The elitists, the ruling class and Occupy Wall Street

Christopher Haynes
01/12/11



On September 17, 2011, thousands oI people sat in Zucotti Park, New York, to begin the
demonstration they called Occupy Wall Street. By mid-October, similar demonstrations had
begun in hundreds or thousands more locations around the world. Though their grievances vary
somewhat, the protesters are united by the demand oI separating money Irom politics. Their
demand, along with their slogan 'we are the 99°¨, displays an understanding that the ruling
class, 'the 1°¨, have concentrated money and power in their hands to the detriment oI everyone
else.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and its sibling movements around the world protest inequality,
unemployment and debt. They convey the idea that the political system no longer represents
anyone but the rich, and that the rich, who are supposed to create wealth Ior all, have instead
precipitated a devastating Iinancial crisis. In eIIect, OWS criticises and seeks to end the
symbiotic relationship between big corporations and government that are controlled by the 1°,
Ior the 1°. This essay uses elite theories oI political science to explain this relationship. It
attempts to show that the elite theorists were correct in their judgment that power and wealth are
concentrated in the hands oI a Iew, and that what they said about the power elite or the ruling
classes oI their time applies at least as much in the contemporary United States. First, it
introduces elite theory and its views on political science; second, it looks at the inequalities oI
wealth and income that have led to a distinct upper class; third, it demonstrates how the upper
class stays powerIul through such measures as campaign contributions; Iourth, it considers how
the wealthy help the politically powerIul get rich, and how power and money have become even
more concentrated at the top oI society in recent years; Iinally, it applies Mosca`s theory oI the
ruling class to OWS to determine its likeliest outcome.
Elite theory is a collection oI writings that describes power in a society as largely held in the
hands oI a small minority. The disorganised majority, the ruled, can be controlled by the
minority, the rulers. (Mosca, 1939, p. 50) The theory views pluralism and any Iorm oI very
representative democracy as idealistic and naïve. The elitists used diIIerent terms such as
'governing elites¨ (VilIredo Pareto), 'ruling class¨ (Gaetano Mosca) or 'oligarchy¨ (Robert
Michels). G. William DomhoII shows that, though Pareto spoke oI the governing elites with no
regard to socioeconomics, this governing class does (in the US, the Iocus oI this paper) consist oI
the members oI the upper socioeconomic class. (DomhoII, 1967, p. 3) Pareto looked at the upper
20° (which may be a reasonable Irame oI reIerence), rather than the 1°, but it is not clear where
the right cut oII between elites and non-elites is, and as such the given percentages are arbitrary.
While others have diIIerent terms that categorise the elites slightly diIIerently, this paper will use
those terms interchangeably. The point is not that the power elite are somehow diIIerent Irom the
upper class, but that they are suIIiciently similar to warrant placing them in the same category.
Some elitists believe the study oI political science is Ilawed due to its Iocus on the wrong things.
Mosca says we spend too much time labeling states and types oI governmentmonarchy,
democracy, republic, etc.making regimes seem diIIerent on the surIace while hiding important
similarities. They all have a ruling class with comparable characteristics. (Mosca, 52) The early
elite theorists said the Iormation oI an elite was inevitable in complex societies. Egalitarianism is
impossible and utopian. There will always be elites who will game the system and accrue power
and privilege over others. Such an elite is not monolithic (DomhoII, 3) but is 'consensually
united¨. (Higley and Burton, 2006, p. 1) Mosca says tiny minorities would out-organise and
outwit the majority, and that the political class has 'a certain material, intellectual or even moral
superiority¨ over the governed. Pareto believes that in a society with Iull social mobility, the
elites would be the most talented and deserving individuals; but since that type oI society does
not exist (perhaps because the elites do not want it), Ior the moment they are those who can most
skilIully employ Iorce and persuasion, the two modes oI political rule. It helps iI they have
inherited wealth and Iamily connections. Michels believes oligarchies, or elite cliques, would
inevitably Iorm in large organisations. They begin as leaders, possibly through merit, and as they
gain control oI Iunds, inIormation Ilows, promotions and other Iunctions oI the organisation,
they concentrate power in their own hands. The rank-and-Iile are oIten apathetic and ignorant,
making them easy prey Ior manipulation. (Higley and Burton, 5) (Political elites treat entire
countries as organisations in these ways.) John Higley and Michael G. Burton go as Iar as to call
a secure political elite 'the sine qua non oI liberal democracy¨. (Ibid., 1) They also say that in the
century since the elitists wrote, their contentions that a ruling class would inevitably emerge
(Pareto and Mosca), and that organisations come to be dominated by an oligarchy (Michels),
have not been reIuted. (Ibid., 5) As such, '|s|tudying how elites vary and uncovering the origins
oI elites conducive to such an order should be a priority in social science.¨ (Ibid., 4)
Michels believes that democracy led inevitably to oligarchy, and was ruled by 'an oligarchical
nucleus¨, the ruling minority. (Michels, 2001, p. 6) Michels` thesis is relevant to us on two levels.
First, what he says about political parties can be applied to the two broad-based political parties
oI the US, the Republicans and the Democrats. Second, it is a kind oI microscope that, when
adjusted to zoom out, can explain the wider political system in America, the task oI this essay.
The ruling class is by no means limited to political parties or politicians. It consists oI elites in
both political parties, high-ranking government oIIicials and business executives, with lobbyists
at the centre. In the US, men start Irom nothing and make their Iortunes and become part oI the
1°, 'all oI which helps to Ioster in the people oI that country the illusion that democracy is a
Iact.¨ (Mosca, 68) Michels is very clear that he does not wish to pass judgment on this state oI
aIIairs, as the sociologist`s job is to diagnose precisely beIore coming to a prognosis. (Michels, 6)
Pareto, too, aimed to describe Iacts and distill laws without value judgment. Pareto disavowed
any pratical goals, and though one may see preIerences in the thrust oI his writing, his main
purpose was to explain. (Burnham, 1970, p. 191-2) However, to the extent that this connection
between corporate and business is itselI to blame Ior the economic crisis, Ioreclosures, massive
student loans and other complaints oI the OWS protesters, some people have clearly moved
beyond diagnosis to blame and protest. They are not sociologists; they are concerned citizens
who are losing their homes. Michels says this law oI oligarchy 'is, like every other sociological
law, beyond good and evil¨ (Michels, 6); millions oI Americans beg to diIIer.
In order to keep power within the clique, it was common to inherit power and property. Mosca,
writing in 1939, says that ruling classes have a tendency to stability, and that 'all ruling classes
tend to become hereditary in Iact iI not in law.¨ (Mosca, 61) In modern democratic systems,
power is not legally inherited. Michels says that whenever rule is not hereditary, there is the
tendency to nepotism. (Michels, 14) Handouts, bailouts and Iavourable legislation Ior
corporations is an outgrowth oI this nepotism; we will examine them later in this paper. SuIIice
to say, money is a powerIul Iorce. Mosca was very clear on this point. 'Among material Iorces, a
Iorce that is able very easily to override all the powers oI the state and sometimes to violate, let
alone the norms oI justice and equity, the literal text oI the law, is mobile wealthit is money, or
at least that portion oI money which is powerIully organised. The great development oI banking
systems and oI credit, the growth oI large corporations,.the great enlargement oI public debts¨
over the century prior to his writing had already corrupted and controlled otherwise powerIul
states. (Mosca, 146) The same is clearly true today; and OWS knows it. Banks` extreme lending
practices are at the centre oI this disastrous Iinancial breakdown; corporations are larger and
more powerIul than ever; and public debts have grown so large they threaten take down entire
governments.
A Iew people (1° oI us) can control the assets oI the commercial interests in any country. (Ibid.,
146) '|S|uch individuals possess the most varied resources Ior threatening and corrupting public
oIIicials, ministries, legislative bodies, newspapers.¨ (Ibid., 147) Meanwhile, the wealth oI the
99° is scattered around so widely in so many hands that, even though it is larger, it 'has no
power whatever to react.¨ (Ibid., 147) Is there evidence Ior such a concentration oI wealth among
the rich?
Inequality has steadily increased in the US Ior some time. It is hard to say when it began, though
as measured by the Gini coeIIicient, inequality declined between 1947 and 1968, then remained
Ilat Ior the next decade.
1
Princeton economist Paul Krugman has called the period Irom 1980 to
the present the Great Divergence.
2
Wealth has become concentrated. The top 1° owns 33.8° oI
the wealth in the US; the bottom 50° owns 2.5°.
3
The disparity in Iinancial wealth is telling, as
the wealthy tend to own a disproportionate portion oI securities. The top 1° owns 50.9° oI
stocks and bonds; the bottom 50° owns 0.5°.
4
Another study Iinds that the wealthiest 57,860
Americans hold a combined net worth oI $7.6 trillion.
5
Taxes on the highest income bracket Iell
Irom around 90° during the 1940s and 50s to under 40° Iollowing the 'Bush tax cuts¨.
6


