Gorbachev & Khrushchev
To the Editor:
In “What Glasnost Has Destroyed” [November 1989], Leon Aron’s quotations and the figures he cites are impressive, but I think his conclusions are a bit rushed. This is understandable—each period in history is tempted to believe in its uniqueness; fortunately that is not always the case. Thus, I would not state so categorically that upheaval under Gorbachev goes “far beyond anything that happened [in the Khrushchev years] between 1956 and 1964.” Opening the floodgates, releasing millions of people from Hades to life; denouncing Stalin (which seems easy now, like crossing the Atlantic, but try doing it the first time); sending investigators into the KGB den and uprooting the reptiles (Gorbachev’s glasnost, by contrast, has not touched the present-day KGB, while his perestroika, if anything, has made it even stronger); publishing Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich—all this was a real feat. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to glorify the nasty clown who built the Berlin Wall, sent missiles to Cuba, machine-gunned children on the streets of Budapest, and who had his own, not necessarily altruistic, reasons for overhauling the KGB—but I am simply proposing a more realistic look at the past which might help us to be sober in the present and wise about preparing for the future.
So let us be sober for a while and analyze what has happened in Gorbachev’s Soviet Union and who, so far, has gained and who has lost.
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