equality

The world’s most unequal country

What’s the world’s most unequal country? Any guesses?

According to Credit Suisse, it’s Russia:

Russia has the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, apart from small Caribbean nations with resident
billionaires. Worldwide, there is one billionaire for every USD 170 billion in household wealth; Russia has one for every USD 11 billion. Worldwide, billionaires collectively account for 1%–2% of total household wealth; in Russia today 110 billionaires own 35% of all wealth.
The vast majority of Russians have little to their names – over 90% have less than $10,000, meaning there is a huge gap between the haves and the have nots. It is, ironically, the complete opposite of the communist ideals that Russia would have held a generation ago. It’s swung from one extreme to the other. Somewhere in the middle there’s a medium to be found. Let’s hope the next generation of Russians find it.
russia inequality
This graph is from Business Insider, who contrast it with the US.

5 comments

  1. Would like to think that a middle ground could be found to even up the enormous greed gap between those that have and those that have not-frankly I fear to make any progress in such a direction will envolve a return to communism accompanied by massive civil unrest- When injustice becomes law-rebellion becomes duty.

    1. Why would progress in that direction mean a return to communism? Every other country on earth is managing to do better, and the number of them doing so under a communist system can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

  2. Let’s be clear about the term ‘communism’ and Russian history. Russia has been wretchedly unequal since at least the 1930s. The difference was that, after Lenin, it was the bureaucrats, also known as the ‘nomenklatura’, who were the power-holders. They were a ruling class just like the oligarchs today.

    ‘Communism’ refers to a society where the law of value does not exist because the system of production is planned democratically by those who work. Socialism is theoretically an intermediate stage where the state still exists but the means of production (tools, technology, workplaces, etc.) are controlled by the workers. Realistically, Russia was never able to establish socialism. In large part, this is because it was invaded by the Allied countries in 1918. The war lasted four years, killed two-thirds of the working population, and left the country destitute so the soviets (workers’ councils) spent most of their time discussing how hungry they were rather than planning a new democratic economy. Shortly after the end of the war, Lenin died and Stalin took power. Under Stalin, the senior bureaucrats filled the vacant position of the private owners of production (the ‘bourgeoisie’) and he suppressed any opposition. Then when the USSR collapsed, the nomenklatura used their political connections to buy up all the privatised industries at bargain basement prices.

    So, yes, Russians are looking for something that’s not Stalinism or robber baron capitalism but it’s the same old rotten elite that have ruled since Stalin. Therefore, what really needs to happen is to get rid of them. To make inequality history, the system of industry needs to be brought under popular control so that the surplus people produce can be divided fairly and the country can adequately plan for the future. The main reason Putin is so popular is because he nationalised the oil supply and has used the windfall to invest in the economy. However, a powerful state is clearly a poor substitute for democratic control. In reality, Russians want and need an economic democracy as well as a parliamentary one – and that is the one thing the oligarchs will resist the most.

    1. Good points. Communism has always been an ideal that communist countries have never lived up to, and Russian history demonstrates that very clearly.

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