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publication date: Feb 15, 2012
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Ev or Rev?
by David Hopkins

david hopkins    

As 2011 came to a close there were the usual reminiscences. For me, it is often the looking back at the lives of people and what they did (and why), that proves of real interest. One such review was a two-parter about a man I think played an enormously important role in the latter part of the century, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Born eighty years ago, he became one of the most powerful men in the world until his resignation from office on 25th December 1995. (How did you spend that xmas?)

A good friend of years ago, SNU president Charles Quastel, often said: “The first task of the reformer lies within himself.” Gorbachev must have read something similar, for it was following changes in his own views and beliefs that he began the reforms which were to change his country and its relationship with the world. He was one who changed world history. In the end he became the victim of his own success, unable to cope with internal opposition, stepping back to allow others to take forward (so he hoped) his dreams. The failure of this to happen cannot be laid at Gorbachev’s door; he prepared the way to an openness, understanding and respect between people of different backgrounds and ambitions that can be an example to many.

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