Russian oligarch mirror


In the midst of the Ukraine/Crimea situation, you can’t get very far into any mainstream media story these days about current events and not see Russia casually and routinely described pejoratively (in straight news reporting, never mind opinion pieces) as a land of oligarchs. True enough. Although it’s probably also at least equally irrelevant since none of the voices say this because they particularly care that such is the case. After all, most of them hail from another land of oligarchs, but refuse to use the word. In fact, this reality was further cemented into law just today. This in the U.S. where the Supreme Court voted along ideological lines to strike down caps limiting how much an individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year cycle. Somehow, none of the reporting, from Bloomberg, to the New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal, to the Washington Post and beyond manages to note that this development de facto enshrines oligarchy as a legal force. It’s an observation left instead to the thousands of commenters lamenting the “death of democracy,” etc. They’re right.

If there’s a silver lining to take from this it’s that this latest ruling is so brazen an expression of the class warfare that has been successfully waged by the wealthy against everyone else for the last 35 years or so, that it inadvertently slaps a measure of consciousness into those who’ve been getting run over and have so far not questioned the beatings. Although the ruling’s supporters are trying, of course, there is no way to use semantic arguments to make it seem as if this development is actually a good thing for democracy. And yet those same supporters are unrepentant, the brazenness itself an expression of their supreme confidence. But when they put their motives out in the open this way, they really do risk discovery and that’s the last thing they want, whether or not their hubris lets them see it.

It truly is fascinating to watch in real-time, albeit a slow one, as a country and a system unravels on so many fronts simultaneously, while official courtiers from all the key walks of life (political and financial) stare at their reflections and say, “Are we not beautiful and pure and different and exceptional?”

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