Getting to Know the Stranger

World Media Association, Glasnost Examined: Inside the USSR Washington DC: WMA 1988.

By Koozma Tarasoff (reviewer)

THANKS TO GLASNOST, Perestroika, and democratization, with Mikhail Gorbachev and his colleagues, the real revolution is now taking place in the Soviet Union. To understand these changes, a group of American media professionals and opinion leaders went to Moscow, Leningrad and Samarkand for two weeks in November 1987. It was a fact-finding tour-for getting to know the stranger. The findings are presented in an attractively-illustrated compilation of papers on Soviet culture, economic realities, and ideology.

What emerges is not necessary pure fact, for this is difficult to obtain in a rapidly changing environment. Nor is the rhetoric of the enemy eliminated from its pages, for it emerges in black-and-white labels. "We are freedom-loving," while they are in shackles; and they are out to "conquer the world" with values "antithetical to those of the West." In brief, "we" are the goodies, and "they" are the baddies. Such old thinking serves no one. The real enemy may be within us, as a popular cartoon figure reminds us.

The value of this book is not its truth or untruth. Rather, it is the process that is instructive and valuable. Seeing strangers face to face (also shaking their hands and hugging them) is a powerful way of learning. Glasnost and perestroika are not reserved to the Soviets, but are worldwide phenomena that we all need, as world citizens.

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1989

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1989, page 23. Some rights reserved.

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