By Burkely Hermann
I just read a post on a Tea Party blog asked why occupiers were not protesting the Bilderberg Group, which is meeting in Virginia this week. Many conspiracy theorists accuse it of trying to take over the world. This could be why occupiers haven’t focused on it. But, the post didn’t focus on a report written in 2010 calling for a “99% movement,” a move that led to Anonymous’s support and later the Occupy movement itself. One section of that report was titled “Exposing Our Enemy – Meet the Economic Elite,” which details part of the “power elite.” One may wonder why this was not mentioned explicitly by occupiers.
In fact, this concept has been mentioned before. Howard Zinn, a would-be occupier (if he was alive today) wrote in his bestseller, A People’s History of the United States about C. Wright Mills’s book, The Power Elite, which mentioned “the military as part of the top elite, along with politicians and corporations” in America. Mills’s book, published in the 1950s, is the basis of this idea of an elite class, composed of economic, political and military elements. Mills wrote: “The power elite is composed of [people]…in positions to make decisions having major consequences…major national power now resides in the economic, the political, and the military domains…religious, educational and family institutions…are…shaped by the big three…the economy…dominated by…giant corporations [is] administratively and politically interrelated…the political order…has become a centralized, executive establishment…the military order…has become the largest and most expensive feature of government…[and is] a sprawling bureaucratic domain…This triangle of power is the source of the interlocking directorate…[that] is clearly revealed at each of the points of crisis of modern capitalist society…leading [people]…in each of the three domains of power…tend to come together…to form the power elite of America.” Mills comes in with a final catch: “There is nothing hidden about it [the power elite], although its activities are not publicized…There is nothing conspiratorial about it, although its decisions are often publicly unknown.” Mills’s words would seem to be lost in the rhetoric of the Occupy movement. But, writer and occupy activist Chris Hedges alludes to it, along with renowned professors Cornel West and Noam Chomsky.
In order to spur more activism in the Occupy movement, the full extent of the power elite must be exposed. One place to start is part III of the report I mentioned earlier, The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States of America published in February 2010. David DeGraw reveals more about today’s elite, especially the financial elite. He writes that the economic elite are not “a small group of men who meet in secrecy to control the world,” instead they are something more scary: an elite in the thousands that are “primarily united by [the] ideology…of exploitation and the belief that wealth and resources need to be concentrated into the fewest hands possible (theirs), at the expense of the many.” Even so, there are lead members of the pack, including in U.S. economy heavy hitters “like Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, John Mack, Vikram Pandit, John Thain, Hank Greenberg, Ken Lewis, John J. Castellani, Edward Yingling and Tom Donohue.” These individuals and many others play a major role in the core of the economic elite: the Business Roundtable, Chamber of Commerce, the Financial Services Roundtable, the American Bankers Association and the quasi-governmental secretive institution, the Federal Reserve. This results in connections of the Federal Reserve (Fed) to the corporate sector such as with large money managing firm BlackRock (which “manage[s] many of the Treasury Department’s big investments”) and vice versa. Additionally, this was proven by the Sanders Report on the GAO Audit on Major Conflicts of Interest at the Federal Reserve, published in October 2011, which tells the findings of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of the institution, including : “affiliations of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors with financial firms…giv[ing] members of the banking industry the power to both elect and serve on the Federal Reserve’s board of directors…[having]18 former and current members of the Federal Reserve’s board affiliated with banks and companies that received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis…many of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors own stock or work directly for banks that are supervised and regulated by the Federal Reserve” and there is no public disclosure of “conflict of interest regulations.”
