I take it you a knowledgable person but a non-witness. Probably you know most of the following but I thought it would be fun to log this for you.
It is also true that C.T.Russell was considered to be "the faithful and discreet slave" during his time and also considered himself such. It was only later that the 144,000 representation was made. .
The incredible stupidity of this teaching reveals itself in numerous contradictions --
a. Russell thought he was it, and witnesses today still hold on to his prophetic dates and think he was God's channel. However, the dates did not become true and they later decided that Russell was not the sole discreet slave. They still think Christ came in 1914, but without any evidence (i.e. - it was "invisible")
b. Witnesses (at least used to) believe the "slave class" had been here all the time since the time of Christ and the apostles. However, they were apparantly not around when Russell thought up 1914 and claimed HE was the slave. If there was always an annointed class on earth, then why did Russell have to make everything up from scratch and start a new organization?
c. The previous poster is absolutely correct in that the effective control is wielded by the 11 current Governing Body members. They all "claim" to be part of the 144,000 - but several seem to have been baptized post 1935, when these ranks were supposedly sealed. Those old folks in the congregations who still partake of the emblems (the last of the 144,000 in their minds) and actually date back prior to the thirties have never been consulted in any way on Governing Body issues.
d. The numbers of "annointed" have not been reduced in the past 20 years in such a way to conform to any reasonable actuarial data. New ones seem to be popping up all the time.
e. Did you know that the Governing Body has to vote on issues like a board of directors? A 2/3 majority is required to enact change. So, a simple majority could be achieved but not clear the 2/3 rule. Does that sound like God is inspiring their decisions? (why not 100% - on every vote...they really should all think the same thing if God tells them what to do.)
This doctrine is in reality being used as a control issue doctrine by the elite WT "Governing Body".