for a patron, a protector whose arbitrary intervention couldrnmake right the injustices that the Soviet system arbitrarily imposed.rnNow, it is not hard to imagine Russians taking that viewrnone step further and seeing in Zhirinovsky the protector whoserncapricious use of power can redress the loss of prestige that theirrnnation has suffered in the international arena since the beginningrnof the Gorbachev era.rnAlthough the capricious poison of proizvol infected Sovietrnlife at every level, it served as a vital safety valve in a society inrnwhich all men and women found themselves at the mercy ofrntheir rulers. The Soviet system thus permitted each and everyrnone of its people to exercise a measure of proizvol in some wayrnat some point: waiters could refuse to seat customers in arnrestaurant full of empty tables, taxi drivers could refuse tornpick up passengers at a taxi stand, and cloakroom attendantsrncould refuse to hang up visitors’ coats, thereby denying themrnaccess to the officials or offices that the building contained—rnall were parts of that process. In that way, the most humble Sovietrnman or woman could find some compensation (or revenge)rnfor the proizvol that the system inflicted upon him orrnher.rnWhile Europeans were experiencing the Industrial Revolutionrnduring the first two-thirds of the 19th century, modernizationrnand progress in Russia remained the responsibility of arngovernment that assumed the obligation to provide the servicesrnneeded by dependent subjects living in the modern world.rnPartly to escape that burden in the 1860’s, the Emperor AlexanderrnII and a handful of enlightened officials implemented thernGreat Reforms that attempted to limit proizvol, guide Russiarnalong the path taken by the West, and bring a true society ofrncitizens into being. As the Russians began to develop a sensernof their collective destiny during this so-called Great Reformrnera, they began to put nation ahead of sovereign for the firstrntime in their history. By the early years of the 20th century,rn”Russia” and “czar” had ceased to be synonymous in the mindsrnof Russians, and larger numbers of them were beginning to envisionrna future shaped by precepts that stood at odds withrnthose embraced by their sovereign.rnMen and women who thought of themselves as citizensrnfirst and loyal subjects second also resisted the monolithic politicsrnof the Bolsheviks in 1917 and were driven into exile orrnkilled during the Civil War of 1918-1921. Without them, thernSoviet Union that took shape in 1922 was no more able to createrna citizen society than had been the Muscovites whom Peterrnthe Great had driven into the modern world 200 years before.rnPeter’s Muscovites could not even imagine a world inrnwhich they would accept civic responsibility; Soviet men andrnwomen of the 1920’s and 1930’s simply surrendered their newlyrnacquired responsibilities as citizens to the Bolshevik Party.rnWhen Peter the Great set out to transform Russia into arngreat power at the beginning of the 18th century, he took thernscience and technology needed to do so from the West, Europeansrnoccupied key positions in Russia throughout the 18thrnand 19th centuries, and later on, Americans joined them inrnbuilding Russia’s railroads, opening up her natural resources,rnand developing her industry. Major George Whistler, father ofrnthe famous painter and builder of the Baltimore and Ohio andrnWestern Massachusetts railways, helped to build Russia’s firstrnrailroads; the Englishman John Hughes developed Krivoi Rogrnand the Donbass; and Sweden’s Alfred Nobel played a majorrnpart in bringing the Baku oil fields into production.rnSuch Western advisors brought not only advanced technologyrnbut new ideas that threatened the survival of Russia’s autocraticrngovernment. Whether Peter’s successors thought ofrntheir empire as part of the West (as did Catherine the Greatrnand Alexander I) or apart from it (as did most of their successors),rnall agreed that Russians’ access to the West had to be limitedrnby censorship, secret police, and the widespread restrictionrnof civil rights. The main justification for this policy was tornmaintain the military strength that made Russia one of Europe’srngreatest powers, and all other considerations had to bernsubordinated to that end.rnBecause Russia has never had any claim to great power statusrnother than her military might, her rulers have beenrnmore sensitive about minor defeats than have the leaders of thernUnited States or the nations of Western Europe. The technologicalrnbackwardness that the Soviet failure in Afghanistanrndemonstrated so conclusively therefore led Gorbachev to seekrnwider access to Western technology, just as Peter the Great hadrndone at the beginning of the 18th century. Yet the forces ofrnhistory and international politics that drove Gorbachev towardrnthe West also created the problem that slowed his programrnfor reform. In a country without a tradition of open politicalrnopposition, passive resistance by citizens who refused tornchange with the times imposed a powerful brake on progress.rnLike his predecessors, Gorbachev found that the Russians didrnnot adapt easily to new political and economic courses. NowrnYeltsin has learned that lesson too. Clearly, some of the votesrnthat helped to win seats for the followers of Zhirinovsky and thernformer communists in Russia’s recent election were cast tornprotest Yeltsin’s readiness to ignore the social and economicrnpains that his policies are inflicting upon Russians.rnDuring the three-quarters of the century in which theyrnruled Russia, Soviet planners’ preference for short-range (andrnshort-sighted) solutions to long-standing problems created arnmassive array of unresolved domestic crises that Russia now hasrnto face. Substandard construction, mediocre health care, poorrntransport facilities, and ineffective institutions of local governmentrnall stand as major barriers to progress. The Armenianrnearthquake disaster was not merely a product of corrupt officials’rnefforts to grow rich by cutting corners on construction inrna few cities. It marked the beginning of a vast future crisis stemmingrnfrom an economic vision that emphasized present accomplishmentsrn(often for propaganda purposes) at the expensernof long-term national well-being.rnAnyone who has lived and worked in the old Soviet Unionrnknows the terrifying dimensions of the construction crisis thatrnthreatens to overwhelm the Russians. Apartment and officernbuildings built without structural steel on crumbling foundationsrnafter World War II cannot be repaired but will have to bernrebuilt. Subway tunnels that have been cut too close to streetrnsurfaces, highways without proper roadbeds, pipelines thatrnhave been improperly laid and shoddily welded, and scores ofrnsimilar failings all compound a coming crisis, the ramificationsrnof which have yet to be fully perceived. Beyond that, the nationrnwhich must rely entirely upon its military strength tornmaintain its status as a great power has yet to produce the fullrnrange of technology needed for the weapons that will shape therncontours of warfare at the beginning of the 21 st century, not tornmention the fact that it lacks the facilities needed to turn thernworld’s richest collection of natural resources into desperatelyrnneeded manufactured goods. This is what makes Zhirinovsky’srnwild-eyed promises so popular with Russian listeners. Unablern18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn