Mikhail Sergeievich Gorbachev blames everybody but himself for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The last Soviet president is not mentioning the fall of communism because, judging by the latest developments, this cancer is still alive and kicking.
In a recent interview, published by RT News, a Russian government-supported network, Gorbachev claims the country would have been alive even today, if he wasn’t betrayed, that is.
Gorbachev, accorded special interest lately because he had turned 90, says perestroika (перестройка, meaning re-construction) would have saved the country. Alas, an attempted coup in August 1991 and a conspiracy between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have foiled his plans.
Here’s the most interesting question: just why are the Russian media all agog about what the aging Soviet chief has to say?
That many Western media have tried and scored interviews, that’s understandable: they still believe that Marxism, in any shape or form, is an ideology that’s as close to perfection as close can get.
Here’s one potentially possible reply in Russia: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the country’s President for life, has decided the old commie is no threat to him. Putin’s main objective is: Make Russia Great Again. Unlike his American counterpart, Putin knows how to chew and walk at the same time. Co-ordinating his plans with having the old Gorby speak of betrayal makes sense: you betrayed Gorby, and look what happened. Don’t you try anything of the kind on me.
Free information kills dictatorships
Of course, Gorbachev’s statements collide with reality on more occasions than one. He had introduced another plan to complement perestroika, and this plan would be fatal. The so-called glasnost (гласность in Russian, meaning openness and freedom of information) would be the final killer of the Soviet Union.
Soviet people of all nationalities heard, all of a sudden, a smidgen of truth here, and a snatch of truth there, about what their rulers had been doing to them for more than seven decades.
Yes, they were surprised when then-leader Nikita Sergeievich Khrushchev revealed some facts, definitely not all, about their beloved former leader, Iosiph Vissarionovich Stalin.
These revelations came in 1956, and they definitely didn’t cover everything. Besides, Khrushchev’s speech was made in a secret session, and it would be the Westerners who would learn first about at least some of the facts concerning Stalin regime’s atrocities. And, too, Khrushchev never attacked Soviet Union founder Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s role in all of this.
To sum up: Stalin was the gangster, and Lenin was the saint, and everything would have been perfect if only Stalin did not succumb to the cult of his own personality (культ личности).
Gorbachev got to the top as a protégé of Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov, then the boss of the almighty secret police and espionage service the KGB.
That happened just as Polish workers decided they had had enough. They founded an independent labour union, Solidarity (Solidarność in Polish). This scandalised Gorbachev enough to propose that an invasion could show the Poles their place once and for all. Unlike Andropov, he wasn’t aware that then-President of the U.S. Ronald Reagan sent a brief message to the Kremlin: we will view any attack on Poland an attack on the U.S. Andropov told Gorbachev to calm down.
Not that it helped much: when the Baltic republics, annexed in the Stalin-Hitler deal, announced they were leaving, Gorbachev’s reaction was perfectly militant.
He wasn’t much more peaceful when the trans-Caucasian republics mentioned they all had enough of being part of the Soviet Union: we used to it alone through centuries, they said, we may as well try it now again.
No prophet at home
Here’s the funniest part: people in the West, informed as they are only through the mainstream media, still believe Gorbachev was the best thing since sliced bread.
Russians, and the former Soviet nationalities, take a much dimmer view.
One example: miners in Siberia went on strike. Since conditions under Boris Nikolaievich Yeltsin, the guy who allegedly betrayed Gorbachev, were more relaxed than they had been under Gorbachev and his predecessors, a Washington Post correspondent went to Siberia. He reported on the strike, and got into a conversation with a group of the striking miners. Tell me, he asked them, who is, in your opinion, the most influential person of the current times?
Gorbachev’s was the name he fully expected.
Ronald Reagan, most miners replied, with several of them adding Lech Wałęsa, the founder of Poland’s Solidarność.
What about Gorbachev? the Washington Post guy asked.
Ah, another commie hack, came the answer, a guy who couldn’t keep the country together making sure we won’t have any bread to put on the table, and banning vodka, instead.
To his credit, the Washington Post guy reported this exchange in full.
While, granted, the Soviet Union was falling apart at the seams in 1985, when Gorbachev took over, he was limited in his efforts: first, the then-Soviet leadership, used to living in luxury, without much need for thinking, either, was not convinced their people were starving.
Secondly, the position of his country in the world was not much to write home about. A traditional instigator and, most of all, financier, of all things communist all over the world, the Soviet Union was not really Miss Popularity among the world’s countries. When Gorbachev took over, the cupboard was bare, but the need to continue spreading the cancer of communism prevailed over feeding their own citizens.
And the obstacle he couldn’t overcome then and hasn’t overcome to this day: Gorbachev kept trying squaring the circle. Perestroika was nothing but another attempt at grasping at the straws of what had passed for economics in Marxism.
Gorbachev didn’t realise it 30 years ago, when he was unceremoniously removed from power, and he hasn’t figured it out still, to this day.