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Brezhnev: Who runs capitalism?

Last night I and several other assorted bloggers and Samizdatistas dined at Chateau Perry, at a gathering hosted by Jackie D. The guest of honour was Mr Squander 2. Of course we all asked after Mrs and Baby Squander 2, and the good news is that mother and child are doing much better.

For me the most memorable thing that got said last night was when Mr Squander 2 told of how, during the Brezhnev era, poor old Mr Brezhnev apparently consumed an annoyingly large amount of Soviet and in particular KGB man hours trying to get various of his minions to answer for him the question: “Who runs capitalism?”

Presumably so that they could take him/her/it out, in some way or another, and score a cheap and quick victory in the Cold War, although sadly that wasn’t part of the story as told last night.

Or, maybe the idea was for Brezhnev then to able to sit down with this controlling mastermind, and to ask him/her/it: “How can we do it?”

Knowing the damn Bolsheviks, it could well have been both. First find out how they do it, then kill or enslave them all, starting where it makes most sense, with whoever is in charge.

Anyway, (1): Heh. And (2) does anyone know anything more about this? I tried googling: Brezhnev “Who runs capitalism?”, but that yielded nothing. It is such a great story that it is the kind of thing people believe because they want to believe it. I know I want to. But, is there any truth in it?

18 comments to Brezhnev: Who runs capitalism?

  • veryretired

    As it was a basic tenet of the faith that there was an amoral Wall street cabal operating behind the scenes controlling everything, I suppose the story is possibly true, at least to some extent.

    Also, as a projection, it would not be unusual for the leader of a top down, secretive ruling system to imagine there was a similar structure operating on the other side.

    In a similar mode, there is a story of Kruzchev’s visit to New York, during which he staged the infamous shoe pounding display at the UN. Reportedly, he was stunned by the volume of traffic he could see on the streets of Manhatten, and convinced that Pres. Kennedy had ordered all the cars in the US to come to New York for that week, just to impress him.

    It was impossible to convince him otherwise, apparently, and he recalled several intelligience people from their posts in NY for failing to uncover this plot and warn him about it.

    I remember reading about this in Time or some such awhile after the visit, but can’t vouch for its veracity.

    God, I’m glad that horrible monstrosity no longer exists. When the Soviet empire collapsed, it was just like being a cancer patient and hearing the doctor say the tumors had mysteriously shrunk. It might not have been VE day, but it was damned close.

  • Chris Harper

    On a lesser note, but similar concept,

    In a discussion about language with my Russian wife to be, the topic of the French Academy and its Russian equivalent was raised. When she asked me about the equivalent English organisation, she flatly refused to believe me when I said there was no body charged with the legal authority to control and regulate the language. She couldn’t comprehend that a language could maintain itself without such controllers. And this from someone who spoke seven languages, including perfect English and who had already been living in London for six years.

    The idea of the need for control can run very deep.

  • Billll

    Reportedly someone on the scene admitted to Kruzchev that we _had_ brought all those cars in from all over the country, but that the really hard part was to bring in all the really tall buildings.

    Someone should have givin him a copy of the game “iluminati”.
    Oh yes, it hadn’t been invented yet.

  • Who runs capitalism?

    The Jooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooos!!!

    Of course. Who else?

  • James

    It sounds like he might have been asking in order to define it.

    Have a look at the Brezhnev Doctrine.


    Just a brief thought.

  • The fact that there is no absolute and inflexible power structure to capitalism is a large part of why they hate it.

  • The Jooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooos!!!

    According to the usual idiots, the following is a description of the Elders of Zion:

    “Three hundred men, each of whom knows all the others, govern the fate of the European continent, and they elect their successors from their entourage.”

