In his book The rich and the superrich (1968) Ferdinand Lundberg estimates that the economic system is owned and controlled by about 500.000 individuals, then about .25% of the American population. Rockefeller, Du Pont, Mellon and Kennedy are important families in the 1%. In our study of the Dutch Family-capital the central role of old families in the 1% was also very convincing.
Amsterdam was in the first half of the 18th century an important banking and trading centre. The leading super-rich were all descendants of founders (in 1602) of worlds’ first multinational, the VOC, the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie who exploited the former Dutch colony that is now Indonesia.
Andries Pels (1655-1731) was the most prominent and richest merchant, financier, ship-owner and insurer of Amsterdamand possible of the whole world. While the financial power was in his hands, the political power was in the hands of his son-in-law Willem Munter. He was one of the 10 burgomasters in Amsterdamwho were related to each other in at most the sixth degree. Other family-members dominated the industrial, trade and financial circles.
What happened to the wealth and power of these tycoons?
In1980 a direct descendant of Willem Munter was Marie Cornélie baroness van Tuyll van Serooskerke, Lady at the Court of the Dutch Queen. Se was married to John Hugo Loudon of Royal Dutch Shell, one of the biggest energy companies in the world. The grandfather of Loudon was minister of Dutch Colonies, includingIndonesia where Shell found its first oil. The first capital of Shell came partly from the Dutch Royal Family. His father was also Shell-CEO. The capital of the past is transferred inside the Family and is still important in the Financial Power of present members of the Dutch elite. Loudon safeguarded the financial interests of his own Family as well as that of the Royal Family.
The Family-circle (all relatives within the sixth degree) of Andries Pels dominated Amsterdam in the 18th century. Members of the Family-circle of Loudon can be found in the Board of Directors of Dutch multinationals as Shell, Philips, Unilever, AKZO-Nobel, Heineken, SHV, ABNAMRO, The Central Bank of The Netherlands and Corus (now Tata Steel). Though the world has become more complicated, little seems to have changed since the first half of the 18th century. Family-circles still have a central function in the preservation of power and wealth in the elite. The Family-circle of Willem Munter hardly transgressed the borders of Amsterdam. The Family-circle of Loudon covers not only The Netherlands but has tentacles in other rich countries.
It proves that the 1% ruled, rules and will continue to rule when we don’t prevent that. When nothing is undertaken against the wealth and power from the past, their descendants will use this wealth and power to continue to rule the world for their own benefit.
Joost van Steenis