The Missing Piece in Murray Rothbard’s Theory of the Ruling Elite
The Bush dynasty
The study of the ruling elite is nothing new. In the monarchical times the existence of a ruling elite was obvious. It was considered the traditional duty of historians to study the birth and development of monarchical, aristocratic and business dynasties. In democratic times this tradition has waned to the extent that now it is often considered illegitimate conspiracy theory to even speak about the ruling elite.
Fortunately, the study of the ruling elite has stayed alive on the revisionist fringes of both the left and the right. Despite great ideological differences they agree on two fundamental aspects of the theory of the ruling elite. First, that the ruling elite derives its power from the state. It is the state that helps the ruling elite to obtain various privileges such as subsidies, cartels and monopolies.
Second, most big businessmen are not defenders of free competition but almost always want to try to protect themselves from competition with cartels and monopolies. It is usually the Big Business and especially the Big Banks who are the biggest monopolists. Thus revisionists from both the left and right point out that the basic structure of history has not changed. It is still a battle between freedom and state granted privileges.
There have been a few historians and economists who have looked in detail at the modern power structures. From the New Left emerged Gabriel Kolko. He showed that at the beginning of the twentieth century Big Business achieved regulatory capture. In other words Big Business gained control of the regulating agencies and thus was able to protect itself from competition.
From the Old Right emerged Professor Murray N. Rothbard. He was an economist and one of the most famous members of the Austrian school of economics. Rothbard integrated Kolko’s insights into Austrian economic analysis that emphasises the benefits of free market and the dangers of cartels and monopolies. In this way Rothbard largely merged the ruling elite studies of both the New Left and the Old Right.
However, Rothbard went ever further. He bridged macro history with micro history by naming names. He studied in detail those dynasties, individual politicians, bankers and businessmen who are part of the ruling elite. In his book Wall Street, Banks and American Foreign Policy Rothbard proceeded to show in detail how it was the Big Bankers and their dynasties who formed the ruling elite. They achieved not only regulatory but also state capture. In other words, Big Bankers manipulated and largely controlled the most important decision making centres of the state.
Rothbard’s theory of the ruling elite is summarized in the article The Praxeological Foundations of Murray Rothbard’s Study of the Modern Ruling Elite and RWE. Rothbard concluded that the American side of the Anglo-American Establishment consisted of three Houses: Morgan, Rockefeller and Warburg.
After Second World War the Rockefellers became the dominant or senior House in the ruling elite and now run what Rothbard called the RWE, the Rockefeller World Empire.
After World War II, the Council on Foreign Relations became dominated by the Rockefeller rather than by the Morgan interests, a shift of power reflecting a general alteration in financial power in the world at large. After World War II, the rise of oil to prominence brought the Morgans and Rockefellers—once intense rivals—into an Eastern Establishment of which the Rockefellers were the senior, and the Morgans the junior partners. (p. 32.)
The Missing piece
Rothbard’s analysis of the Big Picture seems compelling especially since it is based on micro studies of actual people and organisations. However, if after the World War II the Eastern Establishment was really unified under Rockefeller rule what about the political battles of the last half century?
This question has also been raised by Justin Raimondo in his foreword to Rothbard’s book, Wall Street, Banks and American Foreign Policy.
But it would be great to see something like a sequel to Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy, a comprehensive and detailed but concise history starting where Rothbard left off during the Reagan administration and bringing us up to date for today. (2011 edition. p. xix.)
Rothbard never wrote a sequel but he did keep on commenting on the power elite for over a decade before his untimely passing in 1995. Rothbard especially noted the rise of both southern billionaires and neoconservatives.
Unfortunately, Rothbard never gave us a systematic analysis of their development and thus the exact composition of the modern ruling elite. However, he did speak highly of Carl Oglesby’s thesis about Cowboys and Yankees. Rothbard states:
After World War II, the united Rockefeller-Morgan-Kuhn Loeb Eastern Establishment was not allowed to enjoy its financial and political supremacy unchallenged for long. “Cowboy” Sun Belt firms, maverick oil men and construction men from Texas, Florida, and southern California, began to challenge the Eastern Establishment “Yankees” for political power.
