It’s true, no exaggeration. The transnational capitalist class (TCC) is the winner of our world political order. They have, quite literally, inherited the world. All its productive resources included. Since they have already won the game, let’s take a look at who they are and what their victory means for the rest of us.
The TCC can be defined as excessively powerful bourgeoisie as they control the means of production on a global scale (Robinson and Harris, 2000). The people classified under this stratum would be the owners of multinational corporations and billionaires such as Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation and Richard Branson of Virgin Group of Companies. Hence, it is a group of people who control supranational implements of the global political economy such as multinational corporations (McDonalds, Apple) and transnational organisations (The World Bank) (Robinson, 2003). Of course this class enjoys enormous political and cultural influence. The following picture is a great example, even though a bit too bold for certain tastes.
It is fascinating that a few people should have such influence in the world. As Vitali et al. (2011) have conducted an interesting and in depth analysis of the global corporate network. They argue that the global corporate network is shaped like a ‘bow tie’. The analogy being that the most powerful 147 firms in the centre of the network control almost 40% of it (Vitali et al., 2011). Of course one would not want such concentration of power in a few hands. After all, densely connected financial networks are disposed to greater systemic jeopardy (Stiglitz, 2010).
However, the most interesting and perhaps even scary part of this class is the outreach of its influence. Take for example Microsoft. Its founder Bill Gates is one of the most powerful people in the world (Forbes, 2011) and his company employs thousands of people across the globe. His or rather his company’s influence transcends borders. Yet the company has been guilty of hiring people as temporary workers for years, denying them many rights and overworking them especially when they are located in developing nations (Greene et al, 2011). But can the company be challenged? As these corporates and people keep growing they dwarf people, organisations and even governments with their enormous power. This makes them the heirs of the world and us, the ‘99%’, a lot which can live off whatever ‘trickles down’ from these and many others below them.
By: Mariam Khawar
Greene, J., Hamm, S., Brady, D. and Hovanesian, M. (2005). Troubling Exits at Microsoft. [Online] Businessweek.com. Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2005-09-25/troubling-exits-at-microsoft [Accessed 18 Dec. 2014].
Forbes, (2014). The World’s Most Powerful People. [Online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/powerful-people/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2014].
Robinson, W. and Harris, J. (2000) ‘Toward a Global Ruling Class? Globalization and the Transnational Capitalist Class’, Science and Society, 64 (1), pp. 11-54.
Robinson, W. (2003) Transnational conflicts: Central America, Social Change and Globalization. London: VERSO
Stiglitz, J. (2010). ‘Risk and global economic architecture: why full financial integration may be undesirable’, The American Economic Review, 100 (2), pp. 388-392.
Vitali, S., Glattfelder, J. B. and Battiston, S. (2011), ‘The network of global corporate control’, PloS one, 6 (10), pp. e25995.