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They are the wealthiest, the most elite, and they hold the most power. They run our governments, our largest corporations, the powerhouses of international finance, the media, world religions, and, from the shadows, the world’s most dangerous criminal and terrorist organizations. The six thousand people who compose the global "Superclass" are shaping the history of our time.
Today’s superclass has achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and power. Nationalist critics have argued that they have more in common with one another than with their own countrymen. They have globalized more rapidly than any other group—they control globalization—but they have been accused of feeding the growing economic and social inequity that divides the world. What happens inside closed-door meetings in Davos or aboard corporate jets at 41,000 feet? Conspiracy or collaboration? Deal-making or idle self-indulgence? What does the rise of Asia and Latin America mean for the conventional wisdom that shapes our destinies? Who sets the rules for a group that operates beyond national laws?
Drawn from exclusive interviews and extensive original reporting, Superclass answers all of these questions as it draws back the curtain on a privileged society that most of us know little about, even though it profoundly affects our everyday lives. It is the first in-depth examination of the connections between the global communities of leaders who are at the helm of every major enterprise on the planet and control its greatest wealth. And it is an unprecedented examination of the trends within the superclass, which are likely to alter our politics, our institutions, and the shape of the world in which we live.
"Rothkopf discards history and adopts a metaphysical approach. Elites speak English; attend the same schools; interact in the same boardrooms, on the same ski slopes and private jets; and from this a (mostly) common agenda spontaneously emerges. Indeed, the concentration of power and resources is natural, unavoidable—even desirable. 'We will always want and need leaders,' he writes. Rothkopf is a corporate consultant and former Clinton administration trade official who had a hand in the deregulation of the 1990s. For that reason, his admissions of the shortcomings of neoliberalism carry significant weight."—Todd Tucker, Dissent
“[Rothkopf's] point that globalisation has seriously exacerbated the democratic deficit is well made. As the credit crunch shows so starkly, many businesses and individuals are now able to make decisions that affect billions of people, in many different countries—and our governments, central banks and regulators are unable to keep them in check, acting alone."—Robert Peston, Management Today (London)
"Whether you like it or not, there is no way to deny the enormous, disproportionate, concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a relatively small number of people in the world today. David Rothkopf has vividly described who they are, and how they operate and interact, in his valuable (and often disturbing) new book."—Richard Holbrooke, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
"No, no vast conspiracy runs the world. But, according to Rothkopf’s book, a tiny but diverse global elite, a Superclass, comes close. His finely honed prose takes the reader on a joyous, entertaining, and erudite romp around the globe in search of that class."—Alan Blinder, Former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States
"Thanks to Rothkopf's special blend of analysis, direct interaction with his subjects and vivid writing, this is a must read book for people interested in understanding the genesis of leadership in the new global economy."—Ernesto Zedillo, Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and Former President of Mexico
"David Rothkopf has written a super book about the people presently executing an historic shift of world economic and political power and about how they are doing it and why. If you want to know how your choices are being determined and the circumstances of your life conditioned, you must read this book."—Clyde Prestowitz, President of the Economic Strategy Institute and author of Three Billion New Capitalists
"The activities of a growing cosmopolitan elite are having profound effects. They can be highly desirable when they promote international cooperation or more problematic when the interests of the elites diverge from those of their citizens. David Rothkopf's Superclass skillfully probes these issues and many more and should be read by all those concerned with the international economy and the evolving global system."—Lawrence Summers, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
"Superclass is a timely and detailed analysis of the disproportionate power and hence responsibility of an incredibly small group of individuals: the global power elites whose strongest allegiances are not with their countries but with each other. Understanding the implications of this shift beyond the nation-state is of great importance and Rothkopf has made a significant first step."—Bob Wright, Vice Chairman, General Electric, and former President and CEO, NBC Universal
"An entertaining and well researched taxonomy of the rich and powerful who shape foreign policy and business in our globalized world. Rothkopf gives us the story behind Davos Man."—Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics and author of Making Globalization Work and Globalization and its Discontents
"A masterful portrait of this century's global elite: who they are, how they run the world, and why you should worry about the increasing concentration of influence, wealth and power they represent. An insider and a globalizer himself, Rothkopf knows his people and his politics, and uses history, psychology, economics and a lot of awfully good stories to ask troubling new questions about globalization as we know it. It’s smart and it's fun. And if you are a globophile who trusts greater prosperity and stability to disinterested markets, it will make you think again."—Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development
"In his lively and brilliantly written book Superclass, David Rothkopf has captured the multitude and density of cross-border connections and interactions among the influential, rich and famous throughout the world. He compellingly describes how those links are shaping the global economic and political landscape today—and how they will powerfully influence the future institutions and politics of our planet."—Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs (International) and author of The Price of Liberty: Paying for America's Wars
"Some 6,000 people, about one for every million in the world's population, drive the decisions that directly affect the global economic climate in which our governments, corporations, military leaders, technocrats and workers must strive. In other words, they run our lives. So declares Rothkopf, who dubs this elite the 'Superclass.' Members may be found in places like Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum convenes annually, or at gatherings in California's Bohemian Grove, where Republican powerbrokers howl and grunt like Neanderthals. Though international in origin, they share a number of traits: wealth (sometimes mega-wealth), blue-chip educations garnered at world-renowned universities and access to networked ways of getting things done that few of us can even imagine. Key clusters of these individuals comprise the top functionaries of national governments and those who peddle influence among them, the corporate elite, the power media and the military/industrial complex (now far more integrated and tightly knit across national borders). Together they are essentially herding the industrialized nations, including Asian giants China and India, into a corral that the author labels 'global governance.' His book details the means by which they acquire, negotiate and exercise the clout to do this. 'It is hard to ignore the many ways they are the primary beneficiaries of the global order that they shape,' opines Rothkopf, partner in an international consulting firm and a Washington insider in the Clinton Administration who boasts firsthand experience of how power is wielded. An impressively knowledgeable guide to the world's elite and how they have coalesced as a kind of natural order."—Kirkus Reviews
"Books on world elites tend to focus on the super wealthy, but political scholar Rothkopf has written a serious and eminently readable evaluation of the super powerful. Until recent decades, great-power governments provided most of the 'superclass,' accompanied by a few heads of international movements (i.e., the pope) and entrepreneurs (Rothschilds, Rockefellers). Today, economic clout—fueled by the explosive expansion of international trade, travel and communication—rules. The nation state's power has diminished, according to Rothkopf, shrinking politicians to minority power broker status. Leaders in international business, finance and the defense industry not only dominate the superclass, they move freely into high positions in their nations' governments and back to private life largely beyond the notice of elected legislatures (including the U.S. Congress), which remain abysmally ignorant of affairs beyond their borders. The super elites' disproportionate influence over national policy is often constructive, but always self-interested. Across the world, the author contends, few object to corruption and oppressive governments provided they can do business in these countries. Neither hand-wringing nor worshipful, this book delivers an unsettling account of what the immense and growing power of this superclass bodes for the future."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)