One seemingly powerful institution is the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), created in 2000. Seven years prior, the Bankers Roundtable has been formed after the merger of the Association of Reserve City Bankers and the Association of Registered Bank Holding Companies. In 1999, the Board of Directors declared they wanted to “broaden the mission [of the Roundtable] to represent integrated financial service providers” and increase “the Roundtable’s impact as a major player on Capitol Hill and with the regulators.” The next year, the name of the group was changed to its current name, the Financial Services Roundtable. Charles Ferguson’s movie, Inside Job, said it was “”one of the most powerful groups in Washington, which represents nearly all of the world’s largest financial companies.” Steve Bartlett, who is a former U.S. Congressman and member U.S. House Banking Committee is the current chairman of the Roundtable (FSR). Barnett Sivon and Natter PC, Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford LLC and Smith-Free Group are all high-powered lobbying firms working for the Roundtable. Numerous huge corporations are part of the Roundtable. Such member companies include: Allstate, Bank of America, Barclays Capital, BlackRock, Inc., Charles Schwab, Citigroup Inc., Fidelity Investments, General Electric Company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Liberty Mutual Holding Company, Inc., M&T Bank Corporation, MasterCard Worldwide, Visa, Inc. and Wells Fargo & Company. In addition there are numerous parts of FSR including: BITS which facilitates collaboration on the technological issues faced by financial services, the Bankruptcy Coalition, which lobbied for changes to the bankruptcy code in 2005, Agents for Change which promotes the “modernization” of insurance regulation, the improvement of working communities of the financial services industry, the Housing which supposedly is engaged in an “effort to prevent foreclosures and preserve homeownership” and ITAC which supposedly fights identity theft. In addition there are two efforts, InFact which provides Americans with financial services information and industry, and providing consumers with “financial education through www.MyMoneyManagement.net.
As one would guess, the FSR has since its creation focused on lobbying. In its first years, the amount of money spent lobbying shot up to $1.1 million and increased for the next five years, reaching $6.2 million in 2006, $6,380,000 in 2007,$7,760,000 in 2008 and $6.9 million in 2009. This trend continued for the next three years, with about $7.5 million being spent each year. At the same time, the amount spent on political contributions has an upward tick, reaching a high of $615,808 in the 2010 election cycle. Most of the contributions in this time period were given to the Republican Party, but Democrats got their fair share. The contributions given in the 2012 election cycle show that more than 70% of money contributed to House members going to Republicans, 51% of Senate contributions going to Republicans and 49% to Democrats. Congressional heavy hitters like Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Majority Whip Jon Kyl received contributions from FSR. In addition, nine of the lobbyists representing FSR have been involved in the revolving door between industry and government with one being a former congressman. Still, most of the lobbying money is used directly through the Financial Services Roundtable, not through the four other lobbying firms that were hired. Such lobbying revolves around the major issues for FSR include a host of diverse topics. These include, “improvement” (a.k.a. weakening) of Dodd-Frank, debit cards, cyber-security, financial literacy, “reform” of government sponsored enterprises, insurance “reform,” corporate tax “reform,” Capital and Liquidity Standards and the “reduction of federal deficits over time” which is a high priority. All these issues will be “considered through the lens of uniform national standards” and obviously the mission of the FSR, which is to “protect and promote the economic vitality and integrity of its members and the United States financial system.”
Other than this Roundtable, there is one powerful group at the center of the economic elite: the Business Roundtable (BRT). The organization represents numerous Fortune 500 CEOs, is “interlocked with several lead elite organizations…[and] is the most influential and powerful Economic Elite organization” according to David McGraw. Most of those in America, watching corporate news on television or reading it on the web likely have no idea this group even exists. This in and of itself signifies its importance in this analysis. University of California, Santa Cruz Professor G. William Domhoff wrote in his controversial 1967 book, Who Rules America? that “the Business Roundtable [along with] the Business Council [is] at the heart of both the corporate community and the policy-formation network and now has the most powerful role….[by] interlock[ing] with other policy groups and…think tanks.” One may still ask how such a group is powerful in economy. The answer is that since its founding in 1972, it “has been the driving force behind the unprecedented concentration of wealth” and has unparalleled “dominance over the US economy and government.” Some of the members of this group, include the CEOs of these corporations: AT&T, Allstate, American Express, Bank of America, Bechtel, Boeing, Campbell Soup, Citigroup, Charles Schwab, Chevron, Chrysler, Comcast, Cisco, CSX, CVS, DirectTV, Dell, Dow Chemical, DuPont, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Hasbro, Hess, Intel, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Liberty Mutual, Macy’s, MasterCard, McGraw-Hill, MetLife, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Shell Oil, Stanley Black & Decker, Time Warner, Target, UPS, Verizon, Visa, Viacom, Wal-Mart Stores, Xerox and Yahoo!. Overall, it includes over 200 high-ranking officials of powerful corporations. Of these 200 members, the CEOs of eighteen powerful corporations are on the executive committee: Boeing Company, Honeywell International, Inc., Dow Chemical Company, Procter & Gamble Company, MasterCard Worldwide, WellPoint, Inc., Xerox Corporation, American Express Company, Eaton Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., General Electric Company, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, McGraw-Hill Companies, Caterpillar Inc., State Farm Insurance Companies, AT&T Inc., and Exxon Mobil Corporation.
