Personal Link-Up

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Personal Link-Up


one of the principal forms of the interlocking of capitalist monopolies among themselves and with the state.

The essence of the “personal link-up” was revealed by V. I. Lenin in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Describing the new role of banks in the age of imperialism, he wrote: “At the same time a personal link-up, so to speak, is established between the banks and the biggest industrial and commercial enterprises, the merging of one with another through the acquisition of shares, through the appointment of bank directors to the supervisory boards (or boards of directors) of industrial and commercial enterprises, and vice versa” (Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 337). He added: “The ‘personal link-up’ between the banks and industry is supplemented by the ‘personal link-up’ between both and the government” (ibid., pp. 337–38). Citing figures pertaining to the eve of World War I, Lenin pointed out that “six of the biggest Berlin banks were represented by their directors in 344 industrial companies; and by their board members in 407 others, making a total of 751 companies.... On the other hand, on the supervisory boards of these six banks (in 1910) were 51 of the biggest industrialists” (ibid., p. 337).

The entire subsequent course of development of capitalism has confirmed Lenin’s conclusions. In the mid-1960’s the 140 leading industrial and transport companies in the United States had more than 500 directors in common with the 40 largest banks in the country, more than 80 directors in common with the 20 largest investment banks, and about 180 directors in common with the 30 largest insurance companies. In 1968 the three largest banks in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) had 1,347 mandates of members of boards and supervisory councils in industrial and other companies.

A new phenomenon in the development of personal link-ups after World War II was the formation of economic councils at the monopoly banks. These councils as a rule work out the fundamental policy decisions, which then need only legal formulation. Conferences and meetings of representatives of banking and industrial capitalists in these councils promote a consolidation of links within the financial oligarchy. Thus, for example, the Deutsche Bank, one of the largest monopoly banks in the FRG, had 504 representatives of industrial concerns and the government apparatus on such councils in 1970. A personal link-up of monopolists and high-level managers is also developing, which refutes the allegations of the advocates of the theory of the “managerial revolution” (for example, the American sociologist A. Berle) that power is passing from the owners to the managers, who supposedly manage the enterprises for the public good rather than in the interests of the capitalists. In the 15 largest banks, the 15 largest insurance companies, and the 20 largest industrial companies of the United States in the mid-1960’s, more than half of the 884 top managers were representatives of the financial oligarchy who served as directors in several corporations simultaneously.

Under state-monopoly capitalism, the personal link-ups within private monopoly capital are supplemented by personal link-ups of the latter with the government: the financial oligarchy dominates the legislative and executive bodies of the state. This is especially typical of the United States, where three-fourths of the representatives of the financial oligarchy are directly involved in business, law, and politics. Between 1932 and 1972 five of the nine US secretaries of state, six of the eight secretaries of the treasury, and eight of the 14 secretaries of defense were from the corporate world. In 1969 the West German Bundestag had just 24 workers out of 518 deputies; most of the deputies were representatives of big capital.

The personal link-up is one of the forms of development of international financial capital and the international financial oligarchy. The international interrelationships of capitalists have led to a situation in many capitalist countries where the monopolists of other countries occupy management positions in banking and industrial monopolies. The directors of the corporations of America’s Morgan and Rockefeller financial groups are also the directors of numerous British and French companies. The clearest example of a personal link-up on a Western European scale is the Rothschild family. The London and Paris branches of the Rothschilds are bound not just by family ties but also by personal link-ups in jointly controlled companies. Personal link-ups play an important part in the development of international monopolies.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.