- On April 30th, reporters flocked to the penthous! e suite
of a Midtown Manhattan hotel where fifteen representatives of the Rockefeller
dynasty were holding court. There, the Rockefellers chastised oil giant
Exxon-Mobil for failing to invest in "alternative energy" sources,
invoking their own moral authority as Exxon-Mobil's longest standing shareholders.
- Family spokesperson Neva Rockefeller Goodwin sanctimoniously
recalled the memory of her great-grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, founder
of Standard Oil and originator of the family fortune. "Kerosene was
the alternative energy of its day when he realized it could replace whale
oil," she argued. "Part of John D. Rockefeller's genius was in
recognizing early the need and opportunity for a transition to a better,
cheaper and cleaner fuel."
- But the indignation of today's generation of Rockefellers-who
inherited their own exorbitant wealth from Standard Oil, Exxon-Mobil's
parent corporation- is aimed more at ensuring the continued financial health
of the family's trust funds than concern for the future of the world's
population. As Peter O'Neill, great-great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller,
commented at the press conference, "I have a world of respect for
what the company has done well. In fact, if the next 20 years of the energy
business were just going to be about oil and gas, we probably wouldn't
be here today."
- Nevertheless, the corporate media obediently described
the Rockefellers as concerned environmentalists. The New York Times ran
the headline,! "Can Rockefeller Heirs Turn Exxon Greener?" News
outlets quoted freel y from the Rockefellers' press release, which described
John D. Rockefeller as "one of the first major philanthropists in
the U.S. and the World" and the family's Rockefeller Foundation's
mission as "promot[ing] the well-being of mankind throughout the world."
- The family fable concocted above warrants a rebuttal.
Standard Oil was the world's first oil monopoly, and Rockefeller's greed
was insatiable. Indeed, the Rockefeller family legacy is deeply entangled
with the U.S.' current reliance on oil - and automobiles. Moreover, the
family's "philanthropic" pursuits include a peculiar preoccupation
with lowering the birth rates of the world's black and brown populations
throughout the twentieth century- highlighting the absurdity of their claim
to be promoting the well being of humankind. Mainstream journalists could
easily uncover these unsavory aspects of the family history but instead
report the Rockefellers' self-sanitized version, with all its glaring omissions.
- * * *
- Indeed, the family's selective memory of its patriarch,
John D. Rockefeller, as a saintly philanthropist stands in sharp contrast
to his role as a nineteenth-century robber baron. "God gave me my
money," he said. "Having been endowed with the gift I possess,
I believe it is my duty to make money and still more money and to use the
money I make for the good of my fellow man according to the dictates of
- Rockefeller's conscience apparently did not dictate paying
his employees more than a starvation wage. His admirers praise him for
making ga! soline affordable to average Americans, and he did indeed aim
to produce large amounts of "cheap and good" gasoline for mass
consumption, successfully lowering the price of gas from 58 cents to 8
cents a gallon. But he achieved this goal through ruthless union busting,
hiring his own private militias to crush workers who dared to go on strike
to demand higher wages.
- The private armies of the Rockefeller-owned Colorado
Fuel & Iron Rockefeller was a cutthroat capitalist who built his oil
monopoly in the decades after the Civil War using methods more in keeping
with the bribery, blackmail and back stabbing of a mafia family than an
honest entrepreneur. As he once proclaimed, "I would rather earn 1
percent off a [sic] 100 people's efforts than 100 percent of my own efforts."
This credo made him the richest man in the world.
- As he quietly bought up his smaller oil competitors with
these methods, Rockefeller entered into secret-and illegal-agreements with
railroad magnates that gave discounts as off-the books rebates to his growing
oil monopoly, easily driving smaller refiners out of business. By 1879,
Standard Oil controlled 90 percent of the oil refining business in the
U.S. When the Supreme Court finally forced Rockefeller to formally disband
Standard Oil as a monopoly trust in 1911, the damage was done. Indeed,
the breakup doubled the value of his stock and gave birth to oil conglomerates
Esso and Mobil (now Exxon-Mobil), Arco and Amoco (now BP), Pennzoil (now
Shell), Chevron and Conoco. Rockefeller spent his remaining decades playing
- * * *
- John D. Rockefeller's descendents have happily carried
on in the robber baron's tradition, alongside a public relations machine
that routinely airbrushes the family history. These heirs have never needed
to work a day in their lives to afford the best of everything money could
buy. The Rockefeller name ensures each generation a ten-figure trust fund
and a guaranteed spot at an elite university, enabled by the Rockefeller
family's generous donations.
- The many chapels, libraries, museums and other buildings
bearing the Rockefeller name on private campuses across the U.S. bear testament
to the family's self-serving approach to gift giving. Most recently, David
M. Rockefeller, Sr., former chairman, president and CEO of Chase Manhattan
Bank, and former chairman of the board of the Rockefeller Group, donated
a record $100 million to Harvard University, citing his fond memories as
part of the class of '36.
