History of Civilisation - A Story of the Rich versus the Poor

Dec 2011
Think about it. If the wealthy seek to always increase their wealth (on which I think we agree), then why would they not use the state’s monopoly on coercion to further their own monopolist desires?
Well yes, the wealthy can and will use whatever they can to get more wealth, but my question is "how did they get wealthy in the first place?" (And also "Why didn't I?").

It would be an especially inept monopolist that did not recognize the advantage of capturing the political process.
I thought there were anti-trust laws to prevent monopolies.

Your home ownership link shows that the rate is about the same as the late 1960s (higher than the early 1960s).
(By the way, can I ask, as I have asked others on Historum, please, when giving a link, try to add a comment that indicates why the link is provided eg "this link shows how much home ownership has recently declined". I ask this because otherwise it takes some wading through to assess a pile of information).

I am surprised by the lower labour force participation rate, I thought there were more people in employment than ever.

Regarding personal and national debt - who is the debt owed to?

The link showing the state of the middle class uses data from 2010, not long after the big recession, the following link shows that median middle class income is $61000 (half are below and half are above that - the average will be lower). What Is Middle Class, Really? Income and Range in 2019
Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
I hope this has not become tedious to others...

Well yes, the wealthy can and will use whatever they can to get more wealth, but my question is "how did they get wealthy in the first place?" (And also "Why didn't I?").
I thought you answered that in your original post where you said:

“Over time, industriousness, intelligence and sheer luck would result in some families accumulating more capital than others. On balance, those with a relatively large amount of capital would be able to retain it through famines, and other vicissitudes, that would ruin those with only a small amount.”

All I have really been doing all along is noting that “other vicissitudes” subsumes the idea of theft and that a captured political state, with its legal monopoly on coercion, can, and often has been, a subtle, yet powerful agent of theft.

As to why you are not rich, I do not know. But I can tell you why I am not. Living in the late 1970’s in an undeveloped California beach community in an era when central bank idiocy almost drove the U.S. into hyper-inflation it was clear to me that loading up on debt to buy real estate property, renting the buildings, and paying down that debt with devalued dollars would likely yield considerable profit. I had a good job and was single so the potential was certainly there. It would have been a much smaller scale undertaking qualitatively similar to what Donald Trump was doing about the same time. My best friend and roommate did just that and he owns multiple paid-off properties today.

I chose not to do that for a mixture of reasons – some ethical and some personally pragmatic. I knew even then that it was a crooked and cynical game; I wanted a big career change that would probably entail a reduction in income; and I sensed, correctly as it turned out, that my personal sociology meant I would not be very happy in the rapidly rising population density that beachfront reals estate development implied. So once I managed my career change, I bailed out of the community and went skiing for a few years. I am less wealthy but far happier for that decision.

I thought there were anti-trust laws to prevent monopolies.
During the Progressive Age the government went into the monopoly business. More in a follow up post but for now most cities in the U.S. have Government-granted monopolies, where the US government has a single company control the entire service that they supply in that one district. Utilities are by far the most common (cable, power, water, etc.) like Mediacom and Comcast. Utilities are effectively licensed to operate a monopoly. Other U.S. markets that operate as monopolies or near-monopolies in the U.S. include providers of water, natural gas, telecommunications, and electricity.

Notably, these monopolies were actually created by government action. Economist Harold Demsetz has pointed out these markets had no monopolistic tendencies before governments began granting exclusive rights to them. About 45 electricity companies were in operation in Chicago in 1907.

SiriusXM Holdings Radio is an interesting case. It is FCC (Federal Communications Committee) generated monopoly. Available on 60% of new automobiles, it is the only satellite radio service in the world to exist at the moment and there is a highly charged debate about whether the local content is legal. Traditional broadcasters claim it’s not, because the programming targets particular regions. SiriusXM Holdings claim it is, because the programming airs nationwide. So far, the FCC seems to be siding with XM, but the regulatory scuffle points up the pickle that satellite radio is currently in: In order to get permission to exist, XM and Sirius had to swear off local content. But in order to survive, they need to find a legal way to deliver it to subscribers.

