cratic heritage run broad and deep.rnMore than 70 years of Soviet life instilledrnattitudes that worked against democraticrninstitutions. And, except for a fewrndecades before the Revolution of 1917,rnRussia’s historical experience under thernRomanovs followed the same course.rnRussia’s historical legacy calls upon itsrnleaders to command and its people tornobey. Taking responsibility for their nation’srndestiny is not something that ordinaryrnRussians have done in the past. Norrndo they seem ready to do so now.rnWliether Romanov or Soviet, Russia’srnheritage is autocrahc. Reform in Russiarnhas always coiue from above, from a czarrnor commissar who has imposed changernupon a nation of self-serving interestrngroups that have been imwilling to thinkrnin terms of national interest. Russia’srnmasses have not been accustomed tornserving their nation. They have insteadrnserved rulers who have imposed nationalrnservice upon them.rnIn the past, national interest has been arnmatter for Russia’s rulers to define. Andrnprogress toward national goals has usuallyrncome when those rulers decided thatrnthe nation’s interests required change.rnThis was true of Peter the Great andrnAlexander II (who freed 45 million serfsrnand state peasants from bondage in thern1860’s). It was also true of Lenin andrnStalin, and more recently Gorbachev.rnThe belief that reform must be imposedrnfrom above has made Russia’srnrulers jealous of their power. That principlernhas lain at the heart of their policies,rnand it has stood in the way of every effortrnto draw the Russians more direcdy intornpublic life. Open participation in civicrnaffairs—what the Russians nowadays callrng/asnosf—has been tried only rarely inrnthe past, and almost always with unfortunaternresults.rnWhenever Russia’s rulers have tried tornopen public debate about their nation’srncourse, they have inevitably confrontedrnthe dilemma posed by popular expectationsrnthat rise more quickly than theirrnability (or willingness) to meet them.rnCatherine the Great initiated a publicrndebate on Russia’s relationship to thernWest in the 1760’s, but she had to endrnher experiment when attention shiftedrnfrom the issues of culture and enlightenmentrnto the problems posed by serfdomrnand the arbitrary authority it encouraged.rnAlexander II tried glasnost at the beginningrnof the Great Reform era in thern1860’s, only to be obliged to cut the debaternshort when it began to question thernviability of autocracy itself And a centuryrnand a quarter later, Gorbachev saw hisrneffort to open public debate about thernshortcomings of communism destroy thernSoviet Union in the space of six shortrnyears.rnDifficulties with glasnost in the pastrnhave shown Russia’s rulers that any publicrnparticipation in government canrnthreaten their ability to impose changernfrom above. And the fact that the Russiansrnhave historically been either too dividedrnor self-interested to think in termsrnof their nation’s best interests has madernrulers hesitant to relinquish their powerrnto impose change. Too often, the alternativernto a strong and determined rulerrnhas been a society fragmented to thernpoint where all sense of national interestrnhas been lost. We are seeing that today,rnin the conflicts within the Duma and therntensions between the Duma and Yeltsin’srngovernment.rnRussians today simply lack that sensernof civic responsibility that underlies thernproper functioning of democratic institutionsrnin the West. Men and womenrnmade cynical by the blatant abuses ofrnpower they witnessed during the Sovietrnera do not understand that, in a democraticrnsociety, citizens are expected torntake responsibility for the well-being ofrntheir communities and their neighbors.rnMost of all, citizens in a democracy mustrntake responsibility for themselves, butrnthere is no deep-rooted sense amongrnpresent-day Russians that reqiures themrnto think of their nation’s welfare, pay theirrntaxes, and discharge their justiy-contractedrndebts.rnYeltsin’s government (as Russian governmentsrnhave done for hundreds ofrnyears) continues to exploit its citizens byrndevalinng the currency and defaultingrnon loans. Its citizens continue to respondrnby evading taxes and embezzling governmentrnfunds. Russia’s leaders do not understandrnthat a government has to bernbased on promises made and promisesrnkept. Nor do citizens understand thatrndemocracy requires them to honor andrnserve any government the people elect tornrepresent them.rnAlthough Russians have traditionallyrnbeen willing to bow to their rulers’ authority,rnthere was a brief time when arnbroadly based sense of civic responsibilityrnseemed about to take root. The GreatrnReforms of the 1860’s and 1870’s not onlyrnfreed millions of serfs, but also createdrnnew institutions of local self-government,rna modern judicial system, and a citizenrnarmy. These reqinred the Russians torntake responsibility for themselves, theirrncommunities, and the defense of theirrncountry as citizens are supposed to do.rnSuch changes did not come overnight,rnbut by the end of the 19th century, theyrnhad taken firm root.rnFor a time at the beginning of this century,rnthis growing sense of civic responsibilityrnled Russia’s citizens to seek a voicernin determining their nation’s destiny.rnSome believed that czar and peoplernshould unite in a monarchical or democraticrnpolity. Others shared a more revolutionaryrnvision, in which the will of thernpeople alone could determine Russia’srncourse. And both groups looked toward arnfuture in which the voices of citizensrnwould be heard. Both argued that makingrnone’s voice heard was a citizen’s duty.rnIn 1917, conflicts between these twornvisions of Russia’s future led to a revolutionrnthat destroyed the sense of civic responsibilityrnthat had begun to take shape.rnLenin and his triumphant Bolsheviksrnshaped Russia’s political values aroundrnparty loyalty and party discipline, not therncivic virtues that encouraged independentrnthought and dissent. Many of thernmen and women whose call for civic responsibilityrnhad played a part in bringingrnon the Revolution fled abroad. Thosernwho remained in Russia disappeared intornexecution chambers and forced laborrncamps.rnBy the time Stalin seized power inrn1928, all vestiges of an independent citizenryrnhad been swept from Russia. Becausernthere was no place in a society governedrnby party discipline for the sort ofrncivic responsibility that could lead to disagreementrnor dissent, the all-powerfulrnSoviet state took charge of its citizens’rnwelfare. In the long term, this may havernbeen the most corrosive of all the legaciesrnthat the Soviet experience bequeathed.rnIn return for guaranteeing the minimumrnof human needs and social benefitsrnrequired for survival, the Soviet state deprivedrnits citizens of any power to shaperntheir lives. Russiairs had to pay lip servicernto the principles that would best enablernthem to get ahead in a world in which thernstate held command of life’s luxuries andrnnecessities.rnIn Soviet times, the state spoke in thernname of the people, while each personrnsought to wrest whatever he could fromrnthe state. State propaganda applaudedrnthe people’s participation in state-eontrolledrncivic life, but in reality it was everyrnperson for himself, with each trying tornOCTOBER 1999/47rnrnrn