Magazine article The Nation

Red Star Markets

Magazine article The Nation

Red Star Markets

Article excerpt

Red Star Markets

In Ardmore, as everywhere else, people talk about Gorbachev. At the heart of "Gorbachevism" there has always been a political vacuum. In 1986 Gorbachev first spoke of perestroika. Four years later nobody inside or outside the Soviet Union knows even in general what perestroika means.

It's hard to see how Gorbachev's achievements match the tremendous hurrahs for the President/General Secretary. The "end of the cold war" that is supposedly upon us will be endured most keenly by people in the Third World, where the United States can now inflict its violence uncontested. Gorbachev's limitations seem to be those of the Muscovite intelligentsia, whose obsession with the United States helped bring him and his country to the brink of ruin. The laudable desire to inaugurate glasnost and civil rights was matched by an absolute lack of substantive ideas about economic reform and a grotesque spouting of comic-strip nonsense about the magical powers of the "market."

It is always assumed that criticism of Gorbachev can stem only from the wish that the whole system in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe had remained frozen. Change had come, and would have continued coming whether or not Gorbachev had risen to supreme power. Gorbachev's mastery is mostly in turning change into chaos and chaos into catastrophe, rather in the manner of Czar Nicholas 11. No doubt he's better than Yeltsin, who seems to be an entirely opportunistic demagogue, but occasional assertions of socialist principles don't make up for the mess.

One has to search through history to find so brief a span in which a substantial power, covering an ample portion of the globe, has sunk to its knees. The culminating absurdity was Prime Minister Ryzhkov's speech about the referendum (what Boris Kagarlitsky has called "market Stalinism"that is, the authoritarian imposition of "market disciplines"), in which the Soviet people would be asked to give their assent to the sort of economic program that has so far bankrupted about 60,000 small businesses in Poland and sent workers out on strike. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.