Thursday, June 18, 2009
Gorby is right on the money.
Gorby has projected the line we need to promote here in the United States. I would like to thank the Washington Post and Portside and our friends in the CoC who loaned us Danny Rubin to help us get things in order for making this wonderful and insightful essay by Mikhail Gorbachev available to the masses.
I present this for two reasons.
The first reason is because Gorby is the only person in the world of any stature and consequence who, ideologically, backs me up.
I am looking forward to dining with Gorby, Maurice Strong, George Soros and Warren Buffett.
I will try to get Gorby to autograph this so I can frame this essay and hang it with suction cups in my office on the glass wall. I found out that if you lick those suckers they stick pretty well. Elena, why are you smiling?
Second, as we phase out the printed version of the People's Weekly World we want people to get used to reading a splendid newspaper, the Washington Post. From time to time they will be publishing Gorby's essays and this will help us all keep our bearings in order so we can guide Obama along and keep him on the progressive road he is on right now.
Yes, Judith; what is it? Peace? What about peace? No, Judith, Congress just passed legislation promoting peace. One-hundred billion dollars is just chump change. Don't let anyone tell you that is more money for war. Bush fought wars; Obama works for peace. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Judith, I am not going to argue with you. The Democrats did not vote for more money for war; that money is for peace. End of discussion. No more interruptions.
Also, be sure to get your own copy of "How long can capitalism last?" I'm going to ask Danny to autograph copies to give to Gorby, Soros and Strong. Warren Buffett already has a copy that's why he bought General Motor's stock...
Now let us all study up on what Gorby has to say.
Elena, make a note for me to remember to get Gorby's essay printed into bookmarks to put in each of the books--- How Long Can Capitalism Last?--- before they go out. I want everyone to pick up a copy... and buy it, don't just take it. We need to boost sales to coincide with our membership.
Betty, how are sales going for Danny's book? Fine. Fine. Minnesota needs these kinds of ideas.
For a solidarity economy based on incremental reform,
National Chair, CPUSA
We Had Our Perestroika. It's High Time for Yours
By Mikhail Gorbachev
June 7, 2009
Years ago, as the Cold War was coming to an end, I said
to my fellow leaders around the globe: The world is on
the cusp of great events, and in the face of new
challenges all of us will have to change, you as well
as we. For the most part, the reaction was polite but
In recent years, however, during speaking tours in the
United States before university audiences and business
groups, I have often told listeners that I feel
Americans need their own change -- a perestroika, not
like the one in my country, but an American perestroika
-- and the reaction has been markedly different. Halls
filled with thousands of people have responded with
Over time, my remark has prompted all kinds of
comments. Some have reacted with understanding. Others
have objected, sometimes sarcastically, suggesting that
I want the United States to experience upheaval, just
like the former Soviet Union. In my country,
particularly caustic reactions have come from the
opponents of perestroika, people with short memories
and a deficit of conscience. And although most of my
critics surely understand that I am not equating the
United States with the Soviet Union in its final years,
I would like to explain my position.
Our perestroika signaled the need for change in the
Soviet Union, but it was not meant to suggest a
capitulation to the U.S. model. Today, the need for a
more far-reaching perestroika -- one for America and
the world -- has become clearer than ever.
It is true that the need for change in the Soviet Union
in the mid-1980s was urgent. The country was stifled by
a lack of freedom, and the people -- particularly the
educated class -- wanted to break the stranglehold of a
system that had been built under Stalin. Millions of
people were saying: "We can no longer live like this."
We started with glasnost -- giving people a chance to
speak out about their worries without fear. I never
agreed with my great countryman Alexander Solzhenitsyn
when he said that "Gorbachev's glasnost ruined
everything." Without glasnost, no changes would have
occurred, and Solzhenitsyn would have ended his days in
Vermont rather than in Russia.
At first, we labored under the illusion that revamping
the existing system -- changes within the "socialist
model" -- would suffice. But the pushback from the
Communist Party and the government bureaucracy was too
strong. Toward the end of 1986, it became clear to me
and my supporters that nothing less than the
replacement of the system's building blocks was needed.
We opted for free elections, political pluralism,
freedom of religion and an economy with competition and
private property. We sought to effect these changes in
an evolutionary way and without bloodshed. We made
mistakes. Important decisions were made too late, and
we were unable to complete our perestroika.
Two conspiracies hijacked the changes -- the attempted
coup in August 1991, organized by the hard-line
opponents of our reforms, which ended up weakening my
position as president, and the subsequent agreement
among the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to
dissolve the Union. Russia's leaders then rejected the
evolutionary path, plunging the country into chaos.
Nevertheless, when I am asked whether perestroika
succeeded or was defeated, I reply: Perestroika won,
because it brought the country to a point from which
there could be no return to the past.
In the West, the breakup of the Soviet Union was viewed
as a total victory that proved that the West did not
need to change. Western leaders were convinced that
they were at the helm of the right system and of a
well-functioning, almost perfect economic model.
Scholars opined that history had ended. The "Washington
Consensus," the dogma of free markets, deregulation and
balanced budgets at any cost, was force-fed to the rest
of the world.
But then came the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, and
it became clear that the new Western model was an
illusion that benefited chiefly the very rich.
Statistics show that the poor and the middle class saw
little or no benefit from the economic growth of the
The current global crisis demonstrates that the leaders
of major powers, particularly the United States, had
missed the signals that called for a perestroika. The
result is a crisis that is not just financial and
economic. It is political, too.
The model that emerged during the final decades of the
20th century has turned out to be unsustainable. It was
based on a drive for super-profits and hyper-
consumption for a few, on unrestrained exploitation of
resources and on social and environmental
But if all the proposed solutions and action now come
down to a mere rebranding of the old system, we are
bound to see another, perhaps even greater upheaval
down the road. The current model does not need
adjusting; it needs replacing. I have no ready-made
prescriptions. But I am convinced that a new model will
emerge, one that will emphasize public needs and public
goods, such as a cleaner environment, well-functioning
infrastructure and public transportation, sound
education and health systems and affordable housing.
Elements of such a model already exist in some
countries. Having rejected the tutorials of the
International Monetary Fund, countries such as Malaysia
and Brazil have achieved impressive rates of economic
growth. China and India have pulled hundreds of
millions of people out of poverty. By mobilizing state
resources, France has built a system of high-speed
railways, while Canada provides free health care. Among
the new democracies, Slovenia and Slovakia have been
able to mitigate the social consequences of market
The time has come for "creative construction," for
striking the right balance between the government and
the market, for integrating social and environmental
factors and demilitarizing the economy.
Washington will have to play a special role in this new
perestroika, not just because the United States wields
great economic, political and military power in today's
global world, but because America was the main
architect, and America's elite the main beneficiary, of
the current world economic model. That model is now
cracking and will, sooner or later, be replaced. That
will be a complex and painful process for everyone,
including the United States.
However different the problems that the Soviet Union
confronted during our perestroika and the challenges
now facing the United States, the need for new thinking
makes these two eras similar. In our time, we faced up
to the main tasks of putting an end to the division of
the world, winding down the nuclear arms race and
defusing conflicts. We will cope with the new global
challenges as well, but only if everyone understands
the need for real, cardinal change -- for a global
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last general secretary of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, heads the
International Foundation for Socio-Economic and
Political Studies, a Moscow-based think tank.
Portside aims to provide material of interest
to people on the left that will help them to
interpret the world and to change it.
Submit via email: email@example.com
Submit via the Web: portside.org/submit
Frequently asked questions: portside.org/faq
Account assistance: portside.org/contact
Search the archives: portside.org/archive