We explain what the plutocracy is and how it relates to the oligarchy. Also, what are its general characteristics and examples.

What is Plutocracy?

The plutocracy is a type of oligarchic government , that is, where few make decisions for many, whose ruling elite is also the economic elite. In other words, it is the government of the rich sectors of society , always a minority compared to the poor.

The plutocracy does not obey any political theory , but consists of the same republican democracy in whose functioning the wealthiest stratum of society plays an excessive role. It is, therefore, a risk of any system, and in this sense the term “ plutocracy ” or “ plutocracy ” is used in a derogatory way.

A plutocracy will then be a government of the rich and for the rich .

Plutocracy Characteristics :

  1. Etymology

The word plutocracy comes from ancient Greek , from the words " ploutos " (wealth) and " krathos " (power, government).

This term was used for the first time by the Greek historian and philosopher Xenophon , to refer to the Athenian society prior to the reforms of Solon, whose political congress was controlled by the large landowners and owners of most of the slaves, forcing the enactment of measures that excluded the lower classes from the government and allowed them to rule freely.

  1. Classic concept

Classic concept

The traditional precept of plutocracy refers to the control of the government of a nation by its economic elites , who have the mechanisms of the political system to enact laws that benefit their interests, whether or not they are detrimental to the rest of the population .

It should not be confused with systems of political participation that require a minimum amount of wealth to vote , for example. The distinctive feature of the plutocracy is the management of public powers in favor of the particular interests of the nation's economic elite , whatever the mechanism of participation or the political system in question.

In that sense, plutocracy usually implies the following:

  • The rulers repay the support of the economic elites favoring their needs over the general will of the population.
  • Plutocrats can revoke the mandate of elected rulers.
  • The rulers are therefore accountable to the plutocrats before the people.
  • Public powers are subject to binding instructions from the elite.

  1. Economic power

If republican democracies as we know them function based on the coexistence and mutual regulation of public powers , they are often vulnerable to the so-called economic power, that is, to the influence of capital and the interests of the wealthiest classes in the task. politician.

These powers are usually more or less invisible in political debate , which is why they often play the role of the power behind the throne, that is, they pull the invisible strings of politics .

  1. Plutocracy and oligarchy

Plutocracy and oligarchy

The concept of plutocracy is closely linked to that of oligarchy, which is nothing other than the government of a few (from the Greek oligos , "few"; and arko , "mandate"). It could well be said that the plutocracy is a form of oligarchy, since the economic elites are always a minority compared to the rest of the common people.

More in: Oligarchy .

  1. Financing of political parties

The fight against plutocracies pays special attention to the financing of political parties , which must be transparent and public, and thus prevent dark interests from investing in a candidate's campaign and then receiving favors for said preference, which would reduce the exercise of democracy representative of pure demagoguery . This is considered a crime of corruption and is punishable in numerous national laws.

  1. Media control

Media control

Another form of plutocratic mechanism is the biased management of the media, to favor the interests of the elite by manipulating public opinion . This is because many local or transnational news consortia belong to more or less visible business groups.

Thus, the so - called "fourth estate " that constitute the mass media often contributes to the weakening of institutions and the construction of a plutocracy.

  1. Privatization

A third plutocratic mechanism consists of the acquisition of public or state assets in public auctions that are called privatization , and that grant private interests control over basic companies or companies of unquestionable public importance, such as urban cleaning or electricity services. , gas, electricity .

This gives the economic sectors an important influence on national political dynamics from the control of basic necessities.

  1. Consequences


The direct consequences of a plutocracy have to do with the growth of social inequalities , the little redistribution of wealth through favoritism, protectionism, and acts of corruption and patronage that favor, more than anyone else, the interests of the economic elite.

In general terms, plutocracy prevents the transparent functioning of representative democracy and promotes the existence of hidden, secret interests in the political environment. Which could also lead to struggles between plutocratic groups and therefore to economic tensions irresponsible with the real needs of the people.

  1. Claims against plutocracy

The Marxist , anarchist and socialist sectors of contemporary society consider liberal democracies as systems designed to favor the bourgeoisie and therefore systematically plutocratic.

The struggle to socialize the means of production that Marxism supports is contrary to private property and class society, because it always favors the maintenance of the upper classes to the detriment of the poor.

  1. Examples of plutocracy

Examples of plutocracy

There are accusations of plutocracy in societies such as Mexico or the United States , given the monopoly or oligopolistic circuits , business holding companies and other forms of economic association that have a notorious influence on political dynamics.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Abubakr Conner brings a diverse skill set to our team, and covers everything from analysis to the culture of food and drink. He Believes: "Education is the most powerful weapon that exists to change the world." .

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