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Welcome to Planet Oligarch


ONE of the obstacles to understanding the managed and deliberate destruction of Western economies on the justification of saving us from, by turns, a health crisis, an environmental crisis, an energy crisis or a cost-of-living crisis, is the question of how anyone can benefit from doing so.  

If we want to know where this is leading and who will benefit from our impoverishment, we should look at what happened to Russia in the 1990s.  

In September 1990, under the policy reform called glasnost (‘openness’), the Soviet Parliament granted President Mikhail Gorbachev emergency powers of privatisation. This included the authority to transform state-owned enterprises into joint-stock companies with shares offered on stock exchanges.  

After Gorbachev’s resignation and the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the first Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, initiated a programme of privatisation that sought to compress 20 years of Western neoliberalism into a few years in a country whose population had no experience of how finance capitalism works. 

One of the first initiatives was Voucher Privatisation, which between 1992 and 1994 distributed shares in state-owned companies among 98 per cent of the Russian population, in principle giving each citizen a share of the national wealth.  

However, the Russian worker, impoverished and in many cases left unemployed by the rapid dismantling of the Soviet economy, had little understanding of shareholder capitalism, and these vouchers were almost entirely bought up for a few roubles by Russian bureaucrats, company directors and the mafia, who after years of trading Western commodities on the Soviet black market had a better idea of their future value. 

In 1995, with the government facing a fiscal deficit and in return for funding his re-election campaign, Yeltsin initiated the Loans for Shares scheme, through which state industrial assets in Russian oil, gas, petroleum, coal, iron and steel were auctioned for loans by commercial banks.  

Since the loans were never returned, largely because they were used to pay off the interest on existing government debt, the state assets were sold for a fraction of their value. Yukos Oil, for example, worth around five billion dollars, was sold for 310million dollars; and Sibneft, the third-largest producer of oil in Russia, worth three billion dollars, went for just $100million.  

This scheme created a class of oligarchs (from the Ancient Greek oligarkhia, meaning ‘the rule of the few’), who now controlled not just the Russian economy, but also its government.  

Conscious, however, that future governments might reverse Yeltsin’s carpet-sale of the national wealth, the oligarchs, instead of investing in these industries, immediately set about stripping their assets to increase their equity. And the vast wealth they accumulated in doing so was invested abroad, largely in Swiss banks, but also through the largest laundering service in the world, the City of London.  

This flight of capital out of the country left the Russian government unable to collect taxes, leading to it defaulting on debt repayments and with it the Russian financial crisis of 1998.  

When foreign investors began to pull out of the market, selling Russian currency and assets, the Central Bank of Russia, which had been founded only in July 1990, had to spend its foreign reserves to defend Russia’s currency, including approximately 27billion of its US dollar reserves. This led to the most cataclysmic peacetime economic collapse of an industrial country in history.  

By 1999, the gross domestic product of Russia had fallen by more than 40 per cent, and hyperinflation had wiped out what personal savings people had accumulated. A decline in meat consumption was mirrored by a huge increase in crime, corruption and mortality, the latter of which reached the highest in history of an industrial country not at war.  

Unemployment in a country where it had previously been unknown reached 13 per cent. Inflation peaked at 85.7 per cent. Government debt reached 135 per cent of GDP, and Russia, consequently, became the largest borrower from the International Monetary Fund, with loans totalling 20billion dollars in the 1990s.  

A quarter of this, some five billion, was stolen upon its arrival in Russia on the eve of the financial crisis, and disappeared into an account registered in the offshore tax jurisdiction of Jersey. 

If all this sounds familiar, Yeltsin’s reforms were based on the Washington Consensus, ten principles of economic neoliberalisation first implemented in Pinochet’s Chile and by the Argentinian junta in the 1970s, and imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the US Treasury as a condition of receiving loans.  

On October 1998, the government of Russia, the largest exporter of oil and petroleum reserves in the world, had to appeal for international humanitarian aid. It was only a short time since the Soviet Union had been one of two world superpowers.  

In 2013, the gap between rich and poor in Russia was the greatest of any country, with 35 per cent of the wealth of a country of 144million owned by just 110 billionaires, with much of that wealth stored in offshore financial jurisdictions. 

Last year, the 500 richest Russians, each with a net worth of more than £100million and making up just 0.001 per cent of the population, controlled 40 per cent of the country’s entire household wealth – more than the poorest 99.8 per cent combined, 114.6million people.  

