Written by Rosa Tressell and Dr. Leon Tressell exclusively for SouthFront
Oligarchy is a word derived from the Greek language. It means the rule of the few. We have come to associate it with rich Russian businessmen, but American society, behind the facade of democracy, has come more and more to resemble an Oligarchy. Oligarchs use their enormous influence to turn the country to benefit themselves to the exclusion of other members. A key characteristic of Oligarchy is that the relationships between the various Oligarchs forms the basis of rule.
Oligarchs tend to only associate with other Oligarchs. They see themselves as the movers and shakers of this world. They fund think tanks, lobbyists and develop proteges; all to steer politics to their benefit. This allows the majority to have little, if any real say in the body politic. As Winston Churchill once said;
”The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
Oligarchs have a superiority complex, and a belief that only in their hands can the best for their country be achieved. They have synonymised the countries interests with their own. This is the trick they use to convince the majority they work on behalf of all. Meanwhile, they siphon off wealth into their own pockets. This increases inequality and fuels the sense of an unjust society.
Oligarchy does have its weaknesses. An elite clan can become very insular looking. The can become divorced from the reality of day to day life and unable to respond to growing unhappiness levels. Their very lack of diversity and general conservative outlook can mean missed opportunities. New exciting developments, like the blockchain and cryptocurrencies for example, are seen as threatening to Oligarchical power, rather than embraced as liberating. Finally, Oligarchies are an anathema to free markets and free trade. Fixing is the order of the day, manipulation, insider trading, high levels of sycophancy and corruption.
Famous Oligarchies of history have included Sparta, the Roman Republic, the Venetian Republic and the British Empire. Plato viewed Oligarchy as “a constitution teeming with many ills”. One of these he identified as greed. He saw the ruling passion of Oligarchs as the accumulation and preservation of wealth. The transition to Oligarchy from other forms of rule is marked by the amassing of great private fortunes. Trends towards growing income inequality have been marked in the world especially over the last ten years. According to a report by Oxfam last year the world’s eight richest people have the same as the poorest 50%.
Much of the wealth, though, is hidden in our society. We can clearly see the influence of the Walton family and the Koch Brothers. Through political donations they openly seek to have laws passed in their favour. However, both the giant banking families, like the Rockefellers, and the remnants of the aristocracy are also owners of vast undisclosed wealth. Even companies like Forbes, that put these rich lists together, admit that the amounts used are on the low side. The admiration of the rich and worship of money becomes the essential heart of an Oligarchic society.
Of course Oligarchs are happy to rule and get along when the going is good. The Bilderberg meetings, exposed by the intrepid reporting of Daniel Estulin and Jim Tucker, are yearly gatherings where the wealthy elite meet to discuss an agenda of important topics in global finance and politics. Papers that have been subsequently released reveal discussions and resolutions for action way in advance of events. Bilderberg attendee Etienne Davignon admitted that the group was instrumental in setting up the Euro currency. In 2002 a discussion was held at the Bilderberg meeting to invade Iraq. In an article from 2008 the Bilderbergers discuss the global financial melt-down and rescue measures back in 2006. These, once secret, meetings clearly indicate an Oligarchical tendency.
In Russia today we can clearly see an Oligarchy, represented at their head by Putin. They are an entrenched ruling class that have evolved from the nomenklatura, or Communist bureaucrats, of the Soviet Union. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, Western business had hoped to enter Russia to steal and plunder her resources. However, they found that the Russians had already organised themselves into an Oligarchy capable of plundering their own nation’s wealth. The same process can be identified in China where previous state-owned enterprises, under the guiding hand of the old Communist ruling class, are transferred into the ownership of the new post-Communist ruling class. Who just happen to be the same people!
In ancient China Confucius stood up against Oligarchy. One of the main problems China faced in his time was the constant warfare driven by the private needs of the Chou dynasty. Confucius regarded many of the nobility as useless parasites and idlers. He promoted the ideas of education on the basis of ability and a government filled with advisers (to the leader) who served not feudal loyalty but answered to higher moral principles. Confucius stood in opposition to entrenched privilege, which Oligarchy maintains, and was opposed to the domination by a caste of rulers with no intrinsic merits of their own.
