[lbo-talk] Gorbachev: I Should Have Left the Communist Party Earlier

SA s11131978 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 18 06:56:14 PDT 2011

On 8/18/2011 8:58 AM, Doug Henwood wrote:

> I just don't buy that. The CPSU was a giant bureaucracy. There was no
> way that a handful of personalities could operate on their own. By the
> way, Kagarlitsky wrote and said that when it still looked like Gorby
> wanted Communism to "work better." The CP elite was jealous of its
> counterparts in the west. The guy who ran the construction industry in
> Leningrad lived in a three-room apartment. They wanted villas.

At first it gave me pause to read that BK said this before Gorby's radical turn. But then I thought - a Trot *would* say that, wouldn't he? Wasn't that always their line? A stopped clock...

On the CPSU bureaucracy: that's exactly the point. It was a *top-down* bureaucracy, and Gorbachev was the top.

Brown tells a story that took place in early 1988, right around the time MG turned radical. An anonymous article had been published in the party press attacking the excesses of perestroika. At a meeting of the Politburo, a supporter of the article brought it up, praising it. Going around the table, more than half the Politburo members said things supportive of the article. "This is our party line," they said. Then Gorbachev spoke. He said he disagreed with the article. At that point they moved on to regular party business, but afterward Gorbachev brought up the article again. Now they went around the table again and one by one, everyone fell into line. Everyone was forced to compliantly agree it was the wrong line.

On jealousy of western counterparts: I think a much more important factor was the jealousy of the intelligentsia for the west's more stimulating cultural/intellectual environment. The intelligentsia provided a base of support for MG. The idea that we should sell off the factories to investors and widen wage differentials - I don't think anybody talked that way until *after* Gorbachev forced through his democratizing reforms. At that point, dissident ideas could be published and discussed - and that was still a dissident idea in 1988.


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