Transcript of 1/6/19 Interview with
Naming and Shaming the Global Power Elite
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Cindy Sheehan: Welcome back to the Soapbox. I'm your host, Cindy Sheehan.
Cindy Sheehan: Today, we chat with Peter Phillips, who's been on the show before. Peter is a professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University, and he's the former director of Project Censored. So stay tuned and we'll be back with Peter, and he'll be talking about his latest book, “Giants: The Global Power Elite.” So stay tuned, and we'll be right back.
Cindy Sheehan: Peter Phillips, welcome back to Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox!
Peter Phillips: Well thank you very much for having me back!
Cindy Sheehan: Oh it's nice to talk to you again. It's been a couple years or so. And thank you for reaching out to me.
Cindy Sheehan: Before we get started, reacquaint our listeners with a little bit about yourself.
Peter Phillips: Well, I'm a professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University for the last 25 years, and for about half that time, I was director of Project Censored, and put out 14 annual yearbooks on the most important news stories that I've covered by the corporate press, and then for the past several years, I've been involved with Project Censored in doing the Project Censored radio show on Pacifica Network, which was a lot of fun, with my co-host Mickey Huff, who's now the director.
Peter Phillips: I kind of have retired from a lot of the Project Censored work, and really gotten back to my original research interest, which is elites and power ... which I teach classes in as well ... and my new book is called “Giants: The Global Power Elite,” which is about the top 300 players in global capitalism today, and the impacts that they have on the world, not only who they are, but the amount of money that they control. It's massive.
Cindy Sheehan: Right. And that's what we're going to talk about today.
Cindy Sheehan: There's a question that it says, “Who holds the purse strings to the majority of the world's wealth?” and that's a question I believe that, you know, answering ... I'm sorry I haven't read it, but I did read some reviews and things like that about it, but ... is this the question you answer in the book? And why is it significant?
Peter Phillips: Well, essentially, we're talking about capital money, and how it's invested worldwide, and it's concentrated ... very highly concentrated. We know that there's a great inequality in the world ... lots of people know that ... but the degree to that that it's occurred, particularly in the last decade, is just amazing.
Peter Phillips: There are 17 giant investment companies .. that's where the term “giants” come from ... and these are companies that have over a trillion dollars of investment capital.
Peter Phillips: Now, think about a trillion. A trillion is a thousand billions. So that's a lot of cash. And they're representing the wealth of the top one-thousandth of 1% ... the 2,000-plus billionaires, and about 36 million millionaires ... and then just generally, they handle money for pension funds and things like that ... but it's concentrated in the 17 giants who collectively, in 2017, had 41 trillion dollars worth of capital that they were managing.
Peter Phillips: And what's amazing about this is, one.) there's only 199 people that are on the board of directors for this amount of money—
Cindy Sheehan: Wow.
Peter Phillips: So it's a very small number of people ... which, we identify all of them, by name and who they are and their business affiliations and where they went to school, and their private wealth, and their policy groups. So that's a first.
Peter Phillips: But more importantly, that concentrated wealth is impacting ... and it's protected by governments, the intelligence agencies, the American NATO empire worldwide, and it's protecting the free flow of capital, and capital investment.
Peter Phillips: And that's significant, because we're talking here probably 50 trillion dollars today ... a very concentrated wealth—
Cindy Sheehan: Holy moly.
Peter Phillips: Managed just by these few hundred people ... and that wealth, their biggest problem is that they don't have adequate investment opportunities to guarantee a return. So they end up doing speculative investment, like the subprime mortgage loan problem they got into a decade ago that practically bankrupted the entire system, and if it hadn't been for the central banks worldwide, and the federal reserve in the US, bailing them out with trillions and trillions of dollars, we would've had total economic collapse.
Peter Phillips: It's inevitable that we're gonna have those kinds of problems, ‘cause you can't continue to concentrate wealth and find good investment returns forever. I mean, it's just not possible.
Peter Phillips: So governments help out in that regard. One of the policies that western governments have implemented is a austerity ... that means they spend less money on people and humanitarian concerns, and allow greater investment by private interests into public resources. So whether it's water rights, or freeway systems, or ... they allow the privatization of literally everything. Patent rights, I mean, just ... anything that could offer return could be privatized. And we're seeing that very massively.
