmosphere in our society has grown tense as the perestroika effort has gone deeper. We have heard some people say: ‘Was there any point to starting this at all?’ ”

What has Gorbachev to start with in the way of ideology or indeed mere example? Every leader other than Lenin has been discredited. Lenin’s portrait hangs everywhere virtually alone, since Gorbachev frowns on the display of his own picture, fearing a cult of personality, and all of those who came in between him and Lenin are not favorably recalled, to put it mildly.

Unfortunately, there are precious few prescriptions left over from the founder to tell a modern leader what is to be done. “The classics of Marxism-Leninism left us with a definition of the essential characteristics of socialism,” Gorbachev writes; “they did not give us a detailed picture of socialism.”

Instead, what evolved over the years after Lenin’s death and through Stalin’s madness were, Gorbachev writes, forms that “were canonized, idealized and turned into dogma. Hence the emasculated image of socialism, the exaggerated centralism in management, the neglect of the rich variety of human interests, the underestimation of the active part people play in public life, and the pronounced egalitarian tendencies.”

So what is to be done? What Gorbachev holds out is unprecedented for the leadership of an authoritarian state. Questions, more than tasks “have to be tackled, with no ready-made answers. Nor are there such answers today. Social scientists have not yet offered us anything cohesive. The political economy of socialism is stuck with outdated concepts and is no longer in tune with the dialectics of life.”

The trouble is it was easier to seize power than to use it to accomplish the nobly expressed aims of the revolution, as Lenin well knew and recorded in his last writings. Life is not a movie like “Reds.” It is more often dull, complex and undramatic. It is the waiter at the National Hotel simply disregarding the fact that Vanessa Redgrave–beautiful, famous and imperious–wants another cup of coffee, because there isn’t a damn thing she or anyone else can do for or to him if he moves far slower than his customer’s desire. In a weird way, he is the master of his fate, but the end result for society is what has become a favorite word around here to describe the Brezhnev decades: stagnation.

What is to replace the motives of fear and greed–derided as they are by Marxists–that make waiters and everyone else in capitalist societies hop to it? How is any leader to move a society in which full employment is a birthright and in which the price of essentials is so artificially low that differences in ruble earning mean little?

Oddly enough, intellectual freedom has been easier to develop than a new work ethic. Writers tear into taboos as if taking another swig of vodka. For them, freedom of thought is intoxicating.

But for others, the long lines for real vodka, caused by Gorbachev’s curtailment of alcohol sales, may be more pressing. There is more grumbling among ordinary people about that deprivation than there is outrage about the newly exposed crimes of Stalin or the continued investigative reports in the press about inefficiency and corruption in high places.

Gorbachev’s criticism of the system he inherited is as devastating as anyone’s: “In the last fifteen years the national income growth rates had declined by more than half and by the beginning of the eighties had fallen to a level close to economic stagnation.” “An absurd situation was developing,” he continues, “the Soviet Union, the world’s biggest producer of steel, raw materials, fuel and energy, has shortfalls in them due to wasteful or inefficient use. One of the biggest producers of grain for food, it nevertheless has to buy millions of tons of grain a year for fodder. We have the largest number of doctors and hospital beds per thousand of the population and, at the same time, there are glaring shortcomings of our health services. Our rockets can find Halley’s comet and fly to Venus with amazing accuracy, but side by side with these scientific and technological triumphs is an obvious lack of efficiency in using scientific achievements for economic needs, and many Soviet household appliances are of poor quality.” Nothing new in this for Western readers except that it comes from a book by the Soviet nation’s top leader in a country grown used to celebrating failure as success.

Perestroika is an attempt to unleash individual human economic energy, and, to date, its results are not obvious. There have been few real successes on the economic front, although the grain harvest is big for the second year in a row, and that is significant, given the recent unusually harsh winters. The more dramatic changes revolve around the other magic word of Gorbachev’s revolution: glasnost, or openness. Here too there are still serious limits. The granting of the Nobel Prize to emigre poet Joseph Brodsky was only belatedly and briefly noted in the avant-garde publication Moscow News.

