Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2005 / 20 Kislev 5766

A man of parts

By Mort Zuckerman

Mort Zuckerman
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We diminish ourselves when we fail to honor the passing of a great and good human being. It is now a few weeks since the death of Alexander Yakovlev. I was surprised that it went virtually unnoticed in the West, for here was a man who played a singular role in the history of our times.


He lived most of his life as a faithful member of the Communist Party, rising in the ranks to become the chief of ideology under Leonid Brezhnev. Yet this same Soviet apparatchik, as he called himself, underwent an unparalleled transformation to play a central role in the end of the Cold War and the elimination of Communist rule in the Soviet Union. He became the champion of the greatest reform initiatives of the entire Soviet era, in which he came to be known as "the father of Russian democracy" and the "godfather of glasnost," the policy of openness that gradually lifted curbs on the press and on individual speech. He was also the principal advocate of other political and economic reforms known as perestroika.


What moved him? He came to believe that there were universal human values that should take precedence over class struggles; that the Communist Party should abandon its monopoly power and accept the challenges of pluralism; and that Bolshevism should be denounced, as he put it, for its "fixation on keeping power at any cost by force and unconstitutional means, if necessary." When Communist rule was finally abandoned, Yakovlev said, "It was an end of an unbelievable crime."


Passion. Yakovlev understood that it was the lack of a democratic regime in Russia that was the source of all of its difficulties. "If you are free," he said, "the rest falls into place." His stated objectives were "free individual and free society; democratic political system; the rule of law, not the rule of individuals; modern economy;. . . liberation of society from that supremacy . . . of state over both society and individuals; and maximum possible opportunities for self realization of property."


Let us remember this is not John Locke or Thomas Jefferson, imbued from childhood with the values of the Enlightenment, but a man who imbibed from birth the doctrines of Marxism-Leninism  —   and thrived in that society. Remarkably, Yakovlev understood that the collapse of communism was not the same as the emergence of freedom. He knew how much Russia in its 1,000-year history had nurtured a culture of dependency  —   "on the leader, on the state. On the boss, on somebody." So he insisted that without the reforms "what we will wind up with is a mixture of criminality, dictatorship, corruption."


He had the wisdom to see that Russia could never embrace its future without understanding its past and the courage to make it confront those decades of shame. Yakovlev headed a commission to identify the victims of Stalinist repression and was instrumental in the posthumous rehabilitation of more than 5 million wrongfully accused citizens who were victims of Joseph Stalin's execution squads and concentration camps. Then he initiated the exposure of the secret 1939 pact with Nazi Germany that paved the way to Soviet annexation of the Baltic nations. Even when he retired, he began the process of publishing some 30 or 40 volumes to document the narrative history of Russia's secret police in the 20th century and their critical role in Communist rule and cruelty, so that the crimes could never be expunged from memory.


Yakovlev, finally, was a major force in many of Mikhail Gorbachev's foreign policies, including the policy of nonintervention in Eastern Europe. He stuck to his belief in democracy even when in the 1990s it became unfashionable once again. In the coup against Gorbachev, Yakovlev poured scorn on the putschists at a time when their chance of victory was still real, as the Times of London said. In the coup against Boris Yeltsin, he made his way through the barricades and joined Yeltsin's defenders in the White House. Yet when the coup against Gorbachev failed, he didn't hesitate to break with him for abandoning the most crucial component of the reform program and bringing into his inner circle the hard-liners and plotters, including the KGB's Vladimir Kriuchkov. Later, when Russian political culture again grew less democratic under Vladimir Putin, Yakovlev criticized the creeping authoritarianism of the Russian president.


No one today in Russia fills Yakovlev's shoes. No one has his stature, his intellect, his passion for democracy, and his willingness to examine the darker side of Russia's modern history.


An inspiring commitment to human values shone through this man, whom I met on virtually every one of my 20-odd visits to the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s. It was an honor to work with him on the Internet publication of the archives of the secret police so that they could never again be suppressed. His leadership, and his life, will serve forever as a marker for those who believe that Russia can be a greater country and provide a better life for its citizens as a democratic state.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mort Zuckerman is editor-in-chief and publisher of U.S. News and World Report. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

ARCHIVES

© 2005, Mortimer Zuckerman

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles