Absolute Power

The Making of the New World Order

by Richard K. Moore

Toward Freedom magazine, May 1998


The dominant trend of our time is globalization, marked by elimination of trade barriers, downsized governments, greater reliance on the private sector, reduced regulation of business, and an increasingly global economy. Many people call that economic progress, but this form of globalization is actually political regression, threatening to destroy democratic institutions and revert to something resembling feudalism.

In some ways, the US is central to the process. It's the leading free trade proponent, and provides the primary military muscle to maintain global order. When the US president speaks on international issues, his words are taken seriously. Yet, the US isn't the primary beneficiary of globalization, and doesn't appear to be exploiting its advantage in the traditional fashion.

The reason should be obvious: Globalization isn't about competition among nations, it's about the increasing power of mega-corporations over nations. In effect, the US government acts as a proxy for elite corporate interests, not as a representative of its people or even national interests in any conventional sense. Although sovereign national states are the Familiar World Order, globalization is leading us inexorably toward a New World Order where mega-corporations (and the wealthy elite who control them) reign supreme, while nations are reduced to a vestigial, subservient, policing role-as seen in much of the Third World.


Under feudalism, there were three elites: the church hierarchy, landed aristocracy/nobility, and royalty. As that system ended, an additional elite-the business wealthy-gained influence through trade and manufacture. These elites competed for power, with different accommodations from time to time and place to place.

For the general population, the elites represented security or tyranny, depending on your perceptive. But it was obvious that they ran things; no one pretended society was democratic. With the advent of 'democratic republics," the older elites were ousted, while the business wealthy, who ushered in capitalism, remained relatively undisturbed. Did this transformation bring about genuine democracy, or merely monopolization of power in the hands of the single remaining elite? The question remains open.

Although sentiment for independence in the American colonies was minimal prior to the latter 18th century, objective conditions made it a natural and comparatively non-disruptive step. The colonies were largely self-governing and economically self-sufficient, and had their own social identity, extensive trading fleets, and considerable natural resources. Boston was the third busiest port in the British Empire. The issue was independence, not a social or political revolution. The colonial assemblies would presumably continue afterward, with essentially the same leaders, and land ownership and economic activity continuing basically as before. However, industrial development would be possible and international trade wouldn't be directly limited by the vagaries of British imperial entanglements. The resources of the new continent could be developed without sharing the spoils. For the elite, a divorce from the empire represented profound, immediate economic opportunities.

Whatever one might think about the intentions of the (mostly elite) Founding Fathers-or the theory of the Constitution-- US history has been a see-saw battle for control between the people and the capitalist elite. At times, as in the late 19th-century-robber-baron era, the elite brazenly ruled. John. D. Rockefeller bragged about how many government officials were "in his pocket." At other times, as during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, government seemed more responsive to the needs and wishes of the general population.

Gradually, the US became an almost mystical symbol, complete with fable-like imagery: the land of freedom and opportunity, a "bastion of democracy" where the streets were "paved with gold." People yearned to believe in this fairy tale kingdom. In reality, its growth was largely achieved through periodic warfare.

There has been a significant war approximately 30 years, often initiated (overtly or covertly) by the US, and usually sparking a further expansion of US power and elite interests. Such aggression isn't particularly uncommon among nations; what's different is the propaganda mythology that successfully defined the US as acting in defense of "freedom and democracy."

Repeatedly, the use of outrage-incidents triggered the war spirit, and channeled the resulting wrath toward the nominated enemy. It concentrated power in the executive branch, where elite control is generally most undiluted by popular influence. This process is exemplified by the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which enabled full-scale US military involvement in Vietnam. The incident was faked, but Congress promptly issued its knee jerk resolution, authorizing the president to "act in defense." The "authorized actions" were then incrementally escalated into a full-scale war, with Congress having minimal additional influence and popular will finding expression only in the streets. Even when the hoax was exposed, it was too late to put the genie back in the bottle.


The rise of communist and socialist movements following World War I created considerable fear among elite capitalists. Marxist ideology emphasized their tyrannical aspects, and issued a call for solidarity among peasants and industrial workers, whom Marx credited with creating all real wealth. Although simplistic, this ideology took firm root in Russia and seemed poised to spread farther.

In Germany, Italy, and Spain, anti-elite movements gained popular strength under the banners of socialism, communism, or anarchism. Thus, it wasn't surprising that the elites in those and other countries welcomed and encouraged the rise of fascism, which was virulently anti-communist, pro-capitalist, and willing to brutally suppress any opposition.

Hitler began his political career as an operative of German military intelligence and received funding and support from Western industrialists. While in prison, writing Mein Kampf he kept a portrait of Henry Ford on his desk. Mein Kampf made it unambiguous that Hitler's primary objective was the subjugation and economic exploitation of Russia.