The connection between glasnost and perestroika is nonetheless vital, Gorbachev writes: “Today our main job is to lift the individual spiritually, respecting his inner world and giving him moral strength.” And, he adds, in italics no less, “in short we need broad democratization of all aspects of society.”

The reason for this is obvious. Perestroika means replacing a command economy, or administrative society run from the top, by planners setting quantitative goals for production with a decentralized economy of individual production units and contract labor teams free to respond to market forces and able to profit by producing goods of sufficient quality to attract consumers: “The present economic reform envisages that the emphasis will be shifted from primarily administrative to primarily economic management methods at every level, and calls for extensive democratization of management, and the overall activization of the human factor.” And that requires freedom.

So much for intentions. Not a single person I have interviewed in several months of such efforts, ranging from dissidents to Politburo members, from Andrei Sakharov to Alexander Yakovlev, doubts the sincerity of Gorbachev’s intentions. Indeed, the fear that is most often expressed is not that he will betray his program or that he is anything but sincere in connecting glasnost with perestroika but rather that he will be worn down by the opposition of a society’s inertia–not, as is often suggested in the West, by the opposition of the KGB or the military, both of which, Gorbachev points out, are firmly under the political control of the party. This remains an authoritarian one-party state without any serious political opposition; but, as with the divisions of the Pope, inertia has many troops.

Can the Soviet Union Change?

“Will it last?” was the question posed by the head of the national Union of Writers, speaking a few feet in front of the assembled leadership at the recent celebration of the 70th anniversary of Soviet power.

It is a question not easily answered. On this occasion, the speaker said it would, because the time for change is ripe. Echoing Gorbachev’s own speech of that same day, he said that an economic crisis is at hand, that everyone knows it and that the leadership is boldly dealing with it.

But this urbane and suavely dressed writer had been preceded by a stocky Uzbekistani harvester driver who offered a perhaps more realistic appraisal. In dress, she was a caricature from a Wendy’s ad about Soviet fashion, but, in speech, a poet of moving proportions.

Yes, the revolution had done much for her, the daughter of a peasant, who was now an alternate member of the party’s all powerful Central Committee. But she still was responsible for getting the cotton in; and cotton, as she warned them, responds to its own rhythms. Cotton, she told this audience of the party elite and invited dignitaries who tend to spend their lives drunk with abstractions, is like a small child whose growth and very survival is at constant issue.

Each day, she ventures out into the field to look into the face of this cotton as a mother into a child’s face and ask how is it doing. Is it getting enough nourishment from the soil, is its growth stunted, what more does it need to be healthy? Will it be harvested in time and with a care that will not damage what has been so carefully nurtured?

For 23 years, she has operated a cotton harvester, which she described as a woefully inadequate machine. And, for 23 years, she has witnessed a parade of experts who have come to inspect this problem of the harvester. But, despite 100 different scientific dissertations written on this subject, she is still driving the same lousy harvester.

Perestroika, she stated in a booming voice, will not work if the top leaders do not leave their offices, get out into the fields and look that cotton in the face. And it will not work unless people are free to criticize the top leaders and elect new ones when they fail to improve the harvester despite so much talk.

Gorbachev, himself a harvester driver in his youth and the son of a harvester driver, knows this all too well. He has seen claims of reform come and go. In this book, Gorbachev is a kind of agent provocateur, not because he tells the Soviet people what to think but because he calls on them to think in the first place. Centuries of political oppression and authoritarian rule have left this people, despite its formal education, without the habit of thinking and, more important, acting independently.

“The greatest difficulty in our restructuring effort lies in our thinking which has been molded over the past years,” Gorbachev writes. “Everyone, from the general secretary to worker, has to alter his thinking. And this is understandable, for many of us were first formed as individuals and lived in conditions when the old order existed. We have to overcome our own conservatism. . . . Many decades of being mesmerized by dogma, by a rule book approach, have had their effect. Today we want to inject a genuinely creative spirit into our creative work. This is difficult, but it must be done.”

