Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika
by Tony Kushner
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika Politics Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)
Aleksii Antedilluvianovich Prelapsarianov: How are we to proceed without Theory? What System of Thought have these Reformers to present to this mad swirling planetary disorganization [...] Do they have, as we did, a beautiful Theory, as bold, as Grand, as comprehensive a construct... ? (1.1.3)
Here, Aleksii, the world's oldest living Bolshevik, criticizes the reforms going on in the Soviet Union. It's not like he's against all reform, though. He was part of one of the greatest political changes in history: the Bolshevik Revolution, which transformed Russia from an autocracy to a communist state. But now Gorbachev is instituting perestroika in the Soviet Union, a series of economic and political reforms that Aleksii thinks are half-baked.
Roy: [...] 'Why?' Because I hate your guts, and your friends' guts, that's why. 'Gimme!' So goddamned entitled. Such a shock when the bill comes due. (3.2.37)
What Roy seems to be referencing here is welfare – a hot topic of political debate during the time of the play (and still, for that matter). Conservatives like Roy thought the welfare system, started with FDR's New Deal, was unfair to working people. Why should they have to pay for the unemployed? On the other side of the fence, liberals argued that society needed some kind of safety net for the unfortunate. Welfare ended up being greatly reformed under President Clinton in 1996, but it is still debated today.
Joe: You believe the world is perfectible and so you find it always unsatisfying. (3.4.20)
Throughout this scene, in which Joe and Louis debate conservative and progressive ideologies on the beach, it seems to be implied that conservatives aren't working toward a better world. Is Kushner being fair here?