Plutocracy is a term for a government in which wealthy people use their wealth to rule. Plutocracy enables circumstances in which the rich rule. This leads to policies designed to help the rich, and is reflected in their name, which is derived from the Greek word plouto (kratos), which in English means “prosperous power” or “rule.”
About 40 years ago, California created a new plutocracy, the Eloi, whose wealth frees it from concern for mundane problems and which the Morlocks and others distance and despise. The rich are the most powerful element of the plutocracy in society.
The degree of control exercised by a number of the super-rich to purchase political power is impossible without the perseverance required to overcome the legal, public, and technical resources controlled by corporations and wealthy individuals, the much denser concentration of wealth in large countries, and the global nature of resources, power and connections that accumulate and combine to exclude meaningful democratic options and a living space independent of material values in a plutocracy. Plutocracy is not a purposeful or open format of government. It creates and implements economic policies that benefit the rich through investment, tax credits, and the provision of vital social resources such as education and health care.
Plutocracy is not to be confused with Oligarchy, which is defined as a political structure where power is concentrated on a small group of people who are not wealthy. Plutocracy describes a recognized form of government such as democracy, communism, or monarchy that allows the rich to control the political and economic aspects of society under certain circumstances. It also refers to governments controlled by rich people.
A plutocracy (government governed by a rich aristocracy) is a form of government governed by an elite or a few privileged minorities within the ruling class. The word “plutocracy” comes from the Greek words plouto, which means prosperous, and kratos, which means power or domination. Plutocracy is a government of the rich aristocracy or a government with nobility or hereditary ruling classes.
The difference between plutocracy and aristocracy is that the latter depends on which group of people controls the government: in plutocracies, the rich rule, while in aristocracy, the aristocracy is usually ruled by the aristocrats, the hereditary ruling class. In plutocratic governments, the government is controlled by the rich, while aristocratic governments are controlled by nobles. A common feature of plutocracy is the frequent adoption of government policies that benefit the rich at the expense of the lower classes. Plutocracies have limited access to political power, and often require wealth and support from the rich, and a willingness to serve their interests. Some call it domination by wealth, kleptocracy, or domination by theft.
Put them together and you get a plutocracy or a government governed by the rich. When a group of wealthy people is in power, they use their wealth and political power to change the rule of law and the system to ensure that they never get less wealth and more power. From building a powerful financial empire to shadowy rulers of the world, a “plutocracy” is a society defined by the rules that control the function of wealth.
When people imagine plutocracy, the oldest form of government in the world they imagine is that of our ancient ancestors in the modern age of science, capitalism, and democracy, governed by powerful, rich leaders who can do what they want as long as they have the resources. But plutocracies are different because it is about having wealth that does not belong to the supposedly “better” class of people. The aristocracy is wealthy and tends to cling to power because it has advantages and opportunities, but the idea of aristocracy and plutocracy is different, starting with the Greeks, because it was thought that the aristocracy was the most qualified people to govern, because they came from the best families and received the best education.
The impact of income inequality, coupled with the impact of wealth on government and politics, has led some economists to claim that America has become a plutocracy or is moving toward a plutocracy. Western democracies are called plutocracies in political jargon and propaganda – from fascist Italy to Nazi Germany to the Communist International – implying that they are controlled by a small number of wealthy individuals and extorted. Some have warned that America is transforming from a democracy to a “plutocracy,” developed from government by the people for the people to a people government of 1%. Fiscal policies favored by the left, especially deficit spending, have an effect, at least indirectly, of promoting plutocratic policies. The pursuit of status and prosperity is our plutocracy.
As Barnicle would tell you, people do not use the words plutocracy or oligarchy to describe what is happening around them. Plutocracy refers to a wealthy class that uses wealth to rule, and businessmen are often accused of being members of that class.