While both groups favor the Cold War, the Cowboys are more nationalistic, more hawkish, and less inclined to worry about what our European allies are thinking. They are also much less inclined to bail out the now Rockefeller-controlled Chase Manhattan Bank and other Wall Street banks that loaned recklessly to Third World and Communist countries and expect the U.S. taxpayer—through outright taxes or the printing of U.S. dollars—to pick up the tab.
More broadly; the assassination of Kennedy removed from power, by force and violence, a representative of the ”Yankee” Eastern Establishment, and replaced him by a leader of the Sun Belt (Florida, Texas, southern California) ”Cowboys” – as explained in Carl Oglesby’s perceptive work, The Yankee and Cowboy War. …
On this analysis, the Watergate Affair consisted of a counter-coup leveled by the Yankees, installing Establishment representative Gerald Ford, and ousting Cowboy (southern California) Richard Nixon (see Carl Oglesby; The Yankee and Cowboy War).
Oglesby’s thesis and Rothbard’s rendition of it seems quite explicit and falsifiable. The thesis is explicit because it names both Johnson and Nixon as leaders of “Cowboys” who are primarily “Sun Belt firms, maverick oil men and construction men from Texas, Florida, and southern California”.
The thesis is also falsifiable since according to Oglesby, Cowboys are “much less inclined to bail out the now Rockefeller-controlled Chase Manhattan Bank and other Wall Street banks”. If a politician is eager to bail out Wall Street then he cannot be a “Cowboy”.
Obviously both Johnson and Nixon were ready to bail out the Wall Street banks. Rothbard himself notes that they were in the Rockefeller ambit and their cabinets had a strong banker and especially Rockefeller presentation. Moreover, Rothbard himself admits that Kennedy, whom Oglesby considers a Yankee, was more of a threat to the Eastern Establishment than either Johnson or Nixon. In fact, Rothbard considers this one possible reason for the assassination of JFK.
Did Rothbard contradict himself by supporting Oglesby’s “Cowboy vs. Yankee”-thesis? Not necessarily. For Rothbard the thesis was much less clear-cut. Unlike Oglesby, Rothbard is especially clear that Nixon was very much controlled by the Rockefellers and the Eastern establishment in general.
Moreover, even Oglesby admits that the Cowboys are largely dependent on government support and contracts. Only Rothbard, however, seems to realise that that is precisely the reason why it is so difficult for the Cowboys to be really independent from the Eastern Establishment. This is also why they are not against bail-outs, they are just relatively ”less inclined” to support bailouts for others.
Rothbard’s Cowboy vs. Yankee thesis seems to be much weaker than Oglesby’s. What Rothbard seems to be saying is that Cowboys would like to be independent but are still largely dependent and often even fronts for the Eastern Establishment. Indeed, Rothbard himself notes that many of the Cowboys are in fact fronts of the Rockefellers. This is especially clear with the Southern Republicans gathered around Bush family who are Easterners transplanted into the South.
… George H. W. Bush, a Texas oil man who had served briefly as Ambassador to the United Nations. More important than Bush’s Texas oil connections was the fact that his father, Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush, was a partner at Brown Brothers, Harriman. (p. 58-59.)
Rothbard notes that George H.W. Bush was a Trilateralist squarely in the Rockefeller camp.
David Rockefeller formed the Trilateral Commission, as a more elite and exclusive organization than the CFR, and containing statesmen, businessmen, and intellectuals from Western Europe and Japan. The Trilateral Commission not only studied and formulated policy, but began to place its people in top governmental posts. (p. 34.) …
While Ronald Reagan’s early campaigning included attacks on the Trilateral Commission, the Trilateralists have by now been assured that the Reagan administration is in safe hands. The signal was Reagan’s choice of Trilateralist George Bush, who had also become a director of the First International Bank of London and Houston, as Vice-President of the United States, and of Reagan’s post-convention reconciliation visit to Washington and to the home of David Rockefeller. (p. 67.)