Satellite radio broadcasting was first authorized in 1997, when two licenses were issued to the companies now known as XM and Sirius that are now both part of SiriusXM Holdings. Their applications had taken seven years for the Federal Communications Commission to approve, mainly because the National Association of Broadcasters charged that the new service threatened “traditional American values of community cohesion and local identity.”

Event those on the left are recognizing the failure of trust regulation:

The Curse of Bigness and The Failure of Antitrust - Corporate Crime Reporter

Your home ownership link shows that the rate is about the same as the late 1960s (higher than the early 1960s).
There are qualitative factors and data definition assumptions.

Here is Wikipedia on the subject

Since 1960, the home ownership rate in the United States has remained relatively stable having decreased 1.0% since 1960 when 65.2% of American households owned their own home. Additionally, homeowner equity has fallen steadily since World War II and is now less than 50% of the value of homes on average.[6] Homeownership was most common in rural areas and suburbs with three quarters of suburban households being homeowners. Among the country's regions the Midwestern states had the highest homeownership rate with the Western states having the lowest.[2] Recent research has examined the decline in homeownership rates among households with "heads" aged 25 to 44 years, which fell substantially between 1980 and 2000 and recovered only partially during the 2001-05 housing boom. This research indicates that a trend toward marrying later and the increase in household earnings risk that occurred after 1980 account for a large share of the decline in young home ownership.

The name "home ownership rate" can be misleading. As defined by the US Census Bureau, it is the percentage of homes that are occupied by the owner. It is not the percentage of adults that own their own home. This latter percentage will be significantly lower than the home ownership rate because many households that are owner-occupied contain adult relatives (often young adults, descendants of the owner) who do not own their own home, and because single building multi-bedroom rental units can contain more than one adult, all of whom do not own a home.

The term "home ownership rate" can also be misleading because it includes households that owe on a mortgage and do not fully own the equity in their own that they are said to "own". According to ATTOM Data Research, only "34 percent of all American homeowners have 100 percent equity in their properties — they’ve either paid off their entire mortgage debt or they never had a mortgage".[10]

Home-ownership in the United States - Wikipedia

Clearly the poor in American cities have not gained and might well have lost ground. Children who cannot afford to move out on their own are not reflected in the statistics. Also with equity falling there can be legitimate debate about what ownership means. 5% down and a choking mortgage on a million dollar 1,500 square foot Silicon Valley bungalow counts as ownership.

Per the Washington Post in 2018, this is what $800,000 dollars with get you in Silicon Valley.


As of 2017 40% of Seattle homes were listed at $1M or more.

40% of Seattle homes are listed at $1M or more

I am surprised by the lower labour force participation rate, I thought there were more people in employment than ever.
It is worse than it seems. An increasing number of people are being factored out of the labor force – often because they have quit looking for jobs (the ghetto hopelessness I referred to earlier).

Sure, Unemployment Went Down - Because More People Left The Workforce

This is from 2016:

US unemployed have quit looking for jobs at a 'frightening' level: Survey

Regarding personal and national debt - who is the debt owed to?
To the holders of US Treasuries (minus what the Federal Reserve is sitting on) – China, Japan, American pension funds and insurance companies are some major examples. The holders of those bonds are starting to worry some as the federal government no longer even pretends to care about spending - with the FED creating credit like gangbusters it all looks like free money to the short sighted. When (not if) they eventually conclude that American taxpayers cannot or will not shoulder the burden of that wealth that has been dragged from the heavily mortgaged future, it will be Katie Bar the Door in the markets.
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Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
I thought there were anti-trust laws to prevent monopolies.
Historical debates like those for and against Kolko aside, antitrust legislation has clearly failed to accomplish the aims most assume were its goal.

