The New Fractionation of the Ruling Class
William Robinson's original material is both descriptive and analytical. His work describes a new fractionation within the class system and analyses its location, its purpose and its interests in relation to both national and global circuits of capital (see inter alia: Marx, 1956 : 357; Palloix, 1977: 5; Thompson, 1983). Transnational capital is a hegemonic fraction of capital that uses its newly configured economic advantage to impose its direction and character on every other class fraction. This elite class configuration is new because of the changed nature of capital experienced from the 1970s until today. But the new elites defined are rooted in capitalist history and they have always been subject to sociological scrutiny and debate. Robinson's key points about this fractionation follow first; then his description of the globalized world that has been created is reviewed; and then we look at some of the relevant criticisms that are made of Robinson's thinking. My argument is that Robinson is a major theorist who is making a powerful contribution to our understanding of the changing structure and dynamics of the fractionation of the capitalist class and in the process provokes us to think more deeply about Marxist theory.