Machiavelli, who lived in Italy during the Renaissance period, wrote about the body politic. Drawing on his country’s history he wrote about the nobility living as he saw it on the abundant revenue derived from their estates, and called them pests in his Discourse on Livy. He was of the opinion though that class conflict between the rich few and the many have-nots was a good thing for political development. He identified five classes: feudal nobility; bankers and merchants; the middle class; poor urban mass; and the country peasant. The key was that one group’s power did not become excessive. Machiavelli believed that a healthy republic required a series of checks and balances.
The idea of a series of checks and balances was enshrined at the heart of the US Constitution. The American Founding Fathers were concerned with preventing Tyranny, but they were also aware of the dangers of Oligarchy. They attempted to form safeguards in the Constitution to prevent the US from falling prey to this type of rule. It can be summed up in the slogan, “Of the People, By the People, and For the People.” Have the Oligarchs now taken over the United States? More commentators, like Thomas Piketty in his book Capital in the Twenty First Century that have focused on the widening inequality gap, are drawing this conclusion. The US is being run by Oligarchs.
The word Oligarch, meaning rule of the few, came from the Ancient Greek civilisations that rose up in the millennia following the collapse of the mighty Egyptian Empire. The later period was named the Archaic and Classical periods which saw the emergence of Greek city states like Sparta which was founded about the 10th century BCE. Greece was the birthplace of Western philosophy and included the thinkers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In the works of Plato’s Republic, we can see the focus given to questions of political governments.
Sparta was ruled, unusually at this time, by a group of 28 powerful men plus two kings. This group of thirty was called the council of elders, or gerousia, and they drafted resolutions that were put to the vote of an assembly of “free” men. A board of five overseers, or ephors, chosen from the “free” men, was used to counterbalance the council. These elected ephors were charged with maintaining law, even if that meant charging an Oligarch. Spartan citizens themselves spent their time hunting, fighting and politicking. The lower orders, the workers, were excluded from government. It was their regular uprisings that seriously undermined Sparta’s fighting capacity. The Oligarchy is also a reason for Sparta’s reputation as a conservative city state slow to make decisions. They can be contrasted to their main rival Athens, who were at this time experimenting with democracy.
In 411 BCE after a 100 years of democracy there was a revolution in Athens. This eventually resulted in a Spartan victory over Athens and the imposition of rule by the “Thirty Tyrants”. Numerous atrocities were committed by this Oligarchy. They were overthrown some ten years later. Socrates, who taught some of the Oligarchs, was sentenced to death. An irony as Socrates believed that his teachings were available, freely, to everyone. His successor, Plato, developed a philosophy that fit the aristocratic outlook on the world. Their desire to turn their back on reality and deny the turbulence all around them. A philosophy that down played change in favour of stability. Later in Greek civilisation philosophy was to give way to the more popular astrology.
One of the main factors that undermined both the Spartan Oligarchy and the Athenian democracy was the growth of slavery. The same factors can be also be detected in Ancient Rome. Following Roman victories in the Carthaginian Wars there were vast tracts of land that required distributing. The Gracchus Brothers, Tiberius and Gaius, both high ranking nobles, began to argue for the civilisation of Rome’s Italian allies, and against slavery. In 133 BCE they proposed a series of far reaching land reforms aimed at creating independent farmers with citizenship rights and responsibilities. However, they met with fierce resistance by the patricians, or wealthy aristocrats.
The aristocrats saw the land reforms as an attack on their powers and so therefore on the Republic. Gracchus took their bill directly to the people, which further outraged the Senators. On the day of the vote, the rich landowners simply had the voting urns removed. The Gracchus brothers were persuaded to bring the matter before the Senate, but by this point the Oligarchs, about 2,000 wealthy families, had matters sewn up. Rome was now split between the Senate and the Popular Assembly.
The ruling Oligarchy, fearful of losing wealth and influence, accused Tiberius Gracchus of wanting to be a tyrant. Whilst publicly adopting a defensive stance to protect the Republic, they incited violence to bring down the tyrants. In 132 BCE Tiberius sought to be re-elected as tribune bust was set upon and killed by a group of Senators. Supporters of Tiberius were also hunted down and killed. However, this did not bring an end to the dispute. Gaius was then elected Tribune in 124 BCE and continued agitating for land reform. The Oligarchy was forced to buy peace with bribes. To pay for this they taxed the Italian countryside, which only resulted in an exodus to the cities, where more dispossessed added their voices to demands for change.
In both Sparta and the Roman Republic the Oligarchys were undermined by the dispossessed. It is an essential feature that Oligarchs siphon off wealth into their own pockets, leaving less for everyone else. They then use this power to keep the balance of forces in society stable and ripe for picking. The growth of cheap slave labour achieved by military victories benefited only the wealthy landowners. It only created the complete immiseration of the peasants and workers. Following the defeat of the Gracchus Brothers and their land reforms, Rome turned into a society where slavery was marginal to one supported by vast armies of slaves.
The world centre for oligarchism and monetarism from about 1100 to 1700 was the Venetian Republic. Unlike many of the Italian feudal city-states, Venice was dominated by Oligarchs from its inception as a trading and mercantile port. It was ruled by the Council of Ten, an all-powerful and secret body. It was also a strong state that publicly owned the ships which were then leased to the merchants and traders. The Oligarchs worked both to crush any commune sympathies and to prevent any Doge, or Duke, who would make themselves a tyrant/dictator.
In 1355 the oligarchy imposed their collective will over Doge Marin Faliero who was charged with attempting to overthrow the constitution in favour of the type of autonomy favoured by other Italian states at that time. In marshaling the support of the common people against the Venetian aristocrats he was accused of wanting to become a dictator. He was deposed and beheaded. The Oligarchs were keen to impress that the Doge was never above their law.
1527 there were about 2,700 patricians entitled to vote in the Grand Council. Many were so poor that they made their living from selling their vote. A feature of Oligarchy is that many deals are struck and compromises made. Many of these discussions took place at the Doge’s Palace. This type of intrigue and diplomacy became a way of life for the Oligarchs. The Doge meanwhile was subject to the same type of strict restrictions that those who were not Oligarchs faced. The average age of the Doge was around 70 as the Oligarchs feared the creation of strong dynasties that would challenge their collective rule. This did give the Venetian regime a certain old man feel, bordering on senility at times, and reinforcing a conservative outlook.
During the 1600s the wealthy Venetian bankers were backing and transferring their assets to the nascent British Empire. In addition they spread their ideas, as can be seen by the popularity of Paolo Sapri, the founder of modern empiricism, materialism and determinism. You can trace Sapri’s influence, and his successor, Antonio Conti in the works of Hobbes, Locke, Newton and later Bentham. Utilitarianism, a form of moral and ethnic arithmetic, became the centerpiece of the British Empire’s ideology. The trick, once again, of the Oligarchs was to present their own good as synonymous with the good for the maximum.
In 1705 a pamphlet of doggerel poetry was published that became the most talked about philosophical poem ever. Called the Fable of the Bees, Bernard Mandeville, put forward the idea that private vices such as greed and vanity result in publicly beneficial results. He focused his attention on self-interested passions:
“The desire to create a purely virtuous society was based on a vain UTOPIA seated in the Brain: fancying that a nation can, with virtues like honesty, attain great wealth and success, when in fact it is the desire to improve one’s material condition in acts of self-indulgence that lies at the heart of economic productivity (The Fable, Vol. I, pg. 36).
In Great Britain a profound respect emerged for money. Money for money’s sake too. The growth of the British Empire was largely driven by this pursuit, with the British East India Trading Company leading the charge, funded by the new financiers of the City of London. The monarchy was no longer one of absolute rule and Parliament represented the wealthiest people in the country exclusively. There has been a long history in Britain over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of movements to extend Parliamentary democracy. However, even today politics and governance is still dominated by an elite group with privileged backgrounds and selective education.
The singular pursuit of money enshrines an Oligarchical outlook on the world. Adopting the idea that improving ones own material condition will result in benefits for wider society justifies the selfish pursuit of wealth. It has been enshrined in the twentieth century as the American Way. This was given a huge boost by the huge post-war boom that saw unprecedented improvements for the mass of people in their living standards. However, through a booming middle class and a leaning to democracy from the outset, there was a lessening of Oligarchical influence in politics. However, Oligarchs in America have always been present, think of Forbes 400 and the Bostonian’s of Henry James. This is unsurprising given the close Anglo-American relations that existed.
Robert Michels, a German sociologist and pro-anarchist, wrote what he called the Iron Law of Oligarchy. In Political Parties he argued that organised bureaucracy always resulted in Oligarchy. He used for his study the socialist parties of Europe, arguing that the Oligarchical structures he found proved that it is an organic tendency which every organisation experiences. The more complex the more likely the tendency to Oligarchy. However, his theory that the socialist parties should be Oligarch free could be a faulty assumption. Democratic Centralism, as it is called, gives the appearance of democracy whilst in actuality a small elite group make the decisions. Is this the true nature of the complex society we live in today?
It is a stark reality today that we are living in a period of massive wealth disparity. This has only accelerated since the 2008 financial crisis. The richest 1% have seen their wealth increase on average by 6% a year, whilst the rest have averaged 3%. This increase is due to the money printing or QE that has been propping our economies up for the last decade. It has sent bond and stock markets soaring, as well as the continuation of inflated housing bubbles. Those who are asset rich have done disproportionately well. Meanwhile due to high inflation, even those lucky enough to see a 3% increase will in real terms have been losing money. This point is even further underlined by the fact that most of that 3% gain is from the rising price of the family home. If this trend continues then the top 1% will hold 64% of the world’s wealth by 2030. Given that much wealth in our society is hidden, it will probably be much higher than that.
This concentration of income and wealth make democracy a ‘demockery’. We are witnessing an upward redistribution of money from the bottom 80% to the upper 1%, if not to the 0.1% the real elite in our society. A trend Karl Marx noted and said would only get worse over 150 years ago. This 0.1% are America’s corporate leaders. Many have described the US as a Corptocracy meaning total control by corporate interests. They control politicians and the media to ensure political decisions are made that promote corporate interests; fracking, tax cuts, deregulations, etc. Are these corporate leaders the new Oligarchs of our time?
In a paper from Princeton University in 2014 the authors argued that the US political system is geared towards serving the interests of special interest groups. They concluded that US government policies rarely align with preferences of the majority. The French economist Thomas Picketty, who has written extensively about Oligarchy in Russia, has pointed the finger at the US and has charted the rise of inequality in his book Capital in the Twenty First Century and its impact on democracy. Of course his conclusions that a more progressive tax system is needed is met with horror. There are also those who have made livings out of claiming that wealth inequality is not a bad thing, or that further, it is a good thing.
It is in the nature of Oligarchs to believe they are specially imbued with the qualities to govern. Their wealth, for example, may have given them a superior education and experience in the world fitting them to hold political office. There are now more than 2,000 billionaires in the world that we know of. Many families fortunes are deliberately diffuse and obscure so we can not be certain. It has been estimated in Treasure Islands, by Nicholas Shaxson, that at least $20 trillion could be hidden off-shore. Inequality tends to convince elites that they have unequal abilities in other areas. Oligarchs are fearful of the masses, and take steps to ensure that their wealth and privilege are protected first and foremost. It for this reason that they stack the judicial system, seek to control freedom of speech, movement and association, feather their own nests and engage in criminal behaviour including murder.
Oligarchy has its base in the US, this can be seen in the types of wealthy inhabiting the novels of Henry James. The Bostonian families of Forbes, Lowells, Perkins, Cabots etc. The financiers from the City of London, the Peabodys and the Morgans, were also Oligarchs. They formed the so-called Eastern Establishment. They made up Forbes original 400 rich families list, the amount that could fit into a doyenne’s ballroom. Then there were the Robber Barons of the nineteenth century known for their monopolisation of huge industries and ruthless/murderous accumulation of massive wealth. Key players included Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Gould and Astor.
Oligarchy can be seen clearly in the US South amongst the large slave-holding plantation owners. They formed an elite class who created their own ideas of gentility, honour, and the Southern way of life. The attitude towards those at the bottom was expressed in racial terms, but displays the same superiority we find in Oligarchs through history;
“[I]t is clear the Athenian democracy would not suit a negro nation, nor will the government of mere law suffice for the individual negro. He is but a grown up child and must be governed as a child . . . The master occupies towards him the place of parent or guardian.” George Fitzhugh
We also see overtime a familiar situation in which the wealthy got wealthier. By 1860 0.1% owned the vast majority of the slaves. For example, Nathaniel Heyward owned more than eighteen hundred slaves. Even after the abolition of slavery certain intermarried families became dominant in cities, tending to hold numerous posts such as Governor, the mayor, newspaper editor, the bank president and the local businessman. Even today many parts of the US South still consist of regions where feudal relations, especially in relation to the black population, is a better descriptor than democracy.
Oligarchies are concerned with maintaining the status quo, and they do this by an emphasis on conformity and consensus. Spartan virtues were harmony, simplicity and strength. The Roman Republic virtues were known as the ‘Via Romana’ and were seen as the reason for the moral fortitude to conquer the known world. They included dignity, fortitude, dutifulness, and respectability. In Venice they cultivated compromise, self-effacement and conformity, all virtues that perpetuated the Venetian model. In Britain the virtues of the Oligarchs came to be associated with the Victorian era. Virtues such as fairness, diligence, conformity and enterprise were seen as the gift that Britain brought to the world through her “civilizing” Empire.
The country run by the few is one based on conformity and acceptance. Abidance to the national qualities or virtues that are held to make the country “great” is a must. Anything that seeks to challenge this mainstream is seen as threatening. It is why Julius Caesar was brutally murdered in the Senate. Caesar, although from an old aristocratic family, was regarded by the Oligarchic families who dominated the Senate as a mortal threat as he sought to carry out progressive reforms and leant on the plebeian masses for support. He did not conform with Oligarch values of acceptance of the status quo and disdain for the plebs.
It has been noted by many observers that the response to the 2008 crash is very different to the comparable 1929 crash. In 2008 Congress took the step to bail out the banks. This was largely accepted by the majority because they have synonymised banking interests with that of the mass of people. They were labeled as “too big to fail”. In 1929 however the US President Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR) enacted a series of legislative measures throughout the 1930s aimed at assisting the mass of people and restricting the banks. The question in a crisis is always who pays. The answer for the Oligarchs is always not us.
FDR refused to be that doddering Venetian Doge. Despite coming, naturally, from a very wealthy family himself, he saw that America was best served by a pro-active labour oriented solution. FDR saw that reform from above was needed to prevent revolution from below. His hand was immeasurably strengthened by the coalition of the trade union movement and the various political parties representing workers, such as the Communist Party which exerted enormous pressure for reform upon the ruling elite. His coalition also extended to black voters, the middle class, farmers, intellectuals and the army. The wealthy Oligarchs hated him and mobilised the Supreme Court to try and block his New Deal measures such as the Alphabet agencies. Indeed there is still much hatred shown towards these two New Deals, as they were called, and expressed as “entitlements” and the bain of the virtues of entrepreneurship and self-reliance. FDR’s policies appealed directly to the man at the bottom of the pyramid, and resulted in an unprecedented four terms. Indeed it was this success that resulted in the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1947 limiting the term to twice.
The US had another anti-Oligarchical president in John F Kennedy (JFK). Again, coming from a very wealthy family, he went against the established norms. This was very much part of the times with a general increase in political participation amongst wider sections of the US population. As president JFK attempted to break up the Federal reserve, bring an end to the Cold War, get out of Vietnam, and compelled steel executives to roll back price increases. Basically Kennedy refused to listen to the Harvard elite foreign policy advisers after the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of World War Three. After the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 in particular he displayed an autonomy that was unsettling to the elite that surrounded him. He was assassinated in November 1963, undoubtedly at the behest of the Oligarchy, and whitewashed by the Warren Commission. It has though, with other prominent political assassinations of the 1960s – Martin Luther King and Malcolm X – created a permanent scepticism within large sections of the American public towards official narratives.
Subsequently the grooming and selection of US presidents has since been concentrated into channels that the Oligarchy believe they can exert control over. However, each president presents their own challenge. Nixon, for example, (not from a wealthy background) was seen as Kissinger’s man. Kissinger, himself a talented protege of Nelson Rockefeller, was a key player. However, they did not like Nixon’s authoritarian tendencies nor his Quakerism. Impeachment proceedings began in February 1974 and he resigned in August. Gerald Ford was seen in inner circles as dumb. Jimmy Carter, rumoured to have been selected as a candidate at the Trilateral Commission (Rockefeller’s private discussion club for the Oligarchy) in 1974, was content to put his administration under the control of the Federal Reserve and Paul Volcker. Ronald Reagan couldn’t resemble a doddering old Doge more if he acted the role. In the background Vice President George Bush Senior ran the show.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand was not the Oligarch’s first choice. It shows that the wealthy elite are adept at making compromises and through conformity seek to keep power. Clinton’s advisers drew attention back to the ideas of economic populism rather than social issues. “It’s the economy, stupid!”. Lee Atwater, Republican strategist, suggested that US politics was divided into populist and elitist issues. Clinton reluctantly took the populist path promising to restore the hopes of the middle classes. Reluctantly, because he was also Harvard educated, Yale law graduate, craving approval from the liberal intelligentsia. The old labour leaders of FDR’s New Deal coalition had been eviscerated and totally compromised. Praised for its diversity in sexuality and ethnicity nonetheless Clinton’s cabinet resembled those of a British Conservative government – full of millionaires. For example, Robert Rubin, Andrew Cuomo and Madeline Albright. He ended his presidency facing sexual scandals and impeachment charges.
Despite the appearance of the most important job in the land the US presidency has been largely stripped of its economic and financial power which now lies with the Federal Reserve. Itself being a private organisation to serve the bank interests, originating in secret at a meeting on Jeckyll Island in 1910. Further the Department of Justice and the FBI, not to mention the CIA and the Department of Defense, all operate as if they were separate fiefdoms. The media is owned by and on behalf of large conglomerates, key players are Murdoch, Disney, and General Electric. Gore Vidal, America’s greatest writer and an astute insider who was best friends with the Kennedy’s, wrote extensively about the “Washington Establishment” and how it was in effect an “invisible” Oligarchy. His insights are illuminating;
“You know, I’ve been around the ruling class all my life, and I’ve been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country.”
As the number of obscenely wealthy people has grown, so we have entered according to some a golden age of philanthropy. The wealthy are then praised for giving back to society through charitable foundations. However, they are classic vehicles, not only for tax avoidance, but to shape culture and politics. Hidden behind educational foundations is often a complete disdain for what Reagan famously referred to as black “welfare queens”. The problem with Americans is that they are simply not educated! Let us benevolently help you. A popular ideology today is social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. It implies that the winners, those who top the public rich lists, constitute a meritocracy. This ignores though the important class divisions that operate in the US, but are vehemently denied. This is expressed politically as tax cuts for the rich and welfare cuts for the poor. This policy track has only accelerated since 2008 as the Oligarchy seeks to put the burden of the financial crisis on the poor.
Oligarchs are not nation builders. They are concerned first and foremost with family. The super wealthy of New York, Moscow or Mumbai have more in common with each other than they do with their own country men and women. As war correspondent Chris Hedges writes we have had;
“A slow-motion coup by a corporate state has cemented into place a neofeudalism in which there are only masters and serfs.”
This neo-feudalism can be seen as discussed previously in the various divisions in the US that operate as fiefdoms such as the CIA and the Military Industrial Complex. It can be seen in Russia where the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to the creation of a new class of medieval boyars who have carved up its economy and dominate the political elite. The globalist nature of the Oligarchy can be traced through various international bodies, including the United Nations and the World Economic Forum.
The origins of the term ruling class date back far beyond Marx and Engels, however, they put these class divisions in society as central to understanding and analysing society. We may begin with the principle that all men (and women) are created equal, but if we don’t see the very real class divisions that operate to keep the “rich man in his castle/ the poor man at his gate” we will retain a deluded view of how things really work.
Oligarchies prefer anonymity to celebrity. Conformity to deviance. A belief in their own superiority, supported by philosophical and ideological underpinnings. British utilitarianism lives on in the words of economist Milton Friedman; “The world runs on individuals pursuing their own self interests.” Whilst governments survey and collect vast quantities of information about the ruled, the inner workings of the state are shrouded in mystery. Nearly always for reasons of ‘national security’, information and therefore accountability and oversight is weak to non-existent. Living in the British state is the equivalent of living in a Panopticon, a prison designed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The prison is designed so that a guarded central point is able to observe all those in their cells. The inmates cannot know if they are being observed at any one time. As a result, lifting the veil on Oligarchy will be associated by those in power to being a conspiracy theorist.
