well as historical importance: To what extentnis Soviet history and policy determinednby Marxist-Leninist ideology? Accordingnto most anti-Soviet Russians, thenideology—imported from the West—ncreated in Russia a monstrous dictatorshipnthat represents a fundamental breaknwith the country’s past. Some Westernnhistorians, including the Polish-bornnRichard Pipes, take a different view;nadapting Tocqueville’s famous argumentnconcerning historical continuitynduring the French Revolution, they insistnthat the Soviet Union is better understoodnas a Russian than as a communistnstate. On such a reading, Lenin andnStalin were not the heirs of Marx andnEngels, but of Byzantine Emperors andnMongol Khans.nBesangon adopts something of a thirdnview, although he is closer to Solzhenitsynnthan he is to Pipes. Like the greatnRussian writer, he argues that the SovietnUnion cannot properly be understoodnwithout constant reference to the ideologynthat legitimates it, and in the firstnchapter he makes his conception ofn”ideology” explicit. It is not, he insists, anreligion, although it exhibits stmcturalnsimilarities to the ancient Christian heresyncalled gnosticism, a point that EricnVoegelin has also made. Nor is it a philosophynor a science, although it setsngreat store by the alleged certainty of itsnpropositions. Instead, ideology is thencormption of both religion and science, anpseudoreality that is hermetically sealednand self-certifying. The partisans of thisnpseudoreality are quite literally possessednby it and will not rest until the competingnreality of the nonideological world isncompletely destroyed.nTaken in this sense, Leninism is suingeneris, the only ideology the world hasnyet known. To be sure, this parasite almostninvaded France during the Reign ofnTerror and Germany during the romanticnera, but it failed to do so because ofnthe fabric and resolution of French andnGerman “civil society.” Civil society, accordingnto Besancon, is constituted bynthose who, whatever their differencesnwith their fellows, maintain a sense ofn321nChronicles of Culturencommunity and common purpose; thosenwho accept the world as it is and work tonimprove it by degree; those, finally, whonreject any notion of a totally new reality.nCivil society is, in sum, liberal society. Innthe West, this liberal society has steadilynincreased in size, influence and politicalncompetence, freeing itself graduallynfrom the constraints once imposed on itnby the Absolute State. In Russia, on thenother hand, ideology has destroyed civil /nliberal society.nHow did this occur? Despite what henwrote in a Contrepoint article (“SovietnPresent and Russian Past,” 1974) aboutnthe undeserved ill-repute of the Byzantinesnand the Mongols (“a brave people,na people of justice and honor”), Besangonncannot deny that Marxism in Russianassumed a very different form than it didnin the West; between Jaures or Kautskynand Lenin there is a great gulf. In an effortnto explain this difference, he laysnparticular stress on the damaging effectsnof Russian anti-Westernism, whichnbrings him a giant step closer to ProfessornPipes. For Westernizers, from Chaadaevnto Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova,nBesancon displays considerablensympathy. Even radicals such as Herzennand Bielinski receive good marks becausenin the final analysis he judges them to benliberal reformers, a description perhapsnbetter reserved for enlightened bureauaatsnsuch as Nikolai Miliutin, a principalnarchitect of the great reforms of thennn1860’s. On the other hand the Slavophiles,nmen like Kireevski and Khomyakov,nare anathema because they idealizednpre-Petrine—that is, pre-Western—nRussia and disdained law “as thennormal framework for freedom and thenautonomy of the individual.” In theirnhatred of liberalism and capitalism theynprefigured Lenin and the Bolsheviks.nThe spirit of ideology first manifestednitself, then, in Slavophilism, but thenSlavophiles were not the only membersnof that distinct social stratum called thenintelligentsia. Like the civil society whichnafter midcentury was occupying evernmore territory once reserved for the state,nthis small but articulate group opposednthe autocracy. Unlike the liberals, however,nthe leaders of the intelligentsianaimed at a total and immediate transformation,nan apocalypse. Completelynalienated from the world as it was, theynlived in a self-contained ideologicaln”reality.” Of those discussed here,nBesancon focuses on Nikolai Chernyshevskinbecause of his importance to thencrystallization of Leninism. In his didacticnrevolutionary novel What Is To BenDone?, Chernyshevski conjured up thenprototypical revolutionary and “newnman”—Rakhmetov. This fanatic doesnnot simply believe in the ideology (a kindnof moral perfectionism masquerading asnscience); in a very real sense, he is the ideology.nDivorced from it he has no being.nNever doubting his vocation, he tells allnwho will listen how the world mustnbecome what he is.nIt was, of course, against Chernyshevskinand his admirers and imitators thatnDostoyevski wrote his great novels, includingnThe Possessed. And yet, accordingnto Besancon, the Russian geniusnstood too close to the Slavophiles, echoingnthe apocalypticism and hatred of thenliberal West—a charge he has also levelednagainst Solzhenitsyn. There is an elementnof tmth in this, but it does seemnthat Professor Besancon himself exhibitsna certain cultural myopia. However greatnhis longing for Christian brotherhood,nDostoyevski loved this world at least asn