From Slogan-communism to Slogan-democracy

With “perestroika” the leading Russian elite moved from Communism as ideologically based power over the population (as justifying the factual socio-economic inequality) to the ideology of money-power of the rich over poor. Soon after, with their “conservative revolution” (from Newt Gingrich to Bush Jr.), American decision-makers moved from the principle of money-power to the principle of a much more money-power. The politico-cultural changes in both countries were moving in the same direction – along the same road covered with banknotes and golden coins.

The basic reason the Soviet high-ups decided to change the ideological leverage of their power (from belief in communism to belief in money) is very similar with why American neo-conservatives today try to get rid of the “government spending” that brought material prosperity to American masses, and of democratic freedoms even for the people on the bottom of social pyramid. This reason is that the American liberal Democracy and Soviet Communism were systems incapable of providing for the American and Russian ruling elites the same opportunities as the possession of money-power can, that both systems were “poisoned” and “weakened” by “idealistic” humanistic phraseology, by a humanism (in Russia a completely fake one and in US halfhearted and not fully effective).

The ideology of money is a much more effective tool for developing power over the population than ideology based on conceptual beliefs. The power of communist ideology, for example, had to be completed by a permanent control over people’s believing function, and this makes ideologically based power obviously despotic, obviously anti-humanist and anti-democratic. The power of American liberal democracy, on the other hand, obliges the financial elite to share the wealth with “people” and can function only with a generous financing of public education which the elite “instinctively” tries to subdue.

But the money-based power, on the contrary, is less visible, is selective and matter-of-factly. It looks natural, it naturalizes inequality. It looks like a Hollywood or pop-music super-star. Power of social domination through money doesn’t need to persuade people to believe in money. It doesn’t care about this belief or its absence. Everybody already dreams about money but only a handful is rewarded by the buck of money-luck. In reality money is not a smaller despot and tyrant than communist belief, but it talks to people with a pleasant language of ownership, possession, consumption, self-realization, and of prosperity not in the future, like communist belief, but today. The power of money looks axiomatic and talks in a populist slang. While the both types of power need a police force to enforce people’s obedience to the iron rule of social hierarchy and factual inequality, direct repressive force enforcing ideological belief (in communism) is permanently needed while under the rule of money it can be needed only in exceptional circumstances when the exhausted and infuriated population starts to rebel against the extreme pauperization (like the recent protest movement against Mubarak regime in Egypt).

After the lessons of 20th – 21st centuries it looks that in front of our eyes the historic evolution of socio-economic power is taking place from a purely ideological power (based on certain conceptual belief) to a more effective – money-power (socio-economic power through and by money). Believing as a psychological function is anarchic – it is very difficult to control what people believe in. But money is a material (not just based on image) metaphor of survival. It is, so to speak, a survival in action, the very matter of survival, something like the blood of survival. Money is a pop-metaphor, indeed, metonymy of survival and of material happiness in general. As material happiness is a “de-mythologized” version of happiness, private wealth is de-mythologized version of belief in salvation.

If the power of communist belief is direct and immediately identifiable as power, the power of money naturally and effectively positions itself as not power at all but as a natural state of affairs. Belief talks to non-believers with the language of commands, while money’s appeal is that of the notorious Serpent, Apple and Eve. Those who don’t have money still perceive it as a dreamable delight. But if you have money you become a hero not only for those who also have it but even more so for those who don’t have enough. Power through belief demands the untiring fist but power through money functions by controlling the political decision-making through lobbying law-makers and manipulating political speech by financing campaigns for politicians’ re-elections and right wing talk-show hosts’ hate-mongering.

If you have money power you are infused with a lot of public money – to enjoy, to multiply, to invest in your expanding power, to use national army to defend your financial interests in the world. You pay less and less taxes but get more and more money, and your voice in deciding the present and future of the country becomes more and more influential, solid and weighty.

Yes, Russian Communists learned a lot from Ronald Reagan – mainly, that real power is not the one you can get through controlling the ideological belief but power you get through possessing money and getting control over where and how it is spent. That’s why today the sons and grandsons of the leading Soviet Communists are corporate oligarchs and business tycoons.