Differences Between Democracy and Oligarchy
Over time, civilizations were responsible for creating different forms of government. In the contemporary world, especially with regard to the West, there is a great consensus that the democratic regime or democracy is the best and fairest form of political organization ever created. This conception is mainly based on the idea that the democratic system is fairer and defends the principles of freedom and equality among men.
Recognizing democracy as the “government of the people”, we end up determining that other forms of government are less efficient and fair. Among these other forms, the oligarchy is one of the models that distances itself most clearly from the democratic regime. After all, as its original meaning says, the oligarchy presents the “government of a few” or the “government of a minority”. In many cases, this minority is confused with the political and economic elites of a country or territory.
Despite appearing as opposites, oligarchy and democracy are regimes that can interpenetrate in some situations. In the history of Brazil, for example, we see that in the Oligarchic Republic, the distribution and autonomy of powers – typical in a democracy – coexisted with fraudulent ruses that preserved political positions in the hands of a reduced agro-export elite. Thus, we can note the coexistence of democratic and oligarchic elements in the same regime.
Contrary to what many people think, the idea of democracy as the rule of a majority was not born in Ancient Greece. In Athens, the right to vote was reserved to a portion of citizens that did not correspond to the majority of the inhabitants of that ancient city. On the other hand, we can also see today that many democracies are beset by serious problems. Often, representatives elected by the people, by the majority, act politically in favor of a wealthy minority.
Punctuating these examples and analyses, we realize that democracy and oligarchy correspond to an oppositional value only in the field of theories. In practice, citizens must always be on the alert so that a government with democratic appearances does not undermine the power granted to it by shady actions that respond to the desire of a single social group. After all, more than a form of government, democracy is a dynamic and always unfinished experience.