From the readings of my youth, more than four decades ago, few questions struck me so much as that which is the title of the second part of José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses: “Who rules the world?”
The philosopher did not formulate the question in a metaphysical sense, where it could be answered with something like “God,” “chance,” “fate,” but in the geopolitical sense, and he arrived at the conclusion that it was a pity that Europe had lost its position of leadership in the world, yielding it to Russia and the United States.
However, the answer did not seem to match the question. In fact, states, nations, continents, and governments cannot rule anything. The actual rulers are individuals and groups that control states and nations. Prior to geo-politics is politics tout court. And here is where things get formidably complicated. It is easy to see what states or countries prevail over others. But finding out who really rules a state or country—and thereby may rule other states and countries as well—is a more daunting intellectual challenge than an ordinary political analyst can imagine.
The English verb “to command” ultimately derives from the Latin expression manus dare, that is, “to give one’s hands”: he who commands lends his means of action (his “hands”) to others so that they may perform something he has planned. It is true that rulers give orders to their subordinates, but when you look into the practice of ruling closely, you will see that only very few leaders in history—a Napoleon, a Stalin, a Reagan—were themselves the creators of the ideas they put into practice. Early theorists of the modern state hit the nail on the head when they coined the term “executive power”: in general, a statesman is an executor of ideas which he did not conceive nor would have the ability—or the time—to conceive. And those who conceived these ideas were the same ones who gave him the means to get into office to put them into practice. But who are they?
Applying the question to the specific case of the United States, the sociologist Charles Wright Mills, one of the mentors of the New Left, published a book in 1956 that would become a classic: The Power Elite. The answer he found took the form of a very complicated network of groups, families, corporations, official and unofficial intelligence services, cults, clubs, churches, and circles of overt and discreet personal relationships, including mistresses and call girls. In that picture, the American political class, which culminated in the person of a nominal ruler, appeared as foam on the surface of dark waters. Mills was obviously on the right track. But he died in 1962 and did not have the opportunity to witness a phenomenon that he himself helped bring about: the New Left itself has become the power elite and lost all interest in “transparency.” In fact, the New Left has taken great pains in becoming opaque, to the point of placing a complete unknown in the presidency of the most powerful country in the world and surrounding him with a protection wall that blocks any attempt to discover who he is, what he has done, with whom he walks, and what interests he represents. If you want to have an idea of what the power elite in the United States has been up to, you will have to look for information on the other end of the ideological spectrum, for it is conservatives who are the current inheritors of the tradition of studies inaugurated by Wright Mills.
It is thanks to conservatives that the Fabian globalist elite, the living nucleus of power behind practically all governments of the West, has become visible in its composition and the details of its modus operandi to the point of almost obscenity, making some people’s insistence in calling that elite “a secret power” unintentionally comical. Google the words “Council on Foreign Relations,” “Bilderberg,” “Trilateral Comission” and the like, and you will get more information than your neurons will be able to process for the next ten years—information whose level of credibility ranges from scientific evidence to downright fabrication.
In contrast, little or nothing is known of the deep sources of power in Russia, China, and Islamic countries. Even the descriptions we have of the visible ruling class in those regions of the globe are schematic and superficial, bearing no possible comparison with the meticulous Who’s Who of the Western elite. This is easily explained by differences in access to information sources. For it is one thing to research in Western archives and libraries, under the protection of the law and democratic institutions—and in the Unites States it is even possible for someone to pierce the barrier of official unwillingness through the Freedom of Information Act. It is a totally different thing to try to guess what goes behind the impenetrable walls of the Russian-Chinese establishment.
Neither the KGB nor China’s secret services have ever allowed independent researchers to gain access to their files. Even the files of the Communist Party of the USSR were closed again after a brief period of tolerance, motivated not by some sudden love of freedom, but by the illusory conviction, soon to be dispelled, that Western researchers were mostly sympathetic to the Soviet regime.
In the Islamic world, underneath the ruling class and the hurly-burly of terrorist groups there extends an unfathomable network of esoteric organizations, some of which being a thousand years old, whose power of influence varies greatly from one country to another and from time to time. These organizations, which are the spiritual core of Islam, the deep guarantee of its civilizational unity, and in the long term, the condition of possibility of Islamic worldwide expansion, are still perfectly unknown to Western, journalistic or even academic, political analysts.
The difference in visibility among the great globalist schemes in competition is the source of catastrophic errors in the description of the conflict of power in the world. I will explain some of these errors in upcoming articles.
Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute, Distinguished Senior Fellow in Philosophy, Political Science, and the Humanities.
Translation by Alessandro Cota.
The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.