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Sep 12, 2022
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Does Russia Need a New Perestroika?

Shortly after Gorbachev’s death, I realized what kind of anecdote other statements about him and perestroika remind me of. The authors of this series did not skimp on triumph and anger – in short, they overdid it with gloating. And even more self-pitying. The hooting came out plaintively.

“The satirist Milonov once came to Gnedich drunk, as usual, ragged and disheveled. Gnedich began to exhort him. Touched, Milonov wept and, pointing to the sky, said: “There, there I will find a reward for all my suffering …”. “Brother,” Gnedich objected to him, “look at yourself in the mirror: will they let you in there?”

It is possible that the poet Milonov from Pushkin’s “Table-talk” suffered unfairly and had the right to count on retribution. However, both in the ecclesiastical view and in the worldly one, the altered state of consciousness and the outward ugliness of the sufferer will not bring them closer to a just retribution.

It’s remarkable and scary. When Yeltsin died in 2007, a figure for whom the accounts were much fresher and more detailed, the public reaction was much more restrained. Today, in jokes about earthly and afterlife executions, one can hear the howl of the crowd that has come running to punish Bulgakov’s professor Persikov: “Beat him! Kill… the world’s villain! You unleashed the bastards!”

But Gorbachev was not elected by the people, he did not dissolve the USSR and did not lower the Soviet flag, he was not going to abandon Marxism (if this is a value, rediscovered by someone). What was allowed during perestroika under Gorbachev still inspired the majority not with disgust, but with interest and hope. Glasnost, democracy, and the market were snatched out of his hands, so that, they say, not only partocrats could use it. For much of what happened up to December 1991 (not to mention subsequent events), it is reasonable to blame Gorbachev for allowing or not being able not to allow. But it was done by other people.

It seems that the representatives of the generation “Oh, what have we done!” (who have long since changed their interest in Bukharin and Stolypin to hymns to Stalin and Beria) has found a total eclipse today and their hearts are joyful. Those who dumped all the sins on Gorbachev no longer need to be ashamed, remembering who, against their current faith, overthrew, agitated and voted, snatched their own in the market mechanisms of the 90s, in the glamor and senseocracy of the 2000s.

They are pleased with such an imaginary absolution, as perestroika new-thinkers. By 1989, those years believed that they had always been for Bukharin and Czechoslovakia. And against the “cult of personality” – totally, as it should be with the “new thinking”, and not half-heartedly, as in the “period of stagnation”. And if, they say, they lied before, then the “cult of personality” and the “administrative-command system” are to blame.

It would be fine if they tried to lay all the evil that had happened since 1985 on Gorbachev – hardly righteously. Those who believe that everything not quite Soviet is evil in Russia are encouraged by the thought that the time has come for an anti-perestroika that will put an end to evil. Enthusiasts congratulate each other that “the cycle is over”, “the curse has been lifted” and it is “time to return”. Returns to what? In the 90s, it made sense to dream about the impossible return to the 89th or 90th to figure out what else can be replayed. Do the “Holy-Creators” now dream of returning to 1984? Or immediately in 1953? I have already met the opinion that we do not need books published during perestroika. And mockery at the mention of repression for a fair part of those who write and read has long been a good tone.

For some time, our society was frightened by “perestroika-2”. Like, “systemic liberals” and “non-systemic opposition”, relying on the “creative class”, are about to push through a new edition of “all sorts of outrageous things”. Since then, the “systemic liberals” have lost their influence, and many have ended up abroad. The “non-systemic opposition” for the most part migrated there as well.

However, it is becoming more and more noticeable that those who most hate Perestroika-1 are the most happy to buy into Perestroika-2. The speeches of those judging Gorbachev are such that you are convinced that even an afterthought would not have saved the USSR. For these people have forgotten too much and learned little. “Replaying perestroika” for them means doing everything in reverse, starting with the “catastrophe of the 20th Congress.” After all, in the mythology of the “Oychego-perpetrators”, the 20th Congress of the CPSU took the place of 1937 from the post-Stalinist mythology: “So everything was fine, and then a treacherous blow hit the honest communists!”

Moreover, I won’t be surprised that by the upcoming 70th anniversary of “life without a leader,” today’s Beria Stalinists will adopt the contemptuous meme of late perestroika “the last 70 years.” And what is important, it becomes simply scary to argue with fans of the fabulous Stalin. This is now called “split society.” It is understood that it is possible to split a society only from the gentle, Stalinist side, therefore it is permissible only to wink good-naturedly at the neo-Bolsheviks, who are convinced that “they are the power here.” Still, of course, not state, but spiritual: “The preacher said to the fire – that means, to the fire!”

And after all, it was just as scary to go into perestroika against the “convergents,” the bearers of decades-long dreams of a “return to Leninist norms,” of a new NEP and convergence with the West. Those who doubted were considered cruel and unspiritual people. Then, when everything fell apart, it was not shameful to say in plain text that the market does not have to be humane, but “The West will teach us how to work.”

Today I observe people who say that “we need SMERSH” – rather than Abakumov (the fate of Abakumov does not touch them), but Yen-Fleming, where they “take and end.” People who are convinced that there is a magical “Stalinist model of the economy”, from which everything flourishes and becomes more human. Confident that the West is full of freaks, but the East “will help us restore socialism.”

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