Mikhail Gorbachev Texts

<>1991fe27:Gorbachev campaign speech, "Vremia dlia trudnoi, chestnoi raboty" [It's time for hard, honest work], reported in Pravda, dateline Belarus, Minsk, at the beginning of Gorbachev's critical campaign tour, on the eve of nation-wide referendum on the new Union Treaty. Was Gorbachev ready for democracy? Did he know how to handle himself on the campaign trail?

<>1991fe28:Gorbachev speech, "Ni vozvrata, ne ostanovki ne budet" [There will be no turning back or stopping], reported in Pravda. Economic changes are essential for the future of the USSR, and the military-industrial complex holds us back. "This was the most militarized economy in the world with the most immense expenditures for defense" [2]. He continued, referring to himself in the third person, "When people say these days that Gorbachev concentrates power [in his own hands] it is nonsense".

As for national-minority independence, "At the center only those things should remain that are essential to the whole republic: defense, energy, transportation, communications, etc". If individual republics break these up, it will dezorganizovat' our economy. He warned of "war" between the center and the republics [IE=metropol and periphery]. Emphasized what the several republics offer one another. "We are speaking about the USSR, about the renewal of a federation of sovereign governments in the republics, about how all peoples, all citizens, whatever their nationality or wherever they may live, have their equal rights and opportunities guaranteed by the Constitution, by agreement within the Union." He stated the constitutional goal = "strong republics, and a strong center".

As for economic reforms, especially the new price system, hardships are likely to follow, but he promised that the majority of people would benefit in the long run, and that certain compensating measures "will get underway before the rise in prices". We will make the transition soon to a market system, but "if anyone thinks that the market solves everything, he is mistaken."

He fielded questions about the fate of Kamenev, Zinov'ev and Trotskii in the 1930s. Then came questions about Gorbachev's own relations with Yeltsin, Alekandr Yakovlev, Shevernadze, Bakatin, and Ryzhkov. He admitted that he saw dangers in the political course chosen by Yeltsin. He cut that discussion short by promising to continue that topic in conversations with intelligentsia-scholars. He added that USSR faced a definite danger from the right. He drew applause when he said he would tolerate no destructive confrontations.

Has national defense been weakened? No. We do not tolerate intimidation from any quarter, and "we don't need to copy anyone". We have or own way. In response to a question about disorder, he assured his listeners that the way of perestroika prevents chaos, while extremes of opposition threaten disorder

<>1991mr01:Gorbachev speech, "Konfrontatsii, raskolu obshchestva--net, konstruktivnomu sotrudnichestu--da!" [Say no to confrontation, to splitting society, yes to  constructive cooperation] reported in Pravda. National independence was first on his mind. "We all need one another, we share the same fate, we face the same problems, and we can solve them only together." But must we go back to the historical time of Ivan Kalita before we can begin to solve our problems. "The topic of disintegration is the most dangerous." In a nation where 75M people live in areas other than their "national" area, such ideas are insane. But with issues of such immense importance and size, and in a time like ours, arguments, discussions, even a certain amount of mental excitation are natural. That's why the new Ministerial Cabinet has been created

"There will be no miracle", he continued. "It is impossible in one jump to leap from the authoritarian-command system to democracy, from a distributive [raspredelitel'noi] economy to a market economy, from the unitary state to a federation of sovereign republics."

He stated outright that the past eighteen months have been a struggle for power. Some say that everything that happens is caused by the central authorities. But the Communist Party has disavowed monopoly on power. Social decentralization is under way. As a spin off from this, national-separatist movements have been spawned. The economy is being transformed. A variety of new forms of property has been introduced. Also, a variety of political parties has quite naturally appeared on the scene. "Various social strata and groups can express and protect their interests by means of parties, professional unions, and other organizations. But it is obligatory that they observe limits set by legal procedure and take a constitutional form. These are the ABCs of democracy."

Much of the drama of the current situation derives from the fact that there are groups operating beyond the limits set by constitutional law. "Impatience and radicalism" are the source of hasty and aggressive acts. "Adventurous" individuals call for total'noi privatizatsii and the universal rule of "private property". In another example of extremism, he asserted, "the legal desire of peoples for self-rule and national renewal is about to transformirovat' artificially into national self-isolation and autarky."

