Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Sat Apr 15 21:12:50 MDT 1995

On Sat, 15 Apr 1995, Rahul Mahajan wrote:

> JS wrote > >G gets some points for supporting democratization and
resisting a turn to > >repression, unlike Yeltsin. > >

RM: Do you really think
that's accurate. Sure, G initiated democratization, but > it turned out to
be clearly an idea whose time had come, and the > groundswell of
expression once people realized they weren't going to be > locked up for
speaking their minds would have been rather difficult to > stop. Although
G resisted very hard-line coercive measures like some of > Yeltsin's, it
seems to me that he definitely started the trend of > concentration of
power in the top executive post -- every year or so, you > would read
about another adroit maneuver of his to get the legislative > branch to
give more power to the president, which seems now to have > culminated in
Yeltsin's ruling by decree. It seems to me that he at first >
underestimated the power of democracy and then resisted it as best he >
could. > Rahul > > > > > --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu

Well, I don't want to go on about it, but I think that G did support
democractization, although he wasn't very clear on what it meant or where
it was going. True, it was an idea whose time had come. But a perestroikan
policy along the lines of the 1986 program might hjave been carried out by
early allies like Ligachev and Ryzhkov with a lot less democratic
tolerance and actual use of the central powers which G claimed but rarely
if ever applied. Had that happened the USSR would probbaly still exist and
be creaking along towards a future collapse. As an economic strategist or
a socialist leader G was a failure, but in my view his commitment to
democracy was deep. Sure, he resisted where people were taking it, but
only occasionally to the point of applying really coercive measures to
suppress it--probably less than many leaders of capitalist democracies
would faced with similar upheavals. So give the man a medal for that. As
one Russian told me--no fan for G otherwise--in century they'll put up
a statue to him.

My comrades in Solidarity used to tell me I was soft on Gorby, so make of
that what you will.

--Justin Schwartz

     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---


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