With some reluctance, but at the urging of a certain individual named Brandon who will remain unnamed, I’m going to write about the real life “House of Cards” that exists in America.  I’m not a big fan of television but my wife recently got me to watch the first episode of House of Cards.  I actually thought it was an interesting show.  It revolved around the House majority whip (played by Kevin Spacey) who keeps the gears of government grinding away.  He is a master manipulator, loyal to no ideology, and knows where the levers of power are located.  He knows how to pull them or coerce them into being pulled.

I have a particular interest in the behind-the-scenes power politics of the world.  The mechanisms I learned about in political science classes are absolutely important and play a dominant role in American and global politics.  This is where you learn about concepts such as balancing and the prisoner’s dilemma.  Theories such as realism, liberalism, and constructivism dominate the debate about how conflicts are managed and mismanaged in politics.  I accept that these sorts of concepts are the predominant issues in politics and governance.  However, there is another genre of politics that is rarely discussed, and when it is brought up, it is simply dismissed as Neo-Marxism or conspiracy theory.

There is no need for derogatory terms, just as there is no need for the exaggeration of the importance of such groups.  We can call them elite networks.  More specifically, elite affinity networks.  These can be benign organizations such as NGOs and foreign institutions.  They can also be sophomoric groups like Skull and Bones or Bohemian Grove.  They could also take the form of religious cults or fraternal orders.

The relevance of many of these groups is questionable at best, but I think that the links between individuals, joined by secret oaths to secret or secretive groups, is in fact more influential than many are comfortable discussing.  No, I’m not saying that secret societies control the world or anything like that.  I am saying that some have undue influence upon actors on the world stage.  If nothing else, these actors will have feelings of loyalty that are stronger to the members of their affinity network than to other government officials who are not.