slowly and reluctantly than seemed likely. Now, the combinednfactors of the fast pace of political reform and the slownpace of economic reform have catalyzed the expression ofndiscontent and thereby threaten the stability of the country.nIf the reform is at once too fast and too slow, it is as hard tonimagine now as it was in 1914 what kind of policy mightndeliver the country from disaster.nAs a colleague of mine put it, Gorbachev has in thenpresent crisis no usable Russian traditions. The enlightenedndespotism of the 18th century was a progressive model ofnmodernization for a conservative and uneducated people,nalthough it necessarily violated their tastes and their somewhatnundeveloped concept of Russian national interests.nNowadays, since the Soviet government has educated thenminds of the people, we can recognize his policy as angenuine expression of their national interests — and, happily,nof ours. But centuries of authoritarian government havenvirtually paralyzed his people, leaving them unable tonundertake the most essential part of their role in his reform:ncooperation among themselves and with the government innspontaneous and responsible enterprise.nTo put Gorbachev’s dilemma in a nutshell, he representsnthe good old Russian tradition of the progressive initiative ofncentral authority in the interest—sometimes unrecognizedn— of a public disinclined to undertake such initiative fornitself. Unfortunately, he presides over the public’s destiny innan age when progressive reform is more and more consensuallynregarded in many parts of the world as liberal andndemocratic, free and enterprising, which his public is stillndisinclined to be. The chances of his finding a way out ofnthis dilemma in less than several generations are not veryngood.nFor Gorbachev to succeed, I believe he will have to buildnhis constituency squarely on two traditionally disfranchisedngroups in Soviet society: first, the church, and second,nwomen. The church has, admittedly, a disappointing recordnin the history of Russia, both before and after the revolution,nof asserting itself for the protection of the people from thenravages of the state. On the other hand, it is the naturalnvehicle these days for constructive sentiments of an alternativenkind. Many of its adherents are all too willing to resort tonthe impulses of aggressive or even vicious nationalism thatnwould aggravate an already threatening inter-ethnic combat.nBut it represents, too, the tradition of the popular St. Sergiusnof Radonezh, of the umilenie (loving kindness) of the Virginnof Vladimir, of the reviving ideas oihesychasm (a Byzantinenmysticism of meekness, mercy, and piety), and it providesnthe most obvious rallying point for a Russian renaissance ofna civil and decent kind.nAs for women in Russia, more than elsewhere in Europe,nthey have been the stepchildren of an unusually misogynistnsociety. “If the hair is long, the mind is short.” ButnGorbachev has recognized them, as he himself has said, asnhis “best supporters.” He and they have similar sentimentsnabout the prohibition of alcohol, mismanaged though thencampaign was. They are sober and practical-minded. Whilenmany of the males soar high above tangible reality on wavesnof poetry, philosophy, mysticism, or alcohol, the women donthe practical everyday work without which the system mightncease to function at all. Their special responsibility in thenfamily at home and in the nation at large has probably beennan indispensable given since the purges and the warnremoved so many men from civil society. Russian mennadmit in their candid or inebriated moments that “only thenwomen work.”nNow having criticized Gorbachev vigorously, in order tonbalance the ledger of my account, it is only fair to observenthat he is both an authentic hero and a genuine genius ofnoriginal thinking. Only a fool or a hero would havenundertaken this near-hubristic enterprise, and his scarcelynbelievable mastery of the political apparat in the face ofneconomic and ethnic chaos shows him to be far fromnfoolish. Moreover, he has, in one of the world’s mostnunlikely environments, wrestled mightily to learn the unhappyntruths that set men free. New political thinking of thenorder of magnitude of Gorbachev’s is so fresh and rare as tonbe nearly miraculous. If we compare him with 20th-centurynstatesmen of comparable prominence, he far exceeds thenoriginality and the daring of Churchill, Roosevelt, or denGaulle, all of whom were culturally consonant with thencountries which they governed, and he belongs perhaps innthe league of Mao as revolutionary—not, of course, of Maonas administrator. Furthermore, he has dared and succeedednas few have to be a peacemaker, though Ronald Reagan —nand perhaps Suzanne Massie — probably deserve morencredit here than academic historians will soon give them.nStill, heroes and geniuses, in real life as in mythic epics,nhave been endowed by the gods with flaws to match theirngifts, flaws without which their striving would not be epic,nand Gorbachev may yet become the victim of a Sovietnvariant of Greek tragedy.nWhat are the implications of all of this for us in thenWestern world? We must wish Gorbachev betternsuccess than the imprudence of some of his policies seemsnto promise, and we should support him more than wendo — chiefly symbolically. We must welcome his foreignnpolicy in Afghanistan (in withdrawing Soviet troops), Poland,nHungary, and the GDR, in arms control, in Mongolia,nand in Vietnam. We must find him, after all, as good for usnas the Soviet population finds him doubtful for itselfnFor we are now witnessing more genuinely than beforenthe convergence of systems that has been prophesied.nGorbachev is doing just what we have demanded from thenRussians. Unfortunately, despite our self-satisfied habit ofnsneering like Pharisees at the shortcomings of Soviet society,nthe most fundamental problems of the Soviet model are alsonours. They are the natural outgrowth of the hubris withnwhich the Enlightenment effectively contaminated all ofnmodern secular civilization—the pagan credo that man isnthe master of all things.nMencken’s observation that democracy is the most expensivenand nefarious government on earth suggests that thenRevolt of the Masses leads almost inevitably to revolutionsnnot merely of rising but of unrealistic expectations. Oursnsimply runs its course with more bourgeois moderation, orndignity, than did the Russian — with some exceptions, ofncourse: crime, drugs, and AIDS. But the Russians, havingnfor a couple of generations exchanged conservative fornradical mysticism, are now becoming better prepared thannwe are, under the tutelage of such prophets as Solzhenitsyn,nto escape the destiny of an unholy future. nnnFEBRUARY 1990/23n