He admits that “We do not yet have enough ethic of debate . . . but there is a steadily growing understanding that democracy is incompatible with excessive bureaucratic regimentation of social life.” Tough talk, but will the commitment to glasnost continue when that openness threatens, as it now does, to spawn new groupings and even militant demonstrations that portend at least a limited plurality of power?

Gorbachev’s answer is quite clear; and by personnel changes and example, he is imposing his answer on the party leadership more with each passing month: “It is no longer a question of whether the CPSU Central Committee will continue the policy of glasnost. . . . We need glasnost as we need the air. . . . There is no present-day socialism, nor can there be, without democracy.” Laws implementing this principle are supposedly being drawn up now, and their public codification and enforcement could go a long way to making glasnost a permanent feature of Soviet society. Laws, and–a subject not addressed in this book–an independent judiciary to enforce the laws.

Can there be legality without the separation of powers and without pluralistic political power? And to what degree is the Soviet Communist Party now prepared to march down that road of power sharing? If glasnost is as necessary as air, they had better march pretty far and pretty fast.

As Gorbachev concedes, “law and legality are not just concomitant of the deepening of our democracy and acceleration of social progress. These are working instruments in the restructuring and a reliable guarantee of it being irreversible.” But we shall have to wait to see, for starters, how far the new laws go in the direction of guaranteeing rights of habeas corpus and independent counsel.

Women, Jews and Afghans

Before leaving the domestic portion of this book, I need quarrel with one egregiously sexist proposition put forward by the secretary general. After reading his sensitive discussion of the strains on family life brought on by both parents working and the double price paid by Soviet women who are generally expected to be both disciplined workers in the field and homemakers at home, one hoped for a plea to men to take on more of the burden. Instead, he writes of “the question of what we should do to make it possible for women to return to their purely womanly mission.” Was Lenin’s revolution fought to bring the views of Phyllis Schlafly to power?

Another disagreement. He writes that “it is a tradition of our party to combat any manifestation of nationalist narrow-mindedness and chauvinism, parochialism, Zionism and anti-Semitism, in whatever forms they may be expressed.” This is simply not true. Anti-Semitism, sometimes in the guise of anti-Zionism, has been a consistent feature of life in Mother Russia from the time of the czars to the present, and it has to be dealt with forthrightly if the spirit of glasnost is to be observed. That is not done here.

Ironically, Gorbachev later on in the book endorses Zionism, if by that is meant the right of the Jewish people to a secure homeland of their own. “Nonexistent anti-Israeli prejudices are ascribed to the Soviet Union, although our country was among the first to promote the formation of the state of Israel.” After reiterating the Soviet plan for a Mideast peace conference involving the Soviet Union as a precondition for restoration of full diplomatic ties, Gorbachev adds: “I want to stress in this connection that we do not bear any hostility toward Israel in principle. . . . We have no complexes here. As for the contacts already existing between our countries, we will not abandon them.”

According to interviews with high Soviet foreign ministry officials, those contacts are substantial, though generally with the Labor wing of the Israeli government. The sticking point now is the matter of the emigration of Soviet Jews desiring to leave, and this topic is simply avoided in this work.

The book is also unconvincing on the Soviet presence in Afghanistan where Gorbachev declares that “we want our soldiers home as soon as possible” but risks no new offers nor any soul searching about how they got there in the first place.

This stagnant approach to Israel and Afghanistan stands in sharp contrast to the fresh “new thinking” on most outstanding international questions dealt with at length in the remainder of the book.

Peace as the Only Option

What More Does It Need?

A More Optimistic Mood

Basically, Gorbachev argues that the time of the Cold War is over and that the Soviet Union and the United States no longer have a military avenue for pursuing their differences. It is a point not very different than that made by President Richard M. Nixon in his book, “The Real Peace,” which holds that war, either nuclear or conventional, isn’t any longer an option: “Peace is the only option,” Nixon wrote.

