The Guardian May 12, 1999

Disastrous ideas

Mikhail Gorbachev will be in Sydney for a one-off lecture on May 27. On 
the platform with him will be "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf, the American 
General who conducted the infamous war against Iraq; stockmarket speculator 
Rene Rivkin; Al "Chainsaw" Dunlap, known for his ruthlessness in sacking 
workers; and the "King of the Infomercial", Kevin Trudeau. All are 
appropriate associates for Gorbachev who knows no shame.

It is a little over 10 years since Gorbachev launched his "new thinking" 
upon the Soviet Union and the world  time enough to assess its 

In a report to the 28th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 
in 1990, Gorbachev said, "The issue today is this: either Soviet society 
will go forward along the path of the profound changes that have begun ... 
or else, forces opposed to perestroika will gain the upper hand  and 
then, dismal times are in store for the country and the people."

It was Gorbachev and his cronies who gained the upper hand at that time but 
far from their ideas leading to a renovation and strengthening of the 
Soviet Union and socialism, they led to the destruction of the Soviet 
Union, the restoration of capitalism, and an unprecedented impoverishment 
of the people of the former Soviet Union.

For the first time in decades, inter-ethnic strife erupted on the territory 
of the formerly ethnically united and generally harmonious Soviet Union.

While professing democracy, Gorbachev acquiesced in the destruction and 
banning of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Right-wing reaction, 
open robbery, criminality, racism and cultural depravity seized power.

The once free, secular and high level educational system was wrecked. The 
free medical and hospital service was brought to its knees. The 
privatisation of once high-performance industries led to their closure with 
a huge outflow of capital, thieved from the people, flowing out of the 
country in the greatest robbery of all time.

The Russian people were humiliated and the Russian state rendered virtually 
powerless to do what needed to be done to look after its own people, let 
alone fulfill any internationalist responsibilities as the Soviet Union had 
formerly done. The list of tragedies goes on and on.

But Gorbachev's ideas were not just a tragedy for the people of the former 
Soviet Union. The people of the whole world are suffering new wars, 
destitution, unemployment and unparalleled exploitation.

Gorbachev claimed just nine years ago that: "New thinking has already 
substantially improved the international climate and removed the threat of 
a world war... This has changed the entire world situation for the better 
and launched a movement towards an unprecedentedly peaceful period in the 
life of humanity."

Ten years on and with NATO aggression against Yugoslavia raging and the 
inevitability of more wars in the future unless NATO is stopped now, 
Gorbachev's ideas had the directly opposite result to those claimed. They 
inevitably led not to the strengthening of socialism but to its 
destruction, not to the up-building of the Soviet Union and the working 
class movement around the world, but to their abandonment and betrayal.

The door was opened for capitalism to regain its dominant position and to 
act to reimpose its rule everywhere.

The influence of Gorbachev's ideas was not limited to the Soviet Union, 
however. There were those in other countries who believed that his ideas 
represented some "renovation" of socialism. Some, mesmerised by Gorbachev's 
philosophy, advocated that the Warsaw Pact should unilaterally disband and 
that should it do this, NATO would be persuaded to follow suit. The Warsaw 
Pact was disbanded but NATO armed itself to the teeth and became more 

Gorbachev ignored the rapaciousness and barbarity of capitalism which is 
now all too obvious in the war against Yugoslavia and in the policies of 
"economic rationalism" which represent a world-wide offensive by 
capitalism against the working people of the world.

Gorbachev abandoned Marxism while pretending to advance it. He betrayed 
socialism while claiming to make it "better".

What is to be learnt from this calamity: that Marxism remains true and 
relevant but that those who come along with "new thinking" and who put 
Marxism-Leninism in inverted commas have to be regarded with extreme 
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