Highlights of the speech delivered to the 27th Communist Party congress by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev: On Soviet shortcomings:
“While duly commending the achievements, the leadership of the CPSU considers it to be its duty to tell the party and the people honestly and frankly about the deficiencies in our political and practical activities, the unfavorable tendencies in the economy and the social and moral sphere, and about the reasons for them.
“For a number of years, the deeds and actions of party and government bodies tailed behind the needs of the times and life--not only because of objective factors, but also for reasons above all of a subjective order.
“The problems in the country’s development built up more rapidly than they were being solved. The inertness and stiffness of the forms and methods of administration, the decline of dynamism in our work and an escalation of bureaucracy--all this was doing no small damage. Signs of stagnation had begun to surface in the life of society. The situation called for change, but a peculiar psychology--how to improve things without changing anything--took the upper hand in the central bodies and, for that matter, at local level as well.
“But that cannot be done, comrades. Stop for an instant, as they say, and you fall behind a mile. We must not evade the problems that have arisen. That sort of attitude is much too costly to the country, the state and the party. So let us say it loud and clear.”
On capitalism and new technology:
“The facets and consequences of the scientific and technological revolution vary in the different sociopolitical systems. The capitalism of the 1980s, the capitalism of the age of electronics and computer science, computers and robots, is leaving more millions of people, including young and educated people, without jobs. Wealth and power are being increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. Militarism is gorging itself on the arms race beyond reason and also wants to gain control little by little over the political levers of power. It is becoming the ugliest and the most dangerous monster of the 20th Century. By its efforts, the most advanced scientific and technical ideas are being converted into weapons of mass destruction.”
On U.S. transnational corporations:
“The transnational monopoly capital has gained strength. It is seizing control of, and monopolizing . . . branches of spheres of production both on the scale of individual countries and in the world economy as a whole. By the early ‘80s, the transnational corporations accounted for more than one-third of the industrial production, more than one-half of the foreign trade, and nearly 80% of the patents for new machinery and technology in the capitalist world. The core of transnational firms consists of American firms. Their enterprises abroad use an additional army of wage and salary workers equaling half the number employed in manufacturing in the United States. At present they produce something like $1.5 trillion worth of goods and services a year, or nearly 40% of aggregate U.S. output.”
On domestic food production:
“Comrades, a problem we will have to solve in the shortest time possible is that of fully meeting our country’s food needs. This is the aim of the party’s present agrarian policy, formulated in the decisions taken by the CPSU Central Committee at its May, 1982, plenary session and in the food program of the U.S.S.R. In the period since their adoption, a good deal has been done to expand the material and technical base of agriculture and of the related industries.
“The economy of the collective farms, state farms, inter-farm enterprises and processing plants has become stronger; the productivity of crop-farming and livestock farming has risen. There is progress, but the lag in agriculture is being overcome slowly. A decisive turn is needed in the agrarian sector to improve the food supply noticeably already during the 12th five-year plan period. It is planned to more than double the growth rate of farm production and to ensure a substantial increase in the per-capita consumption of meat, milk, vegetables and fruit.”
On the anti-alcohol campaign:
“A fight has been mounted across the country against hard drinking and alcoholism. In the name of the health of society and the individual, we have instituted resolute measures and started a battle against traditions that were shaped and cultivated over the centuries. While we should have no illusions about what has been accomplished, we can safely say that drunkenness has been elbowed out of factories and that there is less of it in public places. The situation within families is improving, injuries in production have declined and order has been tightened, but extensive persevering and varied efforts are still needed to secure a final break with prevailing habits. There must be no indulgence here.”
On the next summit meeting with President Reagan:
“In accordance with an understanding reached in Geneva, there will be another meeting with the U.S. President. The significance that we attach to it is that it ought to produce practical results in key areas of limiting and reducing armaments. There are at least two matters on which an understanding could be reached: The cessation of nuclear tests and the abolition of U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range missiles in the European zone. And then, as a matter of fact, if there is readiness to seek agreement, the question of the time of the meeting would be resolved of itself. We will accept any suggestion on this count. But there is no sense in holding empty talks. We shall not remain indifferent if the Soviet-U.S. dialogue that has started and inspired some not unfounded hopes of a possibility for changes for the better is used to continue the arms race and the material preparations for war.”