In the end, the communist system would have disintegrated on its own due to American pressure, even without Gorbachev, say others, who see the late Soviet leader as a hardened Bolshevik, but who, under the influence of his lyrical soul, followed the utopian trail of Lenin’s writings until he completely lost his way in history.
And when he woke up, he stood on the sidelines, hated by his own people, who actually didn’t even want the fall of the Soviet empire.
At the same time, it seemed that the people were asking for freedom, they were even looking forward to it, but not the kind that they got later – that is, hard and demanding freedom, full of personal responsibility, complex search and initial chaos. And so the one who was loved at first because he gave freedom became hated, who necessarily lost power. His successors already knew that Machiavelli was right when he said that a people dares more easily against the one they love than against the one who causes them to fear.
He gave the world a new chance
These are all layers of a single story, in which the only unifying element is that Gorbachev was the right guy in the right place. His historical performance is mainly what he did not do, i.e. that he did not defend the empire militarily, as Putin is doing now.
With the death of Gorbachev, the motif that the Greeks called Kairos, i.e. an opportune moment, returns. But she is not being watched, but living. She only appears as Kairos after she’s gone, already passed, and we’re forced to talk about her to make up for her loss. They created it as history. Gorbachev’s death is also a reminder that history does not exist by itself, that we are always reconstructing and deconstructing it, that we invent it, and that its form is what we bear responsibility for in the future.
History is a lie that we have agreed upon, said the enlightened Voltaire. Another maxim – whether it was first uttered by the Italian nobleman Machiavelli, the German Marxist Walter Benjamin or the British conservative Winston Churchill – says that history is written by the victors. That in their hands is an interpretation of what has happened, which is understandably used to influence what is to come, what could or even should be coming. But was Gorbachev a loser or a winner in history?
It depends on which side we look from and also who is looking. The image made by Gorbachev himself, which can be found in many books and documentaries, is also significant. In the one by Vitaly Mansky, called Gorbachev’s Paradise, the answer is unexpectedly clear. Gorbachev lost politically, in a sense he worried about it until the end of his life, but he was full of happiness and joy that he did not spoil it at the right moment for the world and gave it a new chance. To feel and live Kairos – the main role of personalities in history.
The author is a commentator for Euro magazine