Address at Moscow State University by Ronald Reagan

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Themes

The New Revolution in Technology and Information

President Reagan notes that he is giving his speech in front of a mural of the Russian Revolution. A very different revolution “without bloodshed or conflict” is now spreading across the world. While it is peaceful, this new revolution will fundamentally change people’s lives, “replacing manual labor with robots, forecasting weather for farmers, or mapping the genetic code of DNA for medical researchers.” Microcomputers will design everything, including other computers. These advances in technology will aid international understanding by translating between English and Russian, for instance, and will bring cultures closer together through the exchange of information.

The world is emerging from an economic system based on the Industrial Revolution—“an economy confined to and limited by the Earth’s physical resources”—and moving quickly towards an economy based on this new revolution in technology, which will be limited not by the material resources of the planet but by the scope of the human imagination. Reagan links this theme to his other principal themes by talking about how freedom, diversity, and cultural exchange will both be vital factors in the success of this new revolution.


Freedom and Diversity

Having talked about scientific progress, Reagan says that progress is not automatic, but depends on freedom: “freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.” He quotes Mikhail Lomonosov, one of the founders of Moscow State University, who said that:

It is common knowledge… that the achievements of science are considerable and rapid, particularly once the yoke of slavery is cast off and replaced by the freedom of philosophy.

Reagan says that freedom is “a national pastime” in the United States. He talks about elections, noting that 1988, the year of this address, is an election year and that many other candidates are eagerly trying to take the presidency from him through the time-honored democratic process. He says that America has 1,000 local television stations, 8,500 radio stations, and 1,700 daily newspapers, all of them “fiercely independent of the Government.”

This freedom, Reagan says, breeds diversity. In churches, synagogues, mosques and other centers of religion throughout the United States, you can see “families of every conceivable nationality worshipping together.” The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which children study in school, provide guarantees for freedom, in the latter case specifically “for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.” These strong foundational principles, and others such as the administration of justice by judges who are independent of the government, allow for a diverse group of people to exist peacefully and cohesively. This diversity, of course, includes “Russians, Ukrainians, peoples from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.” Reagan notes that some people from the Soviet Union have recently been able to visit relations in the West and hopes this may continue and soon...

(The entire section is 705 words.)