The Five Classes of Power Elites

America’s Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy by Charles Hugh Smith  is an interesting analysis of class in America. While I am not quite convinced about his break down of the middle and lower classes, his class divisions of the upper tier could be quite useful in understanding of the nature of the  power elite that run this nation. There are nine classes in America, according to Smith. The top 5 classes (only about 9% of the population) wield virtually all of the political and economic power.

1. The Deep State. Mike Lofgren offered this description of the Deep State in Anatomy of the Deep State:

The Deep State is a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the nation without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

I describe the U.S. Deep State as the National Security State which enables a vast Imperial structure that incorporates hard and soft power–military, diplomatic, intelligence, finance, commercial, energy, media, higher education–in a system of global dominance.

The key feature of the Deep State is that it makes decisions behind closed doors that the surface government ratifies and implements.

The number of people in the Deep State class is small: senior Federal officials (NSA, Pentagon, State, Treasury, etc.), Executive Branch officials and key private-sector players.

Membership in the Deep State class is not dependent on wealth so much as on relationships and power.

2. The Oligarchs. Oligarchy is in the news–for example We’re Headed for Oligarchy–and a number of descriptors are somewhat interchangeable: corporatocracy, plutocracy, etc. I have used Financial Aristocracy to invoke the neofeudal structure of our economy.

Whatever word you prefer, this small class is more or less the top .01% who owns a majority of the nation’s financial wealth. They essentially own the political machinery of the nation, writing the rules of legislation that is supposedly regulating their industries, taxes, etc.

3. New Nobility. This is the super-wealthy class just below the Oligarchs. They own a singificant percentage of all assets but do not directly manage the political process like the Oligarch class. They hire lobbyists to protect their interests and constitute an influential political-financial class with global connections.

4. Upper Caste. I use this term to describe the technocrat/professional class that manages the Status Quo for the upper classes. They serve in both government and the private sector.

5. State Nomenklatura. In the Soviet Union, the Nomenklatura were the key administrators in all sectors. In the U.S., the Nomenklatura are well-paid government administrators with security and power. Collectively, they administer their own share of the swag, gaming the system to maximize their pensions, benefits, etc.

Together, the Upper Caste and the Nomenklatura comprise about 9% of the 121 million households in the U.S.: roughly 8.7 million households who earn between $145,000 and $250,000 annually. This class is the bulk of the top 7%, i.e. the top 90% to 97%.Household income in the United States.

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