Gorbachev puts it somewhat differently: “Having entered the nuclear age . . . mankind has lost its immortality.” He adds: “Clausewitz’s dictum that war is the continuation of policy only by different means, which was classical in his time, has grown hopelessly out of date. It now belongs to the libraries. . . . Security can no longer be assured by military means–neither by the use of arms or deterrence, nor by continued perfection of the ‘sword’ and ‘shield.’ Attempts to achieve military superiority are preposterous.”

The economic impetus for the Soviet’s “new thinking” in foreign policy is equally clear to Gorbachev: “We are saying openly for all to hear: We need lasting peace in order to concentrate on the development of our society and to cope with the tasks of improving the life of the Soviet people. Ours are long-term and fundamental plans. That is why everyone, our Western partners-rivals included, must realize that our international policy of building a nuclear-weapon-free and non-violent world and asserting civilized standards in interstate relations is equally fundamental and equally trustworthy in its underlying principles.”

On his trip to the United States, Gorbachev will advance his theme of the interdependence of the modern world and the need for a much higher level of cooperation centering on the United Nations, an institution to which the Soviets have been devoting increasing attention. But he will also throw down a challenge leveled in the closing pages of this book: Which side needs the Cold War and why?

He suggests that the United States seems to require the Cold War and an image of the enemy to appease interests of the U.S. military industrial complex and adds that “we certainly do not need an ‘enemy image’ of America, neither for domestic nor for foreign policy interests.” The book also raises the question of whether the United States intends to continue the arms race in order to bleed the Soviet Union economically and prevent it from becoming an attractive alternative system.

But now the signs are that Gorbachev’s trip to the summit in Washington will undermine this pessimistic appraisal.

The mood here in Moscow has become considerably more optimistic on U.S.-Soviet relations since the book was written in late summer. Now senior officials in the Foreign Ministry, the military and on the Communist Party’s Central Committee talk confidently of a profoundly important and impending reversal of the nuclear arms race.

According to these sources, the summit will witness not only a ban on intermediate range nuclear weapons but also a possible agreement in principle on the destruction of half of the strategic nuclear arsenal in return for strict U.S. observance of the ABM Treaty.

If this second deal goes through, it may well mean that the Cold War is on its way out and that the new era of peace and new politics that Gorbachev writes about is truly at hand.


  1. Gorby despised in Russia did nothing for world peace—he trusted the deceitful lying americans—this mistake lead to a more aggressive NATO and a more imperialistic USA. the inevitable result—american created crisis in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Syria, Iraq, Taiwan, etc. China and Russia no longer bother to negotiate with americans

    1. indeed—this explains why americans like gorby—-far better leaders are despised by americans—Stalin , Mao, Ho, Fidel, Napoleon, the Sultan of Oman, etc…this of course correlates with their ability to successfully challenge american immorality

  2. I was shocked when reading comments about Gorbachev on various Russian Telegram Channels that I use to keep up with the war. The vehement hatred of him by Russian commenters was extreme. To them, he was at best a weak leader and at worst an outright traitor who sold out his country to the west.

    I never once stopped to think about Gorbachev and what happened to Russia with the fall of the Soviet Union, from the average Russians point of view. Now that I have, it makes perfect sense.

    For myself, I consider Gorbachev to have been a flawed but basically decent human being who found himself in a situation far over his head and because of it, made some bad calls for which his country paid a heavy price.

    1. The Russians aren’t any smarter than we are, in the aggregate. Most USAians constantly swallow the lies and vote against their interests, and so do most Russians.

      They blame the decent man who tried to save them instead of the psychopaths who overthrew him and put the US-lackey and drunk, El’tsin, and Capitalism, in his place.

      As Machiavelli told us, “there is nothing more dangerous or unlikely to succeed than to change a system, for all those who profit by the existing system will be your bitterest enemies, while those who would profit by your new system will be but lukewarm supporters”.

