Rentier Capitalism and Class Warfare in Kazakhstan

Blame ‘free’ market reforms that benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of the working class for the country’s recent protests.

The recent protests in oil-rich Kazakhstan have highlighted the devastating effects of rent extraction. The country’s largest sellers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), including KazMunaiGas, Kazgermunai, CNPC-AktobeMunaiGas and Kazakhoil, have been accused by the government of increasing fuel prices by abusing their oligopoly power. When the state lifted its price cap on LPG at the start of 2022, the market price doubled within a couple of days. The impact was immediately felt by poor and vulnerable sections of Kazakhstani society, which relied on the commodity for heating and vehicles.

Ultimately, the price hike was a violent attempt by powerful oil corporations to extract rent – they knew that most of the population had no alternative but to pay up or go without. Akin to social historian EP Thompson’s moral economy of the 18th-century English crowd that rioted against soaring food prices, Kazakhstan’s working class revolted against the market price and the injustice of the ‘free’ market.

— source | Balihar Sanghera, Elmira Satybaldieva | Jan 19, 2022

Nullius in verba


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