Brief History of Oligarchy – Part 1

Donate

Written by Rosa Tressell and Dr. Leon Tressell exclusively for SouthFront; This is the first part of a series prepared on the topic. The series includes four parts.

Oligarchy is a word derived from the Greek language. It means the rule of the few. We have come to associate it with rich Russian businessmen, but American society, behind the facade of democracy, has come more and more to resemble an Oligarchy. Oligarchs use their enormous influence to turn the country to benefit themselves to the exclusion of other members. A key characteristic of Oligarchy is that the relationships between the various Oligarchs forms the basis of rule.

Oligarchs tend to only associate with other Oligarchs. They see themselves as the movers and shakers of this world. They fund think tanks, lobbyists and develop proteges; all to steer politics to their benefit. This allows the majority to have little, if any real say in the body politic. As Winston Churchill once said;

”The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

Oligarchs have a superiority complex, and a belief that only in their hands can the best for their country be achieved. They have synonymised the countries interests with their own. This is the trick they use to convince the majority they work on behalf of all. Meanwhile, they siphon off wealth into their own pockets. This increases inequality and fuels the sense of an unjust society.

Oligarchy does have its weaknesses. An elite clan can become very insular looking. The can become divorced from the reality of day to day life and unable to respond to growing unhappiness levels. Their very lack of diversity and general conservative outlook can mean missed opportunities. New exciting developments, like the blockchain and cryptocurrencies for example, are seen as threatening to Oligarchical power, rather than embraced as liberating. Finally, Oligarchies are an anathema to free markets and free trade. Fixing is the order of the day, manipulation, insider trading, high levels of sycophancy and corruption.

Famous Oligarchies of history have included Sparta, the Roman Republic, the Venetian Republic and the British Empire. Plato viewed Oligarchy as “a constitution teeming with many ills”. One of these he identified as greed. He saw the ruling passion of Oligarchs as the accumulation and preservation of wealth. The transition to Oligarchy from other forms of rule is marked by the amassing of great private fortunes. Trends towards growing income inequality have been marked in the world especially over the last ten years. According to a report by Oxfam last year the world’s eight richest people have the same as the poorest 50%.

Much of the wealth, though, is hidden in our society. We can clearly see the influence of the Walton family and the Koch Brothers. Through political donations they openly seek to have laws passed in their favour. However, both the giant banking families, like the Rockefellers, and the remnants of the aristocracy are also owners of vast undisclosed wealth. Even companies like Forbes, that put these rich lists together, admit that the amounts used are on the low side. The admiration of the rich and worship of money becomes the essential heart of an Oligarchic society.

Of course Oligarchs are happy to rule and get along when the going is good. The Bilderberg meetings, exposed by the intrepid reporting of Daniel Estulin and Jim Tucker, are yearly gatherings where the wealthy elite meet to discuss an agenda of important topics in global finance and politics. Papers that have been subsequently released reveal discussions and resolutions for action way in advance of events. Bilderberg attendee Etienne Davignon admitted that the group was instrumental in setting up the Euro currency. In 2002 a discussion was held at the Bilderberg meeting to invade Iraq. In an article from 2008 the Bilderbergers discuss the global financial melt-down and rescue measures back in 2006. These, once secret, meetings clearly indicate an Oligarchical tendency.

In Russia today we can clearly see an Oligarchy, represented at their head by Putin. They are an entrenched ruling class that have evolved from the nomenklatura, or Communist bureaucrats, of the Soviet Union. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, Western business had hoped to enter Russia to steal and plunder her resources. However, they found that the Russians had already organised themselves into an Oligarchy capable of plundering their own nation’s wealth. The same process can be identified in China where previous state-owned enterprises, under the guiding hand of the old Communist ruling class, are transferred into the ownership of the new post-Communist ruling class. Who just happen to be the same people!

In ancient China Confucius stood up against Oligarchy. One of the main problems China faced in his time was the constant warfare driven by the private needs of the Chou dynasty. Confucius regarded many of the nobility as useless parasites and idlers. He promoted the ideas of education on the basis of ability and a government filled with advisers (to the leader) who served not feudal loyalty but answered to higher moral principles. Confucius stood in opposition to entrenched privilege, which Oligarchy maintains, and was opposed to the domination by a caste of rulers with no intrinsic merits of their own.

Machiavelli, who lived in Italy during the Renaissance period, wrote about the body politic. Drawing on his country’s history he wrote about the nobility living as he saw it on the abundant revenue derived from their estates, and called them pests in his Discourse on Livy. He was of the opinion though that class conflict between the rich few and the many have-nots was a good thing for political development. He identified five classes: feudal nobility; bankers and merchants; the middle class; poor urban mass; and the country peasant. The key was that one group’s power did not become excessive. Machiavelli believed that a healthy republic required a series of checks and balances.

The idea of a series of checks and balances was enshrined at the heart of the US Constitution. The American Founding Fathers were concerned with preventing Tyranny, but they were also aware of the dangers of Oligarchy. They attempted to form safeguards in the Constitution to prevent the US from falling prey to this type of rule. It can be summed up in the slogan, “Of the People, By the People, and For the People.” Have the Oligarchs now taken over the United States? More commentators, like Thomas Piketty in his book Capital in the Twenty First Century that have focused on the widening inequality gap, are drawing this conclusion. The US is being run by Oligarchs.

Donate

SouthFront

Do you like this content? Consider helping us!

  • Rob

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-D8SbWGf0lE
    Saudi Arabia’s Monarchy May End Soon – Three Sons Of A Caliph – Imam Mahdi Signs

  • Rob

    Iran will withdraw from Syria when US and Israel withdrew from Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya.

  • RichardD

    You’d be hard pressed to prove that Putin and the Russian government is some type of parasitical oligarchy like we have in the US. Yes Russia has historically had a Jew problem, and still has one. Hopefully the current generation of Russians will finish the dejudification process that previous generations have made such huge progress with.

    By most standards the current Russian goverbment is one of the best run on the planet.

    • Dr.Leon Tressell

      This comment contains openly anti-semitic sentiments that the Nazis would have applauded. You state,” Russia has historically had a Jew problem, and still has one.” This reminds me of Hitler’s statements in the 1930s about Germany having a ”Jewish problem” that required a Final Solution Then you compound matters by making a further statement that in effect calls for the mass murder of Jews: ”Hopefully, the current generations of Russians will finish the dejudification process that previous generations have made such huge progress with.” The Russian people lost over 27 million dead in the heroic struggle against German fascism. Your comment is an insult to their memory and to the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. Keep your fascist views to yourself. They have no place in decent society.

      • Hey Comrade Commissar don’t try to suppress views you don’t personally like. No one asked you to and you threw up the jew hate canard and everything I hate is Fascism and Hitler.

        • Dr.Leon Tressell

          You claim that I am trying to suppress views that I don’t personally like. If you hate fascism and Hitler as much as you claim then you would condemn comments that are openly anti-semitic. You cannot justify free speech for views that openly incite hatred against Jewish people. Have you spoken to any Holocaust survivors? I have spoken with many and been deeply moved by their experiences. The one thing they have emphasized to my students is that racist views unchallenged can then develop a momentum and spread like cancer until you have people being murdered for the racial group they belong to. So please don’t lecture me with such a high and mighty tone.

          • Coming from a quack and yet another career academician no wonder you hate freedom of speech. You jump to irrational conclusions based on no rational evidence. What the man was saying is the Bolshevick Jews backed by British Intel went on a mass muder rampage through Russia. Nothing racist about this since the Bolshevick leadership cadre were Jewish and pathological, plainly evil. So you cover for Jewish crimes against humanity with Nazi crimes against humanity. Typical fraudulent German cuckold view of history. So a logical conclusion here is you are a hardcore Communist ready to mass murder and inspire racist hate by using racist hate for cover. I have many problems but being Fash ain’t one!

