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Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making

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Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making Cover

 

 

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Gentiana is a small restaurant that would scarcely warrant a second glance in any other village in Europe. It is rather traditional, only slightly more charming than the bland shops and modest hotels around it. One nearby storefront offers a remarkable array of Swiss Army knives, another boxes of chocolates, another fur hats and mountain gear. The restaurant has a cozy, neighborhood feel to it. Beside the door there is a blackboard highlighting a few specials, and on the ground floor there may be seating for twenty if they are both thin enough and friendly enough. Upstairs there are a few small rooms for private parties, the biggest of which seats ten people squeezed in on either side of a long narrow table. Most of its character comes from a feel of woody intimacy, the dark wood façade, dark wood floors, dark wood tables. In fact, for all its charm, it is definitely not a place for claustrophobesor people with an extreme fear of splinters.

 The reason to go to Gentiana is the fondue, especially the cheese fondue, which is offered in robust portions that recall an era before cardiologists. My wife, Adrean, has a special weakness for fondue, and every year that we have gone to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos we have gone to Gentiana for her birthday. We make reservations long in advance because during the week of the January meetings, which are attended each year by more than 2,000 business and government leaders from around the world, getting a table at Gentiana is not much easier than getting one at renowned eateries like Aragawa in Tokyo, Gordon Ramsay in London, or Le Bernardin in New York. Perhaps more surprisingly, for that one week the clientele at this humble Swiss bistro looks pretty much the same as what you might find at those world-class restaurants.
 Of course, even during that week, there are still a few tables at Gentiana occupied by locals. One regular is a particularly garrulous drunk who loves to hobnob with the CEOs, heads of state, and rock stars who are wedged in, elbow to elbow, spinning hunks of bread on long forks in the pots of bubbling Gruyère. The local speaks only Swiss-German to the polyglot crowds around him, and few understand him, although judging by his demeanor the casual observer is not sure whether that has to do with the language he speaks or the local beer that he favors. No matter. He smiles and they smile, and the general effect is cheerful and relaxed.
 One afternoon during a recent Davos, my wife and I were hurrying along the sidewalk on our way to Gentiana. This can be dangerous, as the locals do not shovel away the snow and ice lurks just about everywhere. In fact, attendees at Davos can see with some regularity central bank governors and senior executives of the IMF and other distinguished middle-aged men and women swaddled in cashmere, calfskin, and politically incorrect pelts of many origins launched skyward, only to land on their broader, softer regions. We walked gingerly, therefore, but with purpose, knowing we were meeting our friends in just a few minutes.
 The weather was typical. A light snow was falling. It was very cold. But the Alpine air was crisp and dry and invigorating. We chatted about the meetings, who we had seen and who we hoped to run into. As we walked, we reflexively did what most of the visitors to this small mountain town do: We glanced at the people passing us in the street, trying to determine who they were. (Given the nature of Davos, they were likely to have been somebody.) Its a ritual made easier by the fact that everyone at the meeting has to wear a badge around his or her neck at all times. The badge is used to get through the many security checkpointsthere are at least two Swiss soldiers and policemen in Davos for every delegate who attends the meetingsto register for sessions, and to let everyone know who you are. Your name is on the badge, along with the organization you represent. So too is your picture. People tend to walk with their badges dangling in plain sight so they dont have to fumble with them getting in and out of buildings or past police. Thats how it was for everyone except for the universally recognizablepeople like Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Tony Blair, Bono, or Angelina Jolie. The badge-scanning move is so ubiquitous you might call it the Davos dip: Bend the knee slightly, cast a subtle glance downward, assess and move on.
 Leaving the Congress Centre and walking along Davoss main street, the Promenade, we passed Thierry Desmarest, the CEO of Total; a small cluster of Harvard professors; a senior executive of Saudi Aramco; and a woman pulling her two small children on a sled. (She was local and the sled seemed to hint at the reason they dont shovel the sidewalks.) We stopped briefly to chat with Tom Donohue, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who happens to be my wifes boss, then paused a few steps later to chat with an Indian-born U.S. venture capitalist with whom I had some business. It was a typical sample. Five minutes along the Davos Promenade in January offered a cavalcade of freeze-dried economic leaders from three continents.
 About two blocks from Gentiana, I was grousing about how one of the conversations that I had most wanted to have had resulted in a frustrating series of near misses. The objective was a long-delayed chat with Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian author of The Alchemist. Coelho has sold more than one hundred million copies of his books worldwide and is, after the Harry Potter  author, J. K. Rowling, the second-best-selling author on the planet. He is also one of the few cultural regulars at Davos, one of a handful of people who might offer a different perspective on the Davos zeitgeist. We had intended to meet almost a year earlier but, due to a series of scheduling mishaps, had repeatedly failed to do so. Finally, we aimed for Davos, but I had yet to lay eyes on him. What did I expect from a man who lived on the other side of the world and was constantly in motiona Brazilian who lived much of the time in Europe and sold many of his books in Russia? There was a little bit of hubris in thinking we might ever be able to end up in the same place at the same time. And then: “Oh, my God,” said a voice I did not recognize, “its you.”
 A smallish man in a fur hat was staring at my name badge. He had a graying goatee, and he greeted me like a long-lost cousin. It was Coelho, appearing almost miraculously out of the Alpine mist as if conjured by our conversation.
 Passing along the sidewalk from the Congress Centre where we had just heard an address by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and comments from the Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, through the stream of big name boulevardiers, and then walking directly into this icon of the global literary sceneit was made clear again that Davos was truly the incarnation of Marshall McLuhans global village. It was like small-town Planet Earth, or the once-a-year Brigadoon of globalization: a community connected to everywhere and, in one way or another, to everyone. Indeed, during the course of this meeting, top trade ministers would caucus to try unsuccessfully to rescue global trade talks, Africa activists would meet with corporate chiefs and political leaders to seek funding for medical aid programs, global warming would “go mainstream” as mostly American skeptics were persuaded by session after session of expert views, and proponents of different solutions for dealing with everything from anxiety about immigrants to anxiety about terrorism would present their views directly to those in a position to implement them. If, as Hillary Clinton has asserted, it takes a vill

