Plutocracy: Definition, Features, Pros & Cons

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Plutocracy – Meaning, Definition & Examples

Plutocracy (Also known as; Plutarchy)

Plutocracy, like Oligocracy or Oligarchy, is a form of government that develops when a wealthy individual or richest people in the society holds power and, therefore, runs the State.


Plutocracy, therefore, is one of the many ways in which a government can run. In territories where there is a plutocracy, the ruling classes, who own the wealth, also control the power of the State. Thus, we are talking about a system in which the society that possesses material resources, in the same way, possesses political power.

In other words, and as in the oligarchy, power falls on a few, who are also those who possess the greatest wealth.

This form of government, even if there is no plutocracy as such, could also be present. This, when politicians in power only serve the interests of those who possess economic power. All this, in exchange for these, with their money and influence, to keep them in power for as long as possible, or, sometimes, in exchange for money and financing for their electoral campaigns.

Therefore, the plutocracy is that system in which those who have economic power, directly or indirectly, control the power of the State. And is that the name of this system comes from the concept Pluto, which is, in the mythology of Ancient Greece, the god of wealth.

Characteristics of the Plutocracy

The features Plutarchy system of government presents, and that define it, are the following:

  • It is a form of government.
  • The ruling classes or the rich classes have the power.
  • Those who control material resources also control political power.
  • Plutocracy can be direct, when those with economic power are also in politics. Or indirectly, when politicians respond to the interests only of those who control economic power.
  • Plutocracy can occur in a democracy. This, when politicians, as we said, accept favors from economic leaders in exchange for favoring their interests.
  • In the plutocracy, power can change hands when the dominant society wishes.
  • It is a system very similar to the oligarchy.

Disadvantages of Plutocracy

Since we are talking about a concept used in a pejorative sense, we must highlight the disadvantages of a plutocracy.

Therefore, among the disadvantages that this system presents, the following should be highlighted:

  • It is an unfair system, since not everyone can influence.
  • It is very similar to how estamental societies work.
  • Economic and social inequality is fostered .
  • The interests of a few prevail over the generals.
  • It is a not very inclusive system.
  • Meritocracy is not contemplated.
  • There is no equal opportunity.
  • General wellness is not the goal.

How is the Plutocracy Presented?

Plutocracy, in ancient times, was a frequent way of managing a government. However, with the passage of time, societies were gaining rights, so a direct plutocracy is not possible that, in this case, is accepted by the people.

However, as we said at the beginning, there are mechanisms that allow dominant societies to continue to maintain power.

Among these mechanisms, 2 stand out:

  • Funding of political parties and campaigns: The enriched society finances the events in which politicians intervene, and helps to keep them in power. All this, in order that they, later, attend to their interests.
  • Control of the media: Through the media, the ruling class tries to influence the population, influencing their vote and, therefore, power. In this way, the rulers, to have the support of these media, yield to the ruling class.

Plutocracy Example

As these mechanisms are discussed, other scholars have referred to the financial “establishment” as a form of plutocracy. In this way, by controlling the credit and financing of families and the Government, banks can influence the decisions that these agents must subsequently adopt.

This is a clear example of plutocracy. However, lobbies, as pressure groups trying to influence the government, are also an example of plutocracy. A plutocracy that, as we said at the beginning, sometimes becomes a synonym or a variant of the oligarchical system.

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