The monolithic Bolshevik Party that emerged from thernchaos of Russia’s revolution and civil war monopolized politicsrnand defined the Soviet Union’s course. The party did not followrnpopularly approved policies, nor did it pursue popularlyrnchosen goals. And, since the party set the course, it also tookrnthe credit. The party—the party of Lenin—implementedrncollectivization at the end of the 1920’s, launched a crash programrnof industrialization in the 1930’s, defeated the armies ofrnfascist Germany in the 1940’s, rebuilt the Soviet Union in thern1950’s, and led the way into outer space in the 1960’s.rnEspeciallv during the Stalin era, the all-knowing, all-seeingrnparty imposed its will from above. Elevated and isolated, it requiredrnneither citizens’ participation in shaping policy norrntheir consent for carrying it out. The people identified the partyrnwith “them,” and a whole world of material shortages andrnspiritual deprivation stood between “them” and “us” in the experiencernof the average Soviet man or woman. The instrumentsrnof political authority that were so frequently exercised inrnan abusive, tyrannical fashion were held by “them.” Becausern”they” could ruin the average Russian with a word or a telephonerncall, the politics of survival dictated that “we” ought tornattract as little notice from “them” as possible.rnIn the 1930’s, the partv’s absolute authority enabled it tornchange direction at will in the name of following the policiesrnenvisioned by Lenin and interpreted by Stalin. Always, the partyrnremained the constant in a system that had no effective wayrnof replacing its leaders short of death or disgrace, and one seesrnthe remnants of this dark heritage in the arrests of Rutskoi andrnKhasbulatov for opposing Yeltsin’s illegal dissolution of parliament.rnIn the old days, the party claimed to know the best wayrnto build communism, and it became its task to set the SovietrnUnion back on course whenever the deviations of misguided,rndiscredited leaders (according to the party’s later explanations)rnput it onto the wrong path. The party therefore requiredrndutiful, obedient subjects. It did not want responsible, politicallyrnactive citizens.rnSuch absolutism denied most Soviet citizens a part in thernpolitical processes of their nation and freed them from takingrnan’ personal responsibility for the shortcomings of Soviet life.rnBut Yeltsin’s destruction of the party means that average Russiansrnmust accept some of the blame for the crises that now besetrnthem, and they are therefore seeking to resurrect old scapegoatsrnand find new ones. That is a major reason for the wavernof anti-Semitism now sweeping across a land in which morernviolence was directed against jews during the century beforernthe Holocaust than in any other country in the Western world.rnAlthough Jews are the most obvious scapegoats in Russia’srnhistorical experience, they are by no means the only ones.rnOther nationalities now blame the Russians for the abuse theyrnendured as subjects of the Russian Empire and the SovietrnUnion, and antagonisms that have deep historical roots lie beneathrnthe wave of anti-Russian sentiment that is rising in thernnewly independent states to Russia’s south and west.rnBecause too many of these peoples have defined themselvesrnin terms of standing against something, some group, or somernone, conflict lies at the very root of their self-image. ChristianrnArmenians have never eared for Muslim Azeris, and they havernalso had their differences with Christian Georgians and MuslimrnTurks. That dislike is heartily reciprocated, just as it isrnamong scores of other groups who live within Russia and alongrnits borders. Nor are the Russians themselves without the stainrnof gross intolerance, for they have rarely treated any of the nationalitiesrnwho came under their control very well. The ethnicrnand religious conflicts stemming from this mistreatment havernonly grown more bitter with time. Today, Russia almost certainlyrnis a more explosive powder keg of nationality conflictsrnthan any of its former political rivals.rnIn the West, statesmen, officials, and presidents all have tornanswer to their nations’ citizens for their failures, but thernmatter of fixing—and accepting—responsibility remains farrnmore difficult to resolve in Russia. Without the respect for thernlaw that a society in which men and women are expected torntake responsibility for themselves and their communities engenders,rnthe question of assigning responsibility continues to bernconfused by the phenomenon of absolute power arbitrarily appliedrnfrom above. The Russians call this proizvol, and it hasrnbeen a part of their history since the Middle Ages.rnDuring the days when czars ruled the lands of Muscovy,rntheir subjects looked to Moscow for rewards and favors, just asrnthey looked to St. Petersburg when Russia’s emperors and empressesrnbegan to rule from the new capital that Peter the Greatrnbuilt as a “Window on the West.” Soviet citizens viewedrnMoscow in similar terms from the moment Lenin establishedrnhis revolutionary government there in 1918. A phone callrnfrom Moscow—even the rumor of such a call—could raise Sovietrncitizens to unexpected heights, just as it could destroy careers,rnshatter dreams, and send loval men and women to prison.rnLaw always held a lesser place in such transactions. Not thernforce of law impartially applied, but proizvol—the arbitrary authorityrnthat party officials applied in a capricious manner—rnshaped Soviet citizens’ lives between I9I7 and 1991. It is unsurprisingrnthat Yeltsin had no compunctions about attackingrnthe Russian parliament in October, or that there is widespreadrnsupport for Zhirinovsky’s call to hold the law in contempt in orderrnto restore the Russian Empire.rnThroughout much of their history the Russians have thoughtrnit right, proper, and even preferable for the law to take secondrnplace to the arbitrary authority of rulers and officials. Betweenrn1648 and 1830, the Russians had no up-to-date corpusrnof written law to which they could refer, and the true lawrntherefore became what the men and women who wieldedrnpower declared it to be. Proizvol tempered by tradition and thernneeds of the moment thus assumed the force of law in thernminds of men and women whose history had conditionedrnthem to obey authority imposed from above.rnEven after the Great Reforms of the 1860’s made it possiblernto argue the law in the courts of the Russian Empire, the popularrnmind continued to look to the emperor to make exceptionsrnfor anyone who found the law’s restrictions inconvenient. Atrnthe beginning of the 20th century, the emperor’s personalrnchancellery received 70,000 petitions every year, each of whichrnbegan with the apology that, “had it been permissible underrnthe law, I should never have taken it upon myself to trouble HisrnImperial Majesty.” Russians thus looked to their emperor to actrnoutside the law right up until the February Revolution of 1917.rnThe Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 destroyed the traditionsrnthat had limited the use of proizvol to deal with suchrneases in centuries past. Because a word or a gesture by the rightrnperson at the right time m the right place could offset a lifetimernof frustration and failure, hopeful Soviet men and womenrnlooked for the magic connection—the elusive single contact—rnthat would elevate them above their comrades and open widernthe doors to success. Every ambitious Russian therefore lookedrnMARCH 1994/17rnrnrn