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The American Ruling ClassThe American Ruling Class is a morality tale set to music about two Yale students who seek their opportunities after graduation. Lewis Lapham, the renowned essayist, author and longtime Harper’s Magazine editor, conducts them through the corridors of power – Pentagon press briefings, the World Economic Forum, philanthropic foundations, Washington law firms, banks, the Council on Foreign Relations and New York society dinners. As they make their way, the real-life luminaries they meet become characters in a dramatic story about power, its responsibilities and abuses. The subject is our country’s most taboo topic: class, power and privilege in our nominally democratic republic.

Part Monty Python, part Michael Moore, The American Ruling Class is an entertaining clarion call for all citizens to consider who has power, how they acquired it, and most importantly, how they keep it.

 

PARTICIPANTS IN THE AMERICAN RULING CLASS

JOSEPH S. NYE, JR.
DEAN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT, 1995-2004
CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COUNCIL, 1993-1994, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, 1994-1995, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION

Joseph S. Nye Jr., is a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor. Nye graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship and earned a PhD in political science from Harvard. He joined the Harvard Faculty in 1964, and became Dean of the Kennedy School in 1995. Recognized for his expertise in international affairs, he has served in three government agencies: in the State Department (1977-1979), in the National Intelligence Council (1993-1994), and in the Defense Department (1994-1995). Nye was honored with Distinguished Service Awards for his work at all three agencies. He has served on numerous boards and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Aspen Institute. A member of the editorial boards of Foreign Policy and International Security magazines, he is the author of numerous books and articles, his most recent book is Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (2004). Among many distinctions, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Academy of Diplomacy. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

SAMUEL PEABODY
EDUCATOR, PHILANTHROPIST

Samuel Peabody, educator and philanthropist, was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard University. From one of the oldest and most illustrious families in the US, the Peabodys have played a pivotal role in the affairs of this country since its founding. Key contributions of family members include those of John Endicott, who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, and Joseph Peabody, who in the 18th century, caused to be built one of Salem’s largest fleets. Francis and Oliver Peabody founded the investment firm of Kidder, Peabody in 1865 and Endicott Peabody founded the Groton School in 1884, known for educating many of this nation’s greatest leaders, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Peabody’s great grandfather partnered with Junuis Morgan, (J.P.’s father) to found the House of Morgan in England, his mother, an activist, was arrested for protesting the Vietnam War, his father Malcom was a Bishop in the Episcopal Church and on the Board of Harvard, his brother Endicott was the governor of Massachusetts (1963-1965) and his sister Marietta Tree was the first UN Human Rights Commissioner. After a brief career in finance, Peabody turned to education, teaching at several schools serving a Principal at the Rye Country Day School. A dedicated philanthropist, he and his wife support many educational and charitable causes. He lives in New York City.

PETE SEEGER
FOLKSINGER, SONGWRITER

Born in New York in 1919, Peter Seeger, noted folksinger and activist, studied journalism and sociology at Harvard but left to pursue various creative endeavors. Noted for his use of traditional folk music that incorporate lyrics with social and political commentary, he has used his music to advocate social and environmental reform. Blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, Seeger was kept off radio and television for seventeen years. Awards include: Presidential Medal of the Arts (1994), Kennedy Center Award (1994), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1996), Harvard Arts Medal (1996) and Grammy (1997) for his album, Pete. He lives in upstate New York.

LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS
PRESIDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, 1999-2001, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION

Lawrence H. Summers, born in Connecticut in 1954, is the President of Harvard University. He received a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Harvard. A leading economics scholar, he became one of the youngest tenured professors at Harvard in 1983. Since 1982, Summers has served in a series of senior public policy positions, notably as Chief Economist of the World Bank (1991-1993) and Secretary of the Treasury (1999-2001). Known for helping engineer an historic pay down of U.S. debt, he also worked successfully to extend the life of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and led the effort to enact the most sweeping financial deregulation in 60 years. At the end of his term, Summers was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Medal, the Treasury Department’s highest honor. Among many distinctions, he served as a Fellow at the Brookings Institution, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

ARTHUR O. SULZBERGER, JR.
CHAIRMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY
PUBLISHER, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., born in New York in 1951, is Chairman of the family-owned The New York Times Company, an industry leader that has won 111 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization. Sulzberger graduated from Tufts University and Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development. He wrote for The Raleigh Times and The Associated Press before joining The New York Times in 1978. He has worked in a variety of roles, becoming publisher in 1992. Sulzberger has implemented innovative print, broadcast and online initiatives, allowing The Times to compete successfully in the 21st century global media marketplace. During Sulzberger’s tenure as publisher, The New York Times has earned 27 Pulitzer Prizes. He has played a central role in the development of the Times Square Business Improvement District, serving as the first Chairman, and he helped found and serves as Chairman of the New York City Outward Bound Center. He lives in New York City.

WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT IV
CHIEF LEGAL ADVISOR, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, 1989, BUSH ADMINISTRATION
DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, 1984-1989, REAGAN ADMINISTRATION

William Howard Taft IV, a distinguished public servant with an expertise in law, was born in Washington, DC in 1945, and graduated from Yale and Harvard University Law School. He has practiced law in both the public and private sectors, as a senior legal advisor in various government offices and as a partner in leading law firms. He first joined the public sector in 1970 as Attorney Advisor to the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Taft has held a number of high-ranking roles in several key government departments, notably: General Counsel, Department of Health Education and Welfare (1973-1976), General Counsel, Department of Defense (1981-1984), Deputy Secretary of Defense (1984-1989) Acting Secretary of Defense (1989) and US Permanent Representative to NATO (1989-1992). His great grandfather, William Howard Taft, was 27th President of the US and Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Taft has been widely recognized for his public service. He lives in Lorton, VA.

KURT VONNEGUT
AUTHOR, ESSAYIST, DRAMATIST

A major voice in American literature, Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indiana in 1922. He attended Cornell University and the University of Chicago and served in the United States Army in World War II where he was a prisoner of the German Army. Known for his satirical depictions of modern society and man’s search for meaning in a meaningless universe, Vonnegut’s books include: Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Welcome to the Monkey House and The Sirens of Titan. He has received numerous honors, including a Literary Lion Award (1981) from the New York Public Library.