1
Welnbergţ uanlel PŦ (!une 1996)Ŧ A 8rlef Look aL ÞosLwar uS lncome lnequallLyŦ ceosos 8oteooŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.census.gov/prod/1/pop/p60-191.pdI
2
noahţ 1lmoLhy (SepLember 3ţ 2010)Ŧ 1he unlLed SLaLes of lnequallLyŦ oteŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.slate.com/articles/news¸and¸politics/the¸great¸divergence/Ieatures/2010/the¸united
¸states¸oI¸inequality/introducing¸the¸great¸divergence.html
3
Lublnţ Cus (!uly 16ţ 2010)Ŧ 13 MlndŴ8lowlng lacLs abouL WealLh and lnequallLy ln AmerlcaŦ 8osloess loslJetŦ
8eLrleved from http://www.businessinsider.com/us-wealth-inequality-2010-7#halI-oI-america-
owns-only-25-oI-countrys-wealth-the-top-1-owns-a-third-oI-it-2
4
lbldŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.businessinsider.com/us-wealth-inequality-2010-7#halI-oI-america-
has-only-05-oI-americas-stocks-and-bonds-the-top-1-owns-more-than-50-3
3
unknown auLhor (november 12ţ 2011)Ŧ 1he Clobal SuperŴ8lch SLashť now $23 1rllllonŦ loepooltyŦotqŦ 8eLrleved
from http://inequality.org/global-super-rich-stash-25-trillion/
6
Lublnţ Cus (SepLember 1ţ 2010)Ŧ ÞluLocracy 8ebornŦ 8osloess loslJetŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.businessinsider.com/plutocracy-reborn
DiIIerences oI wealth are not the only way to identiIy the elites. According to DomhoII`s
deIinition, the upper or ruling class 'owns a disproportionate amount oI a country`s wealth,
receives a disproportionate amount oI a country`s yearly income, and contributes a
disproportionate number oI its members to the controlling institutions and key decision-making
groups oI the country.¨ (DomhoII, 5) In the context oI the contemporary United States, this
group is not only the politicians, but also the business executives and lobbyists closely tied to
politicians, along with any top bureaucrats and powerIul interest groups able to sway policy
considerably. We should probably exclude people who are rich but do not signiIicantly inIluence
policy. II Warren BuIIett, one oI the richest men in the world, chooses not to attempt to inIluence
politicians, he is not part oI the ruling class; he is just rich. This essay does not try to name
anyone; it merely wishes to assert that a ruling class oI powerIul people Irom government and
business colludes to concentrate wealth and power in America. MIT ProIessor Daron Acemoglu
says the rich are getting richer (and more powerIul) because oI 'very, very high salaries.¨
7
We
have just considered the evidence Ior disproportionate wealth; now, we will examine diIIerences
oI income.
In 2006, the top 0.01° averaged 976 times more income than the bottom 90°.
8
The
Congressional Budget OIIice Iinds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by 275 percent Ior
the top 1 percent oI households. The share oI income going to higher-income households rose,
while the share going to lower-income households Iell. The top IiIth oI the population saw a 10-
percentage-point increase in their share oI aIter-tax income. Most oI that increase went to the top
1 percent oI the population.
9

