Sat, Jun

It’s All Oligarchs All the Way Down


GUEST COMMENTARY - Today’s US propaganda barrage seeks to demonize the Russians as thoroughly and completely as possible, which now ironically includes attacks on Russia’s oligarchy. 

This could, and hopefully will, open a can of worms for US oligarchic orchestrators of such propaganda, whose hypocrisy is apparently bottomless.  If the Russian oligarchs are monsters, what about our own plutocrats?  Today we are offered a typical capitalist “choice.” Which national set of oligarchs do we want to “support” and die for?

In Great Britain they occupy Russian oligarchs’ houses and “take over” their yachts (what the hell are they going to do with them?).  Here in the US a large majority, especially those who have to sell their labor to survive, know we have “our own” oligarchs, the infamous 1%.  This class fragment of the hyper-wealthy, led by financiers, military contractors and oil corporations, easily surpasses their Russian rivals, as Jeffrey St. Clair points out in his most recent Roaming Charges column in CounterPunch.

US corporations have, over a century of capitalist competition, concentrated in their hands ownership of means of production and control of institutions (including the Pentagon), politics (both big-business-run parties) as well as mass media, “education,” and (mis)information dissemination. Now they are taking advantage of fomenting another world conflict, arguably the most dangerous one since the last confrontation with Russia over missiles in Cuba, to continue selling weapons, oil, and looting the world’s working class and the world environment.

But so what!  “We” must support the brave Ukrainians in their struggle with Putin and those demonic Russians. By the way, do the Ukrainians have oligarchs?  Are they lining up to fight now– like ours are doing, right? Do we see our oligarchs leading the military charges? Have we ever?

Our great leaders here have allowed almost a million people to die of Covid. They do nothing about the growing ranks of homeless along with lives ruined and incomes drained due to lack of decent affordable healthcare.   They couldn’t imagine parting with a bit more of their multiple billions by paying enough in taxes to provide the people who do all the work here with guaranteed jobs at a living wage, that is, when those jobs are available. When they are not, there’s always homelessness, or if you are young and strong enough, join the military. You can fight and die for “your” war profiteering oligarchs.

No, but these oligarchs care so much about the suffering Ukrainians that they can’t imagine fixing the situation by agreeing that the Russians might have a point about the expansion of that purely defensive organization NATO. If this outfit is “defensive,” why does it seek to expand right up to Russia’s borders? Oligarch propaganda doesn’t bother with such discursive parameters as logic.

“Our” oligarchs expect the red carpet to be rolled out in the world for their own interests and those of their allies, as long as the latter don’t act like Oliver Twist and ask for more. In fact, Trump wanted them to give more, primarily behind a program of avoiding taxes on the rich here. Biden and the corporate-driven leaders of the Democrats, on the other hand, are preparing to risk nuclear war to continue a policy of US Imperialism that they have supported regardless of consequences since the end of WW II. No sooner are we out of Afghanistan, than we are confronting Russia, with China in the background: ‘Almost as soon as the last American helicopter left Kabul, the Pentagon debuted fresh warnings about “Russian aggression.”

President Biden began authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency military assistance for Ukraine. From the day we withdrew from Afghanistan to the day before Russia invaded, the Pentagon assigned at least $1.3 billion for work either partially or fully intended for Eastern Europe (LatviaEstoniaPolandRomaniaLithuaniaSlovakiaSlovenia and Ukraine).’ [See Schaan Sachdev, “America is united on the Ukraine war, right? Still, let’s follow the money.” Salon.com, 3 19 ‘22].

Endless war anyone?  Watch now what happens to the Dems’ feeble “reforms” and lip service to “democracy” – a great propaganda point but not to be taken seriously here, where one Senator (Joe Manchin) can shut down the whole show.

Meanwhile our genius neo-con policy makers, ensconced in both parties and now triumphant, can’t fathom that the Russians might have a point about protecting their borders – especially given their recent history of invasions from the West.

But who among our oligarchic spokespeople pays any honest attention to history?  Instead, “our” oligarchs will shed crocodile tears over dead Ukrainian children.  Where were they when civilians, the old, poor workers, peasants and children in poor countries, not to mention “their own” young men (mostly) and women were dying – in Vietnam, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Latin America, etc.

These war criminals, a long list of Dems and Repugs — why not their paymasters? — continue to buy bargain basement politicians, “journalists “(really scriveners of power) and “intellectuals” to do their bidding.  They will prepare for the disastrous world they have created by grabbing up property in remote areas safe from nuclear war (are there any?) and tuning up their rockets to escape into space.

Our plutocratic propagandists have been slamming Putin non-stop. Let me add my seemingly obligatory condemnation.  I wish the Russian oligarchs and their leader Putin nothing but destruction.  But this will be the job of the Russian working people, not our blood-soaked oligarchs.  This is what I also wish for the rest of the world’s destructive greed-balls who would risk all our lives for their continued power and aggrandizement.  It may turn out that these people will obliterate themselves.  Unfortunately, they are likely to take large numbers of the rest of us with them.

Let me suggest that the people in the world who have the most to gain and the least to lose from organizing to eliminate the dominance of corporate capital are way overdue to put together a real democratically driven world -wide upheaval that can unite all the world’s vast majority. Democracy = majority rule by the people without whom nothing gets done: workers, students, and all honest people who want to see an end to the endless wars and destruction of the environment that have been until now perpetrated with impunity by the world’s oligarchies.


(Chuck Churchill is an author at Counter Punch where this story was first published.)