In addition, John Engler, the president of the Business Roundtable, was a governor of Michigan for three terms and was the “president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.” In his terms as a Governor of Michigan, he interestingly appointed one of the current Senior Vice Presidents as the director of the State of the Michigan’s Washington, D.C., Office. As one would expect, the nineteen person staff of the Business Roundtable, has deep corporate connections (six didn’t have biographies on the official website).Two of the Senior Vice Presidents of the Roundtable worked for to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, two were former journalists (one writing for the Washington Times and Washington Guardian), two had connections to the National Association of Manufacturers, one worked for The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Frito-Lay, Inc and General Mills, Inc., one worked at Verizon Communications, another served “two terms on the Republican Governors Association National Finance Committee under the leadership of Chairman Mitt Romney”, one worked for worked for BP America, two served in or with government (Trade Counsel for the Subcommittee on Trade of the House Ways & Means Committee on Ways & Means, a paralegal for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and worked for two Pennsylvania Congressmen) and one had even surprisingly worked for a public interest group. As a result, these high-powered elite make the group very powerful.
This elite roundtable including “chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations with a combined workforce of more than 14 million workers and over $6 trillion in annual revenues” has enormous lobbying power. It could even be considered “the most powerful activist organization in the United States” due to its regular lobbying of “members of Congress…and the President and his administration” behind closed doors. As a result, any law that will affect their interests cannot pass without their ok. For example, “healthcare and financial reform, along with the military budget” in the Obama Administration proved this phenomenon to be true. In fact, since the healthcare reform bill basically became a bailout for the insurance industry, according to Chris Hedges, the public-option was dropped. The bill was stalled in February 2010 until President Obama spoke with the Roundtable on the 24th of the month (at their quarterly meeting) to get the healthcare reform back on track. Obama said that he and the Roundtable “have found common ground,” that it’s not surprising that in this time of turmoil that people are “angry at a financial sector that took exorbitant risks,” the lobbyists and the government as a whole. Next he said that “we can’t return to the pre-crisis status quo,” that we need a producing economy that continues American globalization, that America must be number one, not number two in the world, that everyone must unite together to make a better America and that he believes in the free market and wants prosperity (and success) for business. Obama then continues, saying that “an exploding entitlement state,” throwing money to solve issues, that he is pro-economic growth, that stimulus bill was supported by the Roundtable, that the bailout of GM succeeded, and that a “competitive America” must be created. These assumptions will have disastrous consequences, especially if a pure “free market” is implemented and if one thinks all of Americans have the same interest. As Howard Zinn noted in his bestseller, A People’s History of the United States, “use of the government for class purposes…has continued throughout American history, down to the present day. It is disguised by language that suggests all of us have a common interest. Thus the state of the nation is described in universal terms.”
This “common interest” was proved blatantly false when the financial “reform” bill was assaulted by the lobbyists of Roundtable interests like “Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC, Master Card and American Express.” These monied interests insured the bill was weakened. Also these interests pushed for Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as the Federal Reserve Chairman, told Obama to focus on deficit reduction and helped appoint George W. Bush’s Treasury Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs (he created the $700 billion + “official” bailout of the big banks). In addition, the elite financial group successfully lobbied to make Tim Geithner Treasury Secretary and Larry Summers the White House National Economic Council Director. This is not all the elite group has done. Also, massive contributions given to federal lawmakers almost give the elite group the power to write laws (especially on financial and healthcare reform). This extends to campaigns where elections are inundated with money, with an “overwhelming majority of current elected officials [relying]…on campaign funding from Roundtable members, including President Obama” who met with the group shortly after his inauguration. In the first nine months of his presidency, Obama not surprisingly met with the then-president of the Roundtable, John J. Castellani, more than any other person, other than Chamber of Commerce’s then-CEO Tom Donohue. More than two years later, Obama still was heavily influenced by the Roundtable, making a speech in March of this year. He praised them for “creating jobs,” helping to create a “competitive” America and asked them to help him continue American globalization by “selling American products around the world.” If that wasn’t enough, Obama said there was “common ground” between his administration and the Roundtable while he pressed for more domestic oil & gas drilling and expanded infrastructure.
