Mon Dec 10, 2012, 05:58 PM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
Meet the Global Ruling Class
Making economics and politics appear separate is one of the chief characteristics of capitalism as a system of class rule... But it is how politics is manifested AS economics and economics AS politics that should concern us especially right now...Today a general strike is paralyzing Portugal, as workers there protest the... cuts... that are essential parts of the austerity program approved last week to please the Troika (IMF, European Central Bank and EU Commission). Fitch announced this afternoon that is downgrading Portugal’s bonds to junk status...In the streets of Cairo clashes have taken place.... Standard and Poor just cut Egypt’s sovereign bond ratings “deeper into junk status”...
The message is: bond ratings are a reflection of how well a local government successfully suppresses working class and popular revolt. That is lesson 1... Lesson 2: The downgraded bond rating is also intended to back that government up in suppressing such opposition, by limiting options... This has been very much the point of externally-imposed austerity programs for more than 30 years...
Lesson 3: “market” is an abstraction. What it abstracts is a set of identifiable players, fewer than it might seem at first, since the concerted, coordinated or simply coincidental actions of a few very large banks and investors can make a huge difference...when concentrated on a single country. This leads to Lesson 4: There is an increasingly united, increasingly global ruling class, who act collectively through a set of institutions that I call, using that classes’ own phrase... “global governance”.... These actors, though distinct, not always in perfect agreement and coming from different points of view at times, are nevertheless part of the same overall division of labor ...for capital: they constitute, in their ensemble as global governance a political force, a political party of sorts if you like, able to act in concert, and whose general perspective will be similar as a result of the elite socialization process that serves to unite the private and public sector, the national and global organization actors into a single class. How else to explain why Obama, Mandela and his successors, Lula and others... end up carrying out the same essential policies...?
So Lesson 5, summing up what we have learned: whenever you see economics, especially when it seems to be neutral, professional, technocratic...you are watching politics happen, class politics. And it is not happening either as a result of impersonal, diffuse market forces, but because there are organized class forces making it happen...
5 replies, 902 views
Meet the Global Ruling Class (Original post)
Response to HiPointDem (Original post)
Mon Dec 10, 2012, 06:27 PM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
1. Globalization and the transnational capitalist class
A transnational capitalist class (TCC) has emerged as that segment of the world bourgeoisie that represents transnational capital, the owners of the leading worldwide means of production as embodied in the transnational corporations and private financial institutions. The spread of TNCs, the sharp increase in foreign direct investment, the proliferation of mergers and acquisitions across national borders, the rise of a global financial system, and the increased interlocking of positions within the global corporate structure, are some empirical indicators of the transnational integration of capitalists.
The TCC manages global rather than national circuits of accumulation. This gives it an objective class existence and identity spatially and politically in the global system above any local territories and polities.
The TCC became politicized from the 1970s into the 1990s and has pursued a class project of capitalist globalization institutionalized in an emergent transnational state apparatus and in a "Third Way" political program.
The emergent global capitalist historic bloc is divided over strategic issues of class rule and how to achieve regulatory order in the global economy. Contradictions within the ruling bloc open up new opportunities for emancipatory projects from global labor.
Response to HiPointDem (Reply #1)
Mon Dec 10, 2012, 06:50 PM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
2. The Global 1%: Exposing the Transnational Ruling Class
Foremost among the early works on the idea of an interconnected 1 percent within global capitalism was Leslie Sklair's 2001 book, The Transnational Capitalist Class. Sklair believed that globalization was moving transnational corporations (TNC) into broader international roles, whereby corporations' states of orgin became less important than international argreements developed through the World Trade Organization and other international institutions. Emerging from these multinational corporations was a transnational capitalist class, whose loyalities and interests, while still rooted in their corporations, was increasingly international in scope...
The transnational capitalist class can be analytically divided into four main fractions: (i) owners and controllers of TNCs and their local affiliates; (ii) globalizing bureaucrats and politicians; (iii) globalizing professionals; (iv) consumerist elites (merchants and media). . . . It is also important to note, of course, that the TCC and each of its fractions are not always entirely united on every issue. Nevertheless, together, leading personnel in these groups constitute a global power elite, dominant class or inner circle in the sense that these terms have been used to characterize the dominant class structures of specific countries.
Estimates are that the total world's wealth is close to $200 trillion, with the US and Europe holding approximately 63 percent....As of 2010, the top 1 percent of the wealthist people in the world had hidden away between $21 trillion to $32 trillion in secret tax exempt bank accounts spread all over the world. Meanwhile, the poorest half of the global population together possesses less than 2 percent of global wealth...Global grain production yielded a record 2.3 billion tons in 2007, up 4 percent from the year before—yet, billions of people go hungry every day. Grain.org describes the core reasons for ongoing hunger... while farmers grow enough food to feed the world, commodity speculators and huge grain traders like Cargill control global food prices and distribution. Addressing the power of the global 1 percent—identifying who they are and what their goals are—are clearly life and death questions.
