neighbors, the conviction that when push comes to shove theyrnwill not dare take the chance of mutual destruction. And thatrnis enough for him. Those who might think that this is just anrnelementary form of pillage fail to realize that Zhirinovsky, likernHitler, is creating a new political universe in which naked forcernand the willingness to risk not just one’s own fate, but the faternof the world, are prime factors. This new reality perfectly reflectsrnthe situation of his country—a situation of total collapsern—and he wants to project this collapse onto the entirernworld.rnI spoke with Zhirinovsky. I have no doubt that such wouldrnbe the order that he will try to impose upon the unsuspectingrnworld, if at some point he indeed moves into the Kremlin asrnRussia’s president. And he will be absolutely convinced that hernis right.rnZhirinovsky’s constituency is growing rapidly. Who arernthese people who vote for him? In a strange and paradoxicalrnway, they represent the success of communism. They are thernpopulace that the communist regime succeeded in producing.rnLike most people in the West, I don’t believe in Homo Sovieticus,rnthat in only three generations the Soviet regime couldrncreate a new breed of humanity: people without conscience,rnwithout honor, without decency. It didn’t. Still, a considerablernpart of the former Soviet Union’s population has been morallyrncorrupted. This degradation of their society, intensified byrncatastrophic economic deterioration and social polarization,rnmatters. In present-day Russia there are millions of people whornthink, speak, and feel as Zhirinovsky does. It is they who votedrnfor him in 1991. They, too, reject all conventions of the civilizedrnworld and are ready to do anything to humiliate their enemiesrnand leap into well-being at somebody else’s expense.rnThese are the people whom Zhirinovsky represents. The ongoingrneconomic calamity keeps generating more and more ofrntheir kind, and they might one day pave his way to success.rnIinterviewed Zhirinovsky in June 1992 in Moscow, in the officernof his Liberal Democratic Party. The office itself is quiternpathetic, a converted apartment in a shabby building, but it isrnlocated in the very center of Moscow. We spoke for over anrnhour. I knew about Zhirinovsky’s philosophy; still, to actuallyrnhear him stating his positions was a shock. He openly admittedrnthat his support comes from the lumpenproletariat and thatrnhe hopes for further “lumpenisation” of his people. His goalsrnand plans as to how to deal with the country’s problems arernsimple, and therefore appealing to his barely literate supporters.rnWhat to do about strikes? “Strikers to jail; racketeers we’llrnsend abroad to defend our national reputation; and we’ll getrncheap labor from Asia…. We’ll force them to take 100 rublesrna month and be glad of it.” What to do with the breakaway republics?rnStop selling them fuel and blockade them from thernoutside. He is sure they will come crawling back, voluntarily:rn”Take Georgia, for example. Georgia will crumble, will rejoinrnRussia, retaining only the rights of a province. That is allrnyou’d need for Central Asia to return of its own accord tornRussia; again, as a province.” Moreover, Zhirinovsky believesrnthat Afghanistan, and even Iran and Turkey, will join. Andrnthen: “We ought to make use of the conflicts between thernTurks and Armenians, on the one hand, and the Kurds and Iraniansrnon the other. If we play on these conflicts, we’ll be ablernto establish our rule over this entire region.”rnAY: “So you approve a colonial policy?”rnVZ: “Yes, of course.”rnHere is a passage from Zhirinovsky’s interview with thernLithuanian newspaper The Republic: “The Baltics are Russianrnterritory. I will destroy you. In the border zone of the Smolenskrnregion, I’m going to dig out nuclear waste [and] you Litvaksrnare going to die of radiation sickness. First, I’ll get the Russiansrnand Poles out. I’ll be the overlord; I’ll be the tyrant! I’llrnplay it as Hitler did.”rnIn present-day Russia there are millions ofrnpeople who think, speak, and feel asrnZhirinovsky does. It is they who voted for himrnin 1991. They, too, reject all conventions ofrnthe civilized world and are ready to do anythingrnto humiliate their enemies and leap intornwell-being at somebody else’s expense.rnOne may say that this sounds not just stupid and irresponsible,rnbut plainly insane. Yet this is precisely the impressionrnZhirinovsky wants to convey. He is no conventional politicianrnand has only contempt for the eggheads. His audiences lovernhim—his impetuousness, his simple solutions, his magnificentrndisdain for common sense. As to theatrics, Zhirinovsky isrnthe best in contemporary Russian politics.rnOne example will illustrate the distinction between himrnand other opposition leaders. All of them are against giving thernKuril Islands back to Japan. Zhirinovsky is, of course, againstrnit also. The difference is that they are arguing with the Russianrnpresident while he speaks directly to the Japanese. His argumentrnruns along these lines: “All right. Hiroshima and Nagasakirnwere not enough for you. You want another one? No?rnSo, forget about the Islands.” Russian audiences swallow thisrnenthusiastically. Such statements give people who have lost allrnhope precisely what they need: a sense of power.rnBy comparison with this kind of drive and energy, the otherrnopposition leaders look like ineffectual babblers. Thus, Zhirinovsky’srnintellectual weakness turns out to be his main asset.rnFurthermore, he is a strong speaker with Hitler-style charisma.rnAnd like Hitler, he is proud that intellectuals despise him.rn”How many votes do they have?” he asks. “Yes, the Moscow intelligentsiarnis against me. But that’s a hundred thousand,rnthat’s a million, or three million, or ten. But voters—you needrn55 million.”rnAY: “Yet not the entire population of the country isrn’lumpenised.’ There are still people who are in their rightrnminds.”rnVZ; “There are. They’ll vote against me, but they’ll be a minority.”rnAY: “But so far, they are a majority. So you hope for furtherrncorruption, for degradation of the masses?”rnVZ: “Yes.”rnAY: “That’s your credo?”rnVZ: “Yes, yes, yes!”rnAY: “Well, you’ll certainly get a monstrous country, whichrnwill swallow you. You promise to change everything within 72rnhours. But at the 73rd hour, your lumpens will eat you alive!rnBecause actually you won’t be able to do what you promise—rnAUGUST 1993/29rnrnrn