Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution – No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.
And no title is. Directly. But it does seem obvious that a social class exists in America that equates to nobility, and this class is sanctioned by the state. To be noble is essentially to be born with a title that guarantees power and status for as long as the status quo is maintained. Due to property law then, there is no consequential difference between being born a Rockefeller and being born a Baron, except that it is much more desirable to be born a Rockefeller. The Rockefeller name has status far beyond that of a title like Baron or Lord. The Rockefeller heir has more power; he/she inherits billions and immeasurable influence. So, in reality, while no official title of nobility is granted to the next Rockefeller, Vanderbilt or Trump, they will all enjoy the same privileges above and beyond that of the old European nobility.
The noble class has reached levels of prosperity in America that were unimaginable in the past under any previous system. This is in part because the United States economy is now consumer driven, rather than slave driven. People forget that institutionalized emancipation was adopted not because of a moral objection to slavery, but because a consumer driven economy is more economically viable than a slavery based one. In usual circumstances, to keep a slave costs money, and buying one is a capital investment. Both these costs are avoided when you employ a free person directly; you pay them only for the work they do, and they have to fend for themselves outside of the time they are employed. The employee has to spend their wage on food, shelter and clothes. In this way they end up giving back their wages to a class of employers; these are the people who own everything and profit from the work the employees do. Not only this, but free people are usually more productive workers than slaves, and have a greater incentive to use their ingenuity to help the economy. Given more choice about their work, the working class is happier and more productive, as they are now working for their own success. They believe that they can build for themselves something like what the nobles have. They are still forced to work for a living, but they are given the added incentive of upward mobility in this new system. They are given an independence to act within the economy, yet they are still bound to that economy and to the large owners of capital indirectly. The nobles retain power by controlling the economy; they own most of the capital within the economy and have great influence over the political system through lobbying ect., so they essentially run the whole system.
“Ownership (of corporations) appears to be very dispersed. The New York Stock Exchange loves to say that everybody has a share of America, but in fact, behind all these bank names (the largest shareholders of GM) are really a small group of rich people, rich institutions that essentially run the economy and the rest of us are just spectators… (ownership of corporations) is… more concentrated than it was in 1950, we’re back at 1929 levels of concentration” (Doug Henwood, 2007)
The top one percent of Americans hold forty three percent of all the financial wealth in America. The top twenty percent holds ninety three percent. The bottom eighty percent of Americans holds seven percent (1). The too big to fail banks can be shown to control the US economy almost absolutely. The same one’s, incidentally, that US taxes bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis. I include the Federal Reserve in this category; it is privately owned by a few people (2). It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly who owns these banks; I don’t know myself, but the point I’m making is that the nobility, or oligarchy or whatever, is still in power, like it has been for most of history. The class system exists in America like it does everywhere else.
“Capitalism is the first class system in history that pretends not to be one”
(Rick Kuhn, 2007).
1) G. William Domhoff – http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html
2) Bloomberg, 2011 – http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=avjlPu.bRVmk