Peter Phillips: We're also seeing the privatization of war, and war is another way that capital can be used to guarantee it'll return to these investment companies.
Peter Phillips: So, the US has 800 bases worldwide, in cooperation with NATO, is working in Africa, we've got troops and training troops ... and military actions going on in 140 nations worldwide.
Peter Phillips: That's not to protect the United States from terrorists or the people here. I mean, that is to protect global capital's penetration anywhere in the world.
Cindy Sheehan: Exactly.
Peter Phillips: And there's to be no resistance. So if the government is resisting profit-making and capital-penetration, it's time for a regime change. And the US is getting very good at that.
Peter Phillips: So, Qaddafi was taken out primarily because he was trying to sell his oil and encourage other African nations to sell their oil and gold. And that created a conflict in Europe and the US, and so they took him out. They created a resistance movement, and funded it, and then went in and did what they call “humanitarian intervention”, and now Libya's in chaos.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: But that is war no behalf of global capital. And I think what we can really look at ... going back to 9/11, and the justification for the invasion of Afghanistan, and then Iraq, and the wars in the Middle East ... have all been about revenge and protecting us from Al-Qaeda and terrorism, but terrorism is primarily people who are resisting capital penetration and military control in their own homes, in their own communities. People resist, we call them terrorists.
Peter Phillips: So that's an on-going problem with concentrated wealth in the world today, is that it is maintained ... and a big part of that is through war.
Peter Phillips: And so we have permanent war, and people are dying everywhere, and mass inequality occurs, so that now we have the top 20% owning 95% of all the wealth, but it's the top 1% that own half of the wealth in the world, and the bottom 80% of the people live on $10 a day or less! [crosstalk 00:09:22] people live on $3 a day in the world, and a quarter live on $1.50.
Cindy Sheehan: Geez.
Peter Phillips: So of those billions of people, 30 thousand of them die every day from malnutrition and starvation.
Peter Phillips: So there's this massive inequality, and a massacre of people daily, from lack of good nutrition, when there's more than enough food in the world to feed all of them. A third of the food in the world is thrown away, because it's not deemed profitable to sell it!
Peter Phillips: So we have really become a non-humanitarian society, and capitalism is making that worse by allowing the continued concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people, and encouraging and protecting those returns, and encouraging those returns politically, militarily, and, through laws, trans-nationally!
Peter Phillips: So the world economic forum is where the big capitalists get together every year, and they all meet each other, and they knock around, but there's policy groups ... like the counsel of thirty ... which I call “the Executive Committee of Global Capitalism.” This is 33 central bankers, big economists. 32 of them are men ... there's one woman.
Cindy Sheehan: Wow.
Peter Phillips: They have a million-dollar budget, and they hire staff, and they do reports, and when they put out a report or a policy recommendation to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Basel Committee ... any of those groups that are controlling international trade and investment ... it's seen as instructions. It's not seen as a policy recommendation. The president of the World Bank will take a look at what the counsel of 30 is saying and see that as, “This is what we need to do.”
Peter Phillips: I call them the Executive Committee of Global Capital, and those 32 people are definitely included in my list of the most powerful people, in terms of world power elites.
Peter Phillips: But there's two other advisory groups that are very important as well: the Trilateral Commission ... which was originally Rockefeller-funded in 1973, and it has representatives from 40 nations. There's, like, 400 people that are on it. None of them are in government. In fact, you can't be in the Trilateral Commission and be in government in your country. So they are business leaders. It's all privately managed. They meet annually in New York, but then they meet regionally in Asia and Europe and Americas, and they're in constant communication, putting out constant reports of what they believe the policy for capitalism needs to be.
Peter Phillips: One of the reports of 2015 was about the return of the Cold War containment with Russia. Because they were saying that Putin was misbehaving, so to speak, and that he was seeking to do his own empire again, and so that was a justification for ... what we've seen now is ... expanded military saber-rattling with Russia, conflicts all over the world ... and they have openly said in that report that they didn't think we could work with Russia unless there was a change in government. So they were calling for a regime change. They want Putin out.
Peter Phillips: And they're salivating, because the capital would love to penetrate Russia. We would love to get into those oil supplies and those gas supplies and the mineral wealth that's widespread in the Russian country.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: It's massive amounts of possible investment opportunities that they're very much interested in seeing capital penetration there in a much bigger way.
Peter Phillips: They work with the Chinese, the Chinese are allowing some capital penetration, but one of the big stumbling blocks right now is these tariff things that have happened, but the tariffs are really a pressure to make China allow capital investment into their companies and there inside China, above 50% of a company's value. So the major investment groups, they're very interested in China, and in being able to invest there, and so there's pressures to have that kind of opportunity, as well.
Peter Phillips: So what we're looking at is global capital controlling the world, creating and building itself on wars, and all of us are negatively impacted by life's reduction of opportunities, decrease in public resources that we could access, and wages that are going down because we're competitive with the entire world.
Peter Phillips: So we're in a really wrong-track situation, which Chris Hedges and others have called sort of a state of fascism, or a neo-futilist, where the corporations are like the kings and royalty in the Middle Ages, and are now so strong that it's a futilistic-type society.
Cindy Sheehan: Peter, you said that there were three organizations. You mentioned the Counsel of 30 and Trilateral Commission. What's the third?
Peter Phillips: The third one is the Atlantic Counsel.
Cindy Sheehan: Oh.
Peter Phillips: Again, a private organization, funded with money from corporations and foundations, made up with representatives from the NATO nations, with a high emphasis on security and protecting global investment.
Peter Phillips: So, we looked at the Executive Committee of the people there, the 35 there, and they're half major investors, or working with one of these giant affiliate investment companies, and/or they're security experts in some capacity. A lot of prior military people, but high-level security operatives. Including private military, like ... we all know about Blackwater, now called Academi.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: But the biggest one in the world is G4S. In fact, G4S, out of Great Britain, has 625 thousand employees—
Cindy Sheehan: Holy moly.
Peter Phillips: And is the second largest private employer in the world behind Walmart.
Peter Phillips: So they do security, they do private military, they can do kill and invasion raids in countries protecting corporate resources, they can create green zones, protecting corporate employees anywhere in the world. They guard banks. They were the ones with the dogs up in Dakota, attacking the people protesting the pipeline there.
Cindy Sheehan: Right. Wow.
Cindy Sheehan: This is just so overwhelming. 50 trillion dollars in wealth! I remember back when, at the end of the Bush regime, I think maybe in 2008 or something, I was reading about the derivatives, and how the investment bankers or whatever were creating these massive amounts of derivatives ... and I had read something like eight trillion dollars' worth ... and this economist from Texas wrote to me and made me feel so stupid. He's like, “There's not even eight trillion dollars' worth of wealth in the world!”
Peter Phillips: No, they're wrong! There's 250 trillion dollars worth of wealth in the world.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. But this was back in '08. I have no idea. I thought I was right.
Peter Phillips: Even then, they were wrong.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. But anyway ...
Cindy Sheehan: It seems like their only purpose of existence is to create wealth for themselves.
Peter Phillips: Well, the purpose ... I mean, capitalism is like riding a bicycle. It has to keep moving forward, or else, if you stop, you fall over.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: And that's called “stagnation,” and that's a depression, and it could be worldwide, and it could be quite catastrophic. And for the people on the bottom, instead of 30 thousand a day dying from starvation, it could be hundreds of thousands.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: And combining that with that ... what we've looked now, at maybe what, 12 years to turn CO2 around, and try to accommodate the catastrophic change of the weather and the global environment. That's not happening under capitalism. They're just gonna keep pedaling forward! If green investment's profitable, they'll do it, but that's not the emphasis. They're still burning, coal, they're still burning gasoline, and encouraging that capital return that they get from those materials.
Peter Phillips: So we're faced with environmental collapse and economic collapse, perhaps simultaneously, sometime within our immediate future. We're not talking here 100 years from now, we're talking a decade from now. Within our life expectancies. And for a young person, for sure within their life expectancies. And for their grandchildren, certainly even more so.
