Gregory Afinogenov at n+1:
Gorbachev was born in 1931, on the other side of the revolutionary chasm. Though famine and terror made their appearances in his childhood, he entered adulthood after the most traumatic periods of Soviet history had already passed. Graduating from university two years after Stalin’s death, Gorbachev became part of a generation of starry-eyed young utopians. As their elders began to make their peace with the indefinite deferral of communism, young people were determined to see it in their lifetimes. In 1967, a group of youth in the city of Novorossiisk sank a time capsule into the Black Sea filled with letters addressed to the anticipated space-faring communist future of 2017. A schoolgirl named Olga wrote, “We dream of communism, of a time when you can eat ice cream and go to the movies for free, when machines will do our homework while our teachers will be patient robots. You live under communism, and I will live under communism too, with the only difference being that you will be as old as I was fifty years ago.” Gorbachev, on the older end of this generation, was then just beginning his rapid political ascent in the nearby city of Stavropol.