By ignoring their own prohibition on German re-armament, the Western elite collaborated with Hitler in developing an invasion force targeted on socialism's bastion. Meanwhile, it uneasily watched Japan's growing economic power and imperial scope.

The latter was a significant threat. Not only would Asian market and investment opportunities be highly curtailed, but Japan would be dislodging the West from its role as collective master of the seas and arbiter of global imperial arrangements.

The US handled this complex situation with finesse and subtlety, guided by a strategic vision unsurpassed by the imperial masterminds of any previous age. The war-popularizing incident was the Japanese strike on the US Pacific fleet, sparked by the cut off of Japanese oil supplies, which the US convinced Holland to undertake. President Roosevelt feigned surprise and outrage, and the most formidable, popularly supported military crusade of all time was launched.

By end of the war, the US was very close to global hegemony. It had the run of the seven seas, an intact military machine and national infrastructure, a monopoly on nuclear weapons, greatly expanded influence in the oil-rich Middle East, and the lion's share of the world's disposable wealth and industrial capacity. With most of the rest of the world in shambles, deep debt, and/or under occupation, the US had the prestige, power, and resources to guide the construction of post-war arrangements largely according to its own designs.


Following the war, the US-led Western elite drew a line on the globe, demarking the part they dominated. The "free world" (doublespeak for "elite-controlled zone") was organized into a new kind of investment realm, while much of the "free" population was systematically subjected to military dictatorships responsive to elite interests. The doublespeak usage of "freedom," originating during the American Revolution, had been globalized. Meanwhile, the "communist bloc" (doublespeak for "beyond elite control") was contained: ostracized, pestered by provocative military deployments, and subjected to chronic economic destabilization via the "arms race," expensive brushfire engagements, and trade restrictions. However, rather than using its strength to establish a traditional imperial system, with Europe relegated to a secondary position and Japan kept underdeveloped, the US implemented a bold new global scheme: collective imperialism. Under a Pax Americana military umbrella, an international economic infrastructure was established (IMF, World Bank et al). Investment and trade were free to flow, increasingly, around the "free" world, without the territorial partitions imposed by a competitive European imperial system. For the ax-colonies (soon to be dubbed the Third World"), the result was domination by the capital elite, rather than the business interests of a single national power.

This semi-homogenized, semi-pacified, investment environment enabled large corporations to develop global operations. Thus arose the era of megacorps-mammoth corporations with wealth and influence comparable to nations. Beyond any sense of home-nation loyalty, megacorps view regulations and trade barriers as provincial interference. Their needs and demands are usually the hidden agenda behind Western policies.

This is a new species of political entity, in direct competition with its ancestor, the modern nation state. Born out of limited-liability laws, nurtured by capitalist culture, and lacking any natural sense of limits, megacorps extend themselves like cancer cells, poisoning their host planet in the process. Their motivation is to increase their market value on behalf of their owners.

What would be the nature of a megacorp-governed world? There's no need to speculate: We can simply look at Third-World countries. What we see are minimal regulation and taxation of megacorp activities, along with repressive regimes subsidized, armed, and otherwise bolstered by outside elite interests.


In 1980, a new phase of consolidation was launched in the US and Britain under the stage management of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The platform of the "neoliberal revolution" was lower corporate taxes, reduced corporate regulation, privatization of public services, elimination of international trade barriers, and the self-demonization of democratic political institutions. "The only good government is less government" became the kamikaze agenda.

This amounts to a wholesale transference of power, assets, and sovereignty into megacorp hands, embezzlement on the grandest scale ever attempted. Public lands, rights, responsibilities, and assets are passed into private hands at undervalued prices-without effective public oversight. Government itself is being dismantled. By rights, neoliberalism's public leaders ought to be indicted for conspiracy and high treason. Their revolution represents a declaration that nation states are no longer the tools of power, and that megacorps are the primary vehicle for wealth accumulation and organizing global society.

And they're making it clear that First World nations and their populations are no longer privileged partners in the game. To this end, international arrangements such as the WTO, IMF, World Bank, NAFTA, and GATT ensure that economic, social, and political polices can be dictated globally by corporate-dominated commissions. Megacorps and their commissions are controlled directly by the elite. There are no democratic mechanisms and no pretense that they represent the "will of the people." Democracy, the scam which unleashed capitalism, has finally become a direct hindrance to elite hegemony.

A significant difference between the neoliberal and American revolutions is the lack of emphasis on democracy and freedom. Today's promises are related mainly to "opportunity." People are encouraged to assume that democracy is a fact of life, an unshakable institution, secure from any fatal dangers. We're also encouraged to view capital exploitation as a sign of democracy, particularly in formerly socialist states. As citizens there suffer under intentionally destabilized economies, megacorps organize exploitive infrastructures. Meanwhile, we're told that the locals are simply "slow to adapt."

