Mikhail Gorbachev's Ambiguous Political Career

Mikhail Gorbachev's Ambiguous Political Career

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Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last president of the Soviet Union, passed away on August 31. Although Gorbachev stepped down from power more than 30 years ago, his passing stirred millions of people around the world. Perestroika, “new ways of thinking,” the collapse of the USSR and the loss of the Cold War.

Why do millions of residents of the former Soviet Union perceive Mikhail Gorbachev's rule as an era of upheaval and defeat?

Although Gorbachev has long been the “hero of yesterday,” millions of people thank him for freedom and glasnost [a policy of maximum openness in the activities of state institutions and freedom of information, the inadmissibility of hushing up problems, and so on], while millions of others hate him just as fiercely for the collapse of the USSR and the loss of the Cold War.

Ever young

Why did Gorbachev's policies lead to the collapse of the USSR? Why did the collapse of the USSR erupt into a mass of military conflicts on the national fringes? Was there no other way to reform the country? The experiences of China and Vietnam show that there certainly was and is an alternative path. Why does the Western elite believe that the Soviet Union lost the Cold War?

It has been written a lot about Mikhail Gorbachev's life. So, let us recall only the main milestones that help us understand the logic of his behavior. To begin with, like Boris Yeltsin or Leonid Kravchuk, Gorbachev was a man of power in the sense that he was willing to do anything to be in power. However, the desire to always be in power may not correlate at all with the ability to govern.

But why did the policy of a man who always wanted to be in power eventually lead to the collapse of the USSR and, consequently, to the loss of this very power?

The answer lies in the fact that Gorbachev as a person was formed in the Komsomol work. Mikhail Gorbachev's biography is the story of a man who from a young age was a careerist. Interestingly, young Gorbachev received a recommendation to become a member of the CPSU from his school management as early as the 10th grade, at the age of 19. That is, Gorbachev consciously made a career in the Communist Party and Lenin's Komsomol.

At the age of 21, Mikhail Gorbachev was already a member of the CPSU. After graduating from Moscow State University, Gorbachev worked by profession in the regional prosecutor's office for as much as ... 10 days in August 1955. Apparently, the young Mikhail quickly realized that he could not make a career in the prosecutor's office, so quickly on his own initiative, he asked for exempted Komsomol work. Freed Komsomol work at that time meant that one did not have to go to work at the factory, but could from morning till night to speak at meetings, “explain the landmark decisions of the N-th Party Congress” and “take increased obligations” (knowing in advance that others would fulfill them).

Gorbachev started in the Komsomol as deputy head of the department of agitation and propaganda (1955-1956), soon became first secretary of the Stavropol City Komsomol Committee (1956-1958), then first secretary of the Stavropol Territorial Committee of the Komsomol (1961-1962).

In March 1962, Gorbachev passes to “adult” position of party organizer of the regional committee of the CPSU and step by step moves to the position of Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to which he was elected on March 11, 1985.

Yaroslav Shipov, in his story, characterizes the Komsomol members of the late Soviet Union in the words of a simple village grandmother. These words can be considered quintessential Komsomol psychology, which explains well who Gorbachev was.

Party Communists were responsible for their actions, while Komsomol members were not responsible for anything, only resorting to various devices. On the one hand, the specific psychology of the Komsomol of the late USSR was to wag their tail, demonstrating “approval” of any initiative of their superiors. On the other, total irresponsibility.

“We don't sow, we don't plow, and we don't build. We’re proud of our social order,” like the song in Eldar Ryazanov's film ‘Forgotten Melody for a Flute’ says. Here is a living example. In 1977, Gorbachev was promoted thanks to the fact that the so-called “Ipatov method” of grain harvesting was started to be implemented in the Stavropol territory. This is only later farmers will spit and call “Ipatov method” a gamble, because of which he loses from 20-25% to 50% of the threshed grain. The main thing is that the Komsomol members, led by Gorbachev, reported, received new positions and the favor of their superiors.

We do not sow, we do not plow, and we do not build

Therefore, the tragedy of the USSR under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev is that a formidable Komsomol member came to power. That is, a person who needed power to satisfy his own vanity and provide personal comfort. At the same time, Gorbachev's numerous interviews and comments after his resignation in 1991 show that he simply did not understand what responsibility for the fate of the country and the people really meant.

So, why did almost all of Gorbachev's initiatives and reforms lead to failures, wars and disasters? It was not necessary in the Komsomol world to understand economics, social life or international politics. It was necessary to waver with the general line of the party, to “make increased commitments,” to please the superiors, and to report, report, report.

Simply put, to make a career in the Komsomol, one did not need to know how a factory worked or the rules by which social life functioned. You had to please your superiors and report on your successes. Since the Komsomol leaders themselves were not responsible for anything, they reported on the successes of others.

