There is an interesting debate going on at Comment is Free about who really controls the world in the 21st century.
The best answer on this page is Brian Eno's sensible comment that no one can really be said to rule the world, but rather that what happens is the result of the ecosystem of competing interests, including states, corporations, charities, media groups, individuals and other social and economic factors.
One of the more ridiculous answers is that of the admirable Camila Batmanghelidjh. She talks about viral psychological momentum (cultural or social movements?), but her use of obscure vocabulary damages whatever point she's trying to get across by rendering it unintelligible.
The other responses range from moronic paranoia ("...greedy, aggressive and ruthless neocon businessman..." - Nitin Sawhney) to the usual "guilty liberal" self-flagellation ("...We still rule the world and we're screwing it up..." - Sam Duckworth).
I wouldn't normally comment on this sort of thing as I feel I'm not qualified to do so. However I suspect that anyone who claims to know the answer is also unqualified. Eno makes the most sense by pointing out that the question begs the question: "does anyone rule the world?" The answer is no, of course, but people always seem to want to believe in some malevolent conspiracy.
The truth is that you should never attribute to evil what can just as reasonably be attributed to incompetence.