Nexus Magazine Volume 10
- Number 5
plutocrat and former banker David Rockefeller has been promoting his
"one world" vision among global powerbrokers since the 1960s, while
dismissing claims that he's part of a cabal out to control the
INTERNATIONALIST": DAVID ROCKEFELLER (1915 - )
Most analysis of the role of David Rockefeller in the New
is usually ridiculed by smug commentators in the "responsible" press
as the stuff of fantasy. For these oracles, descriptions of
Rockefeller as "one of the foremost partisans of world
government under the UN" (Jasper), the "éminence grise
of international power politics" (Wilkes) and "one of
the most high profile, and most obvious, New World Order
manipulators on the planet" (Icke)
1 are not to
be taken seriously. Indeed, to contend that the billionaire
ex-banker, philanthropist and founder of the Trilateral
could have any global designs is taken as a sign that one has fallen
for the infantile ravings of the "black helicopter crowd". Perhaps,
it is implied, only those afflicted by a peculiar mental malady
could believe or contemplate such claims.
Back in 1996, for example, high-rating US national radio talk-show
host Rush Limbaugh openly mocked these beliefs in his
so-called "Kook Test":
- Do you
David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and other famous
members of the New World Order provide daily
instructions to agents of the FBI, CIA,
BATF, and National Organization of Women?
- Do you believe that the feminist movement was
the brainchild of
David Rockefeller for the purpose of having men and women at
war with each other on a daily basis so as to distract them from the
real conspiracy of the CFR?
- If you have answered even one of these questions
"yes", then you are a kook and have passed the test.
himself has often scoffed at such claims. In a letter to the New
York Times in 1980, he took issue with the "nonsensical defamation"
he claimed to have been subjected to over the years. "I never cease
to be amazed by those few among us who spot a conspiracy under every
rock, a cabal in every corner", David wrote, lamenting that
he was usually "singled out as the 'cabalist-in-chief'". Eighteen
years later, David's mirth remained intact. "It's so absurd I can't
help but, to some extent, find it amusing", he told the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette in 1998, commenting on conspiracy theories about
Yet curiously, David's key role in promoting global political and
economic unity is not only explicitly recognized but is openly
celebrated within the power-elite. According to one recent tribute,
because of his "contributions to enterprise and humanity" David
had become "one of the world's most respected citizens". The
Thomas d'Aquino, President and CEO of the Canadian Council of
Chief Executives, addressing an elite gathering in 2002, had no
qualms praising David's "impressible urge to promote
international cooperation and understanding" and his "passions
effort the promotion of international cooperation" and
unrestrained was Harvard University President Neil Rudenstine,
who venerated David in 1999 as an "informed, observant,
experienced, modest, and generous citizen of the world, interested
in the welfare of all".
At celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the Trilateral
Commission's US group in 1998, a roster of adoring
Establishment heavyweights repeatedly toasted the "sense of vision"
(Berthoin), "farsightedness and leadership" (Ogata),
"great munificence" (Black) and "sense of obligation" (Kissinger)
of their Honorary Chairman. The "first global history of mankind is
about to start", claimed
Georges Berthoin, a former European Chairman of the
Trilateral Commission, and it was all due to David
Rockefeller, the "gentleman-pioneer of the trilateral world".
5 Similarly, at a book signing for David's new
autobiography, Memoirs, held in late 2002 at the United Nations
headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
hailed the plutocrat's contribution to world order:
I think without
internationalists like you, the international system we have been
trying to build, the international system we have today, wouldn't be
here. So, thank you very much, David.
But we need not take their
word for it. After years of denying and ridiculing such charges,
David Rockefeller has finally put an end to the speculation,
making the following admission in Memoirs:
For more than a century,
ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have
seized upon well-publicized incidentsÉto attack the
Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim
we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some
even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best
interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as
"internationalists" and of conspiring with others around the world
to build a more integrated global political and economic structure -
one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I
am proud of it.
bold confession, finally given late in his life, is clearly
momentous but it also warrants further scrutiny, for his account in
Memoirs omits much important detail. Only by examining
David's statements, articles and speeches over the past 40
years can the true extent of his vision of "a more integrated global
political and economic structure" be understood. And such
examination also reveals that David has not been an idle
dreamer, but has used his position as arguably the most powerful and
influential Rockefeller of the latter half of the 20th century to
advocate a revamped version of
the Wilson-Fosdick world order model.
The Heir Apparent
One of the more common observations made by biographers of the
Rockefeller family is that of all John D. Rockefeller,
Jr's offspring, it is David, despite being the youngest, who
has emerged as the true heir to the vast reservoir of political and
economic power originally amassed by John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
As Peter Collier and
David Horowitz observe in their book, The Rockefellers,
in contrast to his siblings it was David who "was the most serious,
the one who was conscious of his birthright from the beginning".
8 Even Senior
seemed to sense that his genes had finally re-emerged under David,
and he doted on his youngest grandson with a degree of affection he
had not given to his own son.
Coincidentally, David recalls in Memoirs that it was in 1937,
at the funeral service for Senior (who died at the age of 97), that
he learned not only that was he the deceased monopolist's "favorite"
but that Senior had "always thought" David was "most like
him[self]". Having received this confirmation of his status from
Senior's trusted valet of some 30 years, John Yordi, David
admits to having been ecstatic: "I thought it would have been
Nelson, but I couldn't pretend I wasn't pleased."
9 It is noteworthy that David starts Memoirs with this
incident, as it is one of the few admissions to his true status.
Lacking Nelson's hunger for publicity and overt power, David's
career path took a somewhat different course. Educated at Harvard,
the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Chicago,
David became the only one of Junior's children to have earned a PhD.
The subject of his dissertation, essentially an attack on government
regulation of business activity, was "Unused Resources and Economic
Waste" (1940). Upon completion of his studies, and contemplating a
career in politics, David returned to New York in 1940 to
work as secretary to New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. In
mid-1941, tiring of local politics and seeking "administrative
experience", David started work with a new government body, the
Office of Defense, Health, and Welfare Services. This proved to be
short-lived, though, and with the outbreak of the war David
enlisted in the US Army, going on to serve as an intelligence
officer in North Africa and France.
Returning to the US in 1946, David went to work for the
"family bank", Chase Manhattan. He started as a low-ranking
officer, but, thanks to the Rockefeller family's controlling
interest, he rapidly rose through the ranks and in 1969 became
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
David ran the bank until his retirement in 1981, but continued
to play a role as Chairman of the bank's International Advisory
Although David later liked to boast that he was "the first
member of the family since Grandfather who has had a regular job in
a company and has devoted a major part of his life to being in
business", it was apparently "not an easy decision" as he still
desired to work with government or in philanthropy, particularly on
10 But, in truth, neither avenue has ever been closed to
The Education of an Internationalist
David attributes much of his internationalist fervor to the
influence of his parents, his overseas traveling experiences and his
changed world outlook following World War II. He writes that it was
his parents who first impressed on him "the importance of the world
beyond the United States". His father, Junior, "was a staunch
supporter of the League of Nations" and, through the
Rockefeller Foundation, "one of the principal funders of
health, education, and cultural endeavors around the world".
11 But there were other influences,
including David's education at Harvard University and the University
of Chicago during the 1930s, and his early membership of the Council
on Foreign Relations from 1949 and
the Bilderberg Group from
It was at Harvard, under the guidance of Professor Gottfried von
Haberler (1901-1995), that
David received more vigorous indoctrination into the benefits
of free trade. Described by David as a "staunch supporter of free
trade", Haberler would have given compelling guidance - for
the Austrian professor was, according to one biographer, "one of the
first economists to make a rigorous case for the superior
productivity and universal benefits of 'free' or politically
unrestricted international trade" At the University of Chicago,
these views were reinforced when another free trade proponent, the
economist Jacob Viner (1892-1970), tutored David. Lauded by
David as an advocate of "unobstructed trade as a means of generating
economic growth", Viner was one of the leading free trade
theorists of his time. He was also an advocate of using
international institutions to manage the world economy. Fittingly,
Haberler and Viner among those academics to whom he owes
an "intellectual debt", hailing them as "truth seekers" whose
example he has attempted to follow.
David joined the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
in 1949, his surname ensuring election to its board of directors.
David naturally understates the CFR's influence on
his thinking, merely observing that he found it to be the "best
place" for pursuing his "interest in global affairs". Tellingly,
David admits his motivation for joining the CFR
was his determination to "play a role" in the process of ensuring
the US provided leadership in building "a new international
architecture" following World War II. While David correctly
identifies the wide range of views among the CFR's members,
for him the Council's enduring value has been its role in devising
schemes for world order that conform with his Wilsonian vision. For
example, marking the
CFR's 75th anniversary in 1997, David hailed the
Council's role as America's "premier school for statesmen",
observing that it was from the CFR's War and Peace Studies project
that America's post-war plans for a "just and durable international
system" had emerged, and from more recent CFR studies
that "awareness of global economic interdependence gained particular
prominence in national policy discussions".13
In 1954, David was selected by President Eisenhower to
be one of the founding US members of the Bilderberg Group.
have long been controversial, with many researchers
attributing to the
annual secret gathering a role in establishing the
European Union and facilitating the planning of a world
insists, naturally, that the "truth" is that Bilderberg
is no more than an "intensely interesting discussion group" which
does not reach a consensus. What Bilderberg discusses,
David does not say, preferring to characterize
the Cabal as a unique
Bilderberg, David said in 1990, gave him "an
opportunity" to become acquainted with some of the leaders of Europe
and the United States on a very informal basis-one got to know them
on a first-name basis".
Other Bilderbergers, however, such as former British
Denis Healey, admit there is a Bilderberg consensus, with most
Bilderbergers believing that "a single community throughout the
world would be a good thing".
16 Such a consensus would have obviously reinforced
David's globalist inclinations, making the Bilderbergs
more than merely an unusually well-connected social rendezvous.
This is but a small sample of the influences on David's
globalist outlook, but it also illustrates his reliance on the ideas
of others. Despite his PhD, David is not quite the theoretical
mastermind behind the New World Order that he appears to be.
Instead, like most plutocrats intent on changing the world, he
appropriates the ideas of others, usually Establishment academics
and technocrats, incorporating them into his own global vision when
it suits his purposes. But, David admits, he has "never been
particularly dogmatic" in his political or economic beliefs,
preferring to support "effective people and-practical policies".17
David, ideas or protégés can be discarded once they are no
longer useful to him or his ultimate goal of "a more integrated
global political and economic structure".
A Modern-Day Medici
David Rockefeller's globalist inclinations would be of little
interest if not for his uniquely powerful position in the US
political sphere. In attempting to describe David's power,
academics and journalists have used many superlatives, and it is
instructive that these descriptions are similar. David
Rockefeller is "[t]he single most powerful private citizen in
America today", observed Florida State University academic Thomas
R. Dye in his 1976 book, Who's Running America? The journalist
Bill Moyers, in his 1980 TV special, The World of David
Rockefeller, described the plutocrat respectively as "the
unelected if indisputable chairman of the American Establishment"
and "one of the most powerful, influential and richest men in
America", who "sits at the hub of a vast network of financiers,
industrialists and politicians whose reach encircles the globe". And
in 1998, NewsMax.com described
David as "one of the world's most influential private figures".
David has always rejected such assessments, insisting that his
power is limited and that he has no real leverage with world leaders
or government officials, merely good access to them. In an interview
with Forbes magazine in 1972, for example, David downplayed
the idea that he had any such power:
I have no power in the
sense that I can call anybody in the government and tell them what
to do. Because of my position I'm more apt to get through on the
telephone than somebody else, but what happens to what I suggest
depends on whether they feel this makes sense in terms of what they
are already doing.19
Dye disputes this,
claiming that the real reason for
David's elaborate denial is simple: with it already well known
that he "exercises great power", the plutocrat has "no reason to try
to impress anyone" by openly admitting it. In fact, David's
position and behavior are similar to that of the Medici
banking family that unofficially ruled 15th-century Florence
by subverting the elaborate electoral system through a combination
of deception, corruption and violence. The Medicis were effectively
the shadow government of Florence - a fact acknowledged in the
Florentine expression, "the secret things of our town". That was
because, as Tim Parks notes in the New York Review of Books,
the Medici family leadership understood that "to hold power for any
length of time, one must appear not to hold it".
not known for emulating their more controversial practices, David
Rockefeller is like the Medicis, his shadowy yet powerful
political role one of the "secret things" of Washington, DC.
David's preference for this behind-the-scenes political role
stems from his profound distaste for normal democratic politics.
Although clearly interested in power, David, after working
for Mayor La Guardia, apparently found the idea of having to
depend on the whims of the voting public unattractive. "The danger
in that field," he later commented, "is that you spend all of your
time running for office."
Unstated, of course, is the plutocrat's probable discomfort at the
prospect of being publicly accountable in any way for his actions -
something that would be an affront to the enormous power this
Rockefeller saw as his due.
Instead, David found a surer route to power by fulfilling the
family tradition of using philanthropy as a "bridge" between the
private and public sectors. David typically presents his motives
behind his philanthropy as benevolent, an embodiment of Junior's
belief that "philanthropy was about being a good neighbor". "I have
tried to emulate Father by contributing to a variety of
not-for-profit organizations throughout my life," he writes in
22 But this
is disingenuous, for David's actual motives for embracing
philanthropy in fact have more in common with Andrew Carnegie's
view that the wealthy have an exclusive right to shape society.
It has been in other forums, in little-noticed speeches to elite
gatherings, that David's true intentions have been revealed. Like
Carnegie, David considers an active political role by the rich to be
a matter of duty rather than a mere whim, as he stated to one
gathering that "the opportunities for possessing wealth carry with
them comparable responsibilities".
23 In fact, he told the New York
Economic Club in 1996, philanthropy performs a vital social function
in which the rich and businessmen in general are able to realize
their "responsibility to society beyond that of maximizing profits
for shareholders". Although "making profits must come first", as
profits are "the most important instrument we have to promote the
broader welfare of our society", David maintained that the captains
of industry should style themselves as "business statesmen" and be
"vocal and visible-speaking out on community, industry and national
This also includes active involvement in the non-profit area,
supporting various organizations whether dealing with domestic or
international issues. There is "nothing wrong with perpetuating
one's name by endowing an organization or building", David
Sid W. Richardson Foundation in 1985, but with
government in retreat in many areas, "the private area must take up
Unless the business class is actively involved in resolving "societal
problems", he warned the New York Economic Club, the public may
become "disenchanted with business" and "demand that government
resume its previous role as the arbiter of our economic life".
And thus David's real agenda becomes clear: the rich must
govern, limiting the role of elected officials; but the multitude
must be placated lest they clamor for the return of democracy,
threatening the reign of the plutocrats.
Emperor of the Establishment
But what is the source of David's power? It is not just his
personal fortune, currently a meager US$2.5 billion and a pittance
compared to the US$30 billion or more of today's super-rich such as
Bill Gates and
Warren Buffet. One obvious source has been his executive
positions at the Chase Manhattan Bank. But the primary
basis, as Dye
explains, is in David's enduring role as "director of the
vast Rockefeller empire"; that is, his leadership of
"the Rockefeller network of industrial, financial, political,
civic, and cultural institutions".
27 At the
centre of this network are the remnants of the vast fortune
originally amassed by John D. Rockefeller, Sr, and then
dispersed into an abundance of family trusts and philanthropies.
This includes the Rockefeller Foundation (2001 market
value of assets, US$3.1 billion) and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF)
(2002 market value of assets, US$670 million). As a former
Vice-Chairman (1968-1980), Chairman (1980-1987) and now an Advisory
Trustee of the RBF, David has always been at
the hub of this network.
