Who rules the world? An introduction

Dennis R. Morgan (Full Professor, English Interpretation and Translation Division, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Republic of Korea)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 13 April 2015



Morgan, D.R. (2015), "Who rules the world? An introduction", Foresight, Vol. 17 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/FS-02-2015-0013



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Who rules the world? An introduction

Article type: Introduction From: Foresight, Volume 17, Issue 2

Who rules the world? Is there an identifiable global ruling power? If so, is this global ruling power derived from the will and consent of the billions of people that inhabit this planet? If not, then from what source is this power derived? On the other hand, if there is no identifiable global ruling power, as many assume, then are the people of this world free to chart their collective future? If not, why not? To what degree does the autonomous nature of the technological society determine the future of humanity? Is it possible to realize global democracy and sustainability? If so, then how can this vision of the future actualize? What role does/should global ruling power play?

Any serious effort to understand the future of humanity during the twenty-first century must grapple with these tough yet vital questions. Especially, the question of global ruling power is of great concern as humanity now faces some very complex/critical crises on the horizon. Ignoring the question is not an option, for if there is a global ruling power that does not rule on the basis of the will and consent of billions of people around the world, but instead rules surreptitiously for its own narrow interests, without concern for the quality of life for the future of the majority of humanity, then this power must be identified and challenged. On the other hand, if we assume that there is no ruling power, that we proceed haphazardly into a chaotic future, blind to all interests and consequences – as automatons, puppets, or fools – then this is also a dangerous predicament to be recognized and addressed: there simply is no getting around the fact that those who are blind to power are its puppets.

In the modern era, the evolution of consciousness is marked by the ideal of political freedom, especially in the form of self-rule, which is the foundation of democratic movements – as a shift from rule by traditional aristocracies, monarchies and autocrats to that of representative democracy. At the same time, however, modernity gave birth to economic freedom as well, in the form of the free market system and its attendant ideology of capitalism. With the advent of the industrial revolution and the technological society, contradictions of the two kinds of “freedom” became evident as power assumed new forms, new sources of political, social and economic rule that often undermined, suppressed and subverted the democratic ideal of political freedom of the Multitude, conceived as the universal right to rule Itself. As such, modern democracy has always been an ideal, an experiment and a struggle that has yet to find completion, as new forms of autocratic powers develop more sophisticated means to manipulate and subvert the democratic spirit to consent to and legitimize the interests of the ruling class.

Moreover, with the discovery of the “new world”, through expeditions/explorations and advances in transportation and communications technology, modern consciousness grew increasingly “global” as well as democratic; hence, the yearning for freedom became a global yearning of the Multitude[1]. Yet, every step of the way in the rise of global consciousness, ruling powers emerged to suppress and divert this yearning, to support domination schemes that, as a global enterprise, constitute the Empire. From colonialism to imperialism to post-imperialist, American-led neoliberal globalization, the Powers that Be continue to assert their surreptitious rule over the Multitude, subverting global consciousness toward the ambitions of Empire globalization – the globalization of ruling power. Thus, the question of who rules the world is not only a matter of identifying the global ruling class but also is a question about the legitimization of such ruling power and the interests that such powers serve. Furthermore, as it becomes increasingly evident that the current global system is on an unstable/unsustainable trajectory, then the question concerning legitimacy is of ultimate concern for the future of humanity, for the interests these powers serve should not merely be those of the privileged few, at the expense of the many, but must benefit of all of humanity as well as the future generations who will inherit the One Planet. Beyond the tired Empire domination schemes of modernity lies the vision of a new future for the twenty-first century – a new-found, post-modern yet integral identity of the Multitude – that of Global Sustainable Development within a pluralistic, all-inclusive/representative, authentically democratic, global governance system of Earth Community.

Dennis R. Morgan


1. Hardt and Negri (2000, p. 62) conceive of the “multitude” as the “real productive force of our social world, whereas Empire is a mere apparatus of capture that lives only off the vitality of the multitude”; moreover, the biopolitical production of the “[…] multitude tends to mobilize what it shares in common and what it produces in common against the imperial power of global capital. In time, developing its productive figure based on the common, the multitude can move through empire and come out the other side, to express itself autonomously and rule itself” (Hardt and Negri, 2000, p. 101).


Hardt, M. and Negri, A. (2000), Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Corresponding author

Dennis R. Morgan can be contacted at: mailto:dynaray@gmail.com

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