Why Perestroika?

When talking about the second play of Angles in America, I could not help but think why would Perestroika be a title for this piece.

To begin with, this video gives a brief history of how perestroika came about what were the consequences of such a policy. Perestroika was a policy which aimed to bring economic reforms to the Soviet Union, allowing it to compete with other capitalist countries, such as the United States. This policy introduced free elections in the country and created warmer relationships with the US. Yet the policy brought with it a lot of unintentional effects such as the democratization of other countries in the eastern block and ultimately led to the downfall of the Soviet Union.

Perestroika is a Russian word that literally means “reconstructing” and this notion of reconstructing is prevalent in Angels of America. The characters in the play are reconstructing, for example, Joe takes off his temple garment that symbolizes his religious devotion and Prior becomes a prophet. In our class discussion and the convener’s post, we spent some time talking about progress and this notion of reconstructing also speaks to the idea of progress and what does it actually mean to progress. Is progress analogous with advancement?

Arguably, one of the biggest, yet the unintended effect of Perestroika was the downfall of the Soviet Union and the democratization of the countries behind the iron curtain. Since the effect of Perestroika was rather unintended, so what does this suggest about progress? Is progress an unintended side effect?

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