The Business Roundtable that has much influence over American politics is at the hub of numerous other elite bodies. DeGraw writes that these bodies include the Business Council, the Committee for Economic Development, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations (which some say wrongly is trying to create a “world government”), the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Council on Competiveness, the American Enterprise Institute and the corporate-friendly Conference Board. All together, these interests are part of the corporate/financial elite. Some (like the Tea Party blogger I mentioned at the beginning) may wonder why the Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Club or the Council of Foreign Relations hasn’t been focused on. In a 2004 interview with Public Research Associates, Professor G. William Domhoff notes that progressives should not follow in the footsteps of conspiracism because “the opponents are the corporate conservatives and the Republican Party, not the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderbergers, and Bohemians. It is the same people more or less, but it puts them in their most important roles, as capitalists and political leaders, which are visible and legitimate…If thought of this way, then the role of a CFR as a place to try to hear new ideas and reach consensus is more readily understood, as is the function of a social club as a place that creates social cohesion.”From this, one could conclude that the Trilateral Commission can be viewed a similar way. People’s historian Howard Zinn described the commission as a “group of intellectuals and political leaders from Japan, the United States, and Western Europe…[that wanted to counter] revolutionary movements in the Third World…[and]saw itself as helping to create the necessary international links for the new multinational economy.” Zinn continues, placing them right in the power elite, describing that “its members came from the highest circles of politics, business, and the media in Western Europe, Japan, and the United States.” Other elite institutions, like the Advertising Council, the Heritage Foundation, the American Petroleum Institute, Pharm Research & Manufacturers, Public Relations Society of America, the American Psychological Association, Project for a New American Century, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, mass media and the Prison-Industrial-Complex are part of different parts of big business, big oil, big weapons manufacturers and more. DeGraw also considered the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission elite institutions in America, which could now include all of those parts of the government with pro-business appointments (ex: Nuclear Regulatory Commission), since the Obama Administration is a “Wall Street Government.”
Even with this control, the economic elite are not the only part of the power elite. The military elite, what David McGraw calls part of the economic elite, wields enormous power. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous farewell address (1961) shines a light on these elite. He seemed to detail the parts of the elite: a “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry…the total…economic, political, even spiritual [influence]…in the councils of government.” He then warned that Americans must “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” another name for the military elite. Other people call it the military-industrial-congressional complex or t the military-industrial-congressional-media complex. Today, a powerful private military is in their hands which outnumbers US soldiers on the battlefield and “receive[s] the lion’s share of military spending.” Such private armies are controlled by Halliburton, Academi (formerly called Blackwater and later Xe Services), SAIC which considers itself “a leading provider of scientific, engineering, systems integration and technical services and products to all branches of the U.S. military, agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other U.S. Government civil agencies,” Raytheon and many others. These powerful corporations are used by the economic elite “when national militaries and intelligence agencies – like the CIA, FBI or other government run entities – can’t get the job done.” If that’s not enough, “US intelligence and military operations” dominated by the Power Elite maintain a “never-ending…War on Terror…to drain the US population of more resources…further rob US taxpayers…[and] create a private military that is more powerful than the US military.” This overarching power has almost Orwellian implications as like the Oceanians in 1984, Americans are monitored through the technological methods of a very powerful private-public “military-intelligence complex.” This powerful complex insures that the smallest deviation can result in arrest and detention, meaning it is used for the protection of the power elite.
