Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9 2014: What’s the difference between an oligarchy and a plutocracy—and why does it matter to the U.S.?

“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”

Thomas Jefferson

Cartoon on Plutocracy

THE POWER OF WORDS. Words matter. They are the basis of almost everything we do—and they certainly anchor our system of government, not to mention every law in the land. And, let me tell you a secret: They are really handy for communication. Without words, I would be writing my thrillers in pictograms. Actually, that might work, now I think about it. In effect, I’d be in the comic business.

NO LONGER A DEMOCRACY. I have long maintained that the U.S. is no longer a democracy—actually a representative democracy if you want to be technical. Certainly, we have the trappings and the theater, but there is plenty of evidence that the rich get listened to—and the rest of us do not. Most recently a major academic study confirmed just that. In effect, the ordinary citizen is not listened to.

THE U.S. IS BOTH AN  OLIGARCHY & A PLUTOCRACY. What the definitions below indicate is that the U.S. is both an oligarchy and a plutocracy—but that the correct term should be plutocracy because there is every evidence that the dominant class consists of the rich.

I rest my case.

IS ANYONE DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT? Well, people like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Saunders are putting up a good fight, but there is no popular movement taking up the cause. In particular, I fault President Obama for not telling it like it is. He has the Bully Pulpit. He should use it to really rouse the American people. A series of million person marches around the country could have a significant impact—but Obama is just tinkering by focusing on using his executive powers. There is nothing wrong with that, as far as it goes, bit it’s nothing like enough. He needs to rally the nation.

OLIGARCHY offers the following definition.

1. a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

2. a state or organization so ruled.

3. the persons or class so ruling.

World English Dictionary adds the following.

4. Chiefly ( US ) a small clique of private citizens who exert a strong influence on government


1 the rule or control of society by the wealthy

2. a state or government characterized by the rule of the wealthy

3.a class that exercises power by virtue of its wealth


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