Franklin Roosevelt's National Recovery Act that encouraged businesses in hundreds of industries to create codes of “fair competition.” Companies adopting those codes were exempt from anti-trust laws. Utilities, banking, telephone communications, air and railroad transportation have all been or remain monopolies in the U.S. And there no sense here getting into situation with Google and Facebook.

Back to Kolko.

Gabriel Kolko in his Triumph of Conservatism, whom I have referenced in this admittedly long thread covered trust legislation in his chapter entitled Roosevelt and Big Business. Kolko, a radical left-leaning historian is controversial because he dared to examine the whole Progressive Age and noted its cozy relationship with American Big Business – to the point that the J. P Morgan interests finally underwrote Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 3rd party run for the Presidency. Amos Pinchot, who was a member of TR’s inner circle in 1912, later regarded the Progressive Party as little more than the tool of the Morgan interests. He later wrote the History of the Progressive Party, 1912–1916 which was not published until 8 years after his death in 1944.

Kolko's argument that public policy was shaped by "corporate control of the liberal agenda" (rather than the liberal control of the corporate agenda), revised the old Progressive Era historiography of the "interests" versus the "people," which was now to be reinterpreted as a collaboration of "interests" and "people." So too, with this revised version of recent American history, came the tacit recognition that this fulfilled the business community's unspoken, but deliberate, aim of stabilizing competition in the "free market." This what Mussolini accurately called Corporatism.

Gabriel Kolko - Wikipedia

Kolko argued that, from railroads to steel production to farm machinery and beyond, Big Business used state regulation to combine and control markets because true competition was undercutting their monopolist desires and efforts at cartel creation.

Despite the large number of mergers, and the growth in the absolute size of many corporations, the dominant tendency in the American economy at the beginning of this century was toward growing competition. Competition was unacceptable to many key business and financial interests, and the merger movement was to a large extent a reflection of voluntary, unsuccessful business efforts to bring irresistible competitive trends under control…

…Morgan and the U.S. Steel interests, in particular, had influenced Roosevelt and had had a decisive voice in every recent presidential nomination. The steel company “needed political assistance” in attaining its initial goal of monopoly, since its efforts to eliminate competition had failed. Gary’s price-fixing proposals, he suggested, were really an attempt to get the government to do some- thing for U.S. Steel that it could not do for itself. Pinchot was fully aware of the detente system between Morgan and the Roosevelt Administration, and the Progressive Party was described as the result of the failure of that system under Taft.

His Railroads and Regulation, 1877–1916 and The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916 are milestones in the study of late 19th century America and the economic implications of Progressivism. Since the Progressive Age also heralded America’s participation, in defiance of our founders’ advice, in global war is was quite logically a serious student of war. It would an error to lay all of America’s 20th century problems (empire, social Darwinism, eugenics, prohibition and its institution of organized crime, probable bankruptcy, and the decay of the middle class and the poor at the feet of Progressives, but as the dominate ideology of the century they were a unquestionably a significant force.

Although Kolko’s prose is less than sparkling, Marxist-based historians like Kolko, unlike Marxist-based economists, are often excellent. Because Marx himself recognized the relationship between history and economics they typically avoid the common problem today where historians know little about economics (which they often view as a hard science only superficially related to history) while economists (also seeking to make economics a hard science) know little of history – the unsatisfactory condition of the history of money and banking and it effects on society brings home this point.

Here are some selected quotes from Gabriel Kolko whose seminal works have re-examined American Progressivism

Kolko in The Triumph of Conservatism:

Indeed, big businessmen were the vehicles of progressivism and the guarantors of socialism, and worth defending from permanent attacks for the parts they played in an impersonal industrial process. For the socialists “are not making the Revolution,” The Worker declared in April, 1901. “It would be nearer the truth to say that Morgan and Rockefeller are making it.”

