Debate: Gorbachev a patriot or a subversive? (in context of the Soviet Union)Debate: Gorbachev a patriot or a subversive? (in context of the Soviet Union)
I would argue that Gorbachev was a patriot, but that he was just not smart enough to realize that what he was doing was going to destroy his country.
Gorbachev's main reason for his reforms was to save the Soviet Union and the rule of the Communist Party. He did not want to destroy either of them. All he wanted to do was to make the system work better so that people would be happier to live in that system. To me, this sounds like patriotism.
The problem for Gorbachev was that there was too much built up dissatisfaction with the system. Once Gorbachev lessened the level of coercion, the lid completely blew off and people demanded complete change, not just reform.
I have to come down on the side of a patriot, although if you asked Russians today, that is not how they view him in their history. The Russians are a proud people, and to them Gorbachev sacrificed their empire and their standing in the world, and led to times of economic uncertainty with the revolution that followed him.
As a patriot, I believe he really loved his country, loved the Soviet system, and saw it not only literally failing, but failing the people as well. He tried to humanize it, was all, he tried to allow for some dissent and some economic freedom, but could not hold back the flood once he opened the gates.
I would also say Gorbachev was a patriot. I think that he did try to make life better for all citizens of the Soviet Union and in doing so ran into problems with those who were at the top of the ladder in society.