Peter Phillips: At the end of the book, we have a letter to the global power elite, and we've identified who they are. Say, “Okay, we know who you are. You are in positions of power that you could change global capitalism, in terms of its continued concentration of wealth. And you could make some changes that could affect the environment. And you really need to do that, in the capacities that you have, if you think that your grandchildren are gonna have grandchildren.” So we're appealing to them to make the changes that are necessary.
Peter Phillips: I mean, they believe that continued capital growth is gonna solve the problem ... that we'll grow ourselves out of global inequality ... and it's just not happening. It's going the opposite direction.
Cindy Sheehan: I don't even understand. That doesn't even make sense, from somebody who's not a professor or—
Peter Phillips: Well it's gonna trickle down.
Cindy Sheehan: Oh, well, yeah. That's never happened. I mean, I remember Reagan.
Cindy Sheehan: So the thing to me is, this wealth has to be positively redistributed to stop this.
Peter Phillips: Oh, absolutely. We say there needs to be a river of capital flowing down to all the families in the world.
Cindy Sheehan: But they're so greedy, they wanna hang onto that. The goal of capitalism, the root word is “capital,” and that's what they care about. And that's what their goal is. To have everything. Not just to have their share, but to have everything.
Cindy Sheehan: Chavez called these people “the squalid ones,” the “escuálidos”. How do they even have any humanity to appeal to? What could be positive steps that we could take today, Peter, to make sure that that happens?
Peter Phillips: Well ... I wrote this book to identify specifically who these people are. So the 389 people listed in the book are the central core managers, protectors, and facilitators of global capitalism worldwide.
Peter Phillips: Now, having said that ... and knowing who they are ... there's a structure there. So that is what we're gonna be able to address [inaudible 00:21:44] social action groups, political groups need to be able to say, to these people specifically, “You need to do something about this. We are concerned about what you are doing.”
Peter Phillips: We've seen protest groups in front of Larry Fink's house, his apartment on the upper west side of New York. He's controlling six trillion dollars of wealth through BlackRock. So environmental groups have been protesting outside of his apartment, him and Jamie Dimon's both. But they're just two of these 300 people. They need to be influenced and changed. ‘Cause they wanna continue to privatize everything, including social security.
Peter Phillips: I mean, that's their goal. And they think that they can privatize the world. So I'm not sure if we can change their minds. We're gonna have to pressure them. We're gonna have to identify who these people are, and pressure them ... politically, through social movement groups, and a variety of any other way that we can ... and say, “You've gotta stop this. You have to fix this. And if you don't fix it soon, we're gonna see environmental and economic collapse, to the point that it may not be possible for humanity to exist.”
Peter Phillips: There'd be massive civil unrest. I mean, if there's an economic depression worldwide, the civil wars and the unrest that'll come out of that will be immense.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: And millions and millions of people will die.
Cindy Sheehan: And then these people have their private armies already.
Peter Phillips: They do, and I think sometimes they say, “Well, I could be protected, or I can go buy land in New Zealand and nobody's gonna bother me” kinda stuff, but ultimately, it's gonna reach worldwide.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah.
Peter Phillips: And like Bezos (Jeff of Amazon) has invested in SpaceX, and maybe he thinks he's gonna go colonize Mars or something.
Cindy Sheehan: Oh my goodness.
Peter Phillips: But that's insane. It would destroy the world for a few. That's something that we can't allow to happen.
Cindy Sheehan: Well, we're almost out of time, but I always remind people that these war ... they always say, “Oh, the US hasn't won a war since World War II.” Well they're not meant to be won. They're meant to be continuous. Right?
Peter Phillips: They're meant to use up capital and give capital return to elites.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: Yes!
Cindy Sheehan: And another question I had for you is, how does the figure of Donald Trump play into all of this, as a capitalist himself? As a so-called business man, how do you think he has affected this?
Cindy Sheehan: ‘Cause we saw this concentration of wealth ... I read that between January of 2016 and January of 2017, the number of people with as much wealth as half of the world fell from 62 to eight. And I know that was during the Obama regime, and I know that ... like you've explained ... that there's more powerful people in charge of these things, but how has he affected things? Trump.