When Ida Tarbell’s History of Standard Oil appeared, Gaylord Wilshire, publisher of the mass circulation socialist Wilshire’s Magazine, criticized her for not being more sympathetic to Rockefeller as an individual. The system was predestined and “Mr. Rockefeller was forced by unavoidable circumstances to pursue his path of consolidation…The fault exists not in the individual but in the system.” When J. P. Morgan died in 1914, the Socialist Call wrote “if Morgan is remembered at all, it will be for the part he played in making it [socialism] possible and assisting, though unconsciously, in its realization.”

“Competition is industrial war,” wrote James Logan, manager of the U.S. Envelope Company in the same year. “Ignorant, unrestricted competition, carried to its logical conclusion, means death to some of the combatants and injury for all. Even the victor does not soon recover from the wounds received in the conflict.” The instinct of survival made combination inevitable, for combination was “caused primarily by the desire to obviate the effects of competition” — or at least this was the dominant contemporary view of the matter.

“Unrestricted competition had been tried out to a conclusion,” an American Tobacco Company executive wrote in 1912, “with the result that the industrial fabric of the nation was confronted with an almost tragic condition of impending bankruptcy. Unrestricted competition had proven a deceptive mirage, and its victims were struggling on every hand to find some means of escape from the perils of their environment. In this trying situation, it was perfectly natural that the idea of rational co-operation in lieu of cut-throat competition should suggest itself.”

The New York Financier, in opposition to the vast majority of contemporary writers and modern historians, was correct when it observed in June, 1900, that “The most serious problem that con- fronts trust combinations today is competition from independent sources… In iron and steel, in paper and in constructive processes of large magnitude the sources of production are being multiplied, with a resultant decrease in profits…When the papers speak of a cessation of operation in certain trust industries, they fail to mention the awakening of new life in independent plants. . . ,”

In October, 1910, Perkins jealously wrote Morgan that he admired the European steel industry’s cartel structure and the fact that the members of the industry had resorted to cooperation “rather than cutting one another’s throats…”

The problem of the inequitable distribution of wealth, Andrew Carnegie announced in 1908, could be solved by the rich regarding their money “to be administered as a sacred trust for the good of others… So far as the price competition plaguing the steel industry was concerned, however, “it always comes back to me that Government control, and that alone, will properly solve the problem,” ostensibly also solving the problem of “monopolistic industrial conditions.” “There is nothing alarming in this; capital is perfectly safe in the gas company, although it is under court control. So will all capital be, although under Government control…What is reasonable and proper will be for the court to determine.” “There is nothing so absolutely impossible as uncertainty,” George Perkins freely con fessed in 1909 in reference to state regulation.

A federal commission composed of businessmen of “broad experience,” J. K. Gwynn of American Tobacco suggested, would not only protect business from a critical public, but it could bring some order to the industrial fabric to replace the “deceptive mirage” of unrestricted competition — unrestricted competition that was being rapidly displaced by “rational co-operation.”

Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle later commented that:

“I am supposed to have helped clean up the yards and improve the country’s meat s apply — though this is mostly delusion,” Sinclair later wrote. “But nobody even pretends to believe that I improved the condition of the stockyard workers.”
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Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
You have given examples of coercions/enforcements in the past that would transferred wealth from certain individuals to more powerful individuals. But these examples are "one-offs" which, while certainly transferring capital to the wealthier people, don't explain how the inequalities that they caused are carried on, increasingly, over generations.
One way that is works is though the revolving door of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve since its inception in 1913. That kind of thing goes pack a good ways. In the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution there is an image of a 1792 check drawn on Alexander Hamilton's National Bank signed by John Jacob Astor.

And the Federal Reserve in 1913 was designed by the following people:

A.P. Andrews (Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department)
Paul Warburg (Baron Alfred Rothschild's Kuhn, Loeb & Co.)
Frank Vanderlip (president of the National City Bank of New York)
Henry P. Davison (senior partner of J. P. Morgan Company)
Charles D. Norton (president of the Morgan-dominated First National Bank of New York)
Benjamin Strong (representing J. P. Morgan)
Sen. Aldrich (wealthy investor in railroads, sugar, rubber and banking, patriarch of the famous Aldrich dynasty, and was grandfather of banker Vice-President Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller)

It is hard not to conclude that the FED was inbred from the start.

