After decades of the Bolshevik experiment and the realization that this had led Soviet society down a historical blind alley, a strong impulse for democratic reform also evolved in the form of Soviet Perestroika.
But it soon became very clear that Western capitalism, too—deprived of its old adversary and imagining itself the undisputed victor and incarnation of global progress—was at risk of leading Western society and the rest of the world down another historical blind alley.
Today’s global economic crisis has revealed the organic defects of the present model of Western development that was imposed on the rest of the world as the only one possible. It has showed that not only bureaucratic socialism but also free market capitalism was in need of profound democratic reform—in effect, its own kind of Perestroika.
One other truth has emerged since the fall of the Berlin Wall: global interdependence. In effect, humankind has started to transform itself into a single civilization.
This opens up possibilities. While we sit among the ruins of the old order, we can think of ourselves as active participants in the process of creating a safer, fairer and more democratic world.
Mikhail Gorbachev's whole article appears on page 22 of the February 2010 issue. Subscribe to The Progressive for just $14.97 by clicking here for immediate access.