Thursday, October 7, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Russia ‘a Company Not a Country’ -- Like Europe’s East India Companies Were -- Moscow Analyst Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, October 7 – The dismissal of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov highlights the fact that “there is no Russia,” a Moscow analyst argues. Instead, “there is only a Sovietoid copy which has been converted into the RF Corporation,” something everyone involved needs to recognize in order not to continue to pay a high price for making a mistake on this point.
In an essay posted on the portal, Aleksey Shornikov says that “the Russian Federation is not a state, although it dresses itself up in the clothes of a power. The RF is instead a commercial company or as it can be expressed in terms familiar to us, ‘RF Inc.’” (
According to Shornikov, “the various European East Indian companies” prefigured the form that RF Inc. has taken since 1991. The most famous of these was the British one in India, a public-private partnership chartered by the king that performed many of the functions of a state but was organized and acted like a corporation pursuing profit.
Moreover, the British East India Company colonized that territory in two ways. On the one hand, its top managers directly ruled much of the population, while on the other, the corporation concluded agreements, “the so-called subsidiary treaties,” with Indian rulers usually called maharajahs.
In all this, Shornikov continues, what is interesting for present purposes is that “the colonization of India [under the East India Company] took place on the money of the Hindus themselves, was paid for by Hindu labor, and washed with Hindu blood!” But in the end, London disbanded the company for its shortcomings and introduced direct royal rule.
All this has been recapitulated during the Soviet period and since in what is now RF Inc., he says. Because of the enormous losses the USSR absorbed in fighting World War II, the Soviet system as an historical project was really finished in 1941, but the wealth of the territory allowed it to limp along for another half-century.
Throughout this period, there were various attempts to reorder life in the USSR, from Khrushchev with his planting of corn to Mikhail Gorbachev with his preference for the Swedish form of socialism. But others in the nomenklatura didn’t want that, seeing it as a threat to their power and wealth. And so they chose the variant of “wild capitalism.”
Indeed, these nomenklaturshchiki were so intent on gaining profit that they were prepared to sacrifice the Russian people and even the entire Soviet project on the basis of the principle: “The Moor has done his work; the Moor can go.” And they organized into what were formally countries but in reality were corporations, from Russia to the other former Soviet republics.
At first, some people dreamed of a “USSR-2, Inc.” but that idea died with the October 1993 clash between the RF Supreme Soviet and RF President Boris Yeltsin. And consequently by the end of that year, he says, “the present political system of a Sovietoid type” took shape, one directed at “the total theft of the former Soviet property.”
RF Inc., he continues, “has all the signs of a commercial enterprise:” its founding agreement, its rules of operation, its managers, its workers, its internal accounting system (the ruble), its “corporate ideology,” and its top managers who have a certain independent standing because of the large number of shareholders.”
The corporation’s basic profits, Shornikov says, come from the sale abroad of natural resources like oil, gas, timber and the like. Some of those profits have to be used to build roads and other infrastructure needed to export more and earn more profits for the corporation. Thos projects “are not for You, Indians or Hindus.” They are for the top managers.
Like most corporations, RF Inc. deals with other corporations – in this case Ukraine Inc. and the like – and sets up “daughter” corporations to take care of certain tasks that RF Inc. needs performed but would like to have handled by a nominally independent agent such as FSB Inc. or the RF Army Inc.
Moreover, again like all corporations, RF Inc. is internally divided with such subordinate “daughter companies” as Moscow Inc., Daghestan Inc., and so on. RF Inc. retains ownership of these “daughter” companies and deals with them as any corporation would with the daughter corporations it has established.
Corporations, even RF Inc., are not immortal. They come into existence and pass out of existence, and RF Inc. may pass away either because of a conflict with China, because of the independent actions of those the corporation controls, or because of outside assistance to those individuals and groups allowing them to displace the corporation.
Which path RF Inc. will follow is difficult to say, Shornikov continues, but he insists that the current RF Inc. elite is hardly committed to its survival if the corporation ceases to be profitable. Its members send their money and children abroad, behave like occupiers, and their Russian means nothing: Administrators of the British East India Company spoke Hindi.
In sum, the commentator says, “we live in RF Inc. We do not have a motherland in the form of a state. Russia was killed by the Bolsheviks in1917. And Russia did not arise in 1991. Instead, RF Inc. appeared.” Russians must take off their “rose colored glasses” and face this harsh reality.
There has not been a Russia “for more than 90 years. RF Inc. “is not Russia, but a commercial enterprise.” In fact, the Moscow commentator says, “RF is a large Soviet collective farm – and no more than that,” however much many of the people who live within it would like to believe otherwise.”

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