Mikhail Gorbachev's new book indicts the Soviet economy for failing to grow enough crops, provide adequate medical care and make washing machines that work at the same time that it is sending spaceships to Venus.
The book also could explain the mystery of the Soviet leader's long absence from Moscow this summer. U.S. News & World Report, which is publishing excerpts in its Nov. 9 issue, said Gorbachev was away from the Kremlin working on the book during that time.
Titled "Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World," the book proposes capitalist-style profit incentives and "self-financing" to improve industrial efficiency, insisting that while "democratic changes have been taking place" even "more glasnost," or openness, is needed.
U.S. News said the architect of glasnost intended it as a personal message to the West, "his most candid assessment of the difficulties his country has faced in recent years" and "a blueprint for its future."
Gorbachev explains, "Perestroika is a revolution. It has proved more difficult than we at first imagined, and we have had to reassess many things . . . . There are no bombs exploding or bullets flying, but those who are in the way resist."
Gorbachev says, "This society is ripe for change. It has long been yearning for it. Any delay . . . to put it bluntly, would have been fraught with serious social, economic and political crises."
In an assessment of the Soviet society's shortcomings, Gorbachev admits Soviet heavy industry "has shortfalls . . . due to wasteful or inefficient use." And despite "the largest number of doctors and hospital beds per 1,000 of the population . . . there are glaring shortcomings in our health services," he declares.
"Our rockets can find Halley's comet and fly to Venus with amazing accuracy," he says, yet "many Soviet household appliances are of poor quality."able educational function as regards children."