Today, across the neoliberal democracies of the West, national governments in debt to the new forms of global governance formed under the cloak of multiple manufactured crises are implementing equivalent programmes of managed economic collapse devised by the same international institutions of global macro-economic management.  

Instead of perestroika, glasnost, Voucher Privatisation and Loans for Shares, these programmes of economic and political ‘reform’ are called Agenda 2030, Central Bank Digital Currency, Universal Basic Income, Sustainable Development Goals, and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance criteria dictated by financial behemoths such as BlackRock.  

And although these are being implemented not on the collapse of a centralised economy like that of the Soviet Union but of neoliberal economies facing the second global financial crisis in 12 years, the aim of these programmes is the same – impoverishment of the population, bankruptcy of independent businesses, and an economic and political power-grab by a financial ruling class.  

The removal of our human rights, driving down of our standard of living, reduction in our food and energy consumption, spiralling inflation and the economic sanctions and programmes enforcing these, are all designed to transfer our national and personal assets into the hands of this global elite.  

Just as happened in Russia in the 1990s, the Bank of England has increased its quantitative easing programme to £895billion to bail out the UK economy, including covering the £376billion spent on lockdown, and it recently spent £19.3billion buying up Government bonds to prop up the falling pound.  

With company insolvencies this year the most in 13 years, small businesses driven into bankruptcy by two years of lockdown and rocketing energy prices have had their market share bought up by corporate monopolies.  

Inflation is over 11 per cent and is predicted by the Bank of England to reach 13 per cent in early 2023, with some estimates predicting a high of 18 per cent. And the duties and authority of the UK state continue to be outsourced by the Government to international companies, who are being empowered by new legislation to set the limits of our previously inalienable rights and freedoms.  

Finally, our new globalist Prime Minister has been elected not by UK voters or even by his own party, but by the international financiers and technocrats who, just as they do in Russia, now dictate not only our economic policies but also our politics. 

Let me clarify what I mean and don’t mean by this comparison. I am not saying that post-Soviet Russia is a mirror of the UK in 2022. As I’ve said, the differences between the historical circumstances and the economies of the two countries are too great. What I’m arguing is that the managed destruction of the Russian economy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union is an image of where we are heading and why we are being driven to such an end.  

The Russian oligarchs weren’t only motivated by the wealth they could take out of the country and into offshore tax jurisdictions managed by financial advisers in the City of London; they were, and are, interested in the political power that wealth gave them. And just as they chose Vladimir Putin to be the successor to the shambling Boris Yeltsin, so too our oligarchs have chosen Rishi Sunak as the successor to the shambling Boris Johnson.  

The UK hasn’t been a democratic state since March 2020, when the country was placed in a de facto state of emergency and thousands of regulations stripping us of our rights and freedoms were made by ministerial decree outside of any oversight or approval by our elected representatives in Parliament.  

But in the wake of those restrictions having largely been lifted in March of this year, Sunak’s unilateral decision to impose the programmes of biosecurity and Agenda 2030 outside of any democratic process shows that we are now ruled by international technocracies of global governance run by corporate CEOs, international bankers and government bureaucrats.  

And although today we call them ‘philanthropists’, ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘global investors’, the actions of these unelected globalists are every bit as criminal as those of the Russian oligarchy in the 1990s, except that they’re on a far greater scale and with far more damaging consequences. 

The economic and cultural sanctions placed on Russia by this global government since March 2022 are instrumental to the financial war these Western globalists are waging against an oligarchal system of governance they do not want to crush in the name of defending the human rights of Ukrainians and a puppet Government that was installed by the US in 2014 for precisely this reason, but rather to emulate, replace and surpass in wealth and power.  

If we want an image of where this globalist coup is leading us –and which is being implemented on the spurious justifications of protecting our health from a deadly new virus, securing the state from ‘Mad Vlad’ Putin, and saving the planet from man-made global warming – Russia is a good place to look. This is an image of our future.  

If you’re concerned about the deliberate destruction of the economies and democracies of the West by our elected and unelected governments and are wondering what will replace them, you may be interested in my new book, The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State 

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Simon Elmer
Simon Elmer
Simon Elmer, formerly a university teacher, is co-founder of Architects for Social Housing and the author of Covid-19: Implementing the UK Biosecurity State (2020); Brave New World: Expanding the UK Biosecurity State through the Winter of 2020-2021 (2021); Virtue and Terror: Resisting the UK Biosecurity State (2021).

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