The forgotten patriarch Samuel P. Bush
It seems that the connection between Bush and Rockefellers is even more direct than Rothbard revealed. After all, George H.W. Bush was the son of Prescott Bush and – even more importantly – the grandson of Samuel P. Bush. Both were very close to the Rockefellers. Rothbard seems to not have been aware of this or at least never mentioned it.
This ignorance or silence is all the more surprising since Rothbard knew who was Samuel P. Bush. In his article War Collectivism During WW I Rothbard passingly mentions him:
The Industrial Board, conceived by Ritter in January, 1919 … At Ritter’s urging, George Peek was named chairman of the IB; other members included … steel castings manufacturer Samuel P. Bush, former head of the WIB’s Facilities Division; …
So Rothbard knew that Samuel P. Bush had been at the heart of the power elite as one of those running the War Industries Board that cartellized the economy during World War I. But why did Rothbard not reveal that Samuel Bush also worked directly for Frank Rockefeller, the younger brother of John D. and William Rockefeller?
The fact that Samuel Bush worked for the Rockefellers was no secret. Nowadays even Wikipedia makes this quite clear:
In 1901, Bush returned to Columbus to be General Manager of Buckeye Steel Castings Company, which manufactured railway parts. The company was run by Frank Rockefeller, the brother of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, and among its clients were the railroads controlled by E. H. Harriman.
The Bush and Harriman families would be closely associated at least until the end of World War II. In 1908, Rockefeller retired and Bush became president of Buckeye, a position he would hold until 1927, becoming one of the top industrialists of his generation.
Samuel Bush came from an old distinguished WASP family with good family connections. His father James S. Bush had been at Yale and was good friends with the famous Admiral Rogers. Samuel’s mother came from the prestigious Fay family who claimed a relation to the British Royal family. Samuel’s wife Flora Sheldon also came from a prestigious family and later Flora’s younger brother would also graduate from Yale.
Why did Rothbard ignore the fact that the grandfather of George H. W. Bush worked directly for Frank Rockefeller?
Rothbard does note that Samuel P. Bush was ”steel castings manufacturer” but not that for decades he was General Manager of Buckey Steel Castings Company run by Frank Rockefeller.
When Samuel Bush started to work for Frank Rockefeller the railroad war between James J. Hill and Edward H. Harriman was raging. Hill was supported by the mighty banking empire of the House of Morgan while Edward H. Harriman was backed both by the Walker family and the Kuhn, Loeb bankers who in turn were allied with the Rockefellers against the Morgans. Thus, Samuel Bush was thrust at the very heart of not only a business war but a battle of dynasties.
Soon Samuel Bush became not only the president of Buckeye Company but also good friends with Edward H. Harriman and his banker George Herbert Walker. The three men and their families got along so well that it lead to a Harriman-Walker-Bush triumvirate of sorts that functioned as a front for the Rockefellers.
The interests of Edward H. Harriman, George H. Walker and Samuel P. Bush were so interconnected that their sons were destined to continue the triumvirate. Here again it was Edward H. Harriman who had the leading front role. He had two sons: W. Averell Harriman and Ronald Harriman. They had two very close friends: Their father’s personal secretary’s Robert S. Lovett’s son Robert A. Lovett and Samuel Bush’s son Prescott Bush.
All four of them attended Yale about the same time. All of them were also tapped into the notorious and highly elitist Yale secret society Skull & Bones.
These children of the Harrimans, Walkers and Bushes would both socially and professionally stay very close to each other for the rest of their lives. This second generation triumvirate would protect Rockefeller interests for the next 50 years.
This alliance was further sealed in 1919 by marrying George H. Walker’s oldest daughter Dorothy Walker with Samuel Bush’s oldest son Prescott Bush. One of the bridesmaids at the wedding was Isabel Rockefeller, the granddaughter of J.D. Rockefeller’s brother William Rockefeller.
The most famous of Prescott’s and Dorothy’s sons is George Herbert Walker Bush, named after his Walker grandfather.
Auchinclosses organize the First Coalition War
In his last book published one year before his death, The Case Against The Fed Rothbard notes how Rockefellers were not eager to help the Morgans to push America into the First World War on the side of the Morgan allies, the British Empire.
And of all the leading ”Anglo” financial interests, the Rockefellers, ally of the Kuhn, Loebs, and a bitter rival of the Angle-Dutch [sic] Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company for world oil markets and resources, was one of the very few who remained unenthusiastic about America’s entry into the war.
This raises the question what might have been the price for Rockefeller support for the war effort? It seems plausible that at the very least Rockefellers would have wanted their men included in the running of the war effort and the consequent cartellization of the economy. This would have included men both in the cabinet and in the collectivised war economy.
Samuel Bush clearly was one such man. He was not only the head of Facilities Division of the War Industrial Board but in practice represented the Rockefeller connected Remington arms industries. But surely Samuel Bush could not have been the sole representative of the Rockefeller interests in the war effort. Who were the others?
One key player in the drive for war was Gordon Auchincloss, the son-in-law and sometime personal secretary of Edward House, the right hand man of President Wilson.
Some even call Auchincloss ”the father of US financial intelligence”.
Though at the time Auchincloss seemed to have the closest connections to the Morgan camp he also had connections to the Rockefellers. His brother was a rising politician in the Republican Party. Even more importantly, his cousin Hugh Auchincloss was one of the inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune through his mother.
An important change in the cabinet came in 1915 when pro-peace secretary of state William Jennings Brian resigned in protest to the pro-British policies of President Wilson that violated American neutrality in the First World War. Edward House recommended that George Lansing would become the new secretary of the state. Soon Gordon Auchincloss also rose to an important position in the administration. Were both Lansing and Auchincloss compromise candidates connected to both the Morgans and the Rockefellers?
George Lansing’s father in-law was George Foster, former Republican secretary of war who seems to have been close to the Rockefellers. More importantly, Lansing helped his own nephews John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles advance to important positions in the government. Rothbard notes that the Dulles brothers were squarely in the Rockefeller camp. He also noted that this was probably helped by the fact that they were in-laws of the Rockefellers:
Most important is the little-known fact that Dulles’s wife was Janet Pomeroy Avery, a first cousin of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Soon much of the official business went past the official channels through Colonel House. In fact, there developed a shadow or deep state within the state. It not only tried to get US into war but already prepared for it.
Before the war in 1916 Robert Lansing founded The Bureau of Secret Intelligence, also called the U-1. When the war started John Foster Dulles received an Army commission as Major on the War Industries Board. It would not be surprising if the Dulles brothers already at this stage were helping to develop the American secret intelligence apparatus together with Colonel House, Gordon Auchincloss and Samuel Bush.
Samuel Bush’s oldest son Prescott Bush also joined the army. More importantly, he also joined military intelligence. Did Auchincloss help the young army recruit Prescott Bush to get there? Was Prescott Bush part of the U-1 network together with the Dulles brothers?
Were Lansing, Dulles brothers and Auchincloss together with Samuel Bush looking after Rockefeller interests in the Wilson administration?
Was this one reason why U-1 hired William Yale as the Middle East director of operations? He was not only the direct descendant of one of the founders of Yale but also an employee of Standard Oil whose job had been to search oil in the Middle East.
Was increasing influence in the Middle East part of the price for Rockefeller’s help into getting US into the First World War?