Still, the military elite aren’t the last part of the power elite. C. Wright Mills wrote in The Power Elite that the political elite is the last section, a group of “nationally responsible and policy-coherent parties and with autonomous organizations connecting the lower and middle levels of power with the top levels of decision…[including] business and government…become more intricately and deeply involved with each either…[at the same time,] the growth of the executive branch of the government…does not mean merely the…enlargement of…some sort of autonomous bureaucracy [but]…the ascendancy of the corporation’s man as a political eminence.” Mills continues saying that this elite includes elected and appointed politicians who are supposed to represent those who elected or appointed them, “policy-makers…men from high places…[and] humble origin.” Even so, as James Madison said, and what Mills points out, is that differences in policy exist between Republicans and Democrats and even within the Republican Party, but “these divisions are the internal discipline and the community of interests that bind the power elite together.” Even so, “not all [of the elite] who…represent the interests [of the wealthy]…further its interests.” This makes Congress basically an elective aristocracy where “all that can be asked of the ordinary citizen is that [they]…should be able to recognize people who are competent to make decisions on [their]…behalf. Whatever its other virtues, such a system hardly matches the democratic ideal that political authority must rest in the hands of…[99% of the] people” (David Miller, Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction). The Supreme Court would be an extension of this idea, except it would an unelected aristocracy and definitely has characteristics of an oligarchy. Other courts that have been established by Congress share some of the same characteristics. An oligarchy is “a form of government in which the ruling power belongs to few persons” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary: Fourth Edition). The Executive Branch could also be an elective aristocracy, but also is partly authoritarian as well. Overall, the American system of government can be accurately described as a “constitutional oligarchy” or a government run by a few people (it is a small percentage of the population ruling over everyone else) and has a constitutional government in place. Still, the national government is an aristocracy because it is a “government by the best citizens, government by a privileged minority or upper class, usually of inherited wealth and social position…a privileged ruling class…[a] nobility” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary: Fourth Edition).
You may ask: what about the influence of wealth in the political elite? Well, that adds another layer to the American governmental system. Not surprisingly you can consider it a plutocracy or “a government of the wealthy, a group of wealthy people that control government” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary: Fourth Edition). According to a excel document I downloaded from OpenSecrets, based on the average value of each governmental member in 2010, the latest numbers: 298 public figures had an average wealth of less than a million, 258 officials had an average wealth of $1-$10 million, 53 had an average wealth of $10-$50 million, seven had an average wealth of $50-$100 million and ten had an average wealth of $100-$500 million (Note: Five people with no finances recorded were not put into this analysis). In addition, thirty had an average wealth of less than $0 (meaning they were in debt). Still, the plutocratic elite is not the only group of elite.
All together, the American power elite, according to C. Wright Mills is “composed of political, economic, and military men…comes together only on certain coinciding points and only on certain occasions of ‘crisis.’” As a result, at this time of “crisis” (a second great worldwide depression), all the parts of the power elite have come together in America and on a global scale. This has created what have become the global elite. Noam Chomsky writes in his 1993 book, The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many that the international institutions (some of the institutions he mentioned have not been quoted to reflect modern international institutions) “like the…IMF…and….World Bank, trading structures like NAFTA” that hurts working people in Mexico, America and Canada, the WTO (replaced GATT), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the G-3 Free Trade Agreement (G-3), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which currently has four members but more are negotiating to join it, many other bilateral free-trade agreements, executive meetings like the G-8, G-20, and the European Union (EU) bureaucracy. Collectively these institutions form a “de facto world government that has [extraordinary] rights” trumping US law, the constitution and the sovereignty of other countries.
As a result, it’s not a stretch for the international human rights organization, Global Exchange, to call the World Trade Organization (WTO) is “the most powerful legislative and judicial body in the world.” The organization says the WTO “promot[es]…the ‘free trade’ agenda of multinational corporations above the interests of local communities, working families, and the environment…undermin[ing]… democracy [worldwide].” On top on that, since “WTO rules can be enforced through sanctions” the international body gains “more power…eclips[ing]…national governments.” This makes the WTO the political elite body interlinked with the intergovernmental organization, the World Customs Organization. The international political elite could be considered the U.N. General Assembly where non-binding resolutions pass, the economically-cooperative Council of Europe (COE), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (AESAN) and Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the WTO powerhouse as the hub of these elite.
