This unique compendium of Soviet thought and dialogue introduces Western readers to the broad range of current debates in the Soviet Union concerning the past, present, and future of the country and its people. Andrei Melville, the Soviet academic who spearheaded this work, is convinced that Mikhail Gorbachev's initiatives have led his country to the brink of a domestic transformation, one that will lead to an entirely new stage of development. Melville chronicles the societal ills— repression, crime, and apathy—and the structural flaws—corruption, a stagnant economy, a monolithic bureaucracy, a stifled flow of information—that have undermined the foundations of the existing system. In response to this crisis, Gorbachev conceived of the idea of perestroika— a program for the revolutionary restructuring of the whole of society, a wrenching process that has led to intense conflicts and strong disagreements between the guardians of the old and the proponents of the new. This book presents all facets of the debate, drawing on articles and letters extracted from dozens of major Soviet periodicals, including statements by political analysts, economists, historians, journalists, and writers, interspersed with excerpts from readers' letters published in the media. The extracts are placed in context by original essays that focus on the themes underlying all discussion of the implications of reform. The book paints a rich portrait of the diversity of opinions— from reformist to conservative—expressed in the public debates unleashed by glasnost.
A Personal Introduction -- Overview—The Role of Glasnost in Gorbachev's Reform Strategy -- The Anatomy of Glasnost -- Debates over History: We Want to Know the Truth About Our Past -- The Church and Religion in Soviet Society -- The Debate over Justice and Individual Rights -- An Economy at the Crossroads -- Nationality Relations in the Age of Glasnost -- What Is New About New Political Thinking? -- We and the Outside World -- Conclusion