Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market

Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market

Janine R. Wedel

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0465091067

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

It can feel like we’re swimming in a sea of corruption. It’s unclear who exactly is in charge and what role they play. The same influential people seem to reappear time after time in different professional guises, pressing their own agendas in one venue after another. According to award-winning public policy scholar and anthropologist Janine Wedel, these are the powerful “shadow elite,” the main players in a vexing new system of power and influence.

In this groundbreaking book, Wedel charts how this shadow elite, loyal only to their own, challenge both governments’ rules of accountability and business codes of competition to accomplish their own goals. From the Harvard economists who helped privatize post-Soviet Russia and the neoconservatives who have helped privatize American foreign policy (culminating with the debacle that is Iraq) to the many private players who daily make public decisions without public input, these manipulators both grace the front pages and operate behind the scenes. Wherever they maneuver, they flout once-sacrosanct boundaries between state and private.

Profoundly original, Shadow Elite gives us the tools we need to recognize these powerful yet elusive players and comprehend the new system. Nothing less than our ability for self-government and our freedom are at stake.

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 These meetings took place in Rome in December 2001 and Paris in June 2003 (see Joshua Micah Marshall, Laura Rozen, and Paul Glastris, “Iran-Contra II?” Washington Monthly, September 2004, In addition to the meetings in Rome, Ghorbanifar helped finance business deals and broker relationships for Richard Perle, as Seymour Hersh has reported. So has the equally enigmatic

there), such as financial wizards playing on the latest innovations. For providing opportunities to further explore and discuss these players and phenomena, I am indebted to British sociologist Paul Stubbs. Based in Croatia, he invited me to workshops he organized there in 2006 and 2007 that brought together dynamic local and international scholars and practitioners to explore changing systems of governing, power, and influence. These trips were learning opportunities of the best sort, and

the government’s capacity to oversee the process, even when government officials sign on the dotted line, they are sometimes merely rubber stamping the work of contractors. New institutional forms of governing have gathered force. Yet not only the public but even government officials who should be in the know are often left out of the information loop. The Information Revolution? This is the information era, right? The age of Web 2.0, smartphones, and twenty-four-hour news cycles. But one

Stewart expressed in his quip: “You cannot, in today’s world, judge a book by its contents.”6 Today’s premier influencers deftly elude such judgment. Pursuing their coincidences of interest, they weave new institutional forms of power and influence, in which official and private power and influence are interdependent and even reinforce each other. The phenomenon I explore in Shadow Elite is no less than a systemic change. A new system has been ushered in—one that undermines the principles that

activities without the intelligence community or the State Department knowing about them. While the vice chairman of the committee characterized Feith’s operation as an illegal “private intelligence” one, the Pentagon’s inspector general concluded that his operation was “inappropriate” but not illegal. Indeed, that it wasn’t illegal is a key point. It did not have to be illegal to be highly effective in the influence game.97 Through it all, the Neocon core marginalized officials who were not

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