The other two elements of the de facto world government, the World Bank and the IMF “lend money to debtor countries, the money comes with…‘structural adjustment policies.’…or SAPs [which]…require debtor governments to open their economies to penetration by foreign corporations, allowing access to the country’s workers and environment at bargain basement prices.” As a result, “across-the-board privatization of public utilities and publicly owned industries…slashing of government budgets, leading to cutbacks in spending on health care and education…deeper inequality and environmental destruction” occurs in the indebted Third World countries across the world. These institutions, along with the Bank of International Settlements which serves “central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability…and…act[s] as a bank for central banks” and the World Economic Forum, officially an “international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society” creates what is known as the world economic elite. The international oil cartel, OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting States), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) could also be considered part of the economic elite of the world. If these international institutions comprise of the world economic elite, then there is still a political and a military elite worldwide.
Other than these two elite groupings of institutions (political and economic), there is a global military elite as well. Part of that elite is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, created after WWII, has an official purpose to “safeguard the freedom and security of its  members through political and military means…[including] cooperating in the fields of security and defence…[on a] transatlantic [scale]…[by] developing the necessary means to react quickly [and cooperatively] to the most demanding and complex crises.” In reality, as InterOccupy stated, “NATO is both a military alliance and an instigator of severe repression as its policies ensure the reign of the global north over countries who adopt other economic systems… NATO is the army of the 1%.” This makes NATO the hub of some military elite with numerous other elite organizations worldwide affiliated with it.
As mentioned in the chart, the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) which deals with military and defense aspects of the EU (the policy has resulted in twelve different foreign military/civilian interventions in non-EU nations) can be considered on the side of NATO. Even though it is not officially connected to NATO, Interpol officially pledges to “preventing and fighting crime through enhanced international police cooperation” but this usually includes those that have already been targeted by the worldwide power elite, especially the military elite. The Mérida Initiative, the Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America can also be considered connected to the NATO-related military elite. Other treaties are mainly part of this military elite: the Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty (between France and the U.K.), the Franco-German Brigade, the Lithuanian–Polish–Ukrainian Brigade, the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty, the military alliance between South Korea and the United States, the Mutual Defense Treaty (U.S.–Philippines), ANZUS, a Australian-New Zealand-American military alliance, and the Five Power Defence Arrangements agreed to by the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore in which the states will consult each other if there is external aggression or threat of attack on the Malaysian peninsula or in Singapore.
Another aspect of the military elite worldwide is the UN peacekeeping force, from six different UN bodies, numbers over 100,000 personnel (troops, military observers and police). However, this is headed by the U.N. Security Council, where five member states are permanent members, meaning their one vote kills a resolution, even if a majority votes for it. These five states (Russia, China, United States, U.K. and France) are manipulated by the global military elite and the military elite of their respective countries to go to war. As it stands now, the United States, U.K., and France side with NATO, the “Western” military elite and China and Russia side with the “Eastern” military elite. The “Eastern” military elite are comprised of two major groups. First is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which has six member nations (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) and works on security concerns of the six Asian countries, especially terrorism, separatism and extremism. The SCO cooperates with the mutual security pact, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) (member nations are the same as SCO except not China and including Armenia, and Belarus) on security, crime, drug trafficking and much more. This Asian-Mutual-Security-Complex or the military elite of the “East” supposedly has plans to coordinate with NATO, not rival it. However, at this time, it seems the two different military elite are facing off against each other for control.
Even with these two rival military elites, new elites to uproot this system are in the works. In South America, at the insistence of Venezuela and Brazil, the South American Defense Council (SADC) was formed in 2008 with twelve members to help “create cooperative, coordinated and concrete military ties as well as promote transparency regarding each member state’s defense expenditures” according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. In Africa, a place where oil will be drilled in the “race of for what’s left,” as Michael T. Klare calls it, another mutual security organization was formed. The Peace and Security Council within the African Union, which pledges to be a “standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts…[and be] a collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa.” In conjunction with this group is the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX) which has military and peacekeeping exercises every two years includes ten Central African countries. Also in Africa is the 21-member Arab League, which coordinates military defense measures (since 1950) and other political and socio-economic programs of its members. In the Middle East, near the states of the Arab League is the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is a political and economic confederation of six Gulf States which recently authorized a military intervention in Bahrain to prop up the unpopular monarchy.
