zizek2_Chris McGrathGetty Images_ukraine bucha war Chris McGrath/Getty Images

War in a World that Stands for Nothing

Vladimir Putin’s war engine is being sustained not just by European payments for Russian oil and gas but also by a complicit class of “lumpen-bourgeoisie” motivated solely by the trappings of material wealth. Ukrainians, and everyone else, are learning the hard way how global capitalism trumps democracy and human rights.

LJUBLJANA – The so-called oligarchs in Russia and other ex-communist countries are a bourgeois counterpart to what Marx called the lumpen-proletariat: an unthinking cohort susceptible to political manipulation because its members have no class consciousness or revolutionary potential of their own. Unlike the proletariat, however, the lumpen-bourgeoisie who emerged in these countries from the late 1980s onward control capital – lots of it – thanks to wild “privatization” of state-owned assets.

An exemplary case is Rok Snežič, a collaborator and friend of Slovenia’s right-wing prime minister, Janez Janša. An “independent tax adviser,” Snežič helps Slovene companies redomicile in the lower-tax jurisdiction of Republika Srpska (the Serb part of Bosnia and Herzegovina). He apparently has no private possessions, and he has erased his own past tax bills by declaring bankruptcy.

Yet Snežič also cruises around in new luxury cars and has the means to pay for jumbo billboard ads. He is officially employed by a company owned by his wife, where he receives a monthly salary of €37,362 ($40,346) in cash.

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