I have been absent from these pages for a while. My new book Disinformation, co-written with Professor Ronald Rychlak, and the documentary movie based on it have monopolized my time. But there is a nauseating glasnost-style operation now being conducted here in the United States that makes me feel as though I were watching a reenactment of the immense glasnost I used to manage during the years when I was an adviser to Romania’s communist president Nicolae Ceausescu.
No, glasnost is not a misprint or a typo. During the years I was at the top of the KGB community, glasnost was the code name for an ultra-secret intelligence tool of the KGB’s ultra-secret black “science” of dezinformatsiya. Its task was to transform the country into a monument to its leader, and to portray that leader as god himself. That brings me back to PJ Media and its readers, for glasnost works only for people who do not know what glasnost really means.
If you think that Gorbachev invented the word glasnost to describe his effort to lead the Soviet Union “out of its totalitarian state and to democracy, to freedom, to openness,” you’re not alone. All of the Western media and most of the Western experts, even those in intelligence and defense establishments, believe that too—as does the committee that gave Gorbachev the Nobel Peace Prize. The venerable Encyclopedia Britannica defines glasnost as: “Soviet policy of open discussion of political and social issues. It was instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s and began the democratization of the Soviet Union.”[i] And the American Heritage Dictionary labels glasnost,
an official policy of the former Soviet government emphasizing candor with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings. [ii]
But glasnost is really an old Russian term for polishing the ruler’s image. In the mid 1930s—half a century before Gorbachev’s glasnost—the official Soviet encyclopedia defined the word glasnost as a spin on news released to the public: “Dostupnost obshchestvennomy obsuzhdeniyu, kontrolyu; publichnost,” meaning, the quality of being made available for public discussion or control.[iii] In other words, glasnost meant, literally, publicizing, i.e., self-promotion. Since the 16th century’s Ivan the Terrible, the first ruler to become tsar of all the Russias, all that country’s leaders have used glasnost to promote themselves inside and outside the country. The communist tsars tapped into this time-honored tradition of glasnost. The city of Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad— just as St. Petersburg, first named to glorify Peter the Great, was changed to Leningrad to glorify Lenin. The embalmed body of Russia’s newest saint, Lenin, was put on display in Moscow as a holy relic for adoration by the people.