Wednesday, March 9, 2005


Twenty years ago, on 11 March 1985, the downfall of the Soviet Union got under way, when Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – that is, effective dictator of the USSR.

Gorbachev, for El Jefe, is truly one of the strangest phenomena of the 20th Century. Mr. Gorbachev has a generally benevolent reputation in Europe and America, particularly among fuzzy-headed people who do not think of politics in terms of power. Still, this is on the whole understandable, as Europeans and Americans are the principal beneficiaries of Mr. Gorbachev’s virtual single-handed wrecking of the Main Enemy of the USA and the NATO countries.

El Jefe thinks that Russians, naturally concerned with the prosperity, greatness and power of their own country, could be forgiven for viewing Mr. Gorbachev as an utter incompetent. Mr. Gorbachev’s clearing-out of all the Soviet-era deadwood was no doubt a blessing, but, like the revolutionaries of 1917, Mr. Gorbachev managed to bring down the whole edifice of the Russian empire in the process.

Mr. Gorbachev is going to be a fascinating study for biographers, particularly if they can get access to his state papers, and the internal Communist Party documents. The fact that this man was able to work his way up through the system to the supreme leadership of Murder, Inc. (i.e. the Soviet Communist Party) is ample confirmation of the complete political bankruptcy of the Soviet regime. A “healthy” Communist Party, looking to its own self-preservation and aggrandizement, would have sniffed-out Mr. Gorbachev’s mush-headed liberalism and destroyed him. Instead Mr. Gorbachev’s career was created, advanced, and nurtured by the very apparatus he inadvertently brought down. My own suspicion is that history's verdict on Mr. Gorbachev will be that he was eerily similar to Louis XVI, Nicholas II and other leaders of authoritarian states in revolutionary times: personally likable, but not up to his job.

Mr. Gorbachev failed to comprehend the fundamental nature of the regime he inherited. He mistakenly thought his perestroika and glasnost policies could modernize Bolshevism and return it to some mythical type of non-terrorist Leninism. Gorbachev sought to save Communism by doing away with terror and compulsion, which were in fact the principal props of the Soviet state, and the main tenets of Leninism. Leninism without murder was like bread without yeast. There was nothing in this world quite as surreal and ludicrous as listening to the heir of Joseph Stalin quote Thomas Jefferson to representatives of the American media. The USSR’s, and Mr. Gorbachev’s downfall lay in the fact that Mr. Gorbachev had no comprehension of the fact that the western media and everybody else bothered with him at all only because he was Stalin’s heir.

Mr. Gorbachev’s unwillingness to countenance bloodletting to squash dissent (to his credit as a human, but a grave fault in a dictator) first lost the Soviets their World War II gains in eastern Europe, then resulted in the collapse of the USSR. At the same time, his dithering between “reform” Communism (a figment of his imagination), and some form of capitalism hastened the inevitable collapse of the Soviet economy, provided cover for the Russian Mafia takeover of its remains, and ensured that the collapse was much more complete than was necessary.

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