Immediately labeled a conspiracy theorist, US radio host Alex Jones has long argued on his show, with copious amounts of evidence, that clandestine societies secretly control national governments from behind the scenes. Organisations like the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the World Economic Forum are used by Oligarchs to unduly influence world affairs. These bodies are supra-national and represent the fact that capitalism has far outstripped the usefulness of the nation state to them. There is a clear, publicly stated desire to head towards international co-operation, or a ‘new world order’ as it is more often referred to. When it is understood within the context of a society run by Oligarchs though this new world order undoubtedly takes on a more sinister motivation in the imposition of rule that forever cements neo-feudal relations.
Let us take the European Union (EU) as an example. At the centre of the EU wielding and directing operations is the spiderlike European Central Bank (ECB). The monetary and credit policy of Europe is now controlled by this autonomous, unelected, self-perpetuating formation. They represent the interests, not of the various nation states but in answer to the financiers. Economic historian Nomi Prins has extensively detailed how the ECB has operated in global collusion with the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England to pursue the policy of Quantitative Easing for the 1% and austerity for the people. They have caused untold misery to the Greek people by the imposition of harsh austerity measures and forcing the Greek government to sell national assets. Meanwhile, under cover of helping Greece, the reality is that the ECB have ‘bailed’ out Greece so they can pay the extortionate interest to the European banks that lent them money. The further tragedy of the situation for the Greek workers is that the country only entered the EU due to fraudulent accounting by Goldman Sachs and co. to meet the Maastricht Treaty qualifications.
The United Nations since its inception has had an Oligarchical base drawn from the ranks of diplomats trained in British diplomacy. Regarded as superior to nation states, and above them, it became a talking shop and exhibition centre for Oligarchy. The rise of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are founded by the philanthropic billionaires of this world, play an important role behind the scenes. They then present themselves to the world stage as the representatives of global public opinion, issues and concerns. Whilst purporting to legislate for mankind, the reality is that they represent narrow Oligarch interests that have been synonimised with all of humanity.
The Trilateral Commission was founded by Davis Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1973 to discuss foreign relations and to create a “new international economic order”. As Brzezinski, an astute analyst of capitalism and geo-politics once remarked;
”International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation state.”
Most members of the discussion group have gone on to hold important government posts such as Timothy Geithner (Obama’s Treasury secretary), Paul Volcker (Fed chair), and Dennis Blair (Head of US intelligence) to name but a few.
These days the Bilderberg meeting of elites can no longer be held in the secret it once was. Even though it is packed with leading government officials, business leaders, super wealthy individuals, members of the aristocracy and the odd celebrity, we the people are denied access. Last summer a Guardian journalist collared Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary as he left the conference. This is a man with a race horse named “Rule The World”! Also a man that calls environmentalists “lying wankers”. He revealed that the group had been discussing Trump’s presidency and that “he has more to do”. As the Guardian article goes on to point out Bilderberg is at its heart a machine of the financial interests. The conference chairman is director of HSBC, the Treasurer is the Head of Deutsche Bank, and the administration is run by Goldman Sachs. However, I’m sure these private banking interests have all our welfare at heart. When the CEO of a major business says attending Bilderberg is “very useful” it can be translated directly to financially beneficial to me and my shareholders.
The Council on Foreign Relations founded in 1921 as another private think tank has its roots in the Royal Institute for International Affairs, or Chatham House. Chatham House is a London based polity journal. In other words, both bodies seek through intellectual propaganda, to promote Oligarchy thinking toward their new world order. In the 1980s they publicly discussed the necessary conditions for a new international economic order. A new strategy was developed known as “controlled disintegration”, or what we have been sold as deregulation. Although, even then more foresighted writers for the Council warned of the potential instability arising. Their main proponent was Paul Volcker, who through instruments such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Federal Reserve carried through massive interest rate rises forcing many economies around the world into recession.
The World Economic Forum, set up in 1971, is held annually in Davos, Switzerland. Synonymous with banking and a country whose self-proclaimed independence from the conflict of World War Two actually meant it was a destination for Nazis to hide stolen Jewish gold. It is an international organisation for promoting public-private cooperation. In other words a privately funded think tank aimed at ensuring or, as they say, “shaping” public bodies to carry out agendas and policies that fit the needs of the Oligarchy. Attended by the likes of Christine Legarde, head of the IMF, this body clearly pulls a lot of weight. A private think tank that this year required British Prime Minister Theresa May to present her Brexit plans to them. High on the list of discussion this year was the rise of populism and nationalism, both seen as threatening to the new world order.
