The deafening silence on the left regarding Gorbachev – at least of my FB friends and facebook groups –is almost funny, considering what a pivotal figure old Gorbie was. It would behoove the left IMHO to understand just what happened in the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union, the single biggest global political tragedy since World War II.
The left has a self-defeating tendency to be too ruthless or not ruthless enough, a Stalin-Gorbie counterpoint I suppose. On the one hand Gorbachev oversaw the disintegration of the union of socialist republics. This was an enormous defeat for the socialist movement. The political universe lost its left pole, however flawed that was. Think China, Vietnam, Cuba, none of which transformations would probably have occurred without the support of the Soviet Union. And, lest we forget, the defeat of fascism in Europe.
On the other hand, Gorbie choreographed the collapse so there was minimal violence, minimal death. Yes, he should have fought harder. The communist movement in all the republics should have fought harder, come up with some social democratic hybrid that could have preserved the gains of the movement, such as they were.
The communist movement was defeated by the capitalists, so the commies, through Gorbachev, surrendered in order to save lives. Remember, the USSR lost 25 million in the war, compared to under half a million for the US.
World War II depleted the Soviets’ resources, particularly human. And even as they defeated Hitler, the US was dropping atomic bombs near their borders as an unsubtle warning. So the Soviets had to build up their military from its victorious devastation, thus depriving the people of the lives they deserved.
But the fight for an egalitarian society is a class war. The leaders of the ruling class have amassed megatons of resources and military hardware to keep them from having to share their ill begotten booty. The next battle is with China. Again IMHO, Xi and China are now leading the socialist movement, however imperfectly. The score is 1 million to 5 thousand in COVID deaths.
Gorbachev deserves a nuanced understanding. Had they come a few decades earlier, say in Khrushchev’s time perestroika and glasnost might have worked to save the union. By Gorbachev’s time, it was too late. [READ MORE: https://henryhitz.com]