MOSCOW — The current perestroika effort, so thoroughly discussed at the 19th All-Union Party Conference, is the third attempt at serious restructuring in our country, yet it is one that I know will succeed. The first two (1922-1929 and 1956) were failures. Why? I have come to believe that one of the reasons for their lack of success was the lack of democracy in our society. That is why the rehabilitation of Nicolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov and other associates of Lenin should be viewed as one of the achievements of perestroika.
But very few people know that the situation was ripe for such change back in 1961. I'm quoting Nikita S. Khrushchev. I made his acquaintance during a rehearsal of one of my plays in Moscow's Sovremennik Theater. Khrushchev told me that R.A. Rudenko, then procurator-general of the Soviet Union, had made it plain that Bukharin and Rykov had not been guilty, "Let's leave it to future generations of leaders," Khrushchev told Rudenko.
So, we lost 27 years. I'm confident that if Khrushchev had made his move back then, we would have not entered the long period of stagnation.
Now we've witnessed justice triumph. I'm happy that I've lived to see the day.
At the same time, as it looks back at the dark episodes in our history, our society should ask itself: Were they necessary for the sake of socialism? I guess we will not be able to answer that question if we do not separate socialist society from the tactics of terror that were perpetrated against our own people and party.
It is absolutely obvious that if we do not separate it from much of what happened after World War II, if we do not realize that the suppression of intellectual fomentation in the country was at a basic variance with the interests of socialism and the October Revolution, we will fail in our solemn task, which history entrusted to us all. Every Soviet citizen should come to realize that the success of \o7 perestroika \f7 depends on him, that from now on he should think independently.
Surely, it is sometimes very difficult to stand up and tell the truth, to speak up against a lie. However, I'm confident that truth cannot tarnish Soviet history. But lies are an insult to it. When we clutch at the hem of Stalin's military jacket, we blacken the image of socialism. The big question is not where he was right and where he was wrong. It's up to history to pass its verdict. It will restore everything he did to its proper place: merits, blunders and crimes. In fact it is already doing that. We have already uttered this word: \o7 crime. \f7 A person who has committed a crime is a criminal, no matter what his post is.
We're witnessing attempts to hush up the question of why it happened in the first place. Some say that Stalin was a sick man, a paranoid. The information that I have gives me the right to say that this is irresponsible gossip. It is crystal clear that the responsibility rests not with a single person, but with the entire clique that usurped power in the country at a certain moment, the power that the people took in their hands after the October Revolution.
Thinking of the past, I never ask myself what we were building all those years. Wasit socialism or not? Surely, we were building a socialist society, but during the time that lawlessness triumphed, we were getting further and further away from it.
These days, as we are arguing in a democratic atmosphere and making headway toward the realization of important truths, it is clear that one of them is this: It is not only production that matters under socialism. Human beings and relations between people--this is what a socialist society is all about. Production developed in other countries as well. When we speak of our country we should speak, above all, of how people will live. What is to be done to bring out their precious intrinsic abilities?
It is difficult to root out corruption and compromise in one's own life and to affirm fundamentally new and different ideas. And still we can do it only by rising from our knees and telling the truth. I'm confident that it is the only reasonable alternative facing Soviet society, and we have already begun to do that. We have been living a new life for three years now, affirming new values and notions.
At the same time we see that there are people who, while using \o7 perestroika \f7 slogans, are bent on preserving much of what our society has condemned. Our task is to rule out the opportunity of doing that. We have no right to leave a single cancerous cell in our organism.