One may wonder if the Occupy movement has even gone this deep and attacked the mainstay of American and the worldwide Power Elite itself. On the domestic front, the Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase & Co have all been protested. The iconic symbol of Wall Street (people are sleeping there), Congress (they’ve tried), and other govt. departments (Justice, Labor, Treasury, etc…) have been places of protest. Homes about to be foreclosed have been occupied; the Fed early on and throughout has been a focus at different occupations. Tax money to war has been criticized, the World Economic Forum was protested in January 2012 and “Occupy the Farm” has been set up as an alternative to the industrialized food system. Occupiers protested the G8 and NATO’s “war and poverty agenda.” Instead of what was termed the corrupted G8 agenda, occupiers called for a “People’s 99% Agenda” including: universal nuclear disarmament, labeling of all GMO food (90% of corn and soy beans), saving of the global climate, justice for developing countries, international banking reform for the 99% and geothermal, solar, wind, conservation, and efficiency. The protesting of NATO, the center of the “western” military elite, and calls for the end of the aggressive military alliance, resulted in brutal suppression by Chicago Police. In response, Occupy Boston, OWS NYC, Occupy Denver, Occupy Portland, Occupy Austin, Occupy Rochester, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Orlando and Occupy Salt Lake City had rallies in solidarity to fight what they described as “state terrorism.” Also, the so-called “NATO 5” (originally the “NATO 3”) was activists arrested for what seems to be trumped up charged of terrorism. Even the secret trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been “occupied” by activists in Texas and pro-business organization, the Downtown Denver Partnership was protested by activists in Denver and silver maple trees that were “slated to be cut down for “redevelopment” [for]… luxury apartments for the 1%” were saved by Occupy Boston.
In other countries these anti-Power Elite actions continued. In Mexico, occupiers in nationwide protests have criticized the Mexican Stock Exchange, and the Mexican Drug War, basically related to NAFTA. In Canada, striking students “defend[ed] accessible public education and oppose[d] tuition increase” in protests numbering up to 500,000. In Europe, occupiers have protested the European Central Bank (related to the EU) in Germany and in Rome. Also in that city, the influence of the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund on the Italian government was protested. Also in Germany, the recent Blockupy tent occupation continues to be held to criticize “the Troika…the EU, the ECB [European Central Bank], and the International Monetary Fund.” Also in Europe, occupiers protested the Central Bank of Ireland, the financial institutions of UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the major European bank, Dexia. In solidarity with Spanish protesters, occupiers camped “in London, Rome, Frankfurt, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and many other cities…[to] focus on the Banks and their role in the Global Economic Crisis.” In Russia, occupy groups have demanded “free and fair elections” after the fraudulent election of Vladmir Putin. In Asia, the regional headquarters of HSBC Holdings has been occupied. On a worldwide scale, the Occupy movement called for an end to “wholesale robbery — what the 1% call “austerity”” replaced “a system where everyone can not only survive, but flourish” including a universal living wage. More elaboration on such a new fair and equal system was detailed at the International ‘Global Spring’ Assembly, a group of “supporters of Occupy, Take the Square and Latin American, African, Asian and Middle Eastern social movements” released the Global May Manifesto which called for “the radical democratisation of international institutions like the IMF, BIS and UN; the replacement of the G8/20 with a democratic UN assembly; a system of global taxation on financial transactions; and for the abolition of tax havens.”
