By Paul Goble
Aleksandr Neukropny, a pro-Kremlin commentator, says that there are five misconceptions about perestroika that are widespread in Russia and that need to be debunked if the country is to come to an adequate understanding of what happened and more important overcome what he makes clear was a disaster.
First of all, he insists, it is simply not true that “Gorbachev and a narrow group of his followers in the upper reaches of powers that be began perestroika and that all the fault for what happened lies on them. To say that, he argues is equivalent to saying Hitler was the only person responsible for World War II (topcor.ru/11938-pjat-glavnyh-zabluzhdenij-o-perestrojke-v-sssr.html).
The fathers of perestroika include Nikita Khrushchev who carried out “a coup in 1953” and then denounced Stalin and Yury Andropov who not only installed the Gorbachev team but put in motion many of the policies that came to their logical fruition in Gorbachev’s time, Neukropny argues.
Second, he says, it is false to think that “there were no alternatives to perestroika or Gorbachev” and that “what happened,” however one feels about it, “was inevitable.” This is “a 100 percent lie.” The Soviet Union could have continued as it had been going and would have continued to progress.
Indeed, Neukropny says, “the potential of the Soviet Union (industrial, scientific, and military) was so enormous that not only Rusisa but a whole line of post-Soviet states continue to exploit it.” There were “no objective reasons for the radical tearing apart of the country, he argues.
Third, he goes on, there are many who incorrectly think that “’the Western world’ and above all the United States did not have any relation to perestroika. That is nonsense. Western leaders led Gorbachev down the path of the destruction of the USSR, their goal all along, and their institutions like the IMF and World Bank added to the destructive power of perestroika.
Fourth, it is sometimes said that “’the fathers of perestroika’ were guided by the best of intentions but simply things didn’t work out.” There is no evidence for this, Neukropny says; Gorbachev and his team continued to make the wrong choices doubling down rather than reversing course when that became obvious.
And fifth, there is the widely believed claim that “perestroika freed Soviet people, gave them a large number of chances and opportunities but that they simply weren’t able to use them.” Again, this ignored what perestroika took from them as well as all the disorder that few could be expected to cope with.
What makes this Neukropny’s arguments worth mentioning is only this: they reflects what many around the Kremlin believe and want the Russian people to believe about Gorbachev and perestroika. And it shows that those who think there may be “a perestroika 2” under Vladimir Putin are wrong.
There may be one in the future, but not as long as Putin is in power.