Another way it works is through the social, intellectual, and even family links that can and have largely dominated the ideology of the ruling politicians in the U. S.

For example the Council on Foreign Relations, a public think tank has had a large and lasting influence in the U.S. Government since its founding in 1921.

What follows (in two posts again) is common grist for conspiracy theorists. I am not one of those but the influence of a single organization on the government of the United States is nonetheless profound. And we can be sure that there are personal, social, and possibly financial ties as well.

Per Wikipedia:

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), founded in 1921, is a United States nonprofit think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. It is headquartered in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. Its membership, which numbers 4,900, has included senior politicians, more than a dozen secretaries of state, CIA directors, bankers, lawyers, professors and senior media figures. It is known for its neoconservative and neoliberal leanings
Council on Foreign Relations - Wikipedia

From 1928-72, nine out of twelve Republican Presidential nominees were CFR members. From 1952-72, CFR members were elected four out of six times. During three separate campaigns, both the Republican and Democratic nominee were, or had been a member. Since World War II, practically every Presidential candidate, with the exception of Johnson, Goldwater, and Reagan, have been members.

In Sen. Barry Goldwater's 1979 memoir, With No Apologies, he wrote: "When a new President comes on board, there is a great turnover in personnel but no change in policy." That's because CFR members have held almost every key position in every Administration, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.

During that period, every Secretary of State (with the exception of Cordell Hull, James F. Byrnes, and William Rogers) has been a member. Every Secretary of Defense from the Truman Administration up to the Clinton Administration (with the exception of Melvin Laird) has been a member. Since 1920, most of the Treasury Secretaries have been members; and since the Eisenhower Administration, nearly all of the National Security Advisors have been members.

Harry S. Truman Administration

Dean Acheson (Secretary of State)
Robert Lovett (Secretary of State and later Secretary of Defense)
W. Averell Harriman (Marshall Plan Administrator)
John J. McCloy (High Commissioner to Germany)
George Kennan (State Department advisor)
Charles Bohlen (State Department advisor).
Dwight Eisenhower Administration
When CFR member Dwight Eisenhower became President, he appointed six CFR members to his Cabinet, and twelve to positions of 'Under Secretary':
John Foster Dulles (Secretary of State, an in-law to the Rockefellers who was a founding member of the CFR, past Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
Allen Dulles (head of the OSS operation in Switzerland during World War II, who became Director of the CIA and President of the CFR)
Robert B. Anderson (Secretary of the Treasury)
Lewis Strauss (Secretary of Commerce)

John F. Kennedy Administration

When CFR member John F. Kennedy became President, 63 of the 82 names on his list of prospective State Department officials were CFR members. John Kenneth Galbraith said: "Those of us who had worked for the Kennedy election were tolerated in the government for that reason and had a say, but foreign policy was still with the Council on Foreign Relations people." Among the more notable members in his Administration:

Dean Rusk (Secretary of State)
C. Douglas Dillon (Secretary of the Treasury)
Adlai Stevenson (U.N. Ambassador)
John McCone (CIA Director)
W. Averell Harriman (Ambassador-at-Large)
John J. McCloy (Disarmament Administrator)
Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)
John Kenneth Galbraith (Ambassador to India)
Edward R. Murrow (head of the U.S. Information Agency)
Arthur H. Dean (head of the U.S. Delegation to the Geneva Disarmament Conference)
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (Special White House Assistant and noted historian)
Thomas K. Finletter (Ambassador to NATO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)
George Ball (Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs)
McGeorge Bundy (Special Assistant for National Security who went on to head the Ford Foundation)
Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense)
Robert F. Kennedy (Attorney General)
Paul H. Nitze (Assistant Secretary of Defense)
Charles E. Bohlen (Assistant Secretary of State)
Walt W. Rostow (Deputy National Security Advisor)
Roswell Gilpatrick (Deputy Secretary of Defense)
Henry Fowler (Under Secretary of State)
Jerome Wiesner (Special Assistant to the President)
Angier Duke (Chief of Protocol).

