Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gorbachev Advocates Pro-Democracy Economy

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gorbachev Advocates Pro-Democracy Economy

Article excerpt

``There go the people. I must follow them for I am their leader,'' said Alexandre Ledru-Rollin during the 1848 revolution in France.

Now it is Mikhail S. Gorbachev's turn to catch up.

A leading Soviet spokesman, Gennadi I. Gerasimov, told foreign correspondents this week, ``We must move with the tide, must move with the people and not be left behind.''

This week, after the biggest pro-democracy demonstration in Soviet history, Gorbachev went before the Central Committee to demand an end to the Communist Party's monopoly on power.

Gorbachev now knows where he is going and what the essential political conditions are for an economic reorganization of the Soviet Union.

In pursuing the opposite course from the treacherous and now-failing one taken by Deng Xiaoping in China, Gorbachev has put politics ahead of economics: he sees democracy and openness (glasnost) as the prerequisites for building an effective modern economy.

This was explicit in his address to the Central Committee on Monday, the most astonishing and revolutionary speech by a Soviet leader in the last 70 years. He called not for the destruction of the Communist Party but for it to renounce absolute power. ``The crux of the party's renewal,'' he said, ``is the need to get rid of everything that tied it to the authoritarian-bureaucratic system.''

``We should abandon everything that led to the isolation of socialist countries from the mainstream of world civilization,'' Gorbachev said. ``We should abandon the understanding of progress as a permanent confrontation with a socially different world.''

The human rights of the Soviet people must be safeguarded, he said, and he called for a range of measures ``to enrich the spiritual world of people,'' especially by raising educational and cultural levels.

Human values, he indicated, had been neglected, thrust into the background of ``industrial growth figures.''

For this treatment of human beings, the Soviet Union has paid, and will continue to pay, a heavy price, Gorbachev said.

``We had to pay for this by seriously lagging behind, and we will be paying for it for a long time. We were nearly one of the last to realize that in the age of information and science, the most expensive asset is knowledge, the breadth of mental outlook and creative imagination.''

Now, after five years of delay and economic deterioration, the hard tasks of translating such insights and hopes into reality must be urgently tackled. …

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