Mohrenshilds deliver Baku oil fields to Rockefellers
During the first two decades of the twentieth century the biggest oil fields in the world were situated in Baku, Azerbaidanistan which was then part of the Russian empire. At the time Baku oil fields were dominated by the Nobel brothers and ultimately by the Russian Tsar.
The second biggest producers in Baku were the Rothschild backed Shell Oil Company and other British producers. Certainly the oil from Baku was by far the biggest threat to Rockefellers in the global oil markets. Naturally the Rockefellers would have been interested to gain control of it. Could that have been their ultimate price for their help in getting US into the First World War?
Was this why during the First World War George Herbert Walker begun negotiations with the Mohrenshilds over the faith of Baku oil?
The Mohrenschild family
De Mohrenschilds were a German-Russian family. Its three brothers run the oil business in Baku for the Nobel brothers. Ferdinand Mohrenschild travelled to US in 1915 to plead for American entry into war. So he offered the Rockefellers the deal of the decade if not the century: Majority of the stock in the Nobel Oil.
Negotiations took years but clearly Rockefellers had all their bases covered. Perhaps not wholly coincidentally America soon entered the First World War.
As representatives of the Nobel dynasty Mohrenschilds were truly a key family. No wonder the Rockefellers put their man George Herbert Walker in charge of negotiations with the Mohrenschilds. After the deal over Baku oilfields was made the Mohrenschilds further entered the Rockefeller ambit by becoming personal friends with the Auchincloss and Bush families.
Ferdinand Mohrenschild became such a success in high society that eventually he would marry the step-grand-daughter or President Woodrow Wilson.
Paris Peace Conference divides the world
After the First World War had been won and the power of both the German Kaiser and the Russian Tsar destroyed, the new global power structure would have to be decided at the Paris Peace Conference. The American delegation included also House, Auchincloss and the Dulles brothers. Soon, however, it became clear that the Morgans dominated the conference. The resignation of the secretary of state Lansing further increased Morgan power.
The Morgans together with the British establishment were clearly now the senior and Rockefellers only the junior partners in the ruling elite. However, this did not mean that they could not work together. On the contrary. Together they created organisations like Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) and Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) that were meant to cement the global rule of the Anglo-American Establishment.
It seems that there was again a deal: The Morgans and the British ruling elite wanted dominance not only over British and French Empires but also over their new small allies carved out of the Russian, German and Austrian Empires. Rockefellers and their Kuhn, Loeb allies would have been left with only the economically devastated Germany and Russia.
This would have suited Rockefellers because they wanted the control of both German chemical cartels and Russian oil. Their allies, the House of Kuhn, Loeb, in turn, would have been content to heavily invest in these countries and at the same time make sure anti-Semitism would not raise its head in these countries again.
Was this power-sphere deal between the dynasties the reason why American International Corporation (AIC) was created? As its name already tells us it was meant as a vehicle for American power over other countries. It was just doing in economic sphere what was de facto decided in Versailles. Its directories were top heavy with important names from Morgan, Rockefeller and Kuhn, Loeb camps.
Kerensky a Rockefeller man
Already during the First World War the civil war had started in Russia between Communists, pro-Tsarists and various other groups. The common interest of the Anglo-American ruling elite was that Russia would not present an economic and political threat as it had done during the Tsar. However, it was difficult to say which group in Russia would best guarantee their interests.
For Rockefellers the answer involved two possibilities: either control over Baku and other Russian oil or civil war chaos that would stop all exports of oil and thus raise the world market price of oil. The former could have been guaranteed with economically captive democratic Russia and the latter with a lengthy civil war and radical communism.
The Rockefellers seem to have seriously tried to create an economically captive democratic Russia by supporting Kerensky’s government that opposed both the tsarists and the communists. Kerensky did manage to seize power in 1917 and declare Russia a constitutional republic. However, Kerensky also continued Russian participation in the First World War and thus his government had little support among the populace. Rockefellers needed a back-up plan in case Kerensky lost power.
