In This Review

Political Culture of the Russian "Democrats"
Political Culture of the Russian "Democrats"
By Alexander Lukin
Oxford University Press, 2000, 336 pp

Lukin was a Russian democratic activist in the 1980s, an elected member of the Moscow city soviet, and later a student at Oxford. His period is the Gorbachev era; his subject is "democrats" in the big cities and beyond; and his sources are in-depth interviews, memoirs, internal documents from the movement, and limited survey data. He explains who his fellow "demoscrats" were, what brought them to "democracy," and how they organized themselves. For most, he finds, they owed their conversion to the opening under Gorbachev, not to long-hidden convictions. Second, and more important, their democratic conversion turned out to be inverted Leninism -- preserving many of its values while rejecting the system -- and not the individualism normally associated with Western notions of democracy. Hence the quotation marks. An interesting and persuasive thesis, but not enough of an explanation for their eventual difficulties to justify his sweeping condemnation of virtually every other author who has dealt with the subject.