[Marxism] Amnesty Calls on UN to stop the US, Qatar and Turkey funding and arming Syria Rebels

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 28 19:37:40 MDT 2012

On 8/28/12 9:22 PM, Carl G. Estabrook wrote:
> Whatever the peculiarities of the Russian church today - and it's a
> bit different from the pre-revolutionary church - it's hard to miss
> the fact that the most extensive anti-capitalist discourse in the
> Global South today is Christianity, primarily Catholic Christianity.
> There aren't many competitors.

Actually the most extensive anti-capitalist discourse comes from 
Marxists. The Church engages in populist discourse in Russia that 
dovetails neatly with Putin's nationalist demagogy.

If you are looking for Marxist analysis of contemporary Russia, I 
recommend Boris Kargalitsky rather than the muddleheaded anti-Semite 
Israel Shamir.


Putin's Closed Government
31 May 2012
By Boris Kagarlitsky

There is a hard-and-fast rule on how new laws are passed in Russia: The 
most important legislation is usually approved with the least public 
discussion and debate.

Take, for example, the bill currently being considered in the State Duma 
that will allow public officials and businesspeople to conceal serious 
conflicts of interest, including their shareholdings in companies that 
have large dealings with the government.

Few outside of government and big business knew anything about the bill 
until information was recently leaked to the media. Nor did anyone know 
that the bill was heavily lobbied by the Russian Union of Industrialists 
and Entrepreneurs, or RSPP — unofficially known as "the union of oligarchs."

As oligarchs have increased their wealth over the past 15 or 20 years, 
another disturbing trend has emerged: Soon after high-ranking officials 
occupy their posts in government, their once-untalented relatives 
suddenly become ingenious, innovative and wealthy businesspeople — 
thanks in no small part to the fact that they have received generous 
government contracts.

The high concentration of capital in the hands of oligarchs and 
bureaucratic elite remains a distinguishing feature of Russia's 
still-chaotic form of capitalism that dooms it to pathological 
inefficiency. The bill proposed by the RSPP is just one more indication 
that the ruling elite are reinforcing their control over the economy.

The RSPP proposes that all criteria for determining shareholder 
affiliation be removed from the Civil Code. Lobbyists for big business 
also propose adding a "secondary liability of officers" to the code. In 
practice, this could mean that when a legal entity's property is 
insufficient to satisfy creditors' claims, some of the employees of that 
company would be forced to pay off those debts from their own pockets.

While in public statements government officials, lawmakers and big 
business agree that Russia should move toward greater transparency and 
stricter rules governing conflicts of interest, in practice — and behind 
closed doors — they are doing everything possible to achieve the direct 

Even the Economic Development Ministry considered some of the proposals 
to be excessive. But more important, a schism has emerged between the 
RSPP oligarchs and the small and midsize business leaders, who have 
organized separate business associations and who clearly have different 
interests and concerns.

Over the past 12 years, Vladimir Putin and United Russia leaders have 
inundated us with flowery speeches and statements about the need to 
build a social welfare state. They claim to be committed to improving 
the lives of workers earning low salaries, modernizing the country and 
improving the transparency in government and state-controlled 
businesses. The overflowing concern for the common masses increased 
exponentially during the recent campaigns for the Duma and presidential 

But now that both elections are over, Putin and United Russia leaders 
can all go back to business as usual — that is, to defending the 
interests of those whom the authorities have always considered their 
primary constituency: rich and powerful politicians, bureaucrats and 

Boris Kagarlitsky is director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.

More information about the Marxism mailing list