      May Mikhail Sergeevich live forever in our hearts, decent man.

      1. obviously you are american imbecile that has never lived in a civilized nation
        Russia–free medicine, universal health care, longes t paid mandatory maternity leave all nations, no tuition universities—60 % Russians have at least academic under graduate degree; amerikan trash universities do not educate to create “unexcellent sheep” as recent book by Yale professor demonstrates….89% Russian own their habitat no mortgage, half also have dachas—w .001% property tax except for rental properties, flat 13% income tax except for the rich

      2. dear fascist libber,
        “americans are the living refutation of the cartesian cogito ergo sum. americans are yet they do not think. the american mind peurile primitive lacks characteristic form…”Julius Evola
        “amerikans cannot think dialectically—they only particularize, decontextualize”. Richard Sennet
        ‘americans only comprehend discreet disconnected facts—they cannot make connections…..Russians naturally think dialectically”. Geoffrey Gorer…as Gorer wrote: “the american liberal/progressive wants to preserve the essence of the past, the conservative wants more and more progress; the European radical wants to hasten the transformation of the future, the European conservative wants to preserve the essence of the past….amerikan parents tech their children to have bad manners….americans bewilder Europeans”
        “nothing can thrive in amerika unless inflated by hyperbole and gilded with a fine coat of fraud. americans cannot think except by means of slogans–they identify garbage as quality. the stupidity and if=gnorance of amerikans has long been a topic of hilarity in Europe”. Paul Fussell

    2. and yet the Russian oligarchs – including Vlad, wouldn’t have their wealth w/o him
      not that that was his goal

      1. Putin possesses little wealth or property….”Putin’s great innovation is that he did not accept the wealth and influence of the oligarchs nor did he accept the patrimonial relationships created by Yeltsin . he reduced their wealthy half and redistrubuted to the Russian people” Isvan Sezyeni—New Left Review
        because you worship money you believe civilized people do also
        “as one digs deeper into the national character of amerikans one sees they have sought the value of everything in this world according to the answer to a single question: how much money will it bring in? No people are as keen or alert in their love of private property as amerikans”. Tocqueville
        “private property makes people stupid…only the stupid bourgeoise reduce all causes to the purse”. Karl Marx
        “Russian legal pronouncements regarding theft and property do not reflect an attitude towards property, but rather an attitude towards man….Russians have always been anti-bourgeoise”. Nicolai Berdayeav
        “for an amerikan poverty is an embarrassment; for a Serb it is a Socratic symbol of family unity—of struggle”. Emir Kustiricia
        “amerikans are farcical when it comes to money and force majeure—the 2 things they worship”. Gore Vidal
        “the only God in america is money”. Malcolm X
        The double symbolism americans assign to money is considered paradoxical to Europeans”. Geoffrey Gorer
        who would have known that the only morality in america is money

  3. Great piece and tribute to a man of vision and peace! How we can only long for such leadership today. Regrettably, the west reveals its true colours in continuous war and a corruption the likes of which the western world refuses to acknowledge in its hubris and arrogance.


    The Russian word glasnost’ comes from glas, meaning tongue. Implied is speaking, especially free speech. Which, as R.S. and we here at SP know, is becoming a rarity in the country supposedly ruled by its 1st amendment. Add the incredible spectacle of a right wing so bizarre as to be beyond parody.

    Gorbachev was correct about the U.S. need for “the Cold War and an image of enemy.” My 94 year old mom terms them Enemy of the Month–to be feared and hated until replaced by the next one.

    Gorbachev saw the impact of the MIC, too. We are now engaged in a form of autoimmune disease as we chew up our own body politic. MIC spending that exacerbates the economic dysphoria of humans and nature simply as resources to be exploited. Econ determinism remade the land of the free into a place where we have all the freedom we have the money to buy.

    An irony curtain has fallen across America.

