As the Soviet Union attempts to reform and adapt its government, it is facing difficulty and criticism from its own citizens, making the refining a long, difficult process, Gennady Gerasimov said in a Utah State University convocation lecture.
Gerasimov, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's chief spokesman, spoke to a massive audience of USU students and community leaders Friday afternoon during his only scheduled stop in Utah.The "ideal" egalitarian government designed by Karl Marx and Vladimar Lenin has failed in the Soviet Union, Gerasimov said. And so Gorbachev and his advisers are attempting to pick up the pieces and create something that will work for all citizens.
He said the Soviet Union is an unsettled country as it throws out the old government without having adopted a new one.
"My country is called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but even the name can be changed because everything is on the move now . . . There's nothing more unpredictable than our history - we rewrite it all the time."
He said in the past the Soviet Union has been like the three Boy Scouts who helped an old lady cross the road - she didn't want to cross, but they made her go anyway with the best intentions in mind. He said the Communists also thought every nation should be on their side of the road, and if they didn't understand why, then the Soviet government coerced them a little, causing criticism from nations around them.
"Marx and Lenin had good intentions, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions," he said.
Gerasimov said the Soviet Union has been on a journey much like the one started by Christopher Columbus, and like Columbus, it never reached the intended destination.
Now the government must reappraise and try to find the answers to what went wrong, who is to blame and how far they have traveled, he said.
Today most citizens of the Soviet Union blame Lenin for their discontent, Gerasimov said. This change of thinking has appeared in the past year and is radically different from feelings expressed by the people years ago, he said.
"The citizens of Leningrad are even demonstrating for changing the name of their city back to St. Petersburg - not Florida though," he said.
Gorbachev is being criticized for being indecisive and slow by new Soviet weekly newspapers and the public, he said. And the entire government is being criticized for trying to revise the old political system only half-heartedly.
"(Gorbachev) is being criticized, yet no one gives him credit for letting this criticism come forward."
Now, he said, his government must work toward preparing a treaty of union for all its republics - a treaty that is agreed upon by all. At the same time, the government will attempt to maintain the advantages of the old political thought, such as free education and medical care. But as it changes, Gerasimov said, the government will face many internal problems.
The main difficulty they will have to combat is the conflicts between different nationalistic states in the union. He said the Soviet Union thought it had a color-blind nation but has already discovered major problems with racism.