Managing liberal democracy – influence of secret elite networks in U.S. governments 1901-2021

Managing liberal democracy – influence of secret elite networks in U.S. governments 1901-2021

Etzrodt Ch.,

Osaka University, Suita, Japan,

Article received: 2021.06.21. Accepted: 2022.08.03
DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2022.06.02

For citation:

Etzrodt Ch. Managing liberal democracy – influence of secret elite networks in U.S. governments 1901-2021. – Polis. Political Studies. 2022. No. 6. P. 7-22. (In Russ.).


The aim of this paper is to contribute to research on the role of elite networks in democracies. The specific research topic is an attempt to measure (for the first time) the influence of different elite networks on U.S. government administrations from 1901 to 2021. The strategy is based on the identification of U.S. government officials, who were also members of secret elite networks during their time in office. To this end, each government position received an influence value based on its importance. If an official in this position was also a member of an elite network, then the influence of the position is counted towards the influence of the network. The total influence of a network is divided by the total influence of all government positions in order to receive its relative influence score in a given administration. The results show that Freemasons had a strong influence on most U.S. governments until 1953, whereas the Anglo-American Network, with its most prominent arm, the Council on Foreign Relations, became the dominant force from Eisenhower onward. Only Nixon’s first cabinet and Donald Trump constituted exceptions thereafter, relying less heavily on this network. The implication of this study is that it is impossible to understand American history or World history in the last 120 years without also analyzing the role and interests of elite networks, given their consistent and surprisingly high level of influence, as revealed by this study.

elite networks, democracy, U.S. government, reverse revolving door, Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg group, Trilateral Commission, freemasonry.

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Content No. 6, 2022

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