Mikhail Gorbachev, at the time of this blog post, is still very much alive. All the same, his ghost haunts the corridors of the power elite.
As the ruler of the USSR, he tried to reform a failing system. Perestroika was an attempt to reconstruct the stagnant economy and change social structures. Glasnost was supposed to open up political society. By changing the Soviet Union, he was trying to save it.
He failed, of course. Economic realities brought the country down. He was lucky to escape the collapse with his life. Since then, he's been in the political wilderness. However, he did get a lovely Nobel Peace Prize as a consolation gift.
The lesson is here for today's world leaders is simple: don't try to fix the problems, don't attempt reform. Hide the problems and try to keep the broken system going for as long as possible. Don't let the people know how badly and long the system has been screwing them.
In America, we have the Ghost of President Carter. (also still very much alive at this writing.) In 1976, he saw the country was going to run into some serious trouble and took the early steps necessary to save the nation. Had the country kept moving forward with alternative energy, we'd be much lest dependent on fossil fuels.
Of course, he wasn't any fun. I didn't like him myself, but I was still a teenager. What excuse did the adults have? They didn't want to face reality either, I guess. Reagan was elected, the nation got a boost of cheap energy from Alaska, and the good times kept rolling along. Reagan, unlike Charter, was very popular indeed, never mind that we were eating our seed corn.
For the world's leaders the lessons were plain. Avoid real change at all cost. It's a good slogan, but whatever you do, don't actually do it. Cross your fingers that some stroke of good luck will pull your chestnuts out of the fire in the nick of time. (Reagan's lesson.)
Today's leaders have let the charade go on too long. It's like when a little kid tells a lie, then has to tell bigger and bigger lies to cover for the original deception. Too much has been hidden from the public. It will all end in tears, but who's tears? Today's elite are doing all that they can to push the problem off one more generation. It's what the previous generation did. It's too late to fix the problems without sever pain. No political leader has the stones for that sort of difficult decision.
Even if a leader tried to open up and reform the system, it's too late. In the Soviet Union, it was probably too late by the time of Leonid Brezhnev, but he was able to push the problems aside long enough to live out his days. That's what's going in in the world today. Our last hope of an easier transition was back in the 70s.
Gorbachev did not collapse the USSR. That puppy was going down anyway. His attempts to fix the problems may have hastened the fall. No way to know for sure. Today's world economy is also going down. The elite know it too. Their actions betray them. A last ditch effort is being made to skim off what's left of our wealth. It's working pretty good for them too, as people can't even understand the scale of the wealth transfer from public to private hands.
President Obama's freedom of movement is limited by a very tiny cage. He can pace around it all he wants, but there will be no breaking out from the narrow cell. The elite remember Gorbachev.
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