• Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, died on Tuesday, August 30.
• He initiated the political reforms that ironically resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union
Mikhail Gorbachev has died aged 91 years.
No-one denies that he was a good man. He tried to reform the Soviet Union when he became General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1986 until his downfall in 1991. He brought in perestroika (political reform) and glasnost (openness) that allowed Soviet citizens to openly discuss reforms they considered necessary.
But it was not enough to save the Soviet Union, or Gorbachev. After a failed coup attempt, he was kicked out of office by Boris Yeltsin who initiated the wave of extreme privatisation that created the new super-rich Russian oligarchs.
President Vladimir Putin has lamented the territorial collapse of the Soviet Union as a historic catastrophe. But the failure of the Gorbachev experiment was also a tragedy.
Gorbachev tried to keep alive the progressive socialist values of the Soviet Union while allowing market forces to increase living standards and strengthen the economy. Sadly that experiment was never allowed to come to fruition.
If Gorbachev had succeeded in creating a more dynamic but still egalitarian Soviet Union, the world might have turned away from the extreme income inequality that curses America, Europe and Asia today.
Quote of the day: "L'etat, c'est moi ( I am the state)."
The French king died on September 1, 1715