Who Rules the World?
Edited by Georgina Murray and John Scott
Chapter 5: The Business Roundtable and the Transnational Capitalist Class
Clifford L. Staples If we begin with the assumption that the United States remains among the most powerful, if not the most powerful, nation-states on earth, then one way to find out something about who rules the world is to figure out who rules America—the question Domhoff has pursued for over 40 years (Domhoff 1967, 2010). For Domhoff, the United States has long been controlled by the 1 percent of the society that owns 40 percent of its wealth—a group that includes both the social upper class and top-level executives based in the corporate community. This class uses its concentrated economic, social, cultural, and institutional power to shape the economy and government for its own benefit. Thus one could argue that to the extent that Domhoff is correct about who rules America, and to the extent that America rules—or at least shapes in significant ways—the world then both are ruled by America’s corporate-capitalist class. But even for those who agree with the broad outlines of this account, many questions remain. Here I want to address the question of whether, with the globalization of capitalist production and accumulation, Domhoff’s corporate-capitalist class still “belongs” to America. That is, while we might agree that the United States is ruled by a corporatecapitalist class is it still reasonable to assume that the class that rules America is still exclusively an American class? As recently as the late 1980s, nation-centered approaches to the study of corporate elites and capitalist classes were...
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