- By design, the Rockefellers have received no blame for
their pivotal role in destroying the vast trolley car system that dominated
U.S. cities before the 1940s, thereby increasing city dwellers' dependency
on automobiles and gas-fueled bus lines. Yet the Rockefellers' Standard
Oil of California joined General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of
California and Phillips Petroleum to form the National City Lines holding
company, which bought out and dismantled more than 100 trolley systems
in 45 cities (including New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, St.
Louis, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, Minneapolis! and Los Angeles) between 1936
- In 1949, these corporate defendants were acquitted of
conspiring to monopolize transportation services. Indeed, the corporations
behind National City Lines were each fined just $5,000-while each of their
directors paid a mere $1 fine- a small price to pay for the windfall in
profits they all enjoyed in the decades that followed. Congress offered
up tax dollars to build the enormous highway infrastructure that encouraged
automobile travel in the 1950s, while federal investment in mass transit
and train systems languished. As Noam Chomsky noted, "By the mid-1960s,
one out of six business enterprises was directly dependent ! on the motor
- * * *
- No Rockefeller family history would be complete without
highlighting their central role in shaping twentieth century population
control policy, aimed explicitly at curbing birth rates among the non-Caucasian
poor. Beginning in 1910, Rockefeller money flowed into organizations such
as the Race Betterment Foundation and the Eugenics Section of the American
Breeders Association, which spearheaded the eugenics movement- the "science"
of "improving heredity." These organizations, also funded by
the upstanding Carnegie, Harriman and Kellogg families, sponsored academics
claiming that those a! t the top of the social ladder had proven their
racial superiority, while those at the bottom were biologically incapable
of success. The eugenics movement encouraged the "superior" races
to marry each other and have lots of children, while promoting forced sterilization,
racial segregation and deportation of immigrants of those deemed "unfit"
- The "superior" races so admired by the eugenics
movement were "Nordic," with blond hair and blue eyes, and the
movement soon gained an admirer in Adolph Hitler. In 1924's "Mein
Kampf," Hitler noted, "There is today one state in which at least
weak beginnings toward a better conception (of immigration) are noticeable.
Of course, it is not our model German Republic,! but the United States."
By the 1920s, the Rockefeller Foundation was already providing hundreds
of thousands of dollars to fund eugenics research in Germany; in 1929 alone,
$317,000 of Rockefeller money went to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for
Brain Research, according to Edwin Black, writing in the San Francisco
Chronicle in 2003. Although the Rockefellers had withdrawn all funding
to German research by the onset of the Second World War in 1939, Black
argued, "[B]y that time, the die had been cast. The talented men Rockefeller
and Carnegie financed, the great institutions they helped found, and the
science they helped create took on a scientific momentum of their own."
- By the 1930s, the wheels for forced sterilization were
also in motion inside the U.S. Laws were enacted in 27 states in 1932,
calling for compulsory sterilization of the "feeble-min! ded, insane,
criminal, and physically defective."
- In 1939, the Birth Control Federation of America, as
historian Dorothy E. Roberts described, "planned a 'Negro Project'
designed to limit reproduction by blacks 'who still breed carelessly and
disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more
than among whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent
and fit, and least able to rear children properly.'" In 1974, an Alabama
court found that between 100,000 and 150,000 poor black teenagers had been
sterilized in that state alone.
- After Wor! ld War Two, population control agencies set
their sights overseas. In the 1960s, the International Planned Parenthood
Foundation, heavily funded by the Rockefellers alongside the U.S. government,
played a key role in a coercive sterilization programs targeting Third
World populations. By 1968, one-third of women of childbearing age in Puerto
Rico- still a U.S. colony-had been permanently sterilized, often without
their knowledge or consent. Rockefeller-funded programs sterilized 40,000
women in Colombia between 1963 and 1965, according to feminist author Bonnie
Mass. These are just two examples among many.
- The self-righteous claims of the current generation of
Rockefell! ers must be viewed in this context. They have kept silent since
the 1989 Exxon-Valdez Alaskan oil spill, even as Exxon-Mobil has refused
to pay court-ordered compensation to the nearly 33,000 Alaskans who won
a lawsuit against Exxon in 1994 for the company's "reckless"
behavior. Nor have they uttered a word of protest following news that growing
numbers of employed workers across the U.S. are lining up at food pantries
due to the skyrocketing price of food and gasoline. As Bill Bolling, founder
of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, told CNN, "People are giving up
buying groceries so that they can pay rent and put gas in the car."
- Today's Rockefellers praise Exxon-Mobil for its current
status as the most profitable corporation in U.S. history, having raked
! in a record $40.6 billion in profits in 2007. They are merely watching
out for their own parasitical futures.