Q REPORTS (DW) In reality, the communist utopia could not be implemented with well-intentioned words, promises, mass executions, or forced labor camps. In 1985, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) made another attempt to save its empire: Mikhail Gorbachev (March 2, 1931 – August 30, 2022), then relatively young, was supposed to bridge the widening gap with the West. And, like all his predecessors, he failed.
But his failure not only ended the Cold War, releasing the bonds of violence that held the Red Empire together, it restored freedom and dignity to millions of people. After all, also to the Russians, Ukrainians and other peoples of the Soviet Union. They could once again be Russians, Georgians, Armenians or Latvians, and, above all, people with civil rights. They no longer had to be proletarians who, with empty hands, pretended to live in paradise.
Russia, a late nation
It is tragic that Mikhail Gorbachev is passing away right now. After 1991, the inhabitants of the Baltic countries, the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, East Germans and Romanians moved into what he called the “common European home”.
Until now, his own Russian compatriots are the only ones who have not decided to do so. Russia is a backward nation. Worse still, the current head of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, also wants to prevent Ukrainians and Belarusians from taking the path of freedom and democracy.
What Putin wants is to return to pathos, to utopia, to slavery. As in communism, people must serve the state and not the other way around. As in the red dictatorship, any public dissent is dangerous in Russia today, and the state-controlled media lies to the population. Like the members of the old politburo, Putin is delusional, because he believes that Moscow is surrounded by enemies.
Gorbachev opened the files so the Russians could see for themselves how many millions had been killed by Stalin and Lenin for no reason. Putin is closing the archives, censoring the history books, reintroducing the dogma of the infallibility of the state. He encourages lies when he serves to patriotically educate the masses.
Current successor of Gorbachev, a political dinosaur
Gorbachev brought home soldiers from the lost war in Afghanistan. Today Putin sends them to a so-called “special operation” in the Ukraine, to fight there against a non-existent fascism.
Gorbachev’s successor in the Kremlin is a political dinosaur, with ideas from the 19th century. Someone who fights for “zones of influence” in the world, because he is not capable of modernizing the economy and infrastructure of his country.
Putin fails to understand that today a young Russian, faced with a choice between national greatness (who knows what that means) and the latest iPhone, would choose the latter. The hundreds of thousands of well-educated professionals who have left Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine are testament to this.
It is clear that Gorbachev was a party official and did not know much about economics. Even the supposedly progressive planned economy of the GDR could not be reformed, as was more than evident after 1990.
Any Kremlin chief who wanted to reform Moscow’s planned economy in the shortest possible time was surely doomed to fail. Putin’s supposed economic successes of 20 years ago were due, above all, to high commodity prices. Or is there any product, which Russia has developed and manufactures, that is in demand somewhere in the world, apart from weapons?
The language of the inhumans
Gorbachev has secured his place in the history books. No other politician changed the world for the better like him in the second half of the 20th century. Millions of people around the world began to learn Russian thanks to him, to this new politician with human qualities.
Putin, on the contrary, has made the Russian language the language of inhumans and outcasts. Even many Ukrainians avoid it. Cultural managers in the West now have to justify themselves if they want to present a Tchaikovsky ballet or organize a Dostoyevsky reading. So they choose not to.
Yes, Mikhail Gorbachev’s life was sometimes tragic, he failed too often. But his goal was to change the world for the better. And he tried.