Primakov, The Crisis

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Mon Sep 14 10:36:50 PDT 1998

The consensus of the financial press seems to be that Russia is heading in a "Soviet" direction with its latest government. This is nonsense, right?

I saw Boris Kagarlitsky at The Nation's office on Friday. He said, as usual, lots of interesting things.

First, he said it's thought that Kirienko was fired because he was preparing a list of nationalizations. Still, says BK, it's likely that some nationalizations will happen - likely Gazprom, oil, vodka (which would solve the budget problem), airlines, military industries. I asked him about banks/finance - he said if there's anything left, they're candidates too - which, given their shareownership, would give the government effective control of the private sector (just like Lenin said). Neoliberalism is completely discredited, even among people who embraced it a month ago. In the provinces, local governments have taken over important enterprises that were either failing or incompetent, offering the possibility of a decentralized public ownership structure.

He was very high on the revamped Komsomol, which merges the old with the new very imaginatively; about half the leadership is female, and there's plenty of internal democracy and no reluctance to criticize the Communist Party. They see themselves as the heirs to the Soviet political culture of the early 20s. They have 24,000 members, the same as the Bolsheviks in March 1917, he said with a laugh.

Clinton just gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations calling for a world summit on the financial crisis. (He also said he wasn't pressing the Fed to lower interest rates.) Robert Rubin and Clinton's top domestic advisor, Gene Sperling, gave a press conference after the speech; Rubin seemed rather worried. He ducked a question on where Russia's last $4-5 billion from the IMF went, since the answer would have been it was squandered defending the ruble. Several reporters asked Monica questions; Rubin said that no finance minister has ever mentioned Clinton's sagging prestige to him, and Sperling added with nerdish eagernesss that Tony Blair had called in his support.

The Dow is up 231; Rubin's presence warms Wall Street's heart. The WSJ had a headline, "Crisis of the world bourgeoisie," on its op-ed page the other day.


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