Good News Agency
AN INTERVIEW WITH MIKHAIL GORBACHEV
“TOWARDS A NEW CIVILIZATION”
26 January 2001
Gorbachev set up the Gorbachev Foundation, which carries out scientific
research on the fundamental tendencies of world development. As President of the
Foundation, he appreciates the role of Good News Agency in the creation of
a more aware public opinion and agreed to give an interview to
its Publisher and Editor, Sergio Tripi, on these themes and on Good News
Agency’s initiative to promote a deontological code of the media.
Why does the western world still today, after the fall of the Berlin wall, spend
30-40 times more on arms than on official assistance to development?
answer is on the whole simple, because
social and national egoism unfortunately prevail over ideas of humanism,
solidarity and love for one’s neighbour. Arms are a very profitable business
and aid to countries in need does not bring immediate profits. Although, if one
looks at the problem in rational terms, it is clear that, if the problems of
development and eliminating poverty are not resolved, the whole world,
including the west, will find that it has to face extremely difficult
trials in the very near future.
Which threat is more serious for humanity, that originating from the
environmental impact of human activities which are out of control, or the
devastating consequences of the absurd economic imbalance between the North and
South of the world? And which threats are, in their respective spheres, the most
dramatic and pressing?
Each is as bad as the other. In the twenty-first century environmental questions
will cause ever greater problems and difficulties for everyone. Think, for
example, of the warming up of the climate which has already caused real
disasters. And this is only the beginning. The South of the world, especially
Africa, has become an ever vaster area of humanitarian catastrophe.
aggravation of this catastrophe would have fatal consequences for millions of
people in the South of the world. And at the same time it would start conflicts
of various kinds, new waves of uncontrolled migration and phenomena, not
excluding wars, of a vast scope.
would like to underline particularly the fact that both the threats are
essentially connected. The very wretched situation of the South constitutes one
of the causes of the environmental crisis. The insufficiency of aid to
development on the part of the advanced countries is accompanied frequently by
the transfer from North to South of ecologically harmful products and all this
the difficulties of the South and the environmental crisis worse.
How much time does humanity have to face these threats? What are the main
obstacles which block the individual and social changes necessary to accelerate
an inversion of
the scientists, in the first place those of the Club of Rome, began to raise the
alarm regarding the environmental threat, the possibility of a crisis of energy,
etc. - this happened not so long ago, in the sixties of the century which has
just ended - they were criticized by everyone. Especially by those who, for
profit, were interested in continuing the predatory exploitation of nature and
the dissipation of the resources of the Planet. That was a very short time ago,
and today any reasonable person recognizes that those scientists were right.
is difficult to foresee the precise timing of catastrophic, irreversible changes
in nature and the exhaustion of different types of resources; in fact, on the
one hand science goes ahead and new possibilities and new resources are opened
up and, on the other, the consequences of the “supremacy” of man over nature
turn out, ever more frequently, to be more destructive than they seemed to be a
short time ago. In any case, even the most optimistic forecasts are a cause for
irreversible changes in nature, the alteration of the balance between biosphere
and technosphere are there for all to see. To turn back is now in many cases
impossible. Today the situation is such that we have to understand how to avoid
new catastrophes. In any case, the twenty-first will be the century which will
severely test the solidity and the survival of our civilization. We must not
In this context, what contribution do the activities of the Foundation which
carries your name make?
Ours is essentially a Foundation for scientific research. We deal with
the study of the fundamental tendencies of world development, including,
naturally, the above-mentioned aspects. Our conclusion is that humanity must
change structurally and go towards a new civilization which is peaceful and
human and which guarantees development to all, in the first place to those who
need it, a civilization which is, in the full sense of the word, ecological. You
are right, profound changes are needed on the individual and social level. From
this comes the slogan of the Foundation: towards a new civilization. Our
activity, I hope, stimulates a process of acquiring knowledge and of taking
concrete steps for their application. This means that our work is useful.
What is the most promising evidence of the undeniable change which is taking
place, of which the most significant sign is represented by an army of many tens
of millions of people who make voluntary service their reason for living?
In effect, the non-governmental forces, those volunteers who, without sparing
their energies, participate in actions of assistance to developing countries and
to their peoples and who participate in environmental movements today carry out
a more effective role than that played in many interventions carried out by
governments. In general the activity of the non-governmental organizations,
including the millions of volunteers of different countries, social groups and
religions, is becoming increasingly a visible and serious force. Their attempt
to assist the state structures, as well as the entrepreneurial spheres, and to
recognize the character and the danger of today’s situation, and to act in
consequence, deserves every possible support.
are the media still not sufficiently aware of this formidable social expression
of voluntary service? What evidence will make them more attentive to this
profound social transformation, still not predominant but nevertheless always
means of mass information are not all alike. There are many which reserve ever
greater attention for this new and growing phenomenon
In essence, however, the principal mass media - you are right - for the
moment “do not notice” what is happening in the consciousness and social
action of the voluntary service. Evidently the answer is to be sought in the
ownership of these mass media and in the interests which they express.
Do you think that a deontological code of the media, of which our Good News
Agency is a promoter, a code which underlines the responsibility of the media in
the information and balanced formation of public opinion, can be received by the
media to the point of accelerating their readiness to consider positive news as
worthy of as much attention as negative news?
think that a code of this type is without doubt useful. At the second Forum of
the Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, among the points in the order of the day was
in fact examined the question of the responsibility of the mass media for the
situation of the “third world”. The closing communiqué of the Forum says in
particular: “The modern system of the mass media is living an unprecedented
crisis which prevents it from giving to the people of the planet a correct and
true picture of the situation”. Later on it is underlined in the communiqué
that the roots of this crisis are in the subordination of the policy and action
of the information and communication community to powerful economic interests.
think that the code, of which your agency is the promoter and supporter, can
favour the improvement of the present situation. But obviously it is difficult
to foresee to what extent and in what period of time the mass media will receive
the advice contained in it. Let’s be hopeful!
* * * * * *