  5. What pity the USA as usual prefers an enemy and did all it could to destroy the new Russia in the 1990s and never considered a “peace dividend” despite all Russia’s efforts. Now it is worse, with the Russophobia widespread by lies in the “free media” and refusal to give Russia any respect.

  6. Gordy was a good.guy done in by the.powers around him who.could.not and would not abide.peace.If.this sounds familiar just look at our at war.for what seems like forever and appears to be looking for more against Russia,China,Iran and anyone who disagrees the running or ruining.the world.

  7. Reuters’ Kevin Liffey, in praise of “the towering statesman,” Mikhail Gorbachev omits a crucial fact that MG, who “helped to end the Cold War” greatest mistake was trusting the word of the “West’s” Bush Sr. in not obtaining a signed document stating that NATO promised not to advance “one inch” further eastward towards Russia.
    And here we are today, lie upon lie, based on false promises!

  8. I visited Russia numerous times in 1970s and 80s I worked for two years there on international scientific project. I had close friends there also among intellectuals in management positions including communist party members.

    And I can tell you that Russians have a right to hate Gorbachev as he and entire class of cronies of rogue faction of Soviet leadership executed soft coup phase aimed at destroying well functioning state-run capitalism and effective welfare state and forcefully top down pushing western controlled market capitalism against 99% of Soviet people’.

    It caused collapse that resulted in millions of dead and western direct or indirect pillaging of human, social and natural resources. Russian men life expectancy in 1990s dropped almost a decade as if Soviet Union was attacked by nuclear weapons.

    Gorbachev “reforms” were nothing but deliberate plan to effectively destroying Soviet economy that worked perfectly in providing for basic human needs for entire egalitarian society that Soviet Union was.

    The collapse of USSR under Gorbachev rule was a tragedy for human race and human social development and became required condition for subsequent collapse of social democratic policies of the west and entire western welfare state under dictate of unfettered finance capitalism no longer ideologically and physically threatened its existence.

    Events of today’s deliberate preprogrammed economic collapse of the western societies is closely related if not direct consequence of tragic Gorbachev’s legacy of betrayal of communist party manifesto and abandonment of fundamental social commitment to Soviet people with deadly consequences we all. are facing today.

    Socialist economic system never collapsed in Soviet Union.

    USSR was sabotaged first in 1960s by Brezhnev, a provincial party apparatchik with no revolutionary record or allegiance who opened SU up to direct Western investments in oil industry and elsewhere that resulted in forming of a Soviet leadership faction of economically incentivized western sympathizers and then finally programmatically derailed by Gorbachev after revolutionary opposition within politburo was eliminated.

    It was pushed despite of last real revolutionaries, Lenin collaborators like aging Andropov and Chernenko trying to stop betrayal of egalitarian social system.

    Gorbachev perestroika was not restructuring of Soviet socioeconomic system, it was outright dismantling its egalitarian principles, a wet dream of neocons and western oligarchy no longer scared to death of domestic socialist Revolution supported by Soviets.

    Gorbachev’s books of utter naïveté and nonsense a decades later inadvertently put himself as a fifth column of western elites and most of all one who never read or understood Marx’s warning of destructive radicalism of Bourgeois capitalism that can only be restrained by force or it will consume entire societies and leave path of destruction of equal, equitable, egalitarian societies . And that destruction is Gorbachev’s greatest legacy.

  9. He was a second-rate intellect, a blunderer and deserves the contempt in which most Russians and Communists everywhere hold him.

    Gorbachev’s passing is a reminder of the utter failure of his vision for a liberal democracy in the USSR — a failure that’s inherent in liberal democracy itself. That he believed in this utter garbage is part of his legacy: loved by American imperialists as the Good Fool and romantic believer in an illusion that served their purposes.

    Once drunken Boris grabbed the country from Gorbachev’s pudgy grasp, the vultures now running the place took over.

    He was much too shallow and ignorant to realize that liberal democracy devolves rather rapidly into an oligarchy — which is what we have here now.

