by Peter Phillips
Editor’s note: This is the text of a talk delivered at the 9/11 Film Festival at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, CA, September, 2016
Globalization of trade and central banking has empowered private corporations to positions of power and control never before seen in human history. Under advanced capitalism, the structural demands for a return on investment require an unending expansion of centralized capital in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The financial center of global capitalism is so highly concentrated that less than a few thousand people dominate and control some $100 trillion dollars of wealth.
These few thousand people controlling global capital amount to less than 0.0001 percent of the world’s population. They are the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC) in what David Rothkopf calls the superclass. David Rothkopf, former managing director of Kissinger Associates, says that the superclass is comprised of 6,000 to 7,000 people. These are the Davos-attending, Gulfstream/private jet–flying, megacorporation-interlocked, policy-building elites of the world—in other words, people at the absolute peak of the global power pyramid. They are 94 percent male, predominantly white, and mostly from North America and Europe.
Three years ago, a Project Censored research team decided to identify the people on the boards of directors of the top ten asset management firms and the top ten most centralized corporations. Because of overlaps, this is a total of thirteen firms, which collectively have 161 directors on their boards. We think that this group of 161 individuals represents the financial core of the world’s transnational capitalist class. They collectively manage $23.91 trillion (2014) in funds and operate in nearly every country in the world. They are the center of the financial capital that powers the global economic system. Western governments and international policy bodies work in the interests of this financial core to protect the free flow of capital investment anywhere in the world. Add several hundred to this 161 and you find $100 trillion in assets—half the wealth in the world—managed by this small concentrated set of the TCC, who could fit into this theater.
They represent the interests of several hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires who comprise the richest people in the top one percent of the world’s wealth hierarchy. Ironically, this extreme accumulation of concentrated capital at the top creates a continuing problem for the TCC, who must continually scour the world for new investment opportunities that will yield adequate returns (7% or more).
As the world’s capitalist elite, the transnational capitalist class (TCC) dominate nation-states through international treaty agreements and transnational state organizations such as the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements, and the International Monetary Fund. The TCC communicates their policy requirements through global networks such as the G-7 and G-20, and various nongovernmental policy organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations in the US, World Economic Forum, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberger Group. The World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Their members comprise 1,000 of the world’s top corporations, global enterprises usually with more than US $5 billion in turnover. The Davos Strategic Partners community comprises a select group of 100 leading global companies representing diverse regions. Government security operations in the US/NATO countries set their policy positions and take advice from these top down policy groups for various international covert and overt operations and wars in support of global capital.
The TCC are keenly aware of both their elite status and their increasing vulnerabilities to democracy movements and to unrest from the masses. The military empire dominated by the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) serves to protect TCC investments around the world. Wars, regime changes, State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADS), and military occupations are performed in service of empire to support investors’ access to natural resources and protect global capital.
CIA, NSA and Military Intelligence’s direct involvement in 9/11 remains highly suspect. Additionally, we know that Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, likely had pre-knowledge of and involvement in 9/11. Many of us accept that many other deep state actors were involved. Peter Dale Scott says there were likely multiple on-going conspiracies in deep state intelligence agencies. It is important to recognize 15 years later that 9/11 was likely done in support of the TCC and global capitalism, and the TCC clearly benefitted from those events regardless. 9/11 allowed for a permanent war and the US/NATO empire move for total world domination. 9/11and the war on terror has been the justification for the destruction and breakup of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.
Those of us concerned with the crimes of 9/11 need to think also about the resulting global wars that have emerged in the last 15 years. 9/11 allowed the US/NATO empire to conduct global war disregarding nation-state boundaries and human rights. 9/11 wasn’t just for Halliburton and Lockheed-Martin profits, it wasn’t just for neocon military global domination. The 9/11 terrorism wars are about expanding chaos and breaking up of powerful states. The resulting balkanization of various world regions, pitting small countries and ethnic groups against each other, serves the financial interests of capital.
Protection of capital is the prime reason for the US/NATO Empire. NATO countries now account for 85 percent of the world’s defense spending, with the US spending more on military than the rest of the world combined. US-NATO forces are killing people in over one hundred countries in the world using special service operatives, private assassins and armed drones—a million civilian’s deaths in Iraq alone.
TCC use of NATO for its global security is part of an expanding strategy for US/NATO military domination around the world. The US/NATO military–industrial–media empire operates in service to the TCC for the protection of international capital anywhere in the world.
Corporate media—including MSNBC, Fox, CNN, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, and the Washington Post—are owned and controlled by the TCC. Corporate media today is highly concentrated and fully global. Its primary goal is the promotion of product sales and political propaganda through the psychological control of human desires, emotions, beliefs, fears and values. Corporate media does this by manipulating feelings and cognitions of human beings worldwide, and by promoting entertainment viewing as a distraction to global inequality. Corporate media received two-thirds to 80% of their broadcast and print content from public relations and propaganda (PRP) firms.
There are three publicly-traded mega PRP corporations. Omnicom, WPP, and Interpublic Group. Together, these firms employ 214,000 people in over 170 countries, collecting some $35 billion in annual revenues. WPP’s Hill & Knowton proudly brags on their website that they service 50% of the Fortune Global 500 companies from their offices in forty countries. CIA uses its Hill & Knowlton connections to “… put out press releases and make media contacts to further its positions. … Hill & Knowlton employees at their Washington office and elsewhere distributed this material through CIA assets working in the United States news media.”
