The events set off by Mikhail Gorbachev were welcomed by some and caused vexation to others. Among the latter were politicians, journalists, and scholars for whom the external fixity of communism was something of an
article of faith. Gorbachev’s reforms, if genuine and long-lasting, would call into question their entire worldview —and that of course can be rather upsetting.
The Gorbachev challenge was most acute for the adherents of the “Evil Empire” theory. It was they, after all, who had honed conventional
wisdom about the Soviet Union and—especially since Ronald Reagan’s election— had set the parameters of public debate about the nature of revolutionary, “left-wing” or “Marxist-Leninist” movements and regimes.
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