133 Important Quotes by Mikhail Gorbachev
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Wikipedia Summary for Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (born 2 March 1931) is a Russian and former Soviet politician.
The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991. He was also the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and president of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, Gorbachev initially adhered to Marxism–Leninism, although he had moved towards social democracy by the early 1990s.
Of Russian and Ukrainian heritage, Gorbachev was born in Privolnoye, Stavropol Krai, to a poor peasant family. Growing up under the rule of Joseph Stalin, in his youth he operated combine harvesters on a collective farm before joining the Communist Party, which then governed the Soviet Union as a one-party state according to Marxist–Leninist doctrine. While studying at Moscow State University, he married fellow student Raisa Titarenko in 1953 prior to receiving his law degree in 1955. Moving to Stavropol, he worked for the Komsomol youth organization and, after Stalin's death, became a keen proponent of the de-Stalinization reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
He was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee in 1970, in which position he oversaw construction of the Great Stavropol Canal. In 1978, he returned to Moscow to become a Secretary of the party's Central Committee, and in 1979 joined its governing Politburo. Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief regimes of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, the Politburo elected Gorbachev as General Secretary, the de facto head of government, in 1985.
Although committed to preserving the Soviet state and to its socialist ideals, Gorbachev believed significant reform was necessary, particularly after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. He withdrew from the Soviet–Afghan War and embarked on summits with United States president Ronald Reagan to limit nuclear weapons and end the Cold War. Domestically, his policy of glasnost ("openness") allowed for enhanced freedom of speech and press, while his perestroika ("restructuring") sought to decentralize economic decision making to improve efficiency.
His democratization measures and formation of the elected Congress of People's Deputies undermined the one-party state. Gorbachev declined to intervene militarily when various Eastern Bloc countries abandoned Marxist–Leninist governance in 1989–90. Internally, growing nationalist sentiment threatened to break up the Soviet Union, leading Marxist–Leninist hardliners to launch the unsuccessful August Coup against Gorbachev in 1991. In the wake of this, the Soviet Union dissolved against Gorbachev's wishes and he resigned. After leaving office, he launched his Gorbachev Foundation, became a vocal critic of Russian Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, and campaigned for Russia's social-democratic movement.
Widely considered one of the most significant figures of the second half of the 20th century, Gorbachev remains the subject of controversy. The recipient of a wide range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, he was widely praised for his pivotal role in ending the Cold War, introducing new political freedoms in the Soviet Union, and tolerating both the fall of Marxist–Leninist administrations in eastern and central Europe and the reunification of Germany. Conversely, he is often derided in Russia for accelerating the Soviet collapse, an event which brought a decline in Russia's global influence and precipitated an economic crisis.
We have no right ever to forget that psychological warfare is a struggle for winning people's minds.
We must speak far more clearly about sexuality, contraception, about abortion, about values that control population, because the ecological crisis, in short, is the population crisis. Cut the population by 90% and there aren't enough people left to do a great deal of ecological damage.
It is a worthy reward for his efforts over many years. He is a man who does his job solidly and responsibly.
Ideological and political intolerance, even with the best and most sincere intentions, produces results that are the direct opposite of those intended.
We desperately need to recognise that we are the guests, not the masters, of nature and adopt a new paradigm for development, based on the costs and benefits to all people, and bound by the limits of nature herself rather than the limits of technology and consumerism.
Humankind has no option but to protect and live in harmony with its natural environment. However, it would be regrettable if in putting an end to revolutionary extremism, we should then come to environmental extremism. We should not forget that all extremes are the same.
In our discussions here at the forum there was no trace of the futile debate about what is better, capitalism or socialism...We should seek a synthesis of ideas and values that have proven their viability.
If you want Russia to be a real fully developed partner, then America should invest in Russia and activate Russia as a strong nation.
I don't think Russia is setting this as a goal; I don't think this should be Russia's goal. I think even the United States doesn't need to be a superpower. China doesn't need to be a superpower. It's a different world.
Today, peace means the ascent from simple coexistence to cooperation and common creativity among countries and nations.
There should be competition and exchanges between different countries, but there are certainly certain universal values, and that is freedom and democracy.
Surely, God on high has not refused to give us enough wisdom to find ways to bring us an improvement in relations between the two great nations on earth.