    Yes, kiddies, you don’t actually have a liberal democracy any more — you have an oligarchy, our elections are duels between billionaires and the “will of the people” is consistently overruled by the actual owners. The final surrender was by Bill Clinton, who celebrated the”end of big government” and completed the Reagan counterrevolution.

    This illustrates the profound wisdom of the Chinese Communist party in crushing the idiotic Tiananmen outburst: the result is a modern, economically rising and powerful China.

    Taking the Gorbachev route would have produced a disaster, different than the Russian disaster, but nevertheless a riot of conflicting, incoherent forces — subject to financial and political interference by the US.

    Once the power structure here noticed that China was not about to roll over and play Poodle — it suddenly became “public enemy number one.”

    1. “Yes, kiddies, you don’t actually have a liberal democracy any more”

      When did we?

    2. Babylon wrong about gorby—-his intellect formidable—this did not prevent many mistakes–his principal error ; trusting anglos…..but reality is censored…liberal anglos like Scheer censor frequently—their pitiful truth dig memorial to Yevtushenko deleted my comment quoting Brodsky a real poet: “yevetushnko is a blyad”
      “censorship reflects a society that has no confidence in itself”. Potter Stewart

  10. Remembering Mikhail Gorbachev, The Man Who Paved the Road To Hell

  11. Socialism continually moves forward or backward. The challenge is to find the next step to communism. Otherwise, the philistines will prevail, those who think capitalism is the only answer to current problems.

  12. Gorbachev’s and Reagan’s achievement of eliminating a whole range of nuclear weapons was the culmination of the Cold War. But the Cold War was one of those eras of peace (or relative peace) that come through history in waves. Since 1991humanity has been in choppier waters, and looks like sinking into a vortex of nuclear annihilation.

  13. Not always true, but as the proverb says “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. I believe Mr. Gorbachev to have been a man of decency and he hoped that he was not deluding himself about a change towards a more democratic attitude in Russia and a more tolerant attitude from America.

    He was. But I quote From Robert Scheer’s article –

    “He suggests that the United States seems to require the Cold War and an image of the enemy to appease interests of the U.S. military industrial complex and adds that “we certainly do not need an ‘enemy image’ of America, neither for domestic nor for foreign policy interests.” The book also raises the question of whether the United States intends to continue the arms race in order to bleed the Soviet Union economically and prevent it from becoming an attractive alternative system”.

    This shows he (Mr. Gorbachev) was well aware of the nature of America’s foreign policy towards them but perhaps he could change it. He seemed to have the idea that working with the West, Russia could move from his conception of the communist ethos, through socialism to an alternative system of democracy. Ah! that word democracy again; a nice pleasant sounding word promising so much but ending up being used as a pretense to interpret it anyway you wish. A kindly word in which to incorporate Capitalism. Mr Gorbachev’s humanitarianism leanings could be exploited and then endorsed and displayed to the West. America of course had no intention of changing Capitalism – it paid too well.

    Russia’s intellectual communist elite knew very well where this route would be taking them. – betrayal of the Revolution. The consequence was the fall from power of Mr. Gorbachev.

    Beware of Capitalism. When necessary, it will take the whip to true Democracy,

    1. IMO
      Every human being has an equal right to hate, but is this a good foundation for rebuilding international solidarity among an extremely diverse, both historically and philosophically, global populace, especially at this moment in time?
      At least yours is one, more balanced assessment, of the infinitely complex, and hardly fully understood, yet still hopefully always evolving – more consciously and holistically, from the innate nature of any one individuals socioculturally imbued inclinations!
      Surely the bliss of long inculcated ignorance is NOT an appropriate tool!

  14. World Peace is achievable.
    We must work together as Humans to help relieve stress on Coral with Sound.
    Coral is effective upon all living entities on Earth, effective upon Air Quality and
    pH balance in our Oceans Water, One of the most important processes we can
    perform as Humans is to help relieve stress on Coral with Sound, complex Sound.
    This process can lead to World Peace.

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