Lyndon B. Johnson Administration

Roswell Gilpatrick (Deputy Secretary of Defense)
Walt W. Rostow (Special Assistant to the President)
Hubert H. Humphrey (Vice-President)
Dean Rusk (Secretary of State)
Henry Fowler (Secretary of the Treasury)
George Ball (Under Secretary of State)
Robert McNamara(Secretary of Defense)
Paul H. Nitze (Deputy Secretary of Defense)
Alexander B. Trowbridge (Secretary of Commerce)
William McChesney Martin (Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board)
Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor (Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Board)
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Jul 2019
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
You have given examples of coercions/enforcements in the past that would transferred wealth from certain individuals to more powerful individuals. But these examples are "one-offs" which, while certainly transferring capital to the wealthier people, don't explain how the inequalities that they caused are carried on, increasingly, over generations.

Richard M. Nixon Administration

Nixon appointed over 100 CFR members to serve in his Administration, including:
George Ball (Foreign Policy Consultant to the State Department)
Dr. Harold Brown (General Advisory Committee of the U.S. Committee of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the senior member of the U.S. delegation for SALT talks with Russia)
Dr. Arthur Burns (Chairman of the Federal Reserve)
C. Fred Bergsten (Operations Staff of the National Security Council)
C. Douglas Dillon (General Advisory Committee of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency)
Richard N. Cooper (Operations Staff of the National Security Council)
Gen. Andrew I. Goodpaster (Supreme Allied Commander in Europe)
John W. Gardner (Board of Directors, National Center for Volunteer Action)
Elliot L. Richardson (Under Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General; and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare)
David Rockefeller (Task Force on International Development)
Nelson A. Rockefeller (head of the Presidential Mission to Ascertain the Views of Leaders in the Latin America Countries)
Rodman Rockefeller (Member of the Advisory Council for Minority Enterprise)
Dean Rusk (General Advisory Committee of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency)
Gerald Smith (Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency)
Cyrus Vance (General Advisory Committee of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency)
Richard Gardner (member of the Commission on International Trade and Investment Policy)
Sen. Jacob K. Javits (Representative to the 24th Session of the General Assembly of the U.N.)
Henry A. Kissinger (Secretary of State and Harvard professor who was Rockefeller's personal advisor on foreign affairs openly advocating a "New World Order")
Henry Cabot Lodge (Chief Negotiator of the Paris Peace Talks [Vietnam war])
Douglas MacArthur II (Ambassador to Iran)
John J. McCloy (Chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency)
Paul H. Nitze (senior member of the U.S. delegation for the talks with Russia on SALT)
John Hay Whitney (member of the Board of Directors for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting)
George P. Shultz (Secretary of the Treasury)
William Simon (Secretary of Treasury)
Stanley R. Resor (Secretary of the Army)
William E. Colby (Director of the CIA)
Peter G. Peterson (Secretary of Commerce)
James Lynn (Housing Secretary)
Paul McCracken (chief economic aide)
Charles Yost (U.N. Ambassador)
Harlan Cleveland (NATO Ambassador)
Jacob Beam (USSR Ambassador)
David Kennedy (Secretary of Treasury).
Gerald R. Ford Administration
When CFR member Gerald Ford became President, among some of the other CFR members:
William Simon (Secretary of Treasury)
Nelson Rockefeller (Vice-President)

Jimmy Carter Administration

President Carter (who became a CFR member in 1983) appointed over 60 CFR members to serve in his Administration:
Walter Mondale (Vice-President)
Zbigniew Brzezinski (National Security Advisor)
Cyrus R. Vance (Secretary of State)
W. Michael Blumenthal (Secretary of Treasury)
Harold Brown (Secretary of Defense)
Stansfield Turner (Director of the CIA)
Gen. David Jones (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Ronald Reagan Administration

