By Paul Goble
Russian “patriots” today hate Mikhail Gorbachev because he is simultaneously a real Russian and a real European and because he “returned to Russians all that was taken from them by Lenin and Trotsky – the right to think freely, know the truth, have their own opinions and disagree with the powers,” Aleksandr Tsipko says.
Perhaps even more, they hate him because he gave life to the hope of Russian exile thinkers that the Russians themselves without help from outside would free themselves from the ‘devilish’ Bolshevik power,” and falsely call him and those who share his values Russophobes (mk.ru/politics/2021/03/01/sovremennye-patrioty-proklinayut-perestroyku-gorbacheva.html).
“The anti-communist revolution occurred under Gorbachev and before 1991,” Tsipko says. It began with the elimination of the law giving the CPSU “a leading role” and organizing “free democratic elections of delegates to the Congress of Peoples Deputies of the USSR” and reflected Gorbachev’s romantic combination of Marxism and Christianity.
“All this history involving the liberation of the Russian by themselves from the anti-natural Bolshevik powers to whom everything was permitted including killing their own people says that Russians in a certain sense are more Europeans than even the Germans,” the senior commentator and former Gorbachev advisor says.
The Germans needed the imposition of foreign rule following military defeat to exorcise Nazism, “But we ourselves, first Khrushchev and then Gorbachev began to destroy Stalinist bindings of the totalitarian system.” And we did so despite the combination of a mobilizational economy and a mobilizational ideology. This had never happened before.
“In essence,” Tsipko says, “life in the USSR was the embodiment of a monastic way of life at an all-national level. Of course, already under Lenin, after two or three years of war communism, it became clear that it wasn’t possible to make this extreme the norm or impose the demands of wartime on normal life.”
Stalin then built the GULAG so that fear would keep Russians in that condition even when they weren’t prepared to completely believe the ideology of their masters, Tsipko continues. And by rejecting both Stalinism and the ruling role of the CPSU, Russians opened the way to many good things.
Among them was the revival of religion, the return of the ideas of the great pleiade of Russian thinkers before 1917, and thus the resurrection of the basic dignity of Russian life. Those who denounce him as a Russophobe are in fact the real Russophobes because they hate the Russianness that Gorbachev in this and other ways embodied.
Unfortunately, his efforts to return dignity to Russian life have eroded. Indeed, debates about whether to put a statue of Dzerzhinsky in Lubyanka Square show that “with each day we ever further departure not only from perestroika but from all that forms the main spiritual value of Russian culture.”
On this his 90th birthday, Tsipko continues, Gorbachev deserves thanks for returning to Russians “not only freedom and national memory but also national dignity. Sooner or later, we will recognize that Gorbachev by his perestroika showed that Russians are the subjects of their history, that not only freedom is a value they share but personal dignity as well.”
But perhaps especially, he says, no matter how anyone thinks about Gorbachev, they will recognize that he did so much to eliminate the danger of nuclear war. It isn’t his fault that “again we Russians are beginning to reflect about how we can land in heaven after the destruction of humanity in a nuclear catastrophe.”