All these actions tell if the Occupy movement has struck at the American and worldwide Power Elite or not. The mainstay of each elite has been criticized by the movement. Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House, NATO, the UN (by Disrupt Dirty Power), the WTO, the Council of Europe (protested by Blockupy), the IMF, BIS and the World Economic Forum have been occupied or criticized by the movement. For the military elite, the peace movement has joined with the occupiers in opposing drones, the rampage of war, future wars and so on. The economic elite have been touched because of protests aimed at the specific members of the Business Roundtable, some of which were members of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group ousted by Center of Media and Democracy, which creates “model laws” including Stand Your Ground Laws and Voter ID laws. The Occupy movement and other groups shamed corporate partners into stepping down. The Chamber of Commerce gets some focus from the movement as well. The mass media has been criticized since the movement’s founding online and in protests. Still, many organizations have been untouched by occupations.
For Occupy to go to the next step, as many of these groups as possible must be occupied. The main groups of future scrutiny should include the Prison-Industrial-Complex, the Business Roundtable, the American Bankers Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Asian-Mutual-Security-Complex, the powerful private military, US intelligence and military operations dominated by the Power Elite, the powerful private-public “military-intelligence complex,” OPEC, the OAS, the GCC, the U.N. General Assembly, OECD, OSCE, and Interpol. In addition, the tactics used against ALEC must be used against the center of the American economic elite, the Business Roundtable and the Financial Services Roundtable. If both Roundtables are “exposed” like ALEC was by the Center for Media and Democracy, then Occupy would be on the right side of history. Still, other groups with enormous power should face similar treatment. Also, following the steps outlined in May 2012 would be critical: having non-stop protests (occupations, strikes, direct actions, information campaigns), create self-managed communities (camps, eco-villages, co-operatives and alternative projects), and have “working groups of people co-operating on specific projects.” Following the advice of Noam Chomsky in his book, What Uncle Same Really Wants could also work. Chomsky writes that there needs to be sustained and organized pressure on the centers of power, the pressing of a position on “their representatives [making]…elections…matter,” organizing “on a scale that will influence representatives,” having each person “do their own research…[something that] can change people’s minds” and ultimately an “honest and dedicated effort” to challenge “systems of illegitimate authority” and avert disaster in the world. Most importantly, pushing the “common sense political reforms” that David McGraw advocated for in the 2010 report that started the 99% movement (led to the Occupy movement) is needed. Some reforms that must be pushed now include: relinquishing private control of voting, having a paper trail for voting, reversing Citizens United, funding and voting for alternative parties, making it easier for alternative parties to get on the ballot, giving all candidates a fair share of television coverage, automatically register all citizens to vote, have transparency and accountability in government (ending secret lobbying and revolving door), break up big media, support real investigative journalism, keep a free and open internet, lower costs for healthcare, ensure the protection of “our food and water supply,” hold the Economic Elite accountable, seize our wealth from them and “apply intense public pressure and scrutiny to force…a real investigation” of the power elite in America. By taking all these steps, the Occupy movement would improve its standing with many Americans and be able to fully “fight the powers that be” as Public Enemy sung in 1989.
The Occupy movement must fully confront all the aspects of the Power Elite, in order to build a better society, partly by realizing that every country in the world has either an elite imposed on them and/or their own elite. Also, the Occupy movement should remember the truthfulness of Bob Dylan’s 1983 song, Union Sundown and work to make a peaceful world:
“Well, you know, lots of people complainin’ that there is no work
I say, “Why you say that for
When nothin’ you got is U.S.–made?”
They don’t make nothin’ here no more
You know, capitalism is above the law
It say, “It don’t count ’less it sells”
When it costs too much to build it at home
You just build it cheaper someplace else…
Democracy don’t rule the world
You’d better get that in your head
This world is ruled by violence.”
In conclusion, the fight will be hard, the police suppression will continue, the authoritarian government of America armed with a propaganda machine in full swing and police state in place, will continue to believe that citizens should have unquestioning obedience to authority,” but Occupy will persevere as it has since September 17th, 2011.
Burkely Hermann is the founder and editor of interestingblogger.wordpress.com and hermannview.tumblr.com. He has also written articles for Dissident Voice, Eat the State! and has been published three times in the Baltimore Sun about increased class sizes, the so-called “war on terror,” and wireless electricity. He also occasionally adds to his Maryland blog, Sunshine Politics. He plans on majoring in political science in college. He can be emailed at email@example.com. You can follow his reporting daily through his twitter, @burkelyh.