For a new type of progress throughout the world to become a reality, everyone must change. Tolerance is the alpha and omega of a new world order.
America must be the teacher of democracy, not the advertiser of the consumer society. It is unrealistic for the rest of the world to reach the American living standard.
No one, no single center, can today command the world. No single group of countries can do it. Under the current U.S. president, I don't think we can fundamentally change the situation as it is developing now. It is dangerous. The world is experiencing a period of growing global disarray.
I envisage the prinicles of the Earth Charter to be a new form of the ten commandments. They lay the foundation for a sustainable global earth community.
Communist ideology in its pure form is akin to Christianity. Its main ideas are the brotherhood of all peoples irrespective of their nationality, justice and equality, peace, and an end to all hostility between peoples.
The threat of environmental crisis is the 'international disaster key' to unlock the New World Order.
Without glasnost there is not, and there cannot be, democratism, the political creativity of the masses and their participation in management.
We were nearly one of the last to realize that in the age of
information science the most expensive asset is knowledge.
Sometimes, the decisions have to be taken in minutes, even seconds, and there would be no time to make the right decision. We understood that this could have ended in catastrophe.
We are all passengers aboard one ship, the Earth, and we must not allow it to be wrecked. There will be no second Noah's Ark.
The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant...has painfully affected the Soviet people, and shocked the international community. For the first time, we confront the real force of nuclear energy, out of control.
I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos.
I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. Being at one with nature.
The model of the consumer society is something that will one day end. My personal view is that too much consumption is wrong.
The ecological crisis, in short, is the population crisis. Cut the population by 90% and there aren't enough people left to do a great deal of ecological damage.
Women prevent the threads of life from being broken. The finest minds have always understood the peacemaking role of women.
I will never give up politics. I've tried to give it up three times, but I never made it. Politics mobilizes me. I won't last long if I give it up.
We had 10 years after the Cold War to build a new world order and yet we squandered them. The United States cannot tolerate anyone acting independently. Every US president has to have a war.
If current technological processes continue without change, the environment will change, and we, the human species, will either have to mutate or even die, to disappear, as many species have disappeared.
The guilt of Stalin and his immediate entourage before the Party and the people for the mass repressions and lawlessness they committed is enormous and unforgivable.
In effect, according to Lenin, socialism and democracy are indivisible. By gaining democratic freedoms the working masses come to power.
I support freedom and I support a free market economy, but it should be a socially oriented market economy. I support globalization, but it should be globalization with a human face.
Further global progress is now possible only through a quest for universal consensus in the movement towards a new world order.
I am an optimist and I believe that together we shall be able now to make the right historical choice so as not to miss the great chance at the turn of centuries and millenia and make the current extremely difficult transition to a peaceful world order.
It will be difficult, even painful, but democracy will prevail in Russia. There will be no dictatorship, although relapses into authoritarianism are possible.
According to Lenin, socialism and democracy are indivisible.... The essence of perestroika lies in the fact that it unites socialism with democracy and revives the Leninist concept of socialist construction both in theory and in practice. We want more socialism and, therefore, more democracy.
I think the environmental problem will be the number one item on the agenda of the 21st century... This is a problem that cannot be postponed.
We used to have just one criterion and that was profit, and then another criterion was added -- social welfare. Now we have to add the third important criterion, and that is nature and the environment.
If the Russian word perestroika has easily entered the international lexicon, this is due to more than just interest in what is going on in the Soviet Union. Now the whole world needs restructuring, i.e. progressive development, a fundamental change.
I certainly wouldn't say that we loved the arms race. Trillions of dollars were used to stoke it. For our economy, which was smaller in size than the American economy, it was a burden. But one cannot agree with the statement that the arms race played the key role in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ex-Presidents of the United States get state subsidies. Not so in Russia. You get no government support.
When future generations judge those who came before them on environmental issues, they may conclude they didn't know: let us not go down in history as the generations who knew, but didn't care.
The world's deteriorating ecology poses as great a danger to mankind today as did the nuclear standoff between the superpowers at the height of the Cold War.
Even today, a majority of people surveyed say that they regret the fact that the USSR collapsed. But only 9 percent say that they would want it back.
