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This article appeared in THE JOURNAL SCIENCE AND SOCIETY, VOL. 64, NO. 1, SPRING 2000, PP. 11-54  



by William I. Robinson and Jerry Harris

TCC, Abstract and Introduction


From: dr wooo <> to: A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E


Basically, what we call "globalisation" is the formation of a genuinely global or "transantional" ruling class for the first time in history. The fact that the ruling class is globalising faster than the working class is basically why the working class has been being shat on for the alst quarter century. The answer is, in part, to encourage the development of a transnational working class.

Its a very useful article; understanding that what globalisation is is the development of a genuinely global ruling class has important consequences in practice.


A transnational capitalist class (TCC) has emerged as that segment of the world bourgeoisie that represents transnational capital, the owners of the leading worldwide means of production as embodied in the transnational corporations and private financial institutions. The spread of TNCs, the sharp increase in foreign direct investment, the proliferation of mergers and acquisitions across national borders, the rise of a global financial system, and the increased interlocking of positions within the global corporate structure, are some empirical indicators of the transnational integration of capitalists. The TCC manages global rather than national circuits of accumulation. This gives it an objective class existence and identity spatially and politically in the global system above any local territories and polities. The TCC became politicized from the 1970s into the 1990s and has pursued a class project of capitalist globalization institutionalized in an emergenttransnational state apparatus and in a "Third Way" political program. The emergent global capitalist historic bloc is divided over strategic issues of class rule and how to achieve regulatory order in the global economy. Contradictions within the ruling bloc open up new opportunities for emancipatory projects from global labor.



It is widely recognized that world capitalism has been undergoing a period of profound restructuring since the 1970s bound up with the world historic process that has come to be known as globalization (Burbach and Robinson, 1999). One process central to capitalist globalization is transnational class formation, which has proceeded in step with the internationalization of capital and the global integration of national productive structures. Given the transnational integration of national economies, the mobility of capital and the global fragmentation and decentralization of accumulation circuits, class formation is progressively less tied to territoriality. The traditional assumption by Marxists that the capitalist class is by theoretical fiat organized in nation-states and driven by the dynamics of national capitalist competition and state rivalries needs to be modified.

We argue in this essay that a transnational capitalist class (henceforth, TCC) has emerged, and that this TCC is a global ruling class. It is a ruling class because it controls the levers of an emergent transnational state apparatus and of global decision making. This TCC is in the process of constructing a new global capitalist historic bloc; a new hegemonic bloc consisting of various economic and political forces that have become the dominant sector of the ruling class throughout the world, among the developed countries of the North as well as the countries of the South. The politics and policies of this ruling bloc are conditioned by the new global structure of accumulation and production. This historic bloc is composed of the transnational corporations and financial institutions, the elite that manage the supranational economic planning agencies, major forces in the dominant political parties, media conglomerates, and technocratic elites and state managers in both North and South.

In what follows, we explore some of the theoretical, conceptual, and empirical issues at stake, although we state as caveat that space constraints preclude a full discussion of these issues. The propositions advanced here are intended to provoke discussion, and as a matter of course are tentative in nature, requiring further substantiation in ongoing research.

In part I, we discuss the notion of transnational class formation, identify some of the key developments in the rise of a TCC as agency in the latter decades of the 20th century, and as part and parcel of the same historical process, the rise of a transnational state apparatus in this same period. In part II, we review some empirical data on globalization as indicators of transnational capitalist class formation. Finally, in part III, we discuss the political dynamics of the TCC, includingstrategic debates and emergent splits among transnational capitalists and their organic intellectuals.


The full article can be found at:, or archived in four parts at:

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Emanzipation Humanum, version 6. 2000, criticism, suggestions as to form and content, dialogue, translation into other languages are all desired