          • RichardD

            Thank you, those are exactly the point that I was trying to make.

          • I don’t make the claim you are clearly at odds with freedom of open inquiry. Which means in essence you are a quack and a fraud. You don’t deserve or rate the title of “Doctor”.

          • Dr.Leon Tressell

            Your defence of the rights of an openly antisemitic commentator to spew his poisonous beliefs does you no credit. I will not dignify your childish personal attacks upon myself with any comment.

          • RichardD

            It’s called truth moron, you’re the one spewing venomous lies, not me. This is the diseased blood sucking pedophile filth that you’re shilling for:
            https://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01659/bleeding-mouth_1659287i.jpg
            https://www.veteranstoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/metzitzah-bpeh.jpeg

          • RichardD

            Look idiot, what is it about the filthy Jew pedophile mass rape cultists, most of whom are europeans, are the biggest antisemites and racists on the planet that you don’t understand?

            Jews are the most persecuted, expelled and genocided group of miscreants in human history because they’re evil and their Talmud rabbinical ideology is evil:

            – A crash course on the true causes of “antisemitism” –

            https://thesaker.is/a-crash-course-on-the-true-causes-of-antisemitism/

      • RichardD

        You lie and blame shift like a filthy Jew raped and brain washed from birth to lie, cheat, steal and murder for the evil Jew pedophile mass rape cult. Are you one?

        Jew pedophiles mass rape 1,000 children a week. Infect them with venereal disease, brain damage and murder them. Judaism and Israel should be outlawed, the synagogues and yeshivas closed, and the planet dejudified to create a much better world free of the filthy Jew cultists.

        Palestinians are Semites. European AshkeNAZI Jews, which is 75 to 90% of all Jews, are the biggest antisemites and racists on the planet.

        Jews were the Nazi’s partners in the holocaust so that it could be used to get Israel admitted to the UN when it never should have been. The Germans should have outlawed Judaism, not created a death cult.

        Read up on Jew fratricide:

        – The Zionist-Nazi Collaboration –

        https://dissidentvoice.org/2012/07/the-zionist-nazi-collaboration/

        Jews were the ones mass murdering Russians, not the other way around:

        “Communist Jews were the commandants of 11 out of the 12 main Stalinist-era Gulags, or concentration camps, including the camp system directors Matvei Berman and Hershel Jehuda.”

        – Jewish-Run Concentration Camps in the Soviet Union –

        https://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Run-Concentration-Camps-Soviet-Union/dp/1291002758

      • RichardD

        No, this comment contains the truth that you don’t want to read about Jew crime and evil. And you’re to much of an intellectual coward to debate the issues because you know how guilty they are and that you’l lose and lose badly. Which is why they have over 100 UN and other international law resolutions against them. And people at the UN are talking about suspending their membership.

        So you start out with the lies, insults and character assassination to divert attention from the truth that you’re trying to suppress about the AshkeNAZI criminals and pedophile mass rape cultists who are America’s, humanities’s and our planet’s number one problem.

    • Dear RichardD, SouthFront follows a maximum pluralism policy and rejects the censorship. However, we were forced to delete three your comments because they included PERSONAL AFFRONTS.
      We consider that in general your position on this issue is valuable and important to keep the discussion on the comment section. We ask you in the future to avoid personal affronts.
      For example, your thoughts that “Palestinians are Semites” is an intersting comment. However, your comment included personal affronts, the comment was deleted.
      Sincerely yours,
      SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence

      • RichardD

        I don’t usually start with the insults, and if I do use them it’s usually in response to being insulted, like this:

        “Your defence of the rights of an openly antisemitic commentator to spew his poisonous beliefs does you no credit.”

