ABSTRACT

Although elements of a cosmopolitan business culture have existed, like markets, throughout recorded history, it was only with the growth of capital and the Lockean state that they were subsumed by a process of transnational class formation. This process coincided with the successive stages of internationalisation of capital. Thus, the internationalisation of the circuit of commodity capital was premised on ‘the growth and global spread of trade diasporas or merchant communities who were linked across wide geographical spaces by complex social networks’ (Helleiner 1997:97). The subsequent internationalisation of money capital saw the emergence of an internationally interlocked haute finance of central bankers and investment bankers; while after World War II, a transnational managerial class emerged with the comprehensive internationalisation of production by the multinational corporation (ibid.). In this chapter, we will discuss, first, the initial formation of a transnational bourgeoisie by applying Benedict Anderson’s concept of ‘imagined communities’ to the cosmopolitan brotherhood that was Freemasonry. Second, we will argue that in the late nineteenth century, élite private planning groups branched off from these transnational networks. Such planning groups served as meeting grounds for developing common strategies and adjusting the hegemonic concept of control in response to resistance and other challenges. Finally we turn to the role private planning groups have played in integrating the ascendant bourgeoisie from the contender states into the expanding heartland. Through these stages and social forms (and all along, through crises and wars), the comprehensive capital relation can be argued to have become global in the threecentury era between 1688 and the present.