We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Forgotten History: The Rise and Fall of the Russian Oligarchs

Click here if you wish to the original posting by Don Quijones from Raging Bullshit. (Commentary was updated at 5:15pm Seattle time.)

Several years ago I was very curious about what had actually happened in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union. At the time this was happening in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was little in Western media reporting on what was happening there, and what there was, was so skewed by pro-capitalist bias that I dismissed it. Several years ago I began seeing that there were more reliable reports coming out, but mostly in books. I selected one such book entitled Sale of the Century (2000) by Canadian journalist Chrystia Freeland. The book revealed how some well-positioned, sociopathic bureaucrats and privatization ideologues in the Soviet government saw the great opportunities that existed in the chaos following the fall, and by hook and by crook speedily took advantage of them with some Western help mostly in the form of advice and financing. But most of the money needed to pull off their takeover of state property was simply taken from the government and its banks.

But my knowledge of what has happened since then has been very sketchy. I have viewed only the first 30 minutes of the first video which reviews what happened after the fall of Soviet Union. Because it dovetails nicely with what I learned from Freeland's book, I was very impressed and became confident of its quality. Hence I am recommending it and very much looking forward to the second video which suggests that there has been a significant "fall of the Russian oligarchs". I knew that some had fallen, but don't know what really has changed. Hopefully the second video will shed some light on this. I don't normally post material without having read or viewed it, but due to a shortage of time and having viewed a substantial portion of the first video, I feel confident in posting both videos.

(5:15pm Seattle time) From watching the second film, it appears to me that Putin's regime up to 2005 had only gotten rid of the worst thieves of Russia's wealth and that much of this wealth has been restored to the Russian government. I noticed at the end of this film that the production date was 2005. Thus, there is a lot of history that is still needed in the years since then. What I would like to know is if further significant changes in the power structure of the country has occurred since 2005, and what they are.

I think the reason for the poor coverage by US media of these Russian events is precisely because what the Russian oligarchs did in Russia in less than 10 years excelled what the US oligarchs have accomplished very gradually over more than 200 years. However, the US oligarchs got away with it. The successful triumph of American capitalists is essentially reflected in the old boiling frogs metaphor.

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