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The Practice of Political Gnosticism

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Posted on March 14 2010 11:19 am
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by David Stokes

Twenty-five years ago this weekend, Mikhail Gorbachev took the reins of power in the now defunct, late-but-not-lamented Soviet Union, upon the death of Konstantin Chernenko. It is an open question as to whether or not Chernenko had been alive for long before this, or was he just propped up? And maybe it is just a coincidence that the movie Weekend at Bernie’s came out just a few years later. After all, the director was of Bulgarian (Soviet Bloc) descent. Just sayin’.

At any rate, Gorbachev’s rise to power is seen now in hindsight as the moment the tide began to turn in the Cold War, with the at-first slow, then accelerated breakdown of the Soviet machine—a socialist system. Within a few years, a wall came tumbling down and once-enslaved republics broke free from Soviet hegemony. Some began the slow process of converting to a measure of capitalism, though finding it tough going in light of the fact that the resident populations were so accustomed to having everything (what little “everything” was in such places) provided for them—from housing, to, yes—health care.

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