Outside of this hub is a plethora of public institutions including
foundations, non-government organizations and various government
advisory boards that David has been involved with, usually in
a leading role. His myriad positions include:
Honorary Chairman of
Chairman Emeritus of the
Museum of Modern Art in New York City;
Chairman of the Americas
Director of the US-USSR
Trade and Economic Council;
Chairman of the New York
Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
Chairman of the US
Advisory Committee on Reform of the International Monetary System;
Honorary Chairman of the
a director of
a trustee of the
University of Chicago;
a trustee of the John F.
President of the Board of
Overseas Study at Harvard;
and now, an honorary jury
member on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's
International World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition.
This impressive range of
David has been involved in also includes a raft of
policy-planning organizations devoted to international political and
economic affairs. David's role in these organizations has
never been marginal, and his positions include:
Director, Chairman and
Honorary Chairman of the
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR);
founder, North American
Chairman and Honorary Chairman of the Trilateral Commission;
a life member of the
Chairman and Director of
the Institute for International Economics (IIE);
founder, Chairman and
Honorary Chairman of the Council on the Americas;
and a trustee of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP).
He is also a co-founder of
the Dartmouth Conference, the International Executive Service Corps
and the Global Philanthropists Circle.
At a recent "book party"
for the retiring plutocrat, former US Trade Representative Carla
Hills celebrated David's pivotal role in maintaining this
Had [David Rockefeller]
not been the founder, long-time chairman and benefactor and even
often all of the above, the Council on Foreign Relations, the
Council of the Americas, the Institute for International Economics,
the Trilateral Commission, the White House Fellows Program, and I
could name so many more, might not exist. And if they did, they
might not assuredly be as effective as they are today.
True to his Medici-like
preference for avoiding public scrutiny,
has rejected formal government appointments, including offers to be
Secretary of the Treasury and of Defense, and numerous ambassadorial
positions. In Memoirs, David cites "political considerations" and
his devotion to Chase Manhattan as his reasons for
declining these offers.
David also believed, not without good reason, that through his
Chase chairmanship he could "accomplish much that would benefit the
United States as an 'ambassador without portfolio'". At the panel
discussion on Memoirs, held in October 2002 at Johns Hopkins
University, David elaborated further, noting that his position at
Chase provided him with "a rather unique opportunity to play a quiet
but hopefully useful role". And on the Charlie Rose Show, David
added that he could achieve much more outside of government as he
was not limited to four-year terms, thus enabling him to do "a lot
of interesting things" over decades.
As a self-appointed "ambassador without portfolio", for
has used his unique access to visit countless heads of state,
ostensibly on business for Chase or as part of CFR delegations
but often as an unofficial emissary for Washington. David has
had private meetings with hundreds of national leaders - a privilege
usually only afforded to senior officials or other heads of state.
The list includes Nikita Khrushchev, Alexi Kosygin,
Gamal Abdel Nasser,
Deng Xiaoping, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro,
Zhou Enlai and the Shah of Iran. The product of these
associations is a network of power and influence, with David
at its centre - ultimately embodied in his massive electronic
Rolodex, located in his office in the Rockefeller Center, reputed to
contain 150,000 names.
William F. Jasper, Global TyrannyÉStep By Step: The United Nations
and the Emerging New World Order, Western Islands, 1992, p. 283;
John Wilkes, "Hit-job on Margaret Thatcher", in James Gibb Stuart,
Hidden Menace to World Peace, Ossian, 1993, p. 159; and David Icke,
Éand the truth shall set you free, Bridge of Love, 1995, 2nd
edition, p. 173.
David Rockefeller, Letter to the New York Times, August 25, 1980;
and Rockefeller, quoted in Ellen Sorokin, "Trilateral Meeting to
discuss terrorism", The Washington Times, April 6, 2002.
