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The wrongs of the past came from the absence of freedom, the wrongs of the present from its excesses. Robert Cooper is impressed by Geoff Mulgan's new book, but finds his answers less convincing than his questions

By Robert Cooper   June 1997

Perestroika began in a supermarket. While in charge of Soviet agriculture, Mikhail Gorbachev made one of his first trips abroad to Canada, which was the western country most similar in climate and geography to the Soviet Union. On the way back from a visit to a farm, he made an unscheduled stop at a supermarket. The sight of the unimaginable abundance, the variety, the luxury, the piles of disposable nappies, canned soup, washing powder and ice cream persuaded him that something needed to be done in the Soviet Union. The result is that the Russian people are freer today than…

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