July 16, 2004 by AK

Neocons and Oligarchs


John Zmirak–a writer I sincerely respect–poured out this invective onto his adversaries in a speech last year (“Neocons or Vichy Cons?”):

America’s governing elites increasingly rule the American people as if they were an occupying army, dictating its ideology and imposing its raw power on a defeated, prostrate nation.

This maxim curiously reminds me of the rhetoric of the Russian anti-Yeltsin opposition in the 1990s–a mixed bag of crude blood-and-soilers, Communists-cum-nationalists, and sincere patriots. “Yeltsin’s occupation regime,” they would call it, “the rule of the anti-Russian comprador bourgeoisie, of the oligarchs.” Some would specify, “Jewish oligarchs.”


Purified from the animus and prejudice, their bitterness still captured a grain of truth. The oligarchs’ ethnic origin is not particularly important here; the alienation of the nation’s elites from the hoi polloi is.  It dates back–not to Brezhnev or Stalin years; certainly not to 1917, but to a time buried deep under the ages. There were times in Russian history when upward social movement was possible for millions, but those windows did not stay open long.


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