Victor M. Toledo
it is common place to say that a book can change the life of an individual, and we all know countless cases that confirm it. We have also pointed out that a new generation of scientists has unveiled with detailed studies the two supreme crises of humanity: the depredation of nature and the exploitation of human labor by a minority of minorities. We have dedicated several essays to the first, and today we reveal what has been investigated about that elite that parasitizes and dominates the world. It is a class of global scale, which with each passing day becomes more, not less, powerful. Already in 2000 Leslie Sklair published his book The Transnational Capitalist Classand years later William I. Robinson did it with A Theory of Global Capitalism (2004), and William K. Carroll with The Making of a Transnational Capitalist Class (2010). However, the book that we are going to review here has surpassed all precedents and is destined to become an encyclopedia of the corporate empire, due to the detail of its data and the rigorous methods used to obtain it. This is the book by Peter Phillips Megacapitalists: the elite that dominates money and the world (2019), the fruit of many years of research, originally published in English.
Philips explains very clearly how capital’s mega-machinery is kept running at full steam and increasing its ability to reproduce. To do this, it first reveals its composition, that is, its anatomy. He not only identifies the largest corporations and banks and their transactions, but also the individuals who move them with names and surnames. Phillips reveals an inner core of 389 individuals drawn from the upper echelons of the transnational capitalist class who occupy the apex of this global power structure. Then he reveals to the reader the mechanisms by which he acts, how he controls political and diplomatic power and international institutions, how he protects himself militarily, and how he subtly spreads an ideology of domination through the world’s main mass media.
“In this book –says its author– we are going to present information that demonstrates that transnational elites interact as a social class and function as administrators of global capital. We identify 389 members of these global power elites as the key managers of concentrated capital, enablers of capital growth, and protectors of the system.”
The book shows how capitalism is a system that invisibly adapts through contractions, recessions, and depressions, seeking to trap everything in an imposed web of growth and profitability with enormous human consequences for billions of people. There are three mechanisms to invest surplus capital: financial speculation, wars and their preparation, and the privatization of public institutions. This implies huge investments in the media, industry, commerce and the global military-industrial complex. These mechanisms often bring about problems of legitimacy, as democratic structures are constantly undermined, giving rise to militarized police states. This explains why there has been a democratic backsliding and an increase in authoritarianism that reduced democracies from 44 to 39 between 2008 and 2018, and why 24 countries are severely affected by a new autocratic wave (V-Dem Annual Report 2019. Gothenburg: V-Dem Institute).
The work reveals how the cycle or rotation of capital that forces surpluses to be reinvested effectively causes the processes of accumulation, concentration and centralization of wealth to increase each year. Reliable proof of this are the exorbitant profits of banks and corporations or the data provided by the Laboratory of Social Inequality in Paris, directed by Thomas Piketty. According to Oxfam International, in January 2016, 62 people had the same wealth as half the world’s population; in 2017 Oxfam reported that half of the world’s wealth was in the hands of just eight men. The concentration of wealth is happening so fast that one day in the not too distant future a single man may have more money than half the human beings put together.
In the second part of this review we will review who forms the global elite, the role of wars and especially against terrorism and many other aspects that are surprising. Meanwhile, we invite the reader to consult this work that will be essential to understand the world situation (https://bit.ly/3BL70KK).