Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mikhail Gorbachev 'might' see "Presidents Holiday"

An interesting piece on BBC Radio 4's "Start The Week" the other day about a play, 'The Presidents Holiday' by Penny Gold (Hampstead Theatre, London until 16th February) , a drama which examines the period when the fearfully deluded Mikhail Gorbachev was held hostage , whilst what is usually referred to as 'hard liners' attempted to reverse the course of his glasnost and perestroika reforms. I say 'fearfully deluded' because Gorbachev always claimed, well up until recently anyway, that he did not intend the replacement of socialism with capitalism, when he introduced the reforms which would in fact ultimately result in the collapse of the USSR. The fact that the Soviet Union ceased to exist is without doubt the greatest victory that imperialism had obtained in over 100 years, and its absence still reverberates throughout the world, in that there is no longer the progressive counterbalance to the whims of US imperialism which used to exist. What was most interesting about this interview was that Andrew Marr seemed intrigued by one of the play's main characters 'Plekhanov' played by Robert Demeger, who patiently explains to Gorbachev what would be the disastrous consequences of the process he set in train. Marr suggested that this character actually makes a pretty good case against the undermining of the Soviet Union to Gorbachev, and one of the other commentators also observed that most of the gloomy predictions enunciated by this loyal communist, in fact turned out to be pretty accurate, certainly for the disastrous Yeltsin years. Yeltsin's played a crucial role in cementing organised crime's hegemony over post-soviet Russia , Yeltsin will be best remembered as the drunken criminal buffoon, who was given such a heart felt send off by his western friends at his funeral, whilst the Russian people were only too glad to say goodbye to the rogue.
In the interview, the plays author Penny Gold said : 'The starting point for me of the play was realising the degree to which global capitalism seems to be winning everything and that there are many, many people who proclaim that Socialism is utterly dead and a discredited notion. So I started to ask whether it's possible to have a socialist, equal and just society that isn't based on coercion. I therefore wanted to look at revolutions and how they failed - the collapse of the Soviet Union being the obvious case. Then I came upon this extraordinary dramatic story with a thriller element to it - in fact every kind of element to it - the personal, the political, it has it all - of Gorbachev and his family under house arrest during the 1991 Coup.' Listen to interviewhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/starttheweek_20080107.shtml
The precis of the play which is on at Hampstead Theatre is reproduced below, some people were whispering that Gorbachev might be coming to see it, but I have also heard that this is largely 'wishful thinking' on behalf of the theatre, well no harm in trying to garner a bit of publicity is there? Nevertheless it is refreshing to see a play being staged that does not simplify things so as to assume that there were no serious minded people in Russia at the time, who did not have the gravest of misgivings about the path that Gorbachev was steering the USSR's ship of state.
"One late summer, afternoon a successful middle-aged man sits peacefully with his wife on the verandah of their summer house. Somewhere below them, their grandchildren are playing on the beach.
Half an hour later, all communication with the outside world has been cut off, and the house is swarming with secret police and heavily armed officers.The man is Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the date is 18 August 1991.Penny Gold’s gripping and deeply moving play takes place at a pivotal moment of world history. Part political thriller and part personal drama, The President’s Holiday draws on the diaries of Raisa Gorbacheva to tell the story of a family under siege and an idealist who unwittingly destroys everything for which he has fought."
Tickets for the play can be booked online on the Hampstead Theatre website-http://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/prod-productions_details.asp?PID=70

14 comments:

David Duff said...

"Yeltsin's [years] played a crucial role in cementing organised crime's hegemony over post-soviet Russia".

I'm sure you do not mean to imply that what preceded Yeltsin and Gorbachev, that is, every regime from Lenin onwards, was anything other than a criminal hegemony? Particularly in view of the fact that today, the same thugs and murderers who operated in the KGB for Brezhnev are now running the show.

Brendan Maher said...

The USSR was a socialist state under the control of revisionists following on from the 20th Congress.

The logical outcome of Khruschev's opposition to Stalin was the eventual abandonment of Leninism itself (of which Stalin was the staunchest defender.

Brezhnev at least tried to undo the worst excesses of Khruschev. Those who followed Brezhnev, who came up with Perestroika and Glasnost caused the eventual collapse.

Putin was one of the supporters of these fake 'communists' and of the Glasnost policy.

Anyway I had a look at 'David Duffs' blog to see what could inspire such political illiteracy as stating that in the USSR "every regime from Lenin onwards, was anything other than a criminal hegemony?" run by "thugs and murderers"

So what of 'David Duff? It seems he's well qualified to know the pedigree of "thugs and murderers"

To quote himself from his blog site-

"More years ago than I care to remember, I was a member of the (British) Army Interrogation unit"

Anonymous said...

Yeltsin only won his second election because the election's (Presidential and Government) were rigged

The Western political pundits now openly admit this fact, but believe the end justified the means

But its hardly ever refered to

And they have the cheek to lecture us about democracy

Zigerist

Renegade Eye said...

The fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, will be a blip on the screen of history, compared to the fall of capitalism.

David Duff said...

Alas, I cannot match the analytical insights of Mr. Maher with his talk of "revisionists" - a useful piece of terminology for Left-wingers in that it means literally 'people who have adjusted their vision', so useful in allowing one to escape from the dilemmas that the real world imposes on the half-baked ideology of Marxism. But I digress ...

Mr. Maher, I have a very simple test in deciding my definition of governments of whatever political pursuasion. If, as a matter of policy, they regularly murder their own people and steal their property they are shits. If they do so as a matter of policy and on a mass scale over decades, they are bigger shits. The fact that some people admire them and grovel towards them says very much more about those people than it does about the regimes concerned.

