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The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

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4 February 2022

Last year, the magazine Russia in Global Affairs published Mikhail Gorbachev’s essay Perestroika and New Thinking: A Retrospective, which evoked considerable interest and response among scholars and students of Perestroika.

Below are links to the essay and some of the comments.

Mikhail Gorbachev. Perestroika and New Thinking: A Retprospective

More than three and a half decades have passed since the start of the process of change in the Soviet Union known throughout the world as perestroika. The debate about its meaning and its legacy continues with undiminished intensity. All these years, perestroika has been in my thoughts. I have been trying to find answers to the questions put to me by scholars, journalists and ordinary people in the letters that I receive. They want to understand perestroika—and that means it has not been relegated to the past. The experience and the lessons of perestroika remain relevant today, both for Russia and for the world.

Perestroika went through various stages. We were searching, we had our illusions, we made mistakes, and we had our achievements. If given a chance to start anew, I would have done many things differently, but I am confident that historically perestroika was a just cause. This means two things: first, perestroika was necessary, and second, we were moving in the right direction.

I am often asked how I assess the specific decisions taken during that time; which of them were right and which were wrong.
It is true that we made mistakes. I mentioned some of them above. We should have started to reform the Party and decentralize the Union earlier than we did; we should have been bolder in reforming the economy. But here are the real results of perestroika: the end of the Cold War; unprecedented agreements on nuclear disarmament; human rights and the freedoms of speech, assembly, religion and emigration; contested elections on a multi-party basis; and, most importantly, we brought the process of change far enough that it could not be turned back.

Read the full text

Comments on the Essay:

George W. Breslauer

Mark Kramer

Jack F. Matlock, Jr.

Svetlana Savranskaya

William Taubman 

Alexandre Auzan 

Grzegorz W. Kołodko

Archie Brown