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Mohammed Bin Salman: The Unlikely Anti-Oligarchic Bolshevik?

In the heart of petro-capitalism, a revolution is not being televised.

The young leader devised a brilliant strategy to capture the corrupt Saudi elite and potentially seize billions of dollars’ worth of their assets in an historically unprecedented transfer of wealth from private pockets to public socio-economic programs on the centenary of the Russian Revolution.

What happened over the weekend in Saudi Arabia wasn’t just a “deep state” coup or counter-coup (depending on one’s angle), but a brilliant plan straight out of the movies where an up-and-coming young leader disrupts the entire power structure in his country by jailing its top oligarchs and then redistributing their wealth to the masses via ambitious socio-economic programs.

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had to make sure that all of the targeted individuals were in the capital at the same time, which would ordinarily be very difficult to do considering that most of them likely have foreign penthouses and other better priorities than to come together on a random occasion for a cup of tea in the Kingdom.

Considering that he was dealing with oligarchs, however, Mohammed Bin Salman knew that the best way to get them all in one spot was to appeal to their inner greed, and that’s exactly what the recent tech-investment forum in Riyadh accomplished.

Now famous for having been the scene of such headline-grabbing news events as the Crown Prince’s promise to “return to moderate Islam” and “swiftly deal a blow to extremist ideologies”, his announcement of the half-a-trillion-dollar NEOM futuristic city project, and the quirky bestowment of citizenship to a talking female robot, this event also accomplished a more practical objective in drawing all of the country’s oligarchs to the capital where they evidently remained for the past two weeks to follow through on new business deals associated with Mohammed Bin Salman’s ambitious Vision 2030 socio-economic reform program.

The rest is history, but should be seen not only as a muscle-flexing power play by a young future ruler eager to prove his worth on the world stage and anxious to root out all possible internal plots against him, but also as an unprecedented act of populism in jailing some of the world’s most famous oligarchs.

With all due respect to Presidents Putin, Xi, and Trump, none of them have yet to give their masses what they’re craving for in the sense of arresting scores of presumably corrupt and filthy rich individuals, the freezing of their bank accounts, confiscation of their property, and possible redistribution of their wealth if the courts predictably find that some of it was illegally obtained.

Never before in history has one man stood up to so many oligarchs and threatened to take billions of dollars of their wealth, representing a modern-day Robin Hood of sorts regardless of the self-interested “Game of Thrones” reasons behind his decisive move.

In the course of just a few hours, untold billions of dollars effectively landed in Mohammed Bin Salman’s lap, which can be seen as either the world’s largest-ever robbery or its most renegade act of populism, but regardless of the interpretation, the presumed billions that the Crown Prince will likely end up seizing for his government will probably be reinvested in the country through Vision 2030 projects.

Looked at in this way, Mohammed Bin Salman is essentially trying to nationalize billions of dollars of private oligarch wealth in order to subsidize his socio-economic programs, which interestingly carries with it a whiff of communism on almost the exact centenary date of the Russian Revolution.

That’s not to say that the Crown Prince himself or the monarchic system that he presides over is communist, as they’re anything but, though just that it’s unavoidable to compare this in the structural sense to the many communist revolutions of the past century where the state took control of such large amounts of private wealth.

If anything, Mohammed Bin Salman’s forceful tactics and the looming threat that the detainees might be executed for what basically amounts to political and power-grabbing reasons strongly carry with them shadows of the Bolshevik takeover of Russia, with it beginning to look like the young Saudi is actually more of a young Stalin.

In all seriousness though, the Crown Prince is still the de-facto leader of an oil-exporting Gulf Monarchy that aspires to use seized oligarchic wealth to jumpstart a capitalist revolution in his feudal Kingdom, funded to a large degree by the $130 billion of deals clinched with the communist Chinese over the past year, but comparing his anti-oligarchic strategy and Bolshevik-like tactics to the Russian Revolution results in some thought-provoking, if not somewhat entertaining, imagery.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

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