The chapter summarizes the book’s main argument. It explains post-communist Russia’s social stratification and relatedly its democratic fortunes with reference to the social structure that predated communism. It locates the genesis of the bourgeoisie-cum-middle class, conventionally regarded as broadly supportive of democratic institutions, in the estate system of imperial Russia, which distinguished between the nobility, the clergy, the urban estates of merchants and the meshchane, and the peasantry. The estate – its juridical, material, and symbolic aspects – simultaneously facilitated the gelling of a highly educated, institutionally incorporated autonomous bourgeoisie and professional stratum and engendered inequalities that persisted throughout the communist period and plagued subsequent democratic consolidation. It demonstrates that the pre-communist social structure has shaped Russia’s stark subnational developmental and democratic disparities as well as national democratic outcomes. The chapter goes on to interrogate theories of class, modernization, and critical junctures, as well as paradigmatic earlier assumptions about the rupture associated with the Bolshevik Revolution. It then proposes causal mechanisms accounting for social resilience and persistence after the Revolution. It also puts forward an alternative periodization of communism in Russia as 1928–86. Sources used – archival sources, memoirs, private papers, interviews, historical census, as well as electoral, demographic, occupational, educational and other data for the imperial, communist, and post-communist periods – are also discussed.