My Inspiration: Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (2 March 1931- ) was blamed for the collapse of communism in Soviet Union. He was also blamed for Soviet Union breaking into smaller countries. Not long after both of his domestic reforms seemed to fail the country and the incidence of 'August Coup', Gorbachev resigned as the leader of Soviet Union (1991).

I may not be a historian. I'm only a student who happened to learn about Gorbachev when studying for elective History. He appeared in the last chapter of my study, and I must say that he was the perfect and inspiring ending to the interesting study of the past.

How did he lead the fall of communism in Soviet Union?

He introduced the two famous domestic reforms, Perestroika and Glasnost.

  • Perestroika is the reform where the government granted its citizens full control of the market. Citizens did not need to wait for the Central government to give orders on what to produce. 
  • Glasnost, is openness, where people are no longer constrained from publicly criticizing the government, where people are no longer blindfolded from the truth. 
However, there was a clash between those who are for and against of these reforms. Economy took a deep plunge after the Perestroika was introduced. People began to be aware of what actually the former leader, Joseph Stalin, did during his regime of ruthlessness to run the region. The sense of nationalism within the diverge ethnic groups began to rise, and small Soviet countries started to ask for independence. Eventually, Soviet Union was dissolved and communism crumbled.

How did he lead the fall of communism in Eastern Europe?
He withdrew Soviet troops who were in charge in Eastern Europe. Leaving the dictators of Eastern European countries defenseless. As European people were tired of having to live in misery, oppression and not to forget being economically backward countries compared to their Western European neighboring-countries, they began to topple the then rulers. 
Destruction of Berlin Wall that separated the East and West Europe

To me, he is the world's hero. And I don't simply say that because communism was erased, capitalism won, thus it was true that when USA said that communism was evil it was actually evil, so yipee USA was right. GO USA! Na-ah, I'm not pro-USA- I'm also not against USA though.

The Soviet's economy did crumble, so did the wall of oppression.
During Stalin's rule, education was not to educate the mind of the young, it was only a means of propaganda. Art was controlled and so was education. People who was felt as threats were executed. Intellects- who were supposed to be potential future leaders- were killed. There was no freedom. Gorbachev introduced freedom to these people. A lot of prisoners were freed under Glasnost.

Communism itself was destroying the region. The weak central government failed to efficiently organize the market. Hence, people were deprived of their basic needs. If say, Gorbachev left the system as it was, sooner or later, it would also crumble. The system made the price alcohol cheaper than food and beverages. This caused workers to consume alcohol, and affected their working performance. As the system was equality, no matter how bad the quality of the work was, workers who work will still be paid. Also, because of the equality system, this discouraged the workers from working hard. They realized no matter how good the quality of the goods they produced, it would make no difference to their wages- why work hard then?

I personally think that communism is a perfect system where everyone is equal and none shall be more or less than the others. A system that will bring justice to the unfairness of life. However, s system with a defect that is so obvious and how well this system goes depends on a human nature that is hard to come by. 

Quoted by B.Taylor:
"For Marxism (communism) to work, very little greed and jealousy can exist and people must have a general feeling of charity and a willingness to work their hardest for the good of everyone. These are obviously not common traits. Marxism could also work if those who have the greatest abilities and those who work the hardest are satisfied with rewards equivalent to those with lesser abilities and those who don't work hard at all- which is very unlikely."

A doctor was assigned to handle a dying patient. There were two decisions that needed to be considered to save the patient. Either one, the doctor take the risk, operate the patient and the patient may survive or die or two, don't take the risk and let the patient suffer the disease and die. Gorbachev was this doctor, and the dying patient is Soviet Union. Given this choice, surely the wisest is to give it a try?

His main goal was to fix the stagnant economy of Soviet Union. He attempted to recognize the problem and was soon aware that it would be impossible to save the economy without changing the then structure. Gorbachev did his best, and he failed. Many condemned him for what he did-Even China condemned him for being too soft and befriending capitalist countries, but today more people started to notice what he has contributed to the world.

He withdrew troops from Afghanistan as he wanted to set priorities and wars shouldn't make it to the top of the list. He freed Eastern Europe from oppression and gave them freedom to choose their leaders. He fixed his relationship with USA and other western countries. He ended the Cold War. 

Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, former President of USA

Another personal trait that I admire from this man is his honesty. He has this particular birthmark on his head. The previous leaders such as Joseph Stalin, would not ever let himself be seen as less than perfect. Given the fact that everything under Stalin's regime was manipulated, it was no surprise to know that the images of Stalin were manipulated to perfection. Gorbachev refused to 'erase' his birthmark, and when asked why he simply answered, 'If such simple thing needs to be hidden, what is left there to be revealed?' Growing up under Stalin's rule, he has probably had enough of living in falseness. He knew deep down, everyone has also had enough.

Gorbachev and his late wife, Raisa

I have always wondered how he could run the country so differently from his predecessors. He helped in his father's farm during the collectivisation period. He grew up under Stalin's rule, when everything taught was propaganda. However, he managed to differ from the society he was born in- an inspiration indeed.

He managed to change not only Soviet Union, but also the world we're living today.

Gorbachev was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in the 1990 for his success in ending the Cold War and bringing freedom to Eastern Europe.
And although he was already 80 years old last 2011, and going to 81 this year, Gorbachev is still politically active. He even criticized Putin for the 'voting result controversy' last 2011. He may be old, but he's not giving up, especially remembering in the early 2009 when an interviewer asked him how he saw his place in history. "Don't consign me," he growled, "to history".

My Favorite Quotes by Gorbachev:

“If what you have done yesterday still looks big to you, you haven't done much today.” 

“It would be naive to think that the problems plaguing mankind today can be solved with means and methods which were applied or seemed to work in the past. . .”- when asked why he withdrew troops from Afghanistan and Eastern European countries

“If not me, who? And if not now, when?”
-when asked why did he apply 'Perestroika and Glasnost' 

Good grief, I never meant for this post to look like some kind of school report. I enjoyed writing it though ;) Hope this post may be useful for those who read it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the useful info!

Anonymous said...

very interesting article, thanks

Parker Beckman said...

Do you think that he was the reason for the downfall of the Soviet Union? Im confused on the way your output is. Are you for him, or against?

Adrianne Walujo said...

Yeah, I do think that he was one of the important factors for the downfall of Soviet Union in 1991. However, the way he showed such courageous decision inspired me, and therefore I'm for him. :)

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