As a computer nerd, the word “superclass” denotes for me the object-oriented programming taxonomy that allows a child (“sub”) class to inherent properties & methods from its parent or “super” class. David Rothkopf, in an insightful lecture delivered at Middlebury College introducing his forthcoming book, uses the term with the definite article to denote the roughly 6,000 or so people who constitute the ruling elite of our planet. These are the 1-millionth of the global population, the executives of multinational corporations and top government and military officials, 94% male and predominantly white, who have transnational decision-making power affecting the billions of the rest of us. The only inheritance evident in this superclass is the financial kind, in the multi-billions of dollars passed to their heirs, perpetuating the elite lineage.

Rothkopf doesn’t see a conspiracy theory in this growing hyperconcentration of power, nor does he see anything necessarily Orwellian about its operation, but he also doesn’t think it puts us in a doubleplusgood place. Rather, he argues that we have gotten ourselves into this situtaion through a prevailing wisdom (perpetuated by the power elite) that prizes freedom and national sovereignty at the expense of justice and fairness. Further, the lack of democratic accountability in the current system allows the interests of the superclass to supersede those of the public at large. This is evidenced by the increasing disparity between the haves and have-nots, including the billions of people trapped by geographic determinism, born into abject poverty with no system in place to allow them to work their way out. In the end, this unchecked inequality allowing billions to suffer while a tiny minority profits enormously, make the current superclass system unsustainable.

While he doesn’t explicitly call for democratic world government, his analysis of the interests and actions of the superclass clearly underlines the need for stronger transnational institutions with democratic accountability, ends that I support heartily.