Thomas d'Aquino, "Tribute to David Rockefeller, Honorary Chairman,
The Americas Society", On the Occasion of a Presentation to David
Rockefeller, Honorary Chairman, Americas Society, during a meeting
of the Chairman's International Advisory Council of the Americas
Society to Vancouver, June 6, 2002, pp. 1-2, at The Americas Society
Neil L. Rudenstine, "Pitching into Commitments", Remarks in Honor of
David Rockefeller, Marshall Award Dinner, New York Public Library,
May 17, 1999, in Neil L. Rudenstine, Pointing Our Thoughts:
Reflections on Harvard and Higher Education, 1991-2001, President
and Fellows of Harvard College, 2001, p. 217.
Georges Berthoin, Shijuro Ogata, Conrad Black and Henry Kissinger,
"Toasts to the Trilateral Commission Founder and Honorary Chairman,
David Rockefeller", on the occasion of the US Group's 25th
Anniversary Evening, December 1, 1998, at
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "Remarks at book signing by David
Rockefeller", December 17, 2002, at
David Rockefeller, Memoirs, Random House, 2002, p. 405 (emphasis
added). Despite its immeasurable significance, NWO researchers seem
either unaware of or to have ignored David's admission. One of the
few exceptions is Richard C. Sizemore, "David Rockefeller: His
Memoir Revelations", January 1, 2003, at
Peter Collier and David Horowitz, The Rockefellers: An American
Dynasty, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1976, p. 222.
Rockefeller, Memoirs, p.
4 (emphasis added).
Rockefeller, quoted in Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D.
Rockefeller, Sr, Warner Books, 1998, p. 662; and Rockefeller,
Memoirs, pp. 122, 145.
Rockefeller, Memoirs, p. 406.
ibid., pp. 80, 89, 91-92; Joseph T. Salerno, "Biography of Gottfried
Haberler (1901-1995)", Ludwig von Mises Institute website,
; and "Jacob
Viner, 1892-1970" at The History of Economic Thought website,
Rockefeller, Memoirs, p. 406; David Rockefeller, The Council at 75,
September 1997, at the CFR website,
See, for example, Mike Peters, "The Bilderberg Group and the project
of European unification", Lobster 32, December 1996.
Rockefeller, Memoirs, pp. 410-411; and Rockefeller, quoted in James
A. Bill, George Ball: Behind the Scenes in US Foreign Policy, Yale
University Press, 1997, p. 54.
Healey, quoted in Jon Ronson, Them: Adventures with Extremists,
Picador, 2001, p. 299.
Rockefeller, Memoirs, p. 486.
Thomas R. Dye, Who's Running America?: The Carter Years,
Prentice-Hall, 1976, p. 157; Moyers, quoted in Larry Abraham, Call
It Conspiracy, Double A Publications, 1985, p. 37; and "David
Rockefeller to the Rescue", NewsMax.com, October 16, 1998,
Rockefeller, quoted in Dye, Who's Running America?, p. 160 (emphasis
ibid.; Tim Parks, "Mad at the Medicis", New York Review of Books,
May 1, 2003.
Rockefeller, quoted in Collier and Horowitz, The Rockefellers, p.
Rockefeller, Memoirs, p. 488.
David Rockefeller, "Giving: America's Greatest National Resource",
Vital Speeches of the Day, March 15, 1985, p. 328 (emphasis added).
David Rockefeller, "America After Downsizing", Vital Speeches of the
Day, September 12, 1996, p. 42 (emphasis added).
Rockefeller, "Giving", pp. 330, 331.
Rockefeller, "America After Downsizing", pp. 41-42 (emphasis added).
Dye, Who's Running America?, pp. 153, 157.
Carla Hills, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Riordan Roett and David
Rockefeller, Memoirs: The Rockefeller Family in International
Affairs, Panel discussion on David Rockefeller's new book at the
School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University,
October 31, 2002.
Rockefeller, Memoirs, pp. 485-487; Carla Hills et al., Memoirs: The
Rockefeller Family in International Affairs, ibid.; Interview with
David Rockefeller, Charlie Rose Show, October 21, 2002.
See "A Wealth of Names", January 10, 2000, at