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Plutocracy

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Le roi Rothschild by Charles Lucien Léandre, 1898. Caricature of the Rothschilds depicted on the cover of French humour magazine Le Rire.

Plutocracy (from Ancient Greek ploutos, meaning "wealth", and kratos, meaning "power, rule") is rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth.

Usage

The term plutocracy is generally used to describe these two distinct concepts: one of a historical nature and one of a modern political nature. The former indicates the political control of the state by an oligarchy of the wealthy. Examples of such plutocracies include the Roman Republic, some city-states in Ancient Greece, the civilization of Carthage, the Italian city-states/merchant republics of Venice, Florence, Genoa, and pre-World War II Empire of Japan zaibatsus.

Example

One modern, perhaps unique, formalised example of a plutocracy is the City of London.[1] The City (not the whole of modern London but the area of the ancient city, which now mainly comprises the financial district) has a unique electoral system. Most of its voters are representatives of businesses and other bodies that occupy premises in the City. Its ancient wards have very unequal numbers of voters. The principal justification for the non-resident vote is that about 450,000 non-residents constitute the city's day-time population and use most of its services, far outnumbering the City's 9000 residents.[1]

Modern politics

Historically and by the nature of their existence, wealthy minorities have always exerted influence over the political arena. In the modern era, democracies around the world permit fundraising for politicians, who rely heavily on such income for advertising their candidacy to the voting public.

Whether through individuals, corporations or advocacy groups, such donations are often believed to engender a cronyist or patronage system via which major contributors are rewarded on a more or less quid pro quo basis. In fact, while campaign donations need not directly affect the legislative decisions of elected representatives, the natural expectation of donors is that their needs will be served by the person they donated to. If not, it is in their self-interest to fund a different candidate or political organization.

While quid pro quo agreements are generally illegal in most democracies, they are notoriously difficult to prove short of a well-documented paper trail. A core basis of democracy, being a politician's ability to freely advocate policies which benefit his or her constituents, also makes it difficult to prove that doing so might be a crime. Even the granting of appointed positions to a well-documented contributor may not cross the line of the law, particularly if it happens that the contributor can actually boast a qualified resume.

Some systems even specifically provide for such patronage. The UK, for example, uses a variety of means to reward individuals that hold the same values or interests. These include honours such as medals and honorary titles dating back to the nation's feudal era.

Quite often, wealthy individuals either finance their own political campaigns or leverage their affiliations with other wealthy persons and organizations to do so on their behalf. In the United States, currently, 250 members of Congress both Democrat and Republican are millionaires, with 57 belonging to the top 1% of American wealthy [2].

Many corporations and special interest groups pay lobbyists to press elected officials for favorable legislation. Mass media outlets, seeking to gain larger advertising profits through increased viewership, may also alter public perception of issues, political groups and candidates by pandering to what they think a given target audience wants to see and hear.

Anti-plutocracy

Some political movements have come to the fore with an anti-plutocratic worldview, including the social nationalist governments of Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany.[3][4] During the Second World War,[3] states which degenerated under plutocracy, but called themselves "democracies", were criticised by them on this point; including the United States, France and the United Kingdom. The Communist International implied itself to be against all plutocrats, but they were in fact a false-front, since the Bolshevik Revolution was funded by Jewish international bankers operating out of New York City; Schiff and Warburg especially, also Karl Marx was a cousin of the Rothschilds. The fact of prominent Jewish{{j}] involvement in international finance way back into history and their coming to be de facto rulers of much of the world; especially the Rothschilds; was noticed by National Socialists and plutocracy was criticized for serving the interests of a foreign minority sect.[3]

Modern usage

In modern times, the term is sometimes used pejoratively to refer to societies rooted in state-corporate capitalism or which prioritize the accumulation of wealth over other interests. According to Kevin Phillips, author and political strategist to U.S. President Richard Nixon, the United States is a plutocracy in which there is a "fusion of money and government."[5] A similar position was taken by the Fourth International in January 1941, which stated "Roosevelt’s administration, which claims to be democratic, is really the representative of these piratic plutocrats" and that "the twin capitalist parties control all the main avenues for reaching the masses (the press, radio, halls, etcetera... they collect millions from their wealthy masters and spend them to bamboozle the public and buy elections". [6]

Videos

Monopoly Men (Federal Reserve Fraud) (1999)
Anti-Capitalism and Anti-Semitism with Yaron Brook

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The medieval, unaccountable Corporation of London is ripe for protest, Guardian, retrieved 01/11/2011
  2. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2011-11-15/congress-wealthy-1/51216626/1
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Blamires, Cyprian; Jackson, Paul (2006). World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 522. ISBN 9781576079409.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "blamires" defined multiple times with different content
  4. http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/fi/vol02/no02/editors2.htm
  5. Transcript. Bill Moyers Interviews Kevin Phillips. NOW with Bill Moyers 4.09.04 | PBS]
  6. http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/fi/vol02/no02/editors2.htm

Some random books

External links