Democratic socialism is not a middle way between capitalism and communism. If it were merely that, it would be doomed to failure from the start. It cannot live by borrowed vitality. Its driving power must derive from its own principles and the energy released by them.
(Aneurin Bevan 1)
In Chapter 2 we explored some of the thinking about the problems facing Russia on Putin's accession and the choices facing him. Here we will look more closely at Putin as a politician, examining the opportunities and risks that he confronted. He was constrained by the legacy of the past and the political and social order that he inherited, but as an active political agent he was able to shape agendas and build a political machine of his own. The development of Putin's own power base reflected his broader political role. While Yeltsin's rule can be understood as a period of 'permanent revolution', Putin now assumed the role of consolidator, the Napoleon (not necessarily on horseback) to Yeltsin's Robespierre. During the presidential campaign in 2000 Zyuganov had already called Putin a 'little Napoleon', and as Pavlovsky stressed, a Napolean does not emerge out of nowhere, and not everyone could become a Napoleon. 2 Like Napoleon, Putin sought to rebuild the state and incorporate into the new order the progressive elements of the revolutionary epoch necessary for social development while discarding the excesses and the revolutionary froth. Putin adopted the key test of such a consolidating role, the so-called 'zero-option'; the prohibition on the redistribution of property and the legal persecution of those involved in the privatisation excesses of the past. Putin also favoured the larger zero option: the crimes and repression of the Soviet period were to be put to one side for the sake of social harmony. The Soviet and Yeltsin revolutionary periods now gave way to one of post-revolutionary consolidation.