In a less than austere and rigorous piece of analysis you opined that my previous job as a member of the Army Interrogation Unit made me, in some way that you failed to explain, an expert on "thugs and murderers". Perhaps you might care to expand on this example of what passes for thinking in your mind. I, for one, cannot follow your, er, reasoning.

'Zigerist' offers us a rather good impression of an elderly Victorian lady catching a glimpse of an uncovered table leg and, metaphorically-speaking, after breathing in the smelling salts recovers sufficiently to moan about the dodgy election of the late President Yeltsin, as though the entire 20th c. of elections(!) in the Soviet Union were examples to us all of complete probity. Well, if you believe that, you'll believe anything.

'Renegade Eye' runs true to form in failing to understand some fundamental differences between Marxism and Capitalism. The first *has* failed, completely and utterly where-ever it has been tried because it is a man-made construction dreamt up by a misanthropic and psychotic, old German-Jew who couldn't think his way out of a paper bag. Capitalism will never fail because no-one ever 'constructed' it, it is merely the gross summation of a 'zillion x zillion' interactions between people (not, The People) as they buy and exchange goods and services. It may well alter the means by which these unfathomable processes take place, but it will never fail because it is part and parcel of human nature. Communism isn't!

Johnny Guitar said...

In what manner was the Soviet Union a “progressive counterbalance” to US imperialism? The USSR was as imperialistic a force as the United States and American society, for all its faults, was infinitely more progressive than that ‘enjoyed’ by the people of pre-1991 Russia. I am amused too by Brendan Maher’s remark that the USSR “was a socialist state under the control of revisionists following on from the 20th Congress.” I assume from this analysis - the analysis that everything was fine until Khrushchev came on the scene - that you are in agreement with that infamous anti-revisionist and dictatorship groupie Ludo Martens (whose attempt to deny the crimes of the Stalin era should be treated with the same contempt as David Irving).

What would you like to see happen in modern Russia? I am on the side of anyone who opposes Putin and the oligarchs, but if you really think the answer is to replace this set of thugs with the homophobic, anti-Semitic goons of Gennady Zyuganov and his KPRF then you are seriously deluded. Unless of course you view North Korea and Zimbabwe as viable alternatives to western liberal democracy, which members of the crackpot CPGB (M-L) sect in Britain seem to advocate. A crackpot sect who are, incidentally, linked elsewhere on this website.

Anonymous said...

"If, as a matter of policy, they regularly murder their own people and steal their property they are shits. If they do so as a matter of policy and on a mass scale over decades, they are bigger shits. " - david duff

I live in an "advanced capitalist country". It is true that the rulers of my country are not, at present, out to kill me. But if they saw me as a genuine threat, they most certainly would be.

I assume, since you are a supporter of capitalism, that you don't mind if a country murders the inhabitants of other places. And you only object to "stealing" the property of the rich. You don't care where or how or from whom the rich get their property.

David Duff said...

Anon, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "an advanced capitalist country", any more than I can infer what you mean by "threat". Obviously if you pack your car with explosives and attempt to drive it into Westminster or Washington or where-ever, the government's agencies will kill you, and quite right, too. However, if your country and government operate under the rule of law, and the people are given a fair chance to turf the rascals out on a regular basis, then you should fall to your knees and thank the 'Intelligent Designer' because, given the position of the vast majority of the world's population, *you* have won the lottery!

Unpicking your final paragraph, I will ignore your tendentious use of the word 'murder' whose exact meaning has been, er, murdered in recent times by those with their own swords to sharpen. However, if you really mean that in matters of foreign affairs, morality has no part to play, then I agree. On the whole, history seems to show that killing other nationals for no good political/strategic reason is beyond dumb, so before embarking on war and/or conquest it is necessary to think very hard. However, it can be exceedingly beneficial (see, red indians v. white frontiersmen).

I object to governments stealing *anyone's* property. Provided the rich have obtained their property according to the law of the land, then 'no', I don't care how they obtained it. Before you latch on to this particular point I do realise, but do not have the time to explore, the many ramifications of how wealth is and has been accrued. Thus, were I a Russian, I would object to the pillage of state assets by former KGB men, but as an Englishman I have no objection to the Earl of Where-ever holding his country estates which have been in his family since 1066 when his ancestors probaly stole them from a dead Anglo-Saxon.

Finally (you will be glad to read), I consider that every government of the Soviet Union was a murderous, pillaging, tyranical cabal of thugs, thieves and perverts who almost succeeded in making Hitler's gang look respectable!

Eli Taylor said...

The current changes are even more worrying. What is Russia becoming? Does the nationalisation of utilities infer a communist bent? They also seem to be suspending free democracy and the rule of law.

Just take a look at Vasily Aleksanyan. A former Yukos exec, on pretril detention, has AIDS, but was only offered treatment if he would give evidence against his former employer Mikhail Khordokovsky.

At least in the communist era there was no pretence at freedom and democracy.

Aleksanyan has a website by the way with more details http://www.mka-london.co.uk/caseHome.asp

Eli Taylor said...

The current changes are even more worrying. What is Russia becoming? Does the nationalisation of utilities infer a communist bent? They also seem to be suspending free democracy and the rule of law.

Just take a look at Vasily Aleksanyan. A former Yukos exec, on pretril detention, has AIDS, but was only offered treatment if he would give evidence against his former employer Mikhail Khordokovsky.

At least in the communist era there was no pretence at freedom and democracy.

Aleksanyan has a website by the way with more details http://www.mka-london.co.uk/caseHome.asp

Jim Haughey said...

I am amazed by comments written above in which an attempt is made to draw a comparison between the Belgian Marxist and anti-fascist Ludo Martens and Holocaust denier David Irving. You may not agree with Mr Martens but you could at least have the courtesy to respect his views and not categorise him with this Nazi rat.

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