Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gorbachev Writes; We Should Read.

My friend Matt here at my favorite coffee shop just pointed out an editorial piece in today's Gazette-Times. In an ad deal, The Interzone gets maybe fifteen copies each day for the customers to read with their coffee. I am not a fan of the paper (understatement alert), and most days don't bother picking it up. So I would have missed this if Matt hadn't pointed it out, and I want to extend my thanks to him.

Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in the Washington Post Sunday (uncluttered printable version here, original online article here):
Years ago, as the Cold War was coming to an end, I said to my fellow leaders around the globe: The world is on the cusp of great events, and in the face of new challenges all of us will have to change, you as well as we. For the most part, the reaction was polite but skeptical silence.
Our perestroika signaled the need for change in the Soviet Union, but it was not meant to suggest a capitulation to the U.S. model. Today, the need for a more far-reaching perestroika -- one for America and the world -- has become clearer than ever.

But then came the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, and it became clear that the new Western model was an illusion that benefited chiefly the very rich. Statistics show that the poor and the middle class saw little or no benefit from the economic growth of the past decades.

The current global crisis demonstrates that the leaders of major powers, particularly the United States, had missed the signals that called for a perestroika. The result is a crisis that is not just financial and economic. It is political, too.

The model that emerged during the final decades of the 20th century has turned out to be unsustainable. It was based on a drive for super-profits and hyper-consumption for a few, on unrestrained exploitation of resources and on social and environmental irresponsibility.

I think this is an important piece that everyone should read. Gorbachev tries to make clear that he is not calling for the US to follow a Russian model, but one that is uniquely our own. He points out that our current models- economic, social, political- are not getting people to the place they want to be. If our goal is to create enormously wealthy corporations and individuals, we've been successful beyond measure. If our goal is to create an environment where people can strive for happiness, security, and a modicum of assurance their children will have a shot at the same- and their children's children, and their children, too- what we have created is a dismal failure.

Hear, hear, Mr Gorbachev. Now if we can get some so-called "leaders" in this country to listen and develop your ideas, I'll be much less pessimistic regarding the future of my species.

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