Historic examples of plutocracies include the Roman Empire
, some city-states
in Ancient Greece
, the civilization of Carthage
, the Italian city-states
, pre-French Revolution Kingdom of France
, and the pre-World War II Empire of Japan
). According to Noam Chomsky
and Jimmy Carter
, the modern United States
resembles a plutocracy though with democratic forms.
A former chairman of the Federal Reserve
, Paul Volcker
, also believed the US to be developing into a plutocracy.
One modern, formal example of a plutocracy, according to some critics,
is the City of London
The City (also called the Square Mile of ancient London
, corresponding to the modern financial district, an area of about 2.5 km2
) has a unique electoral system for its local administration
, separate from the rest of London. More than two-thirds of voters are not residents, but rather representatives of businesses and other bodies that occupy premises in the City, with votes distributed according to their numbers of employees. The principal justification for this arrangement is that most of the services provided by the City of London Corporation are used by the businesses in the City. In fact about 450,000 non-residents constitute the city's day-time population, far outnumbering the City's 7,000 residents.
…we had come to the stage where for our people what was needed was a real democracy; and of all forms of tyranny the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of a plutocracy.
The Sherman Antitrust Act
had been enacted in 1890, with large industries reaching monopolistic
or near-monopolistic levels of market concentration
and financial capital
increasingly integrating corporations, a handful of very wealthy heads of large corporations began to exert increasing influence over industry, public opinion and politics after the Civil War. Money, according to contemporary progressive
and journalist Walter Weyl
, was "the mortar of this edifice", with ideological differences among politicians fading and the political realm becoming "a mere branch
in a still larger, integrated business. The state, which through the party formally sold favors to the large corporations, became one of their departments."
The U.S. instituted progressive taxation
in 1913, but according to Shamus Khan
, in the 1970s, elites used their increasing political power to lower their taxes, and today successfully employ what political scientist
Jeffrey Winters calls "the income defense industry" to greatly reduce their taxes.
In 1998, Bob Herbert
of The New York Times
referred to modern American plutocrats as "The Donor Class
(list of top donors)
and defined the class, for the first time,
as "a tiny group – just one-quarter of 1 percent of the population – and it is not representative of the rest of the nation. But its money buys plenty of access."
Post World War II
, author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else
says that the present trend towards plutocracy occurs because the rich feel that their interests are shared by society.
You don't do this in a kind of chortling, smoking your cigar, conspiratorial thinking way. You do it by persuading yourself that what is in your own personal self-interest is in the interests of everybody else. So you persuade yourself that, actually, government services, things like spending on education, which is what created that social mobility in the first place, need to be cut so that the deficit will shrink, so that your tax bill doesn't go up. And what I really worry about is, there is so much money and so much power at the very top, and the gap between those people at the very top and everybody else is so great, that we are going to see social mobility choked off and society transformed.
When the Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz
wrote the 2011 Vanity Fair
magazine article entitled "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%", the title and content supported Stiglitz's claim that the United States is increasingly ruled by the wealthiest 1%.
Some researchers have said the US may be drifting towards a form of oligarchy
, as individual citizens have less impact than economic elites and organized interest groups upon public policy.
A study conducted by political scientists Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern University), which was released in April 2014,
stated that their "analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts". Gilens and Page do not characterize the US as an "oligarchy" or "plutocracy" per se; however, they do apply the concept of "civil oligarchy" as used by Jeffrey A. Winters
with respect to the US.
Reasons why a plutocracy develops are complex. In a nation that is experiencing rapid economic growth, income inequality
will tend to increase as the rate of return on innovation increases.
In other scenarios, plutocracy may develop when a country is collapsing
due to resource depletion
as the elites attempt to hoard the diminishing wealth or expand debts to maintain stability, which will tend to enrich creditors
. Economists have also suggested that free market economies tend to drift into monopolies and oligopolies because of the greater efficiency of larger businesses (see economies of scale
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- ^ Schweikart, Larry (2009). American Entrepreneur: The Fascinating Stories of the People Who Defined Business in the United States. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.
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- ^ Kahn, Shamus (18 September 2012) "The Rich Haven’t Always Hated Taxes" Time Magazine
- ^ a b Herbert, Bob (19 July 1998). "The Donor Class". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
- ^ Confessore, Nicholas; Cohen, Sarah; Yourish, Karen (10 October 2015). "The Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
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- ^ Barker, Derek (2013). "Oligarchy or Elite Democracy? Aristotle and Modern Representative Government". New Political Science. 35 (4): 547–566. doi:10.1080/07393148.2013.848701. S2CID 145063601.
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- ^ Etzioni, Amitai (January 2014). "Political Corruption in the United States: A Design Draft". Political Science & Politics. 47 (1): 141–144. doi:10.1017/S1049096513001492. S2CID 155071383.
- ^ Winters, Jeffrey (March 2012). "Oligarchy". Perspectives on Politics. 10 (1): 137–139. doi:10.1017/S1537592711004294.
- ^ Westbrook, David (2011). "If Not a Commercial Republic - Political Economy in the United States after Citizens United" (PDF). Louisville Law Review. 50 (1): 35–86. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
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- ^ Full Show: The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy. Moyers & Company, 28 November 2014.
- ^ Transcript. Bill Moyers Interviews Kevin Phillips. NOW with Bill Moyers 4.09.04 | PBS
- ^ Freeland, Chrystia (2012). Plutocrats: the rise of the new global super-rich and the fall of everyone else. New York: Penguin. ISBN 9781594204098. OCLC 780480424.
- ^ National Public Radio (15 October 2012) "A Startling Gap Between Us And Them In 'Plutocrats'"
- ^ See also the Chrystia Freeland interview for the Moyers Book Club (12 October 2012) Moyers & Company Full Show: Plutocracy Rising
- ^ Stiglitz Joseph E. "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%" Vanity Fair, May 2011; see also the Democracy Now! interview with Joseph Stiglitz: Assault on Social Spending, Pro-Rich Tax Cuts Turning U.S. into Nation "Of the 1 Percent, by the 1 Percent, for the 1 Percent", Democracy Now! Archive, Thursday, 7 April 2011
- ^ Piketty, Thomas (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Belknap Press. ISBN 067443000X p. 514: "the risk of a drift towards oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism about where the United States is headed."
- ^ Martin Gilens & Benjamin I. Page (2014). "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (PDF). Perspectives on Politics. 12 (3): 564–581. doi:10.1017/S1537592714001595.
- ^ Winters, Jeffrey A. "Oligarchy" Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 208-254
- ^ Piketty, Thomas (2013). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9781491534649.
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Last edited on 6 May 2021, at 20:30
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