Finally, tax rates on the rich have Iallen by more than 30 percentage points since 1960.
10
Many
OWS protesters demand raising taxes on the rich, pining Ior the years oI higher tax rates. But the
reality might not be as they imagine. Various graphs have appeared in newspapers over the past

7
Acemogluţ uaron (!anuary 23ţ 2011)Ŧ Lconomlc Þower 8egeLs ÞollLlcal ÞowerŦ @e ícooomlstŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.economist.com/economics/by-invitation/guest-
contributions/economic¸power¸begets¸political¸power
8
Lublnţ Cus (SepLember 1ţ 2010)Ŧ ÞluLocracy 8ebornŦ 8osloess loslJetŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.businessinsider.com/plutocracy-reborn
9
Congresslonal 8udgeL Cfflce (CcLober 2011)Ŧ 1rends ln Lhe ulsLrlbuLlon of Pousehold lncome beLween 1979 and
2007Ŧ 8eLrleved from http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cIm?index÷12485
10
Mulbrandonţ CaLherlne (november 3ţ 2007)Ŧ PlsLorlcal 1ax 8aLes by lncome CroupŦ -ew ¥otk @lmesŦ 8eLrleved
from http://visualizingeconomics.com/2007/11/03/nytimes-historical-tax-rates-by-income-group/
Iew years showing that tax rates Ior the rich have Iallen considerably since 1960. However, were
the rich really paying that much? DomhoII cites a study by Leon Keyserling saying that, thanks
to withholdings Irom corporations, underreporting and tax-exempt income, the upper tax bracket
only paid 31.6° oI their income in taxes in 1960. People who made over $750,000 a year paid a
similar tax rate to that oI typical wage earners. Raising taxes on the rich might have the same
eIIect todaya Iaster drive to oIIshore tax havens and all manner oI legal loopholes. '|T|he
outcome oI tax legislation points to the existence oI a power structure dominated by the very
rich.¨ (DomhoII, 42) This comment rings as true today as then. There is clearly a class earning a
disproportionate share oI income and retaining a disproportionate share oI wealth. What about
DomhoII`s other claim, that this class 'contributes a disproportionate number oI its members to
the controlling institutions and key decision-making groups¨ oI the US?
DomhoII`s approach to answering that question was largely to look at the Social Register to Iind
that wealthy American Iamilies populated the upper echelons oI big corporations, Ioundations,
universities and the government. This essay uses diIIerent measures. OWS believes that money
and politics, or business and government, are in league. We do not need to demonstrate that
wealthy people are in government iI we can demonstrate that they inIluence or control
government. How do they do it?
Consider campaign contributions. The politicians who raised the most money Ior their 2008
campaigns won 9 times out oI 10.
11
There are many ways to donate to a political campaign, and
the rich know them all. All the attention paid during the 2008 US presidential campaign to the
amount oI money that was being raised online in small amounts (halI a billion dollars
12
) helped
to obscure the Iact that the power elite were giving generously to the same campaign. Finance,
insurance and real estatethe sector at the heart oI the economic meltdowndonated some
$141m to political campaigns oI both Republicans and Democrats Ior the 2008 presidential
election.
13
Campaign contributions and the importance oI money in winning elections are

11
CenLer for 8esponslve ÞollLlcs (november 3ţ 2008)Ŧ Money Wlns Þresldency and 9 of 10 Congresslonal 8aces ln
ÞrlclesL uS LlecLlon LverŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/11/money-wins-white-
house-and.html
12
vargasţ !ose AnLonlo (november 20ţ 2008)Ŧ Cbama 8alsed Palf a Mllllon CnllneŦ Josloqtoo lostŦ 8eLrleved from
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/11/obama-raised-halI-a-billion-on.html
13
CenLer for 8esponslve ÞollLlcs (!uly 13ţ 2009)Ŧ 2008 ÞresldenLlal LlecLlonť ConLrlbuLlons by SecLorŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/sectorall.php?cycle÷2008
evidence that power does not rest in one man but in a variety oI actors. Mosca says that one man
would not be able to govern without the support oI the rest oI the ruling minority, who respect
his orders and carry them out. '|H|e certainly cannot be at odds with the class as a whole or do
away with it¨, (Mosca, 51) or he would lose hundreds oI millions oI the dollars that are
necessary to run his campaign.
OI course, the lower classes, the disorganised majority in Mosca`s words, have a certain power
over the minority. (Ibid., 51) As voters, as citizens Iree to start political parties and Iield
candidates, they could theoretically change governments. But iI they are disorganised, they are
easily divided and conquered. 'The power oI any minority is irresistible as against each single
individual in the majority, who stands alone beIore the totality oI the organised minority.¨ (Ibid.,
53) Voting does not devolve power to the majority; the minority is still in charge and gets its
consent Irom the vote. As such, the ruling class does not need to listen to the voters much. What
the elites need to do is obtain consent.
In !olitical !arties, Robert Michels explains how they do it. In countries with strong traditions
oI democracy such as the US, the ruling class will descend to the level oI the working class
because oI the system they operate in. 'The very instinct oI selI-preservation Iorces the old
groups oI rulers to descent, during the elections, Irom their loIty seats, and to avail themselves oI
the same democratic and demagogic methods as are employed by the youngest, the widest, and
the most uncultured oI our social classes, the proletariat.¨ (Michels, 9) The elites appeal to the
masses through policies that distract Irom liIe-or-death issues (as Gregory B. Lewis and others
argue convincingly that the 2004 presidential election was decided by the issue oI gay marriage
14
)
and Iriendly-sounding messages and slogans based on equivocation ('Iamily values¨, 'pro-liIe¨,
'change¨). Political candidates do not win elections by honestly divulging their plans. A party
calling itselI 'the Rich Man Party¨ would not win a seat. A candidate who said 'let me rule
because you are incapable oI it¨ would be honest and right, but would not stand a chance. Instead,
politicians must persuade us that our troubles are their troubles, and our cause is their cause.
(Ibid., 10) In the past, rulers spoke oI their rights. Now, in a modern democracy, rulers are more
diplomatic and speak in terms oI their constituencies. Everything is done in the name oI the

14
Lewlsţ Creg (Aprll 2003)Ŧ SameŴSex Marrlage and Lhe 2004 ÞresldenLlal LlecLlonŦ loltlco cleoce ooJ loltlcsŦ
8eLrleved from http://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/PSApr05Lewis.pdI
people and the community. Everyone who stands Ior election, Irom the well-meaning to the
psychopathic, is 'oI the people¨, and declares that everything he or she does is Ior the people.
(Ibid., 16)
That oI the 1° who are in government have ways oI enriching themselves. Members oI
Congress had a collective net worth oI more than $2b in 2010, up 25° Irom 2008. 90° oI the
increase went to the 50 richest members. (These Iigures do not include homes or non-home
income-generating property.)
15
10 members oI Congress have net worths over $100m; all oI
them voted to extend the Bush tax cuts that mostly beneIited the wealthy.
16
It was recently
revealed that Newt Gingrich, no longer a Congressman but running Ior president, made received
at least $1.5m Irom Freddie Mac, a corporation at the heart oI the Iinancial crisis, in 'consulting
Iees¨ to Iend oII regulations.
17
Enterprises under his control received $105m since Gingrich leIt
Congress so that Gingrich would inIluence legislation on behalI oI his clients.
18

Congresspeople receive giIts Irom lobbyists. Spending on lobbying has gone Irom $1.44b in
1999 to $3.51b in 2010,
19
in spite oI a lobbyist giIt ban signed into law on President Obama`s
Iirst day in oIIice.
20
SuIIiciently well-connected lobbyists (ie. those who come Irom Congress,
the bureaucracy or other positions oI inIluence) earn $300,000 a year to start.
21
Depending on the
source, there are between 12,000
22
and 34,000
23
lobbyists in Washington. They can also engage
in insider trading. Bureaucrats do it
24
and so do Congresspeople.
25


13
Slngerţ Þaulţ and !ennlfer ?achnln (november 1ţ 2011)Ŧ And Congress' 8lch CeL 8lcherŦ ocoŦcomŦ 8eLrleved
from http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57¸51/And-Congress-Rich-Get-Richer-209907-1.html
16
Cllsonţ uaveţ and Carolyn ÞeroL (March/Aprll 2011)Ŧ lL's Lhe lnequallLyţ SLupldŦ ,otet IooesŦ 8eLrleved from
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph
17
8ensonţ Cleaţ and !ohn McCormlck (november 16ţ 2011)Ŧ Clngrlch Sald Lo 8e Þald abouL $1Ŧ6 Mllllon by lreddle
MacŦ 8oombetqŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-16/gingrich-said-to-be-
paid-at-least-1-6-million-by-Ireddie-mac.html
18
8ensonţ Cleaţ and Llsa Lerer (november 22ţ 2011)Ŧ Clngrlch PealLh CenLer and ConsulLlng Croup Þald $33 MllllonŦ
8oombetqŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-22/corporations-pay-gingrich-
health-center-and-consulting-group-55-million.html
19
CenLer for 8esponslve ÞollLlcs (CcLober 31ţ 2011)Ŧ Lobbylng uaLabaseŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php
20
WhlLe Pouse (!anuary 21ţ 2009)Ŧ LLhlcsŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/ethics/
21
8lrnbaumţ !effrey PŦ (!une 22ţ 2003)Ŧ 1he 8oad Lo 8lches ls Called k SLreeLŦ Josloqtoo lostŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/21/AR2005062101632.html
22
CenLer for 8esponslve ÞollLlcs (CcLober 31ţ 2011)Ŧ Lobbylng uaLabaseŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php
Mosca says that the elite, by deIinition, 'perIorms all political Iunctions, monopolises power and
enjoys the advantages that power brings¨. (Mosca, 50) This deIinition should not exclude those
not holding oIIicial positions in government. Higley and Burton say we must look at the dense
networks oI political and government institutions, business, trade unions and the media the elite
use to communicate and cooperate. Sector networks 'overlap and interlock to Iorm webworks
and central circles through which all important sector elites are tied together and obtain mutual
access to key political decision makers.¨ (Higley and Burton, 10) The 'revolving door¨ is a clear
indication oI the strength oI these networks among government, business and even university.
The revolving door is the cycling oI the elite around positions oI power. In his discussion oI the
composition oI corporate boards, DomhoII Iinds that presidents oI universities controlled by the
moneyed class Ieature prominently, and are thus part oI the power elite. His 'best example¨ was
James R. Killian, Jr., chairman oI the Massachusetts Institute oI Technology, who sat on the
boards oI General Motors, Polaroid and the Cabot Corporation. (DomhoII, 51) In our day,
university presidents oIten hold several directorships, and get paid handsomely.
Ruth J. Simmons, president oI Brown University, was on the board oI Goldman Sachs and
helped decide on bonuses (including CEO Lloyd BlankIein`s $9m salary in 2009, and his $68m
in 2007). She made $323,539 in 2009 Ior her work on the board and leIt her position there with
$4.3m in stock. Her salary at Brown was $576,000 in the same year. She was also on the boards
oI PIizer and Texas Instruments.
26
Mary Sue Coleman, president oI the University oI Michigan,
sits on two corporate boards that pay her over $360,000 in addition to her $550,000 university

23
8lrnbaumţ !effrey PŦ (!une 22ţ 2003)Ŧ 1he 8oad Lo 8lches ls Called k SLreeLŦ Josloqtoo lostŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/21/AR2005062101632.html
24
unknown auLhor (november 11ţ 2011)Ŧ C8S news 8eporLť Are Congresslonal lnslders above Lhe Law?Ŧ 8lq
CovetomeotŦ 8eLrleved from http://biggovernment.com/publius/2011/11/11/cbs-report-are-
congressional-insiders-above-the-law/
23
1hlessenţ Marc AŦ (november 14ţ 2011)Ŧ Crony CaplLallsm LxposedŦ Josloqtoo lostŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/crony-capitalism-
exposed/2011/11/14/gIQACiK4KN¸story.html
26
Sorklnţ Andrew 8oss (March 2ţ 2010)Ŧ AL 8rownţ SpoLllghL on ÞresldenL's 8ole aL a 8ankŦ -ew ¥otk @lmesŦ
8eLrleved from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/at-brown-spotlight-on-the-presidents-role-
at-a-bank/
salary.
27
The presidents oI StanIord University and the University oI CaliIornia, San Diego, are
each on three corporate boards. Shirley Ann Jackson, president oI Rensselear Polytechnic
Institute, is on the board oI Iive companies. In 2009, Dr Jackson earned $1.38m Irom
directorships, along with $1.6m in compensation Irom Rensselear.
28
And in some cases, the
nexus oI corporation, government and university is stark. Robert Gates was director oI the
Central Intelligence Agency, then president oI Texas A&M University. In 2005 to 6, Gates made
$752,788 as president oI Texas A&M, plus $137,469 in compensation, nearly $400,000 Irom
Fidelity Investments, where he was a trustee, $91,000 in director Iees Irom Parker Drilling Co.,
$80,000 as director oI Brinker International, $64,749 Irom an energy consulting group and $5000
consulting Ior a real estate Iirm, earned $134,750 in director Iees Irom and held up to $250,000
oI stock in NACCO Industries.
29
He was also on the board oI SAIC. NACCO and SAIC are
deIense contractors.
30
And in 2006, Gates became Secretary oI DeIense.
The revolving door can be demonstrated more broadly by considering the cases oI Goldman
Sachs (GS), General Electric (GE) and Monsanto. 14 high-ranking GS employees, consultants
and lobbyists, 14 Irom GE and 15 Irom Monsanto have populated the Iederal government or
Congress.
31
The importance oI such connections did not go unnoticed by OWS, who held a mock
trial oI GS and Iound it guilty oI causing the Iinancial crash and enriching its top executives Irom
the bailout.
32
Revolving door people are either Iormer lobbyists employed by government
agencies or employees oI government agencies who have gone to work at lobbying Iirms and

27
Wllsonţ uuff (!uly 13ţ 2010)Ŧ A unlverslLy ÞresldenL's CuLslde 8oard MembershlpŦ -ew ¥otk @lmesŦ 8eLrleved
from http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/university-presidents-outside-board-seat-
poses-questions-oI-conIlict/
28
8owleyţ Craham (!uly 31ţ 2010)Ŧ 1he AcademlcŴlndusLrlal ComplexŦ -ew ¥otk @lmesŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/business/01prez.html?pagewanted÷all
29
1helmerţ Sharon (uecember 6ţ 2006)Ŧ CaLes' AsseLs lnclude uefense SLockŦ Josloqtoo lostŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/06/AR2006120600188.html
30
8ocheţ WalLer lŦţ !rŦ (uecember 2ţ 2006)Ŧ uefense nomlnee's 8uslness 1les 8alse ConcernsŦ commoo uteomsŦ
8eLrleved from http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/1202-03.htm
31
CSť 8oberL 8ublnţ !ohn Corzlneţ Penry Þaulsonţ 8ahm Lmanuelţ 8oberL PormaLsţ SLephen lrledmanţ ulana
larrellţ Þhlllp Murphyţ Mark ÞaLLersonţ Adam SLorchţ Alexander Lasryţ Sonal Shahţ Cregory Cralgţ Cary Censler
CLť 8en[amln Pelnemanţ SLephen 8amseyţ uavld 8uenLeţ !rŦţ Samuel CuLLerţ 8alph Chlldţ Cary Shefferţ 1om
uaschleţ ÞeLer ÞrowlLLţ kaLhryn lulLonţ uonald lLzkoffţ !oshua 8aymondţ uennls PlghLowerţ lgnacla Morenoţ
!effrey lmmelL
MonsanLoť 1oby MoffeLLţ uennls ueConclnlţ MargareL Mlllerţ Marcla Paleţ Mlckey kanLorţ vlrglnla Weldonţ !osh
klngţ uavld 8elerţ Carol 1uckerŴloremanţ Llnda llsherţ Lldla WaLrudţ Mlchael 1aylorţ Plllary CllnLonţ 8oger 8eachyţ
lslam Slddlqul
32
Pedgesţ Chrlsţ and Cornell WesLŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v÷kgvgHQMV6Mc
interest groups. All in all, the US Department oI Commerce has 416 such people, the Department
oI DeIense 519, and the White House over a thousand.
33
The campaign contributions, lobbying,
consulting, insider trading and revolving door have made people in government rich. Evidence
that the government made the corporate elites rich would imply a symbiotic relationship between
the government and corporations, and thus make clear that power in the US is in the hands oI a
Iew.
2006 saw $92b in direct and indirect subsidies to corporations.
34
That means speciIic companies
and industries gained at the expense oI the taxpayers, and that the playing Iield tilted in Iavour oI
well-connected Iirms and against those that did not employ enough lobbyists. The richest Iarmers
receive Iarm subsidies. The government has set up agencies such as the Advanced Technology
Program and the Export-Import Bank to provide this Iunding the veneer oI legitimacy, oI
advancing science or keeping American business competitive. But 2006 was nothing compared
to the enormous transIer oI wealth that occurred Iollowing the Iinancial crash oI the Iollowing
two years.
In October 2008, Democratic and Republican leaders, lobbyists, bankers and other insider
businesspeople pressured lawmakers to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.
President Bush said the bill had 'the best chance oI providing liquidity, providing credit,
providing money to small businesses and medium-sized businesses can Iunction.¨
35
The bill
provided all manner oI pork-barrel spending to please special interests. Robert Johnson, Iormer
chieI economist oI the US Senate Banking Committee, said that, even at the time the bill was
passed, one month beIore an election, this bill made clear that money was more important than
the public.
36
Congress passed the so-called bailout bill. Hundreds oI billions oI dollars to banks,

33
CenLer for 8esponslve ÞollLlcsŦ 8evolvlng uoorť 1op AgenclesŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/top.php?display÷G
34
Sllvlnsklţ SLephen (May 14ţ 2007)Ŧ 1he CorporaLe Welfare SLaLeť Pow Lhe lederal CovernmenL Subsldlzes uS
8uslnessesŦ @e coto lostltoteŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.cato.org/pub¸display.php?pub¸id÷8230
33
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/3/wary¸oI¸public¸outcry¸revised¸800b
36
lbldŦ
mortgage brokers, insurance companies and even automakers. $2.5 trillion had been spent as oI
May 2011.
37

In an interview, Michael Hudson, proIessor Irom the University oI Missouri and Iormer Wall
Street economist, called Obama`s 2009 Iinancial recovery plan (including the bailouts) 'awIul¨,
because it would not lead to recovery. It was, in eIIect, 'a giveaway to the banks, to the
creditors¨. None oI it would go to writing down mortgage debt. The policy doubled US
government debt in what Hudson calls 'the greatest transIer oI wealth really in American
history¨. 'The bankers have done insider dealing to get the government to give them or
guarantee them $12 trillion oI bad loans they`ve made, many oI them Iraudulent.what you`ve
done is given $12 trillion to the richest one percent or ten percent oI the population, and
you`ve indebted the economy and the government to them Ior the next hundred years.¨ He
proceeded to call AIG a parasite that had taken over the brain oI its host. 'There was no need to
give $135 billion to AIG, which yesterday was raided by Britain`s oIIice oI serious crimes Ior
Iinancial Iraud, when the US government reIused to move against it Ior Iraud.¨ Asked the likely
eIIects oI the rescue package, Hudson said 'in any rescue program, the Iirst question is, who`s
being rescued? And who`s being rescued are apparently the very wealthy, not the people who
one would think is being rescued. And then, how are they being rescued? They`re being rescued
by making the lower income brackets pay to the higher income brackets.¨
38

Timothy Geithner said he 'share|d| the anger and Irustration oI the American people¨
39
and did
nothing about it. Journalist Matt Taibbi writes the Iinancial crisis and the bailout that Iollowed
"cemented and Iormalized a political trend that has been snowballing Ior decades: the gradual
takeover oI the government by a small class oI connected insiders, who used money to control
elections, buy inIluence and systematically weaken Iinancial regulations."
40