It is also important to examine the questions of how wealth is created, and how it becomes concentrated. Historically, wealth has been captured and concentrated through conquest...Once acquired, wealth can then be used to establish means of production, such as the early British cotton mills, which exploit workers' labor power to produce goods whose exchange value is greater than the cost of the labor... Organized business hires workers who are paid below the value of their labor power. The result is the creation of what Marx called surplus value, over and above the cost of labor. The creation of surplus value allows those who own the means of production to concentrate capital even more. In addition, concentrated capital accelerates the exploition of natural resources by private entrepreneurs—even though these natural resources are actually the common heritage of all living beings.
In this article, we ask: Who are the the world's 1 percent power elite? And to what extent do they operate in unison for their own private gains over benefits for the 99 percent...?
The Extractor Sector: The Case of Freeport-McMoRan (FCX)...
Freeport-McMoRan's Board of Directors
The Investment Sector: The Case of BlackRock, Inc.
BlackRock's Board of Directors
Other Key Figures and Corporate Connections within the Highest Levels of the Global Economic "Super Entity"
Response to HiPointDem (Reply #2)
Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:30 PM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
4. The global ruling class: Billion-dollar babies
The rise of nation states produced national ruling classes. It would be odd if the current integration of the world economy did not produce new global elites—business people and financiers who run global companies and global politicians who steer supra-national organisations such as the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund.
David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues that these elites constitute nothing less than a new global “superclass”. They have all the clubby characteristics of the old national ruling classes, but with the vital difference that they operate on the global stage, far from mere national electorates.
They attend the same universities (Mr Rothkopf calculates that Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago are now the world's top three superclass producers). They are groomed in a handful of world-spanning institutions such as Goldman Sachs. They belong to the same clubs—the Council on Foreign Relations in New York is a particular favourite—and sit on each other's boards of directors. Many of them shuttle between the public and private sectors. They meet at global events such as the World Economic Forum at Davos and the Trilateral Commission or—for the crème de la crème—the Bilderberg meetings or the Bohemian Grove seminars that take place every July in California.
Mr Rothkopf makes a fascinating tour of the world of the superclass. He opens the door to the office of the head of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, on the top floor of Goldman's tower on New York's Broad Street. He visits the factory that customises Gulfstream jets (every year nearly 10% of Gulfstream's clients attend Davos). He calls on the Carlyle Group where financiers and former presidents get together to make each other richer. And he offers a tour of the weird proceedings of the Bohemian Grove meetings, which Richard Nixon described as “the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine...”
“Superclass” is a pioneering study of a subject that has often been the preserve of conspiracy theorists. Mr Rothkopf is anything but a crank, and he is right when he says that, these days, the most influential people around the world are also the most global people.
Response to HiPointDem (Reply #4)
Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:36 PM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
5. The global ruling class
The annual Merrill Lynch Cap Gemini World Wealth Report is a serious study of liquid, investable wealth held by the richest people on the planet: the High Net Worth Individuals who have at least $1m liquid wealth, and the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals who have at least $30m, both "excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables". As such it constitutes an invaluable starting point for understanding who the ruling class are, where they live and how they hold their wealth. This is from the 2010 wealth report (I'm afraid there doesn't appear to be a working online file...):
The global HNWI population nevertheless remains highly concentrated. The U.S., Japan and Germany still accounted for 53.5% of the world’s HNWI population at the end of 2009, down only slightly from 54.0% in 2008. Australia became the tenth largest home to HNWIs, after overtaking Brazil, due to a considerable rebound.
After losing 24.0% in 2008, Ultra-HNWIs saw wealth rebound 21.5% in 2009. At the end of 2009, Ultra-HNWIs accounted for 35.5% of global HNWI wealth, up from 34.7%, while representing only 0.9% of the global HNWI population, the same as in 2008.
The total liquid wealth of the rich in 2009, at $39 trillion, was actually more than two-thirds of world GDP in the same year, almost triple the GDP of the US, and nearly ten times that of China. Another way of looking at it is that the increase in liquid assets from 2008 to 2009 held by the rich was about $6.5 trillion, more than 10% of total GDP in 2009. This was in a year in which world GDP actually shrank...
Most of the new wealth held by the rich was, as you can see, not produced by economic growth, but by stock market capitalisation. In other words, market relations, sustained by state intervention, facilitated the transfer of wealth from the working class to the rich at a time when most of the world's economy was such that the direct exploitation of labour could not sustain high profit rates. That's what the bail-outs did; it's what they were intended to do. Another intended consequence is that there were not only more high net worth individuals, 10 million of them globally (0.014% of the world's population), but the 'ultras' did far better at increasing their share of liquid assets than mere millionaires - thus wealth became even more concentrated than it had been, among a mere 36,300 people, or 0.0005% of the population.
The corollary of this has been, and will continue to be, a general decline in the living standards of the working class in most of the advanced capitalist economies: at the same time as the wealth of the richest grew, global unemployment rose by 14.4%...