    Wait a minute… I thought the limit for a group of human beings knowing all the others was 150…

  • Ian

    In uni I heard a great a great story about some high-up Soviet economic functionary who was taken on a tour of one of the public markets in London. He spent an hour walking around the place and looking at the stalls, and then asked his hosts “How are prices set at this market?” The hosts then went into a little lecture: there *are* no set prices, the free market, competition, supply and demand, etc. After listening to their speech, the Soviet guy smiled indulgently, waved his hand dismissively and said “Gentlemen, I know this is the official line, but tell me: How are the prices set at this market?”

    Even late into the perestroika era, many Soviet economic planners with economics degrees had never seriously studied the free market and had no theoretical or practical grasp of these principles. It was more convenient for them to assume that all this “free market” talk was just a cover for a planned economic system much like the one they were familiar with.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    I remember an anecdote about a Soviet economist after finding out that the price of milk was set according to protein content complaining that they should be setting the price according to fat content like they do in America.

    He obviously hasn’t read his Adam Smith, everyone knows it is the man with the invisible hand that runs capitalism.

  • If it’s any help in tracking down the source, I’m pretty sure I read it on National Review. I’d guess it was probably Jonah Goldberg, but maybe not.

  • damaged justice

    Visitor: “Take me to your leader.”

    American: “That sumbitch ain’t been born yet.”

  • I thought the price of milk in the U.S. was set according to the distance from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

    Capitalism has surpassed socialism even in the field of irrelevance of regulations.

  • Tatyana

    Brian, I think it’s one of the old, bearded Soviet-era jokes. Sort of like these .

  • Tatyana: thanks for the link, it took me some 40 years back. Weird translation though: they kept calling Rabinovitch “a man”:-P

  • Tatyana

    Yeah, I noticed that, too.
    “Jew” is still a word to wisper, apparently.

  • I remember in the 1980’s my wife and I were privileged to host some Soviet athletes who were touring this country. One of our guests was a figure skater. Sorry, can’t remember her name. Another guest was an Olympic wrestler named Soslan Andiev. Soslan I remember. I remember him standing in our driveway with the garage remote control in his hand. He would sip on his Budweiser while making the garage door open and close and open and close and open and close. Even an elite Soviet athlete (Soslan was a two-time Gold Medal winner) couldn’t have something as magnificent as a remote garage door opener in the Soviet Union. Soslan also liked driving around Atlanta’s perimeter highway screaming “Budweiser” with a strong Russian accent on the CB. Great guy.

    There was one other guest in our home. She was billed as a “translator.” Her real role was to keep an eye on her prize subjects, Soslan and the figure skater. We later learned that she worked for the Soviet KGB.

    So .. why bring this up in a discussion of general aviation? Here’s why. One afternoon I asked Soslan if he would like to go for a plane ride. He thought I meant a commercial airliner. “No,” I told him, “we’ll go in a private small airplane. Just you and me.”

    You should have seen the look on the “translator’s” face. There was no way in hell she was going to let this man get in a small airplane with me. “Permits!” she said. “You must have permits!”

    “No.” I told her. “No permits. I just need a pilot’s license. No big deal.”

    “This cannot be permitted! You must have permits. You just can’t fly anywhere you want without permits!”

    The concept of freedom was so foreign to this woman that she simply could not fathom the idea that a mere citizen could get into an airplane and just take off .. all without a specific permit for that flight, and all without telling anyone where you are going to go.

    — Neal Boortz, HERE

  • murph

    I’ve that story before. Apparently, he dispatched teh KGB to find and exterminate the cabal which controlled the economic system.

    Reminds me of a taxi ride I once took in London in the late ’90s. The first part of the conversation with the cab driver was about his flight from Afghanistan as a refugee from the Soviet army.

    Initially, I took pity on him.

    The second part of the conversation involved the driver ranting at me about how the world is controlled by 99 Jews. The 99 Jews were directing the UK, France, Russia and the US to take over Afghanistan and steal its gold. Of course, the Ayatollah Khomeini and King Fahd were also Zionist agents.

    No tip for you!

  • I think there are still a lot of politicians in Washington DC who are trying to find out who is running capitalism so they can kill it.

    Bill Garage Door Opener Reviews