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The Ruling Class

Cover Art by Rose Wong
O, yes! The ruling class are worthy of study. The natural history of the ruling class is of fascinating interest. You begin with interest, you proceed with awe and admiration, you deepen into hatred, and you wind up with contempt for the nature of the beast. You realise that — The Capitalist Class is the Meanest Class that ever grasped the Reins of Power.
– James Connolly, “Our Rulers as a Study,” 1915

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Front Matters

Front Matters

Decanting the Wine

Party Lines

Daniel Finn

Naming the Enemy

The greatest trick the ruling class ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist.

Struggle Session

Timothy Earle
Interviewed by Seth Ackerman

The Invention of Inequality

From chiefs and kings to billionaires today, a small handful of humans over thousands of years have figured out how to amass tremendous power and wealth. We talked to an anthropologist about how the ruling class got started.

Illustration by Raúl Soria
Reading Materiel

Reading Materiel

Epstein Flight Logs

Canon Fodder

Adrian Bleifuss Prados

How Big Law Became Big

As US capitalism boomed, attorneys from a handful of New York law firms became powerful viziers of America’s elite.

Illustration by Daniel Zender

Canon Fodder

Eileen Jones

The Crime of the Century

The mystery of Agatha Christie’s enduring popularity is rooted in a nostalgia for the certainties of the Victorian class system.


Ted Jessup

At the height of the Cold War, my father was a station chief for the Central Intelligence Agency. It was a front-row seat for the last gasp of the WASP spy.


Nicole Aschoff

McKinsey consultants have packaged capitalism for decades, offering a glimpse into the moral compass of the ruling class.


Doug Henwood

For more than three centuries, something has been going horribly wrong at the top of our society, and we’re all suffering for it.


Benjamin C. Waterhouse

After the upheavals of the 1960s, business leaders were losing control. They fought back through the Chamber of Commerce.

Illustration by Emily Haasch
Cultural Capital

Cultural Capital

Summer at Bohemian Grove

Red Channels

Michael Grasso

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

The TV series Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous inaugurated an era when the ruling class was there to be envied more than to be abolished.

Ways of Seeing

Owen Hatherley

More Fun for More People

The architect, planner, and landowner Clough Williams-Ellis dedicated his estate to an experiment in “propaganda for architecture.” How did it become best known as the cutest of all the fictional dystopias?

Illustration by Shira Inbar

Bass & Superstructure

Anwen Crawford

Pop of the Fops

From Boy George to Bryan Ferry, the New Romantics were working-class youths who created their own imaginary aristocracy through 1980s pop stardom. Did the mask end up eating the face?

Bass & Superstructure

Alexander Billet

Monopoly Music

Today’s ruling class treats all culture as either commodity or plaything. We should not accept either definition.

Beyond a Boundary

Matthew Miranda

Billionaire Garage Bands

Under capitalism, New York Knicks owner James Dolan can make bad music. Under socialism, we can all make bad music.

The Tumbrel

The Tumbrel

Polo-related Injury

The Worst Estate

Liza Featherstone

Yuppie Misandry

At the turn of the last century, Alexandra Kollontai identified the problem with elite feminism.


Shamus Khan

Twilight of the Boarding School Boys

East Coast boarding schools once prepared “ordinary” boys from the elite for national leadership — helping them forge friendships, networks, and marriages to rule the country.

Illustration by Jack Taylor


Space in the Family Plot

Popular Front

Tim Barker

Political Elites Aren’t Worried About Inflation

With the passage of a $2 trillion stimulus bill, deficit-phobia appears to be waning in Washington. But it’s not because lawmakers have been won over to redistributive policies — it’s because they think the working class is too weak to set off inflation.


Paul Heideman

Know Your Enemy

G. William Domhoff’s work is a vital reminder that the task of changing society begins with understanding who holds power in it, and how.