Traditionally in "democracies," police forces are small and order arises from the spirit of citizenship. But under neoliberalism, abandonment of public services is depressing satisfaction' while the de-emphasis of nationalist ideology is undermining civic identity and voluntary compliance. The elite understands that, as living standards decline in once-prosperous nations, more economic suffering and political discontent are inevitable. Not surprisingly, police-state systems are growing, and an intense propaganda campaign is underway regarding crime, its causes, and cures. More police, longer sentences, and more prisons are the elite's answer to the question of public order.

The nature of the US penal system is changing. As prison construction becomes the largest growth industry, a formidable capacity is being built. Prisons are literally becoming the concentration camps of the neoliberal regime, places to isolate those redundant to corporate needs. But never wanting to waste an exploitable resource, the elite are also developing an extensive prison labor system, renting out inmates to fill lower-rung labor needs. This growing network of slave-labor concentration camps has escaped public notice. So, too, has its racial and ethnic bias.


If nations are to be weakened, from where will the armies come to maintain the New World Order? Nationalist spirit has been central to modern war efforts. How can a disenfranchised, betrayed populace be expected to rally "to the defense" when the elite need them? Who will maintain the infrastructure for weapons systems and delivery? What will be the command structure, and on behalf of what political entity will military operations occur? Finally, what about public opinion? The myth of democracy requires that some degree of popular sentiment be roused for dramatic military interventions.

The Gulf "War" and its aftermath demonstrated how the elite plans to deal with some of these problems. The episode set major historic precedents, establishing new paradigms for global propaganda, weapons technology, blitzkrieg tactics, and international law. It planted in the public mind the principle that the US has a justifiable global policing role, and exported to the global stage its traditional war-incident scenario.

Technologically, it was a field test of new weapons systems. Precise night operations, stealth defenses, guided weapons, satellite navigation, cruise missiles, bulldozers as mass murder devices, air-fuel explosives, uranium-weighted shells, anti-nerve gas vaccinations- an entire new generation of weaponry was tested on a modern, supposedly well-armed, industrial nation. With almost no loss of life in the elite forces, Iraq's infrastructure was systematically destroyed and its population subjected to relentless terrorism.

Technology helps solve the problem posed by the demise of strong nationalism, which formerly provided large, motivated armies. By emphasizing hi-tech weapons, operated from safe havens, and using blitzkrieg tactics, the length of the intervention was minimized, the number of casualties (on the elite side) kept low, and the need for a large, non-professional army reduced.

The war-provoking incident-Iraq's invasion of Kuwait-was brought about by Kuwait's economically provocative oil-dumping policy, followed by a "go signal" from the US secretary of state regarding Iraq's invasion. Once the incident occurred, outrage and surprise were feigned, and a world-wide media/lobbying campaign was launched to cajole UN approval of US military action. Saddam Hussein was quickly assigned the role of Hitleresque madman. The US launched a military campaign of its own design, and-as with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution-UN approval was a blank check.

This precedent established itself firmly on the media-managed "world stage." Since then, the US has all but been handed the official title of "Judge Dredd"-judge, jury, and executioner of international law-and US intervention is no longer considered imperialism.


If the New World Order becomes completely operational, overall policies will be set by non-elected, corporate-dominated commissions; the world's economy, information, and working conditions will be managed by megacorps; governmental functions will be reduced to administrative matters and police management. And all this will be enforced by an elite-dominated strike force built around the US military and NATO.

The US has a unique role only partly due to its position as the dominant military power. It also reflects the fact that, compared to other First-World countries, it's the most thoroughly captured by megacorp interests. And the US people, in their habitual credulity, are the most effectively mesmerized by media mythology. It's almost a "safe house" for NWO operations.

There is only a brief window of opportunity in which First-World populations can reclaim their paper democracies, through intensive political organizing and the creation of broad coalition movements. But such an unprecedented peaceful revolution will only become possible if people wake up to the true nature of the threat.

Given the dire consequences of globalization, the widespread acclaim for its steady progress is somewhat remarkable. The credit goes to the sophistication and pervasiveness of the accompanying propaganda campaign, plus the absence of effective forums for alternate perspectives. If a Big Lie is repeated often and loudly enough, people will eventually believe it.

In countering globalization rhetoric, therefore, perhaps the most powerful argument regards the corruption of governments and politicians. Although we're reminded daily of it, we're rarely informed that political corruption is really the illegal intrusion of the corporate elite into the political process. But if enough people realize this, it will no longer be as easy for global corporatization to pose as a "solution" to the problem.


Richard K Moore, a former software developer, lives in Ireland, where he is developing a book on globalization and moderates cyberjournal@cpsr org

New World Order