Gorby’s Empire

One of the most baffling developments of the 1980’s was the Cult of Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev had his qualities. He was one of the few leaders in the Soviet Union who understood that the system wasn’t working and was absurdly corrupt (I met a general who identified Gorbachev as a potential reformer back in 1983). He reigned in some of the worst parts of the police state and, unlike his predecessors, did not use military force to hold the Communist Bloc together. There’s a famous story of him meeting Reagan and asking if Reagan really did think the Soviet Union was an evil Empire. Reagan was impressed because Gorby’s predecessors hadn’t cared whether it was or not. He deserves credit for the role he played in winding down the Cold War.

But that’s enough for some people. Gorbachev has to be a visionary who saved the world from the nuclear fire that the evil Ronald Reagan was driving us toward. He was the messiah who delivered freedom to Eastern Europe. He was the visionary who ended half a century of antagonism from Western imperialists.

This line of thought ignores that Gorby was and is a supporter of communism who truly believed in Marxist-Leninism. He was sad that the advance of Marxism faltered — an advance played out in dozens of devastating civil wars. He has said, repeatedly, that the collapse of the murderous Soviet Union and the loosening of its stranglehold over Eastern Europe was a bad thing. He is a critic of the Washington Consensus that had led the world to the greatest prosperity in its history and thinks China’s economic model — see Alex’s posts on that subject — is the example to the world.

I’d like to think that this will rattle a few misconceptions:

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Crimea’s vote to join Russia as a “happy event” on Tuesday.

In remarks carried by online newspaper Slon.ru, the last leader of the U.S.S.R. said Crimea’s vote offered residents the freedom of choice and justly reflected their will.

You know, it’s like if we invaded Quebec and had a plebiscite for them to become our 51st state. Everything would think that was legit, right?

It gets more ominous.

Gorbachev added that the Crimean referendum has set an example for people in Russian-speaking in eastern Ukraine, who also should decide their fate.

I expect that Gorby-worshippers will resolve this cognitive dissonance by deciding that Gorbachev is right: that the Crimea should be part of Russia and the US is wrong to oppose it. Of course, that would put them in conflict with Kerry and Obama. Good God, whose Cult of Personality do you follow?

Gorbachev has always been an imperialist who believe in a greater Marxist-Leninist state. That he eased up on enforcing that state with gulags and murder — the only way any such state has ever survived — is to his credit. But maybe we should reconsider his canonization.

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  1. bgeek

    But that’s enough for some people. Gorbachev has to be a visionary who saved the world from the nuclear fire that the evil Ronald Reagan was driving us toward. He was the messiah who delivered freedom to Eastern Europe. He was the visionary who ended half a century of antagonism from Western imperialists.

    [snip]

    Gorbachev has always been an imperialist who believe in a greater Marxist-Leninist state. That he eased up on enforcing that state with gulags and murder — the only way any such state has ever survived — is to his credit.

    All this should be followed with,
    …by running out of other people’s money.
    It would’ve been business as usual, otherwise.

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  2. Seattle Outcast

    First off, nobody would believe that Quebec would vote to join anything except Paris. I would have gone with Vancouver, and even then nobody would believe it.

    Second, I was totally unaware that there was a cult surrounding Gorby. I just considered him to another commie, though one that realized the game was over and no amount of firing squads was going to hold it all together.

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  3. hist_ed

    “Gorbachev has always been an imperialist who believe in a greater Marxist-Leninist state. That he eased up on enforcing that state with gulags and murder — the only way any such state has ever survived — is to his credit. ”

    I don’t have the time to research today, but if I remember correctly, I don’t think Gorby really “eased up on enforcing that state with gulags and murder” much. The Gulag was in operation up until the end. Thousands (tens of? Hundreds of?) died in the Soviet prison system under Gorbachev.

    He was no Stalin, but then neither were Brezhnev, Chernenko or Andropov.

    While Glasnost allowed for some carefully vetted discussions, people were still imprisoned for thought crimes.

    The press in the West pissed their pants about how great he was, but this was a press that mostly slobbered over Castro.

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  4. AlexInCT

    I don’t have the time to research today, but if I remember correctly, I don’t think Gorby really “eased up on enforcing that state with gulags and murder” much. The Gulag was in operation up until the end. Thousands (tens of? Hundreds of?) died in the Soviet prison system under Gorbachev.

    He was no Stalin, but then neither were Brezhnev, Chernenko or Andropov.

    ^^^^THIS^^^^

    The left has been trying to clean up the bloody hands of communism forever. The cult of Gorby was precisely created to counter Reagan, whom despite what they say today, was absolutely fucking hated by these commie lovers back in the day. They might pay him some lip service these days, but know that it has to be galling these scumbag apologists for communism. Reagan was reviled, and IMO continues to be reviled in secret, by the collectivists for daring to not only stand up to the Soviet machine these scumbags felt should win the Cold War, but actually doing the very things that led to its implosion. It’s not about love for Gorby, but hatred of Reagan and a need to minimize what he did. Same applied to Thatcher.

    BTW, Gorby did what Gorby did, because he had no other option. The Soviet abattoir cum cesspool was out of other people’s money, despite the massive amounts of wealth in abundant natural resources, and would have imploded even if Gorby had resisted it. The difference would have been that instead of the Soviet Union going out with the whimper it did, it would have gone out with a bang, and most of us with it. Sometimes I get the distinct impression that the left would have actually preferred this had happened, because it was so much egg on their collectivist faces to watch their pretend paradise fall flat and the truth be revealed. It’s not accidental that after the fall of the USSR the left lurched even further into the very territory and practices that caused the implosion of the USSR, either.

    Fuck the clowns that feel communism had or has redeeming qualities of any kind. If anything, I find it more despicable than the other collectivist death cult: fascism. The only difference between fascism and communism is in the apologists: fascism had too few apologists, and they did a piss poor job of it, while the evil communist had and continue to have too many scumbags, without any shame or character, that are willing to suck cock to pretend this vile belief has anything but misery to offer.

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  5. Miguelito

    I gotta give it to the media and stuff on this one. Being someone that’s not really ever dug into info on Gorby myself, all I figured from how he was presented, that he was a relatively decent guy. So their shit worked.

    I always think any discussion about communism (or even serious socialism) vs capitalism (even though we’re not really fully capitalistic in the US) comes down to this: Which way of life had to regularly toss dissenters into horrible jails or needed things like walls and guards to keep people in, vs which way of life has to deal with huge amounts of people (to this day) trying to get in illegally?

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    …by running out of other people’s money.

    The Soviet abattoir cum cesspool was out of other people’s money,

    I don’t think this was the critical factor. There was no other people’s money to get. They ran out of pillage and plunder, sure. But they were also facing massive revolution from within. If Gorby hadn’t pulled the curtain, the people would have pulled much more bloodily within ten years.

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  7. AlexInCT

    I don’t think this was the critical factor. There was no other people’s money to get. They ran out of pillage and plunder, sure. But they were also facing massive revolution from within. If Gorby hadn’t pulled the curtain, the people would have pulled much more bloodily within ten years.

    That’s exactly the point I am making, Hal. The people were ready to revolt, so the government either had to resort to more brutality or provide a distraction. Afghanistan didn’t work out well, so the next war would have to go nuclear. Tyranies don’t die out quietly. Look at Syria.

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