Peter Phillips: Well, presidents are functionaries for the global power elite. I say that quite openly, because all the presidents ... even going back to Carter, and Carter didn't quite go along with all their agendas, so they were undermining him in a variety of ways ... the intelligence agencies were, on that ... but to protect concentrated global wealth is a president's top agenda. He's not gonna say that, but he has no other choice. And Trump has been quite good at that. I mean, he's lowered taxes, he's saved them trillions of dollars on taxes ... on tax reform bills. He's allowed the banks to reinvest in speculative investments, where Obama had blocked some of that after 2008. He's spending militarily. He's droning the world and killing people everywhere. So he's a functionary for elites. They're essentially happy with what he's doing.
Peter Phillips: I'm sure they're worried about his irresponsibility and potentially getting us into a nuke war or something like that, but I think they feel like they've got enough control, in terms of the military and the functionaries there, that that won't happen. I certainly hope not.
Peter Phillips: So overall, he's accepted by Wall Street and the elites because he's profitable. He allows them to keep going. The stuff about a border wall, things like that, I'm not sure they're necessarily opposed to that.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: They frankly probably just don't care.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: And they don't care about abortion, they don't care about some of the social issues.
Cindy Sheehan: Right. Gay marriage, or—
Peter Phillips: They care about capital.
Cindy Sheehan: I always say, “Whoever ‘wins’” ... you know, “wins” put in quotation marks ... “the presidency of the United States is certainly acceptable to Wall Street and the war machine, and the people always lose. And they always win.”
Peter Phillips: Under our current system, that's absolutely true.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Peter Phillips: Absolutely true.
Cindy Sheehan: Definitely we need a different system.
Cindy Sheehan: Well Peter Phillips, tell us the name of your book again, and where people can find it—
Peter Phillips: It's called “Giants: The Global Power Elite”, and it's under Seven Stories Press. People can order it online through projectcensored.org, and it's available at book stores all over the country. We just went to second printing, so that's exciting. The book is gonna come out in Spanish and Portuguese, Korean, and Turkish, at this point.
Cindy Sheehan: Oh, that's awesome.
Peter Phillips: So we're excited about that.
Cindy Sheehan: Congratulations, yeah.
Peter Phillips: It's doing well. It's kind of word-of-mouth, so to speak. It's got no corporate media interest whatsoever—
Cindy Sheehan: Well, I wonder why.
Peter Phillips: Nobody's talked about it or even criticized it at that level.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah.
Peter Phillips: But it's starting to pick up academically, and we're excited about that, and through word-of-mouth, and people reading the reviews and that, it's, I think, a very important book that has a who-dun-it kinda thing in it, and names people specifically who are involved.
Cindy Sheehan: Great, Peter. I did transfer it to my Kindle, so I will be reading it, ‘cause I'm interested in stopping it.
Peter Phillips: Well, we all are.
Cindy Sheehan: I have grandchildren.
Peter Phillips: Yeah.
Cindy Sheehan: I have grandchildren, and I want them to have a safe place and a secure place and a prosperous place to grow old in.
Cindy Sheehan: So anyway, Peter ... and you said the corporate media, they're the propaganda arm of the global power elite, right?
Peter Phillips: I call them “the ideologists.” Yeah.
Cindy Sheehan: Yeah. Okay.
Cindy Sheehan: Peter, happy New Year, and it was so good to talk to you.
Peter Phillips: Great to get to talk to you, Cindy. Thank you.
Cindy Sheehan: Thank you for the subject and this book. It's inspired me to do more work in overthrowing the system.
Peter Phillips: Okay.
Cindy Sheehan: All right. Thank you. Bye-bye.
Peter Phillips: Bye.
Cindy Sheehan: That's the Soapbox this week, and as always, I hope you were informed and inspired for further action.
Cindy Sheehan: That was our Soapbox number 348 ...now I am counting ... two more until a magic number of 350.
Cindy Sheehan: So I'd like to thank my engineer, Don DeBar. I'd like to thank Peter Phillips for his work, and for his book, and for inspiration to dig into this topic further, and how can we overthrow these global elites, make a more fair and equitable society.
Cindy Sheehan: I'd like to thank you for listening to and supporting the show. Please go to cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com for links that are relevant to this program.
Cindy Sheehan: I'm Cindy Sheehan, you've been listening to the Soapbox. Peace out for now.