Superclass | David Rothkopf

Summary of: Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making
By: David Rothkopf


Dive into the world of the ‘superclass’ as David Rothkopf explores the impact of global power elites in his book, Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making. Discover how the superclass, consisting of only 6,000 individuals worldwide, wields unparalleled power and influence across various sectors, including business, finance, politics, and the military-industrial complex. Learn about the interconnectedness of these elites as they forge global connections that transcend national boundaries, leading to the creation of a distinct community with shared interests and culture. Get a glimpse of the driving forces behind their power, wealth, and global reach, and understand the implications of this concentrated influence on the world economy and governance.

The Rise of the Superclass

Every year, a group of the world’s most influential business leaders, government officials, cultural figures, and media barons meet in Davos for the World Economic Forum. These worldly citizens, a cross-section of the planet’s superclass, share a vision extending beyond national boundaries into the global realm. In 1956, Columbia University professor C. Wright Mills identified a group of “deciders” in American corporations, politics, and military life, people who shaped policies in business, government, and national security. The treaty of Rome in 1957 marked an evolution in the consolidation of postwar power. The current superclass of global leaders forms a distinct community whose members have more in common with each other than with their co-nationals. As former Citibank CEO Walter Wriston wrote in 1991, information enables a “global conversation.” The combined net worth of the world’s richest thousand or so people is almost twice that of the poorest 2.5 billion.

Power and Inequality

The global elite, or superclass, consisting of only 6,000 people, wields immense power that surpasses that of some nations. Access to these individuals is highly coveted and they form a global community connected by common interests. However, the increasing concentration of power and wealth within this group highlights growing economic inequality around the world.

The Supremacy of the Superclass

The book discusses the global power dynamics of the superclass, a group of wealthy, influential individuals who shape the world’s economic, political and social systems. The superclass accumulates power through money, politics, and globalization. Members fund philanthropies and direct resources towards their own agendas and interests, supplementing national sovereignty with their own influence. This group of leaders hold positions in several power clusters including business, finance, politics, and the arts. The superclass’s global thinking helps to address global issues but requires informal coalitions of NGOs to fill the governance vacuum. The book argues that this trend will continue as the nation-state loses its stronghold on power and that society must accept this new reality.

The Tight Relationship Between Corporate America and the Pentagon

The US Defense Department and corporate America share a tight relationship, as evidenced by the list of corporate titans who led the Pentagon after World War II. With a commitment to remain fully prepared for war, US defense spending is the largest public sector investment in history. As wars become increasingly costly, the defense industry consolidates, with about a dozen defense contractors worldwide accounting for the majority of international defense revenues. Military officers act as nation-builders, creating a global armed forces superclass. The hope is to balance the power of markets and limited government with addressing growing inequities.

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