The word Oligarchy in our time period has become synonymous with Russia. The rise of the mafia-capitalist class in Russia was phenomenal when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Following the death of Stalin in 1953 the rule of Russia was taken over by a collective of officials known as the nomenklatura. Khrushchev, Brezhnez, Gorbachev and finally Yeltsin all became leaders on behalf of the Russian Oligarchy who carved out private fiefdoms in different spheres of the economy. Yeltsin was handpicked as leader by the financiers at Davos, the world economic forum in 1996. The financiers and the mafia combined have essentially dominated society and government in Russia for decades. Russia’s economic life is now firmly under the control of financiers. The Russian people themselves are widely regarded as lumpens (after the Marxist term lumpen proletariats). The elite of Russia are only interested in one thing – money and the power and privileges that great wealth brings. Putin himself came from a working class background and advanced his career in the intelligence services (KGB) and was taken under the wing of the entourage known as the ‘’Family’’ that surrounded Yeltsin. He is a nationalist rather than an Oligarch, but according to the Council on Foreign Relations (the Oligarchical funded think tank) he made a deal with the Oligarchs, beginning with giving Yeltsin immunity from prosecution. Putin is a nationalist leader with authoritarian tendencies, but he quite clearly operates with the full approval of Russian Oligarchy, and now he is reportedly one of the richest men in the world.
Now in the US we have President Trump. One of the richest men to ever become president. However, like Putin whom he admires, Trump leans more towards populism and nationalism. He has tapped into the anti-globalist anti new world order view held by so many ordinary people which they have blamed as being responsible for the decline in their living standards. The British Brexit can also be seen in part within this context: a revolt by millions of ordinary people against an indifferent establishment that presided over the destruction of their living standards and communities. It explains why Trump praised the Brexit supporters in the UK and criticised the current plans of May’s government so openly. Oligarchs like to keep things, their deals and compromises, in secret. Trump goes against the established order by his blunt openness. Hilary Clinton was the preferred candidate of the Establishment, and they were visibly shocked by Trump’s victory. They were complacent and have been retroactively undermining his presidency to a degree which many regard as an open coup.
The entire Trump/Russia narrative of the establishment media has openly revealed the separate fiefdoms that operate within the US ruling elite. That the office of the presidency is in open conflict with his intelligence services is unprecedented and reveals a deep split in the US ruling class. Trump was supported into office by a group at the Pentagon who have recognised the military failure that is Afghanistan and Syria and wish to withdraw. The recent deal by Trump, in his recent meeting with Putin, to abandon the sunni jihadis in Southern Syria that prompted Israel’s rescue of the infamous White Helmets is confirmation of this.
In the press Trump is continually ridiculed, (admittedly not hard), for his constant faux-pas, and his inability to put intelligent sentences together. This is part of the tactic of ostracism that Oligarchs use. It is based on the individual being punished for not conforming to the established norms. In many respects Trump reminds one of the parvenu at the doyenne’s ballroom, inflating his wealth to get on the Forbes rich list. This is not to say he does not represent the elite, he is as much a man of the bankers as any politician in Washington who hopes to get anywhere. Trump’s tax cuts have benefited the wealthy and his austerity cuts have hurt the poor. To protect his own financial interests and those of his family, he will make deals the Establishment.
Today the word Oligarchy, originally Greek, has become attached to Russia. In the West we simply refer to the ruling class as elites, implying some special abilities. It is more accurate to understand that our society is run and controlled by a few and that is technically an Oligarchy. Individual Oligarchs come and go but families that build and learn to hang on to their wealth are what forms the heart of Oligarchical rule. They do not operate in public but through privately funded think tanks and foundations we do now glimpse elite concerns. Certain names such as Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Koch, Walton, Murdoch, Bezos, and Roberts, are prominently involved in helping to shape public discourse. If that is not the wealthy having undue influence I don’t know what is. Or you can do what they want you to do, shake your head and call it all a conspiracy theory.