Could it be that the Bolsheviks were that back-up plan? After all, from the perspective of both the Rockefellers and Kuhn, Loeb, the Bolsheviks were clearly preferable to the restoration of the Tsar. Thus it might not have been a coincidence that when Kerensky started to lose his grip on power he rather let the Bosheviks have power than join with the tsarists led by the general Lavr Kornikov.
This might have been the back-up plan from the beginning since Kerensky’s and Lenin’s families were very close friends. Kerensky’s father had even been the headmaster of Lenin’s school.
After the Bolshevik revolution Kerensky was allowed to emigrate to west where his attorney would be Kenneth Simpson. Simpson was not only Prescott Bush’s fellow ’17 Bonesman and a close friend but also a partner in the banking house Brown Brothers. So close were Kerensky and Simpson that Kerensky had his own room in Simpson’s New York apartment.
Stalin a Rockefeller man
The Bolsheviks guaranteed a lengthy civil war that might even have been deliberately prolonged with the help of American and other western military interventions. Communists also provided a useful means to monopolise all oil production in Russia. The only problem was how to control the Communist party. Could it be that both de Mohrenschildt family and Kerensky helped the Rockefellers to keep contact with the key people in the Soviet Union?
Here it might also be relevant that at the beginning of his political career Stalin had been a strike organiser for Baku oil workers. De Mohrenschildts must have closely watched his activities from early on. This might help to explain why Stalin became the right hand of Lenin. It might also explain why suddenly during the civil war Lenin turned towards capitalism with his new economic policy, the NEP (Novaja Economica Politica).
It might also explain why the second most important man in the Soviet Union and its long-time foreign minister, the Armenian Anastasia Mikojan had originally been the leader of the Caucasus Communist Party active in the Baku oil fields.
Mikojan was known to be the only man who could have fights with Stalin and even reprimand him. Stalin would not dare to touch Mikojan. Neither would later Hrutsev and Breznev.
Were the Baku oil fields the reason why Communist Party members from the Caucasus seemed to have disproportional influence in the Soviet Union? Were Lenin and especially Stalin and Mikojan just fronts for the Rockefellers? Here the Sutton thesis might be relevant.
Antony Sutton argued that the industry of Soviet Union was largely built by American businessmen and capital. It started after Lenin took a right turn with his NEP-policy which continued to the end of the Soviet Union. In exchange for American capital and technology Soviet Union joined not only the oil but also raw materials cartel led by Rockefeller companies.
So if the Soviet Union was an integral part of the RWE, Rockefeller World Empire, what about modern Russia? Is Russia again independent? Is its president Vladimir Putin as independent as was the Tsar or is he also just a front for the Rockefellers?
It might be relevant here that the paternal grandfather of Putin was Spiridon Ivanovich Putin (1879-1965), the personal cook of both Lenin and Stalin.
Needless to say, being a dictator’s cook indicates that you and your family is trusted by the dictator and his security agency.
Later both Spiridon’s son Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin and grandson Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin would join the NKVD/KGB. Then in 2000 Vladimir Putin became the president of Russia.
One more Rockefeller man?
Murray Rothbard greatly advanced the study of the ruling elite by naming the names of ruling dynasties and their powerful members. He showed how the Rockefeller dynasty unified the ruling elite into an Anglo-American Establishment led by the RWE, Rockefeller World Empire. However, for some reason Rothbard did not realise – or did not reveal – the central position of the Bush family in RWE during the whole twentieth century.
Four generations of Bushes: Samuel, Prescott, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush clearly were fronts of the Rockefellers. Together with the Harrimans and Walkers they had an important role in building the American secret intelligence apparatus and thus the deep state that would largely control the United States and the world for the Rockefellers.
Why did Rothbard ignore the central role of the Bush family in the development of the deep state? And why did not Rothbard even try to integrate Sutton thesis into his own RWE-thesis?
After all, it would be a perfect fit.