Thursday, July 21, 2011

oligarchy in the united states?

Cambridge | We explore the possibility that the US political system can usefully be characterized as oligarchic. Using a material-based definition drawn from Aristotle, we argue that oligarchy is not inconsistent with democracy; that oligarchs need not occupy formal office or conspire together or even engage extensively in politics in order to prevail; that great wealth can provide both the resources and the motivation to exert potent political influence. Data on the US distributions of income and wealth are used to construct several Material Power Indices, which suggest that the wealthiest Americans may exert vastly greater political influence than average citizens and that a very small group of the wealthiest (perhaps the top tenth of 1 percent) may have sufficient power to dominate policy in certain key areas. A brief review of the literature suggests possible mechanisms by which such influence could occur, through lobbying, the electoral process, opinion shaping, and the US Constitution itself.


nanakwame said...

I believe the USA is more of a Plutocracy and less a democracy. The probability of a Oligarchy is here yet a fascist populism would bring in unmasked, which would include all ethnicities and a majority Euro. imhoThe term comes from the Ancient Greek ploutos, for “wealth,” and the suffix -kratia, for “ruler.”

L. Shaw Mitchell said...

I call our system a plutocracy/corporatocracy. We have a democracy and a capitalism for the few, the rich; we need and democracy and capitalism for the many.

Aeneas said...

The U.S. system: an oligarchy, perhaps, with slightly less severely concentrated legislative power than the govt. of 15th century England (and even present day) - but not by a substantial margin. Close enough, really. if you subtract the royal figurehead from the picture.

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