Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union

By Andrei S. Grachev; Margo Milne | Go to book overview

Afterword:
A Mythical Kingdom Vanishes--Again

Now that the dramatic chain of events leading to the collapse of the USSR is over and the states and peoples of that vast totalitarian empire have embarked on a new phase, it might seem appropriate to make a final assessment of the "Gorbachev era." To some, this seems all the more fitting because the main element in the almost utopian agenda that became linked with Gorbachev's name, the effort to secure revolutionary changes through reformist compromises, seems to have receded irretrievably into the past.

But it would be unfair and inaccurate to say so. First, if we are indeed witnessing the end of an era, it cannot be said to be Gorbachev's era alone. This has been the collapse of an entire civilization (or at least of the attempt to build a new one), the sinking of yet another Atlantis, another utopian apparition, into the depths of history.

The lowering of the red flag from the roof of the Kremlin signified more than the departure of the first and last president of the USSR: It was the end of an era in Soviet and world history--the era that began in 1917 and that was linked throughout with the name Lenin. In a sense, this event might even be said to mark the end of the political history of the twentieth century, dominated as it has been by the efforts of communism and fascism to build and disseminate their totalitarian models for society and the world order--models based on the domination of the individual by the state and on the monopoly of a single ideology and social system that brooked no alternatives.

Today, almost fifty years after the overthrow of fascism in Western Europe, socialism in Central and Eastern Europe is crumbling before our eyes. There is no guarantee, however, that one or the other will not rise again in another form, in other parts of the world.

But this is only one way of looking at this turning point in history. The second viewpoint, in some ways, refutes the first, since it is concerned not with the end of an era but with its continuation into the future. It may be that we are witnessing

-195-

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Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword - ARCHIE BROWN ix
  • Preface xv
  • Mending the Breach 1
  • Reinforcements From The Second Front 13
  • On a Crumbling Verge 33
  • A President Without a Country 47
  • One Last Mission For the Union 59
  • On the Eve Of the Seventy-Fourth Anniversary Of the October Revolution 85
  • The Mirage Of a Confederal State 97
  • A Free Man With Nothing to Fear 113
  • A Cloud in Trousers 119
  • Fight to the Finish 127
  • Final Hours 145
  • Checking the Pulse 153
  • Last Rites 159
  • Burying a Time Capsule 169
  • Departure 175
  • Afterword: - A Mythical Kingdom Vanishes--Again 195
  • Appendix: Resignation Speech of Mikhail Gorbachev - Delivered at 7:00 P.M. on December 25, 1991 203
  • Notes 207
  • About the Book and Author 214
  • Index 215
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