        Jews are racially far more European than Semitic. Whereas Palestinians are clearly primarily a Semitic people. Antisemitism is a ruse used by Jews to support their colonization project. There’s a difference between antijudaism and antisemitism. I’m not antisemitic. And telling the truth about Jew crime and evil doesn’t make me antisemitic. Unless you use the twisted Jew definition of anti “Semitism”. The Jews are the antisemites and racists. As their crimes against the Semitic Palestinians clearly show.

        What you’re talking about in this quote is Jews:

        “As to the ethnicity of this part of Russian Oligarchy, it happens that a majority of them is not ethnic Russians. Also, most of them gained their wealth in the way, which could not be considered as legal in the West.”

        They’re over represented in the wealthiest segment of Russian society, just like they are in the US. Where 40% of US billionaires are Jews and control a disproportionate percentage of US wealth and use it to the detriment of Americans and humanity.

      • RichardD

        I upvoted the SF comment not because of the censorship part, but because of the part about vulture Jew capitalism and the positive things that were said about the current Russian government.

        Tressell is an intellectual coward who started out with the lies and insults against me and refused to debate the issues with me because he knows that he would lose and lose badly. Which is why there are probably more world leaders and heads of state reading my work on a regular basis than his.

  • Rob

    Erdogan-ally Union head Ali Yalcin says in a rally held before the US embassy that the US is imperialist Neo-con zionist state and attacks on Turkey, threatens and blackmails the world.

  • Luutzen

    Let’s call olichargs the Billionaires, Than it’s immediately clear: monopoly capitalism or Russian state monopolies.

  • An oligarchy in the classic sense is a cabal of wealthy and
    powerful families-wealth and power usually hereditary to
    some degree-complemented by vast, institutionalized networks
    of “retainers.” The oligarchy rules on the imperial,
    looting model by methods featuring manipulation of peoples
    and states against one another.

  • Oligarchism is a principle of irrational domination associated with hereditary oligarchy/ nobility and with certain aristocratic priesthoods. At the center of oligarchy is the idea that certain families are born to rule as an arbitrary elite, while the vast majority of any given population is condemned to oppression, serfdom, or slavery. During most of the past 2,500 years, oligarchs have been identified by their support for the philosophical writings of Aristotle and their rejection of the epistemology of Plato. Aristotle asserted that slavery is a necessary institution, because some are born to rule and others to be ruled. He also reduced the question of human knowledge to the crudest sense certainty and perception of “facts.” Aristotle’s formalism is a means of killing human creativity, and therefore represents absolute evil. This evil is expressed by the bestialist view of the oligarchs that human beings are the same as animals.

    Oligarchs identify wealth purely in money, and practice usury, monetarism, and looting at the expense of technological advancement and physical production. Oligarchs have always been associated with the arbitrary rejection of true scientific discovery and scientific method in favor of open anti-science or more subtle obscurantist pseudo-science. The oligarchy has believed for millennia that the earth is overpopulated; the oligarchical commentary on the Trojan War was that this conflict was necessary in order to prevent greater numbers of mankind from oppressing “Mother Earth.” The oligarchy has constantly stressed race and racial characteristics, often as a means for justifying slavery. In international affairs, oligarchs recommend such methods as geopolitics, understood as the method of divide and conquer which lets one power prevail by playing its adversaries one against the other. Oligarchical policy strives to maintain a balance of power among such adversaries for its own benefit, but this attempt always fails in the long run and leads to new wars.

  • The essence of oligarchism is summed up in the idea of the empire, in which an elite identifying itself as a master race rules over a degraded mass of slaves or other oppressed victims. If oligarchical methods are allowed to dominate human affairs, they always create a breakdown crisis of civilization, with economic depression, war, famine, plague, and pestilence. Examples of this are the fourteenth century Black Plague crisis and the Thirty Years War (1618-48), both of which were created by Venetian intelligence. The post- industrial society and the derivatives crisis have brought about the potential for a new collapse of civilization in our own time. This crisis can only be reversed by repudiating in practice the axioms of the oligarchical mentality.

