The Thought of Mikhail Gorbachev: A Treatise and a Speech
Gorbachev used the months of August and September to finish supervising a book on perestroika and to prepare his speech on the 70th anniversary of the Revolution. This would permit him to put a certain theoretical foundation under his sweeping campaign of personnel changes with a reinterpretation of Soviet history in general and the Stalin period in particular. He had set this task for the policy of glasnost at the January 1987 plenum when he argued that the problems of the present ‘go back to when creative ideas disappeared from theory’, and would have to be made good by a searching investigation of history. Vitali Korotich, editor of Ogonyok, underlined the point in February when he said that ‘until we resolve the question of Stalin we’ll never move forward’. Yet Gorbachev appeared to be limited in this quest for a bold new analysis of the party’s past by two facts: first, the discussion of spring and summer 1987 among the proponents of glasnost had not provided many insights, and had in fact even withered in the heat of counterattack by the Stalinist academic ideologues; second, the defence of orthodoxy tended to encourage his opponents who had brought about a tense standoff in the factional struggle in the Politburo. Ligachev’s later account directly links his own Politburo opposition against Gorbachev to ‘the problem of the slander of history’, and names historian Yuri Afanasyev as the principal culprit.1
KeywordsForeign Policy Political Culture Class Struggle Regional Conflict Soviet Society
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