As the proverb says, the mountain has brought forth a mouse. That system of power gave birth to Gorbachev and thousands of others like him. So, it turned out that “the old guard” in 1985 put such a man as Gorbachev at the head of the Soviet Union who was able to say the right slogans, to please those around him, self-confident in his omniscience. At the same time, as life has shown, he was also criminally incompetent.

In fact, there are no accidents in life. The party nomenklatura played out a typical scenario to put a managed figure at the head of the system in the person of a weak leader, dependent on the apparatus and without a “support group.”

This is why Gorbachev's “perestroika” looks like a tool to fight against his “senior comrades” in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU.) After all, “perestroika” means “new thinking,” “pluralism,” and “glasnost,” right? “New thinking” implies that the old cadres step aside, while those who are capable of thinking in a new way come to power. At the same time, the “new cadres” are being recruited by Gorbachev's supporters. Facts confirm this. In 1988-1989, Gorbachev retired about 100 members of the CPSU Central Committee.

The main risk was that Gorbachev did not understand where the “pluralism,” “glasnost,” and other “new thinking” he had announced might lead. Hence the deplorable result. Not to mention such foreign policy failures as NATO's eastward expansion and the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, when the elite of the United States and the collective West twisted the interests of the USSR “like a gypsy with the sun.”

Discounted pizza

After the collapse of the USSR and Gorbachev's resignation, many people were really shocked when the former General Secretary of the CPSU and former ruler of 1/6 of sushi appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial. But if you look at the situation from the perspective of Gorbachev as a man fixated on personal comfort and vanity, then everything makes sense.

Of course, from a normal point of view it looked wild when the yesterday's ruler of a great country advertises fast food like some provincial actor.

But as previously noted, the characteristic feature of the typical Komsomol member of the late USSR is playing to the public, coupled with complete irresponsibility for his words and deeds. Therefore, from the point of view of Gorbachev's Komsomol, there was nothing shameful about advertising pizza. Gorbachev's two main motives were to amuse his vanity and live in personal comfort. In the new times, this required money. Since you have to advertise pizza in order to make money, no problem.

As for responsibility for the 290 million people of the USSR. So, Gorbachev, apparently, never thought about what it is.

Hence his more than strange campaign for the presidency in the presidential election of 1996. Journalist Georgy Zotov recalls interviewing Gorbachev on the eve of the presidential election. He was very surprised, because Gorbachev was absolutely sure that the people loved him and would definitely vote for him. As the result, there were a pathetic 0.51% of the votes in the first round.

At the same time, in all fairness, it is probably not right to unfairly place all the blame on Gorbachev. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Indeed, millions of people associate the collapse of the Soviet Union, the decline in living standards and general decline with Mikhail Gorbachev. But to be fair, Gorbachev, with his “perestroika,” “new thinking” and other verbal gymnastics, played the role of a screen for the Soviet nomenklatura, which was spinning its affairs behind his back.

“This is the explanation why he advertised pizza in the 1990s. That is his real level,” wrote the journalist Georgy Zotov about Gorbachev on his Facebook account* (the social network is owned by Meta Corporation, recognized as extremist in the Russian Federation).

“I don't think he should be satanized and blamed for the destruction of Soviet socialism. His role at the forefront of history was profoundly secondary. He was a mediocrity elevated to the pinnacle of power by a bureaucracy that had strangled the spirit of socialism long before he did,” international journalist Oleg Yasinsky wrote on Facebook.

“Gorbachev had the difficult fate of the person who carried out the dismantling of the regime, and thus earned the hatred of all those whom this pendulum of history has touched personally. It is also interesting that politically Gorbachev “died” while he was still alive. International recognition and interest quickly dissipated, while inside the country there was nothing but hatred from the masses and respect from only a small group of the party's pseudo-liberal elite. The campaign for president in 1996 and the result of 0.5% is a vivid example of how quickly sic transit gloria mundi,” Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Regional Policy Development Center, wrote on his Facebook account.

Finally, the most important question. After all, to be fair, the question is not about Gorbachev. Or, more precisely, it is not about Gorbachev alone. In fact, the question is how it happened that in 1985 the elite put at the helm of a superpower a man who not only did not understand what he was doing, but also did not feel any responsibility for what he had done.

If “collective Gorbachev” (and after him “collective Yeltsin”) is put at the head of the country, it means that the entire system of power and, in particular, the selection of late Soviet cadres is rotten.

Fish begins to stink at the head which means that with such an elite, the Soviet Union most likely had no chance.

* On March 21, 2022, the Russian court declared Meta guilty of extremist activity. Facebook and Instagram are also recognized as extremist organizations and banned on the territory of the Russian Federation.

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