37
unknown auLhor (!uly 24ţ 2011)Ŧ Addlng up Lhe CovernmenL's 1oLal 8allouL 1abŦ -ew ¥otk @lmesŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/02/04/business/20090205-bailout-totals-graphic.html
38
uemocracy now! (lebruary 13ţ 2009)Ŧ 8oberL kuLLner and Mlchael Pudson on Lhe Cbama AdmlnlsLraLlon's $789
8llllon Lconomlc SLlmulus Þackage and $2Ŧ3 1rllllon 8ank 8ecovery ÞlansŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/2/13/robert¸kuttner¸and¸michael¸hudson¸on
39
uemocracy now! (March 23ţ 2009)Ŧ AlC and Lhe 8lg 1akeoverť MaLL 1albbl on ºPow Wall SLreeL lnslders Are
uslng Lhe 8allouL Lo SLage a 8evoluLlon"Ŧ 8eLrleved from
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/25/aig¸and¸the¸big¸takeover¸matt
40
lbldŦ
In the end, AIG received $170b, $165m oI which went to executive bonuses.
41
AIG CEO
Edward Liddy called the Treasury and the Fed 'our partners in government¨.
42
And why not?
They had a mutually-beneIicial partnership. AIG`s second biggest campaign donation recipient
in 2008 was Barack Obama.
43
The third biggest was John McCain; the Iourth Hillary Clinton.
AIG was clearly hedging its bets. And its number one beneIiciary? Christopher Dodd, Chariman
oI the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban AIIairs Irom January 2007 to January
2011.
AIG was not the only company that received juicy bonuses in 2009. Even aIter causing the
Iinancial crash, Wall Street bonuses totaled $20b in 2009, up 17° Irom the year beIore. At
JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and, unsurprisingly, Goldman Sachs, bonuses were up 31°
Irom 2008.
44
What will they do with all that money?
One thing they will do is hand some oI it back to politicians in gratitude. Economist Joseph
Stiglitz explains that the 2010 Supreme Court decision oI iti:ens United v. Federal Election
ommission 'enshrined the right oI corporations to buy government, by removing limitations on
campaign spending.¨
45
Joshua Holland says that iti:ens United 'simply advanced a bizarre
legal doctrine, developed during the last 150 years, that eIIectively codiIies the power oI
corporate interests¨, which started with corporate personhood and culminated in the eIIectively
unlimited ability oI corporations to buy elections.
46
The groups with the most money will buy
elections, which, again, usually go to the candidate who raises and spends the most. In return,
lawmakers pass Iavourable legislation. Stiglitz continues. 'When pharmaceutical companies
receive a trillion-dollar giItthrough legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer oI
drugs, Irom bargaining over priceit should not come as cause Ior wonder. It should not make

41
lbldŦ
42
lbldŦ
43
Mooneyţ Alexander (March 18ţ 2009)Ŧ AlC's ÞollLlcal uonaLlonsŦ c--Ŧ 8eLrleved from
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/03/18/aigs-political-donations/
44
krollţ Andy (lebruary 23ţ 2010)Ŧ 3 uses for Wall SLreeL's 8onusesŦ ,otet IooesŦ 8eLrleved from
http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/02/5-uses-wall-sts-2009-bonuses
43
SLlgllLzţ !oseph LŦ (May 2011)Ŧ Cf Lhe 1Ʒţ by Lhe 1Ʒţ for Lhe 1ƷŦ Ioolty loltŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.vanityIair.com/society/Ieatures/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105
46
Pollandţ !oshua (november 23ţ 2011)Ŧ 1he lasclnaLlng PlsLory of Pow CorporaLlons 8ecame ºÞeople" Ŷ 1hanks Lo
CorrupL CourLs Worklng for Lhe 1ƷŦ tet-etŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.alternet.org/economy/153201/The¸Fascinating¸History¸oI¸How¸Corporations¸Bec
ame¸°22People°22¸--¸Thanks¸to¸Corrupt¸Courts¸Working¸Ior¸the¸1°25/
jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge Irom Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place Ior the
wealthy. Given the power oI the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to
work.¨
47
Thus, money circulates among the powerIul and the people on the bottom have ever-
less access to the ears oI their political representatives.
What is the likely outcome oI the demonstrations? The elitists would probably argue OWS does
not stand much chance oI attaining its dreams oI an egalitarian world. Mosca, Pareto and
Michels contended that, since the Iormation oI an elite is inevitable in all modern societies,
Marxist predictions oI the end oI history are ridiculous. The best we can hope Ior is a relatively
liberal (though still quite unequal) political class that is 'capable, cooperative and enlightened¨.
(Higley and Burton, 4)
Still, elites, particularly in a democracy, need the support oI non-elites. They must stave oII
revolution, which in our case means not letting OWS grow to unmanageable proportions. 'To do
this, elites need to devise and deploy political Iormulas tailored to independently existing non-
elite interests and sentiments. Nevertheless, elites usually have considerable leeway to activate |5|
or muIIle non-elite interests and sentiments, at least Ior a time, and non-elite populations are
unable to achieve anything oI importance in politics without elite leadership and organisation.¨
(Ibid., 4-5) The mainstream media did what they could to ignore OWS. The New York Observer
comments that 'Occupy Wall Street`s Iirst media problem was that there was no media.¨
48
When
they decided they go no longer ignore it, the media attempted to play down or mock the
movement.
49
A Iinancial lobbying Iirm oIIered $850,000 to research and smear OWS.
50
Next,
the ruling class turned to Iorce. Hundreds or thousands were arrested in New York alone,

47
SLlgllLzţ !oseph LŦ (May 2011)Ŧ Cf Lhe 1Ʒţ by Lhe 1Ʒţ for Lhe 1ƷŦ Ioolty loltŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.vanityIair.com/society/Ieatures/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105
48
SLoeffelţ kaL (SepLember 26ţ 2011)Ŧ Cccupy Wall SLreeL's Medla ÞroblemsŦ -ew ¥otk ObsetvetŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.observer.com/2011/09/occupy-wall-streets-media-problems/
49
unknown auLhor (CcLober 10ţ 2011)Ŧ 8uperL Murdoch uelcares War on Cccupy Wall SLreeLŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/rupert-murdoch-declares-war-on-occupy-wall-
street/question-2211897/
30
Larsenţ !onaLhanţ and ken Clshansky (november 19ţ 2011)Ŧ Lxcluslveť Lobbylng llrm's Memo Spells CuL Þlan Lo
undermlne Cccupy Wall SLreeLŦ ,-8cŦ 8eLrleved from
http://upwithchrishayes.msnbc.msn.com/¸news/2011/11/19/8896362-exclusive-lobbying-Iirms-
memo-spells-out-plan-to-undermine-occupy-wall-street-video
including 700 on September 30.
51
Hundreds more protesters
52
and a number oI journalists
53

