The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills, 1956, Excerpts
In American society, major national power now resides in the economic, the political, and the military domains. Other institutions are duly subordinated to these. Within each of the big three, the typical institutional unit has become enlarged, has become administrative, and, in the power of its decisions, has become centralized. The power elite is not an aristocracy, which is to say that it is not a political ruling group based upon a nobility of hereditary origin.
The power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women; they are in positions to make decisions having major consequences. Whether they do or do not make such decisions is less important than the fact they do occupy such pivotal positions: their failure to act, their failure to make decisions, is itself an act that is often of greater consequences than the decisions they do make. For they are in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society. They rule the big corporations. They run the machinery of the state and claim its prerogatives. They direct the military establishment. They occupy the strategic command posts of the social structure, in which are now centered the effective means of the power and the wealth and the celebrity which they enjoy.
The life-fate of the modern individual depends not only upon the family into which he was born or which he enters by marriage, but increasingly upon the corporation in which he spends the most alert hours of his best years; not only upon the school where he is educated as a child and adolescent, but also upon the state which touches him throughout his life; not only upon the church in which on occasion he hears the word of God, but also upon the army in which he is disciplined.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley