Monday, August 01, 2005

Street snapshot of the Russian commodity economy in 2005

Nestle is everywhere in Russia, selling ice cream. But so are the competing Russian brands. Of course, Nestle is trying to capture the money spent already on ice cream here ... and bring the profits to 'Switzerland' where they are 'based' (but really, the profits go to their major stockholders). Nestle (and Danon, ADM etc.) are agressively sourcing from the Russian milk industry -- so Russian cows will soon be treated as badly as US cows --systems of abuse are very much 'prototyped in the US' by capitalism, prior to export.

Ice cream manufacturers in Russia, under this intense competition, will probably mostly sell out, to appease Nestle's desire to re-brand Russian ice cream ... if that hasn't happened already. Most of these 'native manufacturers', when they really are native, are the nouveau rich, broadly called oligarchs here, who stole the country's resources during Yelstin's great sell out. Ironically, many of them have swiss bank accounts ...

So, after having destroyed the Soviet economy through economic-political opportunism under Yelstin, the West is playing hardball, grabbing what resources they can ... in a never ending destructive cycle.

People seem to be very aware of Nestle's rapacious imperialist habits, and that of all these expanding Western companies, whether consumer-branded or not. But they seem pretty cynical about Russian companies too. "You can't trust what it says on the package!" some babushka advised us in a grocery store, about a Russian fruit juice. True of all modern production.

So is the answer in the villages? Is that where there's still some way to escape the insanity? Well, villages often have their petty oligarchs too now -- Lords, who mostly keep to themselves but, like those nobles of old, tend to treat normal people like dogs.

The answer: is in coalition, of course! The tools to solve the problems are there, and some are using them in Russia. The most we can do in the US, to help, is to stop the World Bank, and related programs, which endlessly fund destructive empire-building for the benefit of a few.


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