around the US have also been locked up. Finally, Occupy protests were Iorcibly evicted Irom
more than a dozen locations at once, and it has been said that the Department oI Homeland
Security and the Federal Bureau oI Investigation aided in the crackdown.
54
The ruling elite may
have Ielt threatened by this mass movement but have taken several measures to elminate the
threat.
Anarchists and socialists, who comprise a large portion oI the OWS protesters, tend to believe
that man is inherently good but it is society that makes him bad. The protesters complain about
greed. II greed is the problem, it is because it is compounded by the current system, statist
capitalism. Rousseau was the Iirst to write that justice should be the basis oI all political
institutions, meaning equality Ior everyone. (Mosca, 273) Mosca Iinds such hopes unrealistic.
Social democracy would still be managed by oIIicials, and only the voting Ior one among a small
selection oI oIIicials would be democratic. ThereIore, the majority cannot 'exercise over them
anything more than a spasmodic, limited and oIten ineIIective control.¨ (Ibid., 284) The
organised minority chooses the candidates, sets the elections, and knows all the right things to
say. The collectivists may object that all this happens now because we live in a capitalist society.
The 1° can and do buy the government. We need a new social order. Mosca counters that under
the socialist system, there would still be people in charge oI the public wealth and the majority
who would need to be satisIied with the way it was handed out. (Ibid., 284) The heads oI a
socialist system would have even greater resources in their hands, and as such 'would
undoubtedly be Iar more powerIul than the ministers and millionaires we know today.¨ (Ibid.,
284) In the social-democratic utopia some oI the Occupiers propose, the greedy and power-

31
8akerţ Alţ Colln Moynlhan and Sarah Maslln nlr (CcLober 1ţ 2011)Ŧ Þollce ArresL More 1han 700 ÞroLesLers on
8rooklyn 8rldgeŦ -ew ¥otk @lmesŦ 8eLrleved from http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/police-
arresting-protesters-on-brooklyn-bridge/
32
unknown auLhor (CcLober 16ţ 2011)Ŧ Pundreds ArresLed ln ºCccupy" ÞroLesLsŦ @lmesŦ 8eLrleved from
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-occupy-wall-street-
20111017,0,7374570.story
33
Mlrklnsonţ !ack (november 17ţ 2011)Ŧ Cccupy Wall SLreeL november 17ť !ournallsLs ArresLedţ 8eaLen by ÞollceŦ
offloqtoo lostŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.huIIingtonpost.com/2011/11/17/occupy-wall-street-nov-
17-journalists-arrested-beaten¸n¸1099661.html
34
Llllsţ 8lck (november 13ţ 2011)Ŧ updaLeť ºCccupy" Crackdowns CoordlnaLed wlLh lederal Law LnforcemenL
CfflclalsŦ íxomloetŦ 8eLrleved from http://www.examiner.com/top-news-in-minneapolis/were-occupy-
crackdowns-aided-by-Iederal-law-enIorcement-agencies#ixzz1dsiSbIyh
hungry (many psychopaths must be included in the 1°) would still rise to power, and they could
be more powerIul than they are today.
Moreover, Mosca would say that the Occupiers are ungrateIul. 'It is unIair to Iorget the services
that are rendered by the class that maintains peace and order, directs the whole political and
economic movement, preserves and advances higher scientiIic learning and makes it possible Ior
great masses oI men to live together and cooperate.¨ (Ibid., 300) He would be sympathetic to the
protesters. Speaking oI the First World War in tones that echo very loudly today, Mosca says
'nothing is more demoralising to people than to see sudden wealth acquired through no special
merit, side by side with sudden impoverishment that is not due to any Iault. That spectacle
oIIends the sense oI justice and overstimulates sentiments oI envy and greed.¨ (Ibid., 483) But
that does not mean we should rise up and overthrow the order, Ireedom and progress we take Ior
granted.
Elite theory explains the concentration oI wealth and power in the modern US. When applied to
common political practices such as campaign Iinancing, political language, lobbying, the
revolving door, subsidies and bailouts, elite theory explains the stark inequalities OWS blames
Ior so much. A small group oI corporate and government elites Iorm a nucleus that uses power to
gain more wealth, and wealth to gain more power. Most oI the 99° OWS claims to speak Ior
would not likely thank the elites Ior this state oI aIIairs, though Mosca says they should. It is
remarkable not that OWS decided to protest but that it was not until the Iortunes oI the non-elites
declined so dramatically that it did so. At any rate, though mass uprisings are possible, the elites
have done well so Iar in managing OWS anger, and will continue to do so Ior the time being.

Bibliography
Burnham, James (1970). %e Maciavellians. Defenders of Freedom. Chicago: Henry Regnery
Company.
DomhoII, G. William (1967). Wo Rules America?. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Higley, John, and Michael G. Burton (2006). Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracy. Maryland:
Rowman and LittleIield Publishers.
Michels, Robert (2001). !olitical !arties. a Sociological Study of te Oligarcical %endencies of
Modern Democracy. Translated by Eden and Cedar Paul. Kitchener: Batoche Books.
Mosca, Gaetano (1939). %e Ruling lass (Elementi di Scien:a !olitica). New York: McGraw-
Hill Book Company.