    A pillar of the oligarchical system is the family fortune, or fondo as it is called in Italian. The continuity of the family fortune which earns money through usury and looting is often more important than the biological continuity across generations of the family that owns the fortune. In Venice, the largest fondo was the endowment of the Basilica of St. Mark, which was closely associated with the Venetian state treasury, and which absorbed the family fortunes of nobles who died without heirs. This fondo was administered by the procurers of St. Mark, whose position was one of the most powerful under the Venetian system. Around this central fondo were grouped the individual family fortunes of the great oligarchical families, such as the Mocenigo, the Cornaro, the Dandolo, the Contarini, the Morosini, the Zorzi, and the Tron. Until the end of the eighteenth century, the dozen or so wealthiest Venetian families had holdings comparable or superior to the very wealthiest families anywhere in Europe. When the Venetian oligarchy transferred many of its families and assets to northern Europe, the Venetian fondi provided the nucleus of the great Bank of Amsterdam, which dominated Europe during the seventeenth century, and of the Bank of England, which became the leading bank of the eighteenth century.

  • Omega

    The oligarchical system dates back to Babylon and only moved geographically: Persia, Canaan-Phoenicia, Roman Empire, Byzantine, Venice, Britain.

    That said, no one practiced oligarchy like the ruling class of Venice did. It should come to no surprise that they lasted 1500 years before their system was moved north.

    In a nutshell, know Venice and you’ll understand oligarchy and today’s (chaotic) world. Webster Tarpley’s Against Oligarchy depicts it best:

    http://tarpley.net/online-books/against-oligarchy/

  • Igor Dano

    Leon, undoubtly a zionaziyew, forgot to talk about the yews, oligarchs in Russia. The only name he knows, is Putin.
    Zionaziyew, your predecessors killed 70m Russians.
    We have to ballance it Against 30m yews on the planet.

    • John Whitehot

      perhaps you mean khodorkovsky, abramovich and berezovsky?

      scum.

    • Dear Igor Dano,
      SouthFront follows a maximum pluralism policy and rejects the censorship. However, we will be forced to delete comments, which include personal affronts or direct attacks motivated ethnic, religious or other factors.
      We ask you to take this into account and to develop further a valuable discussion in the comment section.
      Sincerely yours,
      SF Team

  • Dear friends,
    SouthFront follows a maximum pluralism policy and rejects the censorship. However, we will be forced to delete comments, which include personal affronts or direct attacks motivated ethnic, religious or other factors.
    We ask you to take this into account and to develop further a valuable discussion in the comment section.
    Sincerely yours,
    SF Team

    P.S. The point of view of Leonid from SF’s team on the article:

    “Dear friends, this is my opinion on Oligarchy in Russia.
    The situation is simple and complicated simultaneously.
    1) Russian oligarchs, in the modern meaning of this term, have typically been and is still in opposition to a strong state and the powers attempting to build it. [For example, Putin] This part of the Russian economic elite in general provides interests of the global capital. You can find more details about this in our documentary entitled “Russia’s Long Road Toward Resurgence”: https://southfront.org/russias-long-road-toward-resurgence/
    As to the ethnicity of this part of Russian Oligarchy, it happens that a majority of them is not ethnic Russians. Also, most of them gained their wealth in the way, which could not be considered as legal in the West.
    2) Putin does not represent interests of “traditional” oligarchs, but he leads the newly formed bureaucratic elite, which consists of groups and personalities managing different objects of the Russian economy.
    In general, the state has controlling or blocking stakes of these economic companies. So, representatives of this bureaucratic elite form the top management of these state-linked companies.
    Once again I want to draw your attention to the aforementioned documentary. It includes a part providing a look at contradictions between these elite groups: oligarchs and the new bureaucracy.”