RIP Gorby

Click to enlarge.

Mikhail Gorbachev: one of those people who had so much hope projected onto them.

I’m certainly one of the people people who projected that hope onto him.

But this week I realised that of course the story is more complicated.

I drew this picture spontaneously while watching the TV news, swept up by feelings from my teens. But after posting this RIP on LinkedIn I was given other, disillusioning perspectives on Gorbachev – in public comments and private messages.

Despite appearances, I hate the “great man” theory of history – we all have an effect, no matter how small. Whatever Gorbachev achieved, for good or bad, he did with others.

And I’m wary of the way individuals are turned by even sober news coverage into heroes without blemish – because none can stand up to that. I’m thinking now of Zelensky, who may be utterly wonderful but will of course one day be shown to have been less than perfect, or worse.

I’m grateful.

I’m leaving the post in place because “Gorby” still represents a fragment of my own youthful optimism (however un/realistic).

I remain impressed by what ought to be normal – that he didn’t seem to use power for personal gain, unlike his successors.