Hans Lovejoy, editor
‘You don’t need a formal conspiracy when interests align,’ said comedian George Carlin, and with that in mind, a remarkable book released in August last year details the 17 transnational investment firms who control over $50 trillion in concentrated wealth.
Giants: The Global Power Elite, by professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University [US], Peter Phillips, is ironically available on amazon.com, which in January became the most valuable public company on the planet at $797 billion.
According to Phillips, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (the world’s richest person worth $160b) doesn’t even feature in his book because ‘he is just a tall tree’ within a forest – ‘they are all interconnected’.
He told journalist Abby Martin (of the Empire Files) that one per cent of the population control 90 per cent of the planet’s wealth through the 17 transnational investment firms. ‘They represent 3,000 billionaires and manage their money’.
‘There are only 199 people who are directors on the boards of those companies’, he says. ‘They make policy decisions that impact on the entire world’.
So who is the biggest fish? Blackrock is the largest – and most successful – transnational investment company in the world, says Phillips. ‘This year they have $6 trillion in assets,’ including a $50b stake in US weapons maker Lockheed Martin.
CEO Larry Fink was on Trump’s advisory board, and is ‘actively encouraging the privatisation of [US] social security’.
Phillips says, ‘Of the largest 200 economic entities in the world, 150 are corporations’. Being bigger than many countries, they use the WTO and IMF to lend countries money that only benefits them.
The narrative of capitalism is managed by the US-based Atlantic Council think-tank, which hire public relations companies (PR). The three biggest on the planet are Omnicom Group, IPG and WPP.
While the Atlantic Council also curates Facebook news feeds, Phillips also claims, ‘They put out press releases on behalf of government and corporates, which are presented as news by the corporately owned media’. The six largest global media corporations are AT&T, Disney, CBS, Fox, Viacom, Comcast.
He also says, ‘80 per cent of [US] TV news is packaged or prepared by public-relations firms working for governments and corporations’.
Also protecting the transnational capitalist class and their assets are private security/military corporations such as G4S, which is the second-largest private employer in the world, Phillips says.
‘The only one bigger is Walmart’, he says.
‘G4S were the ones with dogs that were in Dakota, attacking the demonstrators around the pipeline’.
‘As mercenaries, G4S work in Africa, South America… they guard banks, run prisons, as well as protect the Israelis in the settlements from the Palestinians’.
So do we live in a corporatocracy or democracy?
Wealth concentration will always be the number-one issue humankind faces as it attacks the ultimate sustainability of life on Earth. And most of these corporations pay zero tax.