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374272104
Subtitle:
The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making
Author:
Rothkopf, David
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Social Science
Subject:
Elite (Social sciences)
Subject:
Power (Social sciences)
Subject:
Wealth
Subject:
Social classes
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20090303
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes Notes and an Index
Pages:
408
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

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History and Social Science » Politics » International Studies

Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making Used Hardcover
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Product details 408 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374272104 Reviews:
"Review" by , "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
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "An impressively knowledgeable guide to the world's elite and how they have coalesced as a kind of natural order."
"Synopsis" by , Today's superclass — the minority that runs governments, corporations, international finance, and the media — has achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and power. Rothkopf presents an unprecedented examination of this group's influence on the world.
"Synopsis" by ,
Each of them is one in a million. They number six thousand on a planet of six billion. 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. They are the global superclass, and they are shaping the history of our time.
 
Today's superclass has achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and power. They have globalized more rapidly than any other group. But do they have more in common with one another than with their own countrymen, as nationalist critics have argued? They control globalization more than anyone else. But has their influence fed the growing economic and social inequity that divides the world? What happens behind closeddoor 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 scores of exclusive interviews and extensive original reporting, Superclass answers all of these questions and more. 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.
"Synopsis" by ,
Each of them is one in a million. They number six thousand on a planet of six billion. They run our governments, our largest corporations, the powerhouses of international finance, the media, world religions, and, from the shadows, the worlds most dangerous criminal and terrorist organizations. They are the global superclass, and they are shaping the history of our time.
 
Todays superclass has achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and power. They have globalized more rapidly than any other group. But do they have more in common with one another than with their own countrymen, as nationalist critics have argued? They control globalization more than anyone else. But has their influence fed the growing economic and social inequity that divides the world? What happens behind closeddoor 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 scores of exclusive interviews and extensive original reporting, Superclass answers all of these questions and more. 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.
David Rothkopf is the author of Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. He is the president and chief executive of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm; a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and a teacher of international affairs at Columbia Universitys Graduate School of International and Public Affairs.

David Rothkopf estimates that there are six thousand members of the superclasson a planet of six billion.  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 worlds most dangerous criminal and terrorist organizations.  The six thousand people who compose the global superclass are shaping the history of our time.

Todays 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 groupthey control globalizationbut 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.

"Mr. Rothkopf's book argues that on many of the most critical issues of our time, the influence of all nation-states is waning, the system for addressing global issues among nation-states is more ineffective than ever, and therefore a power void is being created. This void is often being filled by a small group of players'the superclass'a new global elite, who are much better suited to operating on the global stage and influencing global outcomes than the vast majority of national political leaders." Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
"Mr. Rothkopf's book argues that on many of the most critical issues of our time, the influence of all nation-states is waning, the system for addressing global issues among nation-states is more ineffective than ever, and therefore a power void is being created. This void is often being filled by a small group of players'the superclass'a new global elite, who are much better suited to operating on the global stage and influencing global outcomes than the vast majority of national political leaders." Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times

"Mr Rothkopf makes a fascinating tour of the world of the superclass. He opens the door to the office of the head of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, on the top floor of Goldman's tower on New York's Broad Street. He visits the factory that customises Gulfstream jets (every year nearly 10% of Gulfstream's clients attend Davos). He calls on the Carlyle Group where financiers and former presidents get together to make each other richer. And he offers a tour of the weird proceedings of the Bohemian Grove meetings, which Richard Nixon described as 'the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine' . . . Superclass is a pioneering study of a subject that has often been the preserve of conspiracy theorists. Mr Rothkopf is anything but a crank, and he is right when he says that, these days, the most influential people around the world are also the most global people. He is also admirably ambivalent about his subject. He worries about surging inequalitythe richest 1% of humans own 40% of the planet's wealthand about the rumbling backlash against so much unaccountable power. But he points out that, in a world where most global institutions are lumbering and antiquated, members of the superclass have repeatedly stepped in to put the global system to rights. Let us hope that they have not lost their touch."The Economist

"If you're trying to figure out where to throw your Molotov cocktails, David Rothkopf's book proves you've got your work cut out for you. The businessman and former Clinton official spent years crunching numbers and trailing the 6,000 or so 'power elite' who make most of the decisions about how the planet works. Neither a gossipfest nor an anarchist call to arms, this measured book demonstrates the way these elite businessmen anonymously influence politicians and dictators, and take advantage of international chaos to advance their own interests."New York magazine

"There are just over 6,000 people in the superclass. So says the author of this fascinating book, a field guide to the world's most élite citizens. See the rich and powerful in their natural habitats, from Davos and Bilderberg to the Bohemian Grove. 'That such a group exists is indisputable,' says Rothkopf, who includes such power brokers as heads of state, CEOs of the world's largest companies, billionai

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