Corporate media consolidation has provided the opportunity for PRP firms to emerge as orchestrators of global information and news. The world today faces a PRP-military-industrial media empire so powerful and complex that, in the majority of news venues, basic truths about world events are concealed, skewed, or simply not reported at all. The result is news managed by government and PRP firms—often interlocked—including the release of specific stories intended to build public support as well as the deliberate non-coverage of news stories that may undermine capitalist goal.
The TCC are not seeking a global government. The ultimate goal of capital is the building of a semi-privatized neo-feudal police states, controlled by friends of capital, where individual countries are populaton containment zones with strict controls on local citizens, and capital is free to go unrestricted anywhere in the world.
If the empire is slow to perform or faced with political resistance, private security firms and private military companies increasingly fulfill the TCC’s demands for the protections of their assets. These protection services include personal security for TCC executives and their families, protection of safe residential and work zones, tactical military advisory and training of national police and armed forces, intelligence gathering on democracy movements and opposition groups, weapons acquisitions and weapon systems management, and strike forces for military actions and assassinations.
Over $200 billion a year is spent on private security, employing some fifteen million people worldwide. G4S is the largest private military contractor (PMC) in the world with 625,000 employees spanning five continents in more than 120 countries. Some of its more important contractors are the governments of the UK, the US, Israel, and Australia. In the private sector G4S has worked with corporations such as Chrysler, Apple, and Bank of America. In Nigeria, Chevron contracts with G4S for counterinsurgency operations including fast-response mercenaries. G4S undertakes similar operations in South Sudan, and has provided surveillance equipment for checkpoints and prisons in Israel and security for Jewish settlements in Palestine. G4S provides security personnel for the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection at the US-Mexico border, and helps transport undocumented immigrants from urban areas.
The mass murderer, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last June, worked for G4S. Mateen had worked with the company since 2007. Mass killings and terrorist attacks like the one in Orlando directly benefit private security firms like G4S by increasing fears and demands for higher security services.
G4S is a part of neoliberal imperialism that is leading to the expanded privatization of state police.
Hundreds of private military contractors now play an important role in TCC security in the evolving 21st century neo-fascist corporate world. The trend toward privatization of war is a serious threat to human rights, due process, and democratic transparency and accountability. The US/NATO military empire sets the moral standards for denial of human rights by using pilotless drones to kill civilians without regard for international law in various regions of resistance to empire. Labeling dead civilians as insurgents and terrorists and the complete lack of due process and human rights belie any standard of governmental moral legitimacy. This lack of moral legitimacy in turn sets standards for private military companies to operate with much the same malice in the shadow of the empire.
The globalization of PMC operations alongside transnational capital investment, international trade agreements, and an increasing concentration of wealth in the TCC means that the repressive practices of private security and war will inevitably come home to roost in the US, the European Union, and other first-world nations.
The 99 percent of us without wealth and private police power face the looming threat of overt repression and complete loss of human rights and legal protections. We see signs of this daily with police killings (now close to a hundred per month in the US), warrantless electronic spying, mass incarceration, random traffic checkpoints, airport security/no-fly lists, and Homeland Security compilations of databases on suspected resisters.
Half of the world’s population lives on less than three dollars a day. 40,000 people die daily from malnutrition and easily curable diseases. This gross inequality is what sociologist William Robinson calls the “crisis of humanity.” This crisis of capitalism threatens humanity in an unprecedented manner not only by increasing mass poverty, but also in terms of massive environmental destruction threatening all life on earth.
There seems little possibility that the electoral process in the US or most nation-states will allow for elected officials—even progressive and fair-minded ones—to forestall capitalism’s need for continued growth. Even progressive tax reform and adjustments in income inequality would likely be inadequate to offset the rapid deterioration of the global environment and the massive poverty facing half of humanity. To counter knowinglessness, activists need to include truth emergency issues as important elements of radical-progressive reform efforts. Critical thinking and fact-finding are the basis of democracy, and we must stand for the maximization of informed participatory democracy at every level of society.
To prevent global socioeconomic and/or environmental collapse and other 9/11s, we must contest the massive negative consequences of the continuing concentration of wealth under capitalism. In actuality, humankind is faced with extinction, at least to life as we know it. Any attempt to forestall this global certainty seems worth the effort. Unless we collectively challenge the empire, I am afraid we face a world that is evolving into a new dark age of neo-feudal totalitarianism unlike any previously known.
This talk is draws from an ongoing series of studies by Dr. Peter Phillips and students of his, which includes “The Global 1 Percent Ruling Class Exposed,” published in Censored 2013: Dispatches from the Media Revolution; “Exposing the Financial Core of the Transnational Capitalist Class,” which appeared in Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times; “Twenty-First Century Fascism: Private Military Companies in Service to the Transnational Class,” from Censored 2016: Media Freedom on the Line; and, most recently, “Selling Empire, War, and Capitalism: Public Relations Propaganda Firms in Service to the Transnational Capitalist Class,” published in Censored 2017: Fortieth Anniversary Edition.
Each of these volumes can be ordered here.