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AFPC’s Moscow Summer School “Testing the Limits of Glasnost”
October 10, 1989
Lecturers included Senators Phil Gramm (R-Texas) and Robert Kasten (R-Wis.); Commentary Editor-in-Chief Norman Podhotetz; Midge Decter of the Committee for a Free World; U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Frank Shakespeare; Academecians Andrzej Brzeski, Charles Dunn and Father Stanley Jaki; Distinguished Soviet émigré sculptor/philosopher, Ernst Neizvestny; and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Paul Craig Roberts.
During the week long Summer School hundreds of Soviet intellectuals, students and government officials attended the numerous sessions devoted to “testing the limits of glasnost” – Gorbachev’s term for openness. The Summer School represented an exploratory step toward the possibility of establishing a university in
Soviet officialdom bent over backwards to accommodate the Summer School entourage. The government allowed the group to use the plush Hotel Oktoberskaya, normally reserved only for Communist Party officials and, even in
A number of lecturers’ direct analyses of Western perception of the Gorbachev “reforms” provoked negative reactions from some of the Soviets. But a few of the Soviets appreciated the straightforward and honest insight these American visitors were providing.
Lectures entitled “Why the Soviet Economy Doesn’t work: Requirements for a Successful Economic Reform” and “Morality and Economic Progress” provided direct assaults on the lack of private ownership in the
Attacks on the inability of the Soviets to create a functional command economy drew resounding approval. “If these changes are so obviously necessary,” one spectator inquired, “what is stopping us from achieving this reform?” Dr. Roberts replied, “Nothing but the dead hand from the past.”
The Summer School concluded with an extended meeting with Politburo Member Aleksandr Yakovlev, whom many ascertain is Gorbachev’s right-hand man. Mr. Yakovlev began the session with a prepared statement containing platitudes on Perestroika and Glasnost. Mr. Yakovlev lauded the new level of détente between our two countries and expressed his sincerest wishes that this growing rapport would continue in a symbiotic fashion. He pursued the possibility that the Soviet Union could benefit greatly from the wealth of knowledge the
The epic question revolving around the reality of Glasnost was answered by the candid critiques offered by many of the Soviets regarding their domestic peril. But inevitably the “progressive” remarks regarding reform were always followed by the party line.
The meeting with Aleksandr Yakovlev, the formidable head of ideology for foreign policy, illuminated the fact that old line ideology still persists. For when the members of our group queried Yakovlev further, the veneer of benevolence proved very thin.