Many who are responsible for this deviation from the goals and orientations of Perestroika paradoxically blame the center for abandoning reform and preparing a diktatura.

"In fact what is going on here is a struggle for power which ignores the requirements of law and moral norms, which destabilizes social conditions, which threatens to divert us from the path of reform onto the path of confrontation."

The crisis will deepen, but we will move ahead. Empty stores make more profound the problems we face. Some march under the flag of democracy, but what they want is "de-federalization". For example, the president of the Moscow Soviet, Popov, suggests that the USSR be divided into 45 or 50 units. This does more than cast a shadow over Perestroika, it opposes it; it encourages "alliance with separativistami. They seek to weaken Union. Saiudis (in the Baltics) and Rukh (in Ukraine) stir up resentments between peoples. We see the propagation of Fascist views [profashistskikh vzgliadov].

Some democrats oppose the Communist Party. Some say that the Communist Party is a criminal party. How can they say that about 16M people [who are the members of that party]?

"Above all else we [of the Communist Party] have in mind humanistic values, law and freedom, and we are oriented to the individual as the main value. We have also in mind the democratic structure of society, the parliamentary system, the principle of division of powers, the establishment of legal government, and the rule of law. We have, finally, in mind the mixed economy [smeshannuiu ekonomiiu], variety in the forms of property, in company with social justice and solidarity."

Then Gorbachev took up some of this opponents, particularly Popov and Yeltsin. He focused on their use of the word "democracy". He explored the meanings of left and right in the aftermath of the French Revolution. He concluded, since we now have a new governmental structure with socialist pluralism, it is perfectly natural that we should now have democrats, conservatives, liberals, etc. The paradox is this, some "left-radicals" have developed a rage for power, having failed through the S"ezd narodnykh deputatov [the Congress of People's Deputies (NCng)], they now contemplate using "neo-Bolshevik tactics" [neobol'shevistskoi taktikoi]. What cynicism, said Gorbachev, the situation now is the utter opposite of 1917. [He did not explain fully what he meant by that.]

Gorbachev quoted Solzhenitsyn about how difficult it is to hold the middle line in social or political confrontation. But we will not allow fragmentation. We are one country, one society. Within the natural limits of political pluralism, we can bring all this to the people and meet the fundamental needs of our land. So the president is accused of being too harsh and power hungry in one direction; but too weak in another. Never mind, the president must look out for nation-wide interests, even though he be a member of the Communist Party.

He repeated that "...political struggle under democratic constitutions are inevitable. But they must be carried out within limits set by law, within limits set by the political culture." As for those who are not ready for this, we can be sure that the people will finally discover who they can deal with and who they cannot. I think they have started to discover that already. Some are setting fire to our house, but we need not panic. Here is our program =

<>1991mr02:Mogilev | Gorbachev speech, "Deistvovat' reshitel'no v interesakh stabil'nosti,
grazhdanskogo soglasiia, prodolzheniia reform" [To act decisively in the interests of stability, civil harmony, and the continuation of reform], reported in Pravda. Discussion of the Chernobyl accident gives opening for a more general presentation that paired economic and political goals of Perestroika.

It is necessary to hold a referendum on the new Union Treaty so that "the people can express its opinion on that important question." Yes, there is a danger of chaos, and it is not unreasonable to fear that out of chaos a diktatura might arise. But what we are experiencing is a crisis, not a catastrophe. It is just a stage on the road to the renewal of our society. We must have a strongly unified, multinational state. But the republics must also be strong. This is pure example of the [Marxist] dialectic. Agricultural and land reform, reform of property-holding, legal reform, are all required. And we will remain strong. We will not return to Stalinism and stagnancy [stalinizmu i sastoiu]. But we will also not engage in adventurism or radicalism. We will balance interests with justice. Some call for decisive measures, but there can be no return to the methods of 1938. But political centrism cannot remove from its arsenal those decisive and radical measures that might be forced by events in defense of the interests of society, in defense of "democratic socialism" under general democratic principles =

"We must distinguish ourselves both from dogmatic-conservative forces [dogmatichno-konservativnym silam] who stand for socialism without democracy, and from liberal-bourgeois forces who stand for democracy without socialism"
*1991mr10:MGW report on these Belarus speeches