There were 75 CFR and Trilateral Commission members under President Reagan:

Alexander Haig (Secretary of State)
George Shultz (Secretary of State)
Donald Regan (Secretary of Treasury)
William Casey (CIA Director)
Malcolm Baldridge (Secretary of Commerce)
Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick (U.N. Ambassador)
Frank C. Carlucci (Deputy Secretary of Defense)
William E. Brock (Special Trade Representative)

George H. W. Bush Administration

When Bush was elected, the CFR member became the first President to publicly mention the "New World Order" and had in his Administration nearly 350 CFR and Trilateral Commission members:
Brent Scowcroft (National Security Advisor)
Richard B. Cheney (Secretary of Defense)
Colin L. Powell (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)
William Webster (Director of the CIA)
Richard Thornburgh (Attorney General)
Nicholas F. Brady (Secretary of Treasury)
Lawrence S. Eagleburger (Deputy Secretary of State)
Horace G. Dawson, Jr. (U.S. Information Agency and Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights)
Alan Greenspan (Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board)

Bill Clinton Administration

When CFR member Bill Clinton was elected, Newsweek magazine would later refer to him as the "New Age President." In October, 1993, Richard Harwood, a Washington Post writer, in describing the Clinton Administration, said its CFR membership was "the nearest thing we have to a ruling establishment in the United States".

Albert Gore, Jr. (Vice-President)
Donna E. Shalala (Secretary of Health and Human Services)
Laura D. Tyson (Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors)
Alice M. Rivlin (Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget)
Madeline K. Albright (U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.)
Warren Christopher (Secretary of State)
Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. (Deputy Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation)
Les Aspin (Secretary of Defense)
Colin Powell (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff)
W. Anthony Lake (National Security Advisor)
George Stephanopoulos (Senior Advisor)
Samuel R. 'Sandy' Berger (Deputy National Security Advisor)
R. James Woolsey (CIA Director)
William J. Crowe, Jr. (Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board)
Lloyd Bentsen (former member, Secretary of Treasury)
Roger C. Altman (Deputy Secretary of Treasury)
Henry G. Cisneros (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)
Bruce Babbit (Secretary of the Interior)
Peter Tarnoff (Under Secretary of State for International Security of Affairs)
Winston Lord (Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs)
Strobe Talbott (Aid Coordinator to the Commonwealth of Independent States)
Alan Greenspan (Chairman of the Federal Reserve System)
Walter Mondale (U.S. Ambassador to Japan)
Ronald H. Brown (Secretary of Commerce)
Franklin D. Raines (Economics and International Trade).

George W. Bush Administration

Richard Cheney (Vice President, former Secretary of Defense under President G.H.W. Bush)
Colin Powell (Secretary of State, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Bush and Clinton)
Condoleeza Rice (National Security Advisor, former member of President Bush's National Security Council)
Robert B. Zoellick (U.S. Trade Representative, former Under Secretary of State in the Bush administration)
Elaine Chao (Secretary of Labor)
Brent Scowcroft (Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, former National Security Advisor to President Bush)
Richard Haass (Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and Ambassador at Large)
Henry Kissinger (Pentagon Defense Policy Board, former Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford)
Robert Blackwill (U.S. Ambassador to India, former member of President Bush's National Security Council)
Stephen Friedman (Sr. White House Economic Advisor)
Stephen Hadley (Deputy National Security Advisor, former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Cheney)
Richard Perle (Chairman of Pentagon Defense Policy Board, former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration)
Paul Wolfowitz (Assistant Secretary of Defense, former Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan administration and former Under Secretary of Defense in the Bush administration)
Dov S. Zakheim (Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller, former Under Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration)
Lewis Libby (Chief of Staff for the Vice President, former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense).


Whatever anyone may think of the ideas of the Council on Foreign Relations in a theoretical sense, there is a clear indication that it represents a well-connected, near- monolithic ruling ideology.

As linguist Noam Chomsky noted in The Common Good:

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum...”
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