It is my firm belief that the infinite and uncontrollable fury of nuclear weapons should never be held in the hands of any mere mortal ever again, for any reason.
When I cleared out Moscow apartment after stepping down as president, they found all kinds of wiring in the walls. It turned out that they had been spying on me all along.
It will not be enough to rely on experts. Ordinary citizens must become experts too. It will take public opinion on a wide scale to ensure that world leaders act.
In October 1917, we parted with the old world, rejecting it once and for all. We are moving toward a new world, a world of Communism. We shall never turn off that road.
There is only one superpower now and it doesn't know what to do with its status. As a result, we got Yugoslavia and Iraq, and the situation has only got worse.
It is really important to solve the problem of rational utilization and distribution of wate supplies. I dare say, the shortage of fresh water is the major ecological problem of this moment.
Our rockets can find Halley's comet, and fly to Venus with amazing accuracy, but side by side with these scientific and technical triumphs is an obvious lack of efficiency in using scientific achievements for economic needs. Many Soviet household appliances are of poor quality.
Lake Baikal in Russia has 25 percent of the freshwater resources of the world. Sixty-five percent of the Russian ecosystems are in danger. So let's preserve what we have, and let's take good care of nature.
It sometimes seems to me that some of our Western partners do not want Russia to fully recover. They would like Russia to be in a subdued state, and they want Russian resources to be used for the benefit of the U.S. economy.
Globalization was supposed to break down barriers between continents and bring all peoples together. But what kind of globalization do we have with over one billion people on the planet not having safe water to drink?
We must treat water as if it were the most precious thing in the world, the most valuable natural resource. Be economical with water! Don't waste it! We still have time to do something about this problem before it is too late.
Certain people in the United States are driving nails into this structure of our relationship, then cutting off the heads. So the Soviets must use their teeth to pull them out.
Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.
You are fortunate to live here. If I were your President, I would levy a tax on you for living in San Francisco!
It seems that the most important thing about Reagan was his anti-Communism and his reputation as a hawk who saw the Soviet Union as an 'evil empire.'
The market is not an invention of capitalism. It has existed for centuries. It is an invention of civilization.
We are not abandoning our convictions, our philosophy or traditions, nor do we urge anyone to abandon theirs.
The market came with the dawn of civilization and it is not an invention of capitalism. If it leads to improving the well-being of the people there is no contradiction with socialism.
I think we need more young people; we need to elect young people to government. We need to give them a chance, in the media, in politics, in democracy.
Every country should conduct its own reforms, should develop its own model, taking into account the experience of other countries, whether close neighbours or far away countries.
I grew up in a family of peasants, and it was there that I saw the way that, for example, our wheat fields suffered as a result of dust storms, water erosion and wind erosion; I saw the effect of that on life -- on human life.
Democracy is the wholesome and pure air without which a socialist public organization cannot live a full-blooded life.
I am a Communist, a convinced Communist! For some that may be a fantasy. But to me it is my main goal.
Sometimes it's difficult to accept, to recognise one's own mistakes, but one must do it. I was guilty of overconfidence and arrogance, and I was punished for that.
I couldn't wait to get to the most powerful position, because I thought then I would be able to fix problems that only the leader can fix. But when I got there, I realized we needed revolutionary change.
Sometimes people ask me why I began perestroika. Were the causes basically domestic or foreign? The domestic reasons were undoubtedly the main ones, but the danger of nuclear war was so serious that it was a no less significant factor.
Political leaders still think things can be done through force, but that cannot solve terrorism. Backwardness is the breeding ground of terror, and that is what we have to fight.
Imagine a country that flies into space, launches Sputniks, creates such a defense system, and it can't resolve the problem of women's pantyhose. There's no toothpaste, no soap powder, not the basic necessities of life. It was incredible and humiliating to work in such a government.
It is better to discuss things, to argue and engage in polemics than make perfidious plans of mutual destruction.
A society should never become like a pond with stagnant water, without movement. That's the most important thing.
Without perestroika, the cold war simply would not have ended. But the world could not continue developing as it had, with the stark menace of nuclear war ever present.
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.
Starting reforms in the Soviet Union was only possible from above, only from above. Any attempt to go from below was suppressed, suppressed in a most resolute way.
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