Despite the spread of democracy in the 20th century, oligarchies continued to exist, including in countries that were nominally democratic in form. Those who make up an oligarchic government. The failing Soviet state left the ownership of state assets contested, which allowed for informal deals with former USSR officials (mostly in Russia and Ukraine) as a means to acquire state … ŏl'ĭ-gär'kē, ō'lĭ- The definition of an oligarchy is a government structure where a small and elite group have power. It comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command.” Political unrest continued, however, in others; Colombia, for instance, experienced a series of civil wars toward…. Russian oligarchs are business oligarchs of the former Soviet republics who rapidly accumulated wealth during the era of Russian privatization in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Iran. One of the most famous modern uses of the term oligarchy occurs in “iron law of oligarchy,” a concept devised by the German sociologist Robert Michels to refer to the allegedly inevitable tendency of political parties and trade unions to become bureaucratized, centralized, and conservative. Unlike monarchs, however, oligarchs do not have to be connected by bloodlines in order to inherit power. Government by a small faction or group of families, from Greek words meaning “a few” and “chief” or “principal.” 2. By definition, an oligarchy is a form of government where the power is in the hands of a small number of elite people. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle classified government into three main types: rule by one person, by a few people, and by many people. Besides these two, we have meritocracy “a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement,” monarchy “a form of government in which a country is ruled by a king or queen,” ochlocracy “government by the mob," and gerontocracy “rule by elders,” among many others. These two definitions explain the difference between oligarchy and plutocracy. oligarchy 1. An oligarchy is a power structure under which a small group of elite individuals, families, or corporations control a country. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. The political term, oligarchy, comes to English from the Greek with its meaning intact — a form of government run by a small number of people such as wealthy landowners, royalty or powerful military figures. The Big Picture. By definition, an oligarchy is a small group of people who have control over an organization, an institution, or even a country. Although Putin did not and could not destroy the business…, Along with the export economies came political transitions. 'All Intensive Purposes' or 'All Intents and Purposes'? An example of an oligarchy is a society in which a small group of dictators is in charge of the … Mary Altaffer/AP Photo Oligarchy” means government of and by a few at the top, who exercise power for their own benefit. Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way. They took … Sometimes oligarchy governments are controlled by a few families who pass their power from one generation to the next. Definition. ‘The result of short-term royal success in eviscerating local government was a system of degenerate petty oligarchies dependent on government initiative.’ ‘For more than a millennium, until its fall in 1797, the Republic of Venice was governed by an oligarchy, comprising a limited number of patrician families.’ An aristocracyis a type of government run by members of the traditional elite of a society, who are considered the most fit to rule. Aristotle used the term oligarchia to designate the rule of the few when it was exercised not by the best but by bad persons unjustly. It is a recurrent idea that all forms of government are in the final analysis reducible to the rule of a few. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021. A plutocracyis a form of government run, or influenced by, the wealthiest members of society. Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos) 'few', and ἄρχω (arkho) 'to rule or to command') is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. Oligarchy is a type of government controlled by a small group of people 1.2 Cambridge Dictionary A type of government by powerful people in a small group is called oligarchy 1.3 Merriam-Webster Dictionary Some political scientists have argued that the contemporary United States is an oligarchy or a plutocracy, because its great inequality of wealth and income (as compared with other industrialized countries) enables economic elites and corporations to influence public policy to their advantage, often against the preferences of the majority of ordinary citizens. Oligarchy refers to the government system ruled and controlled by a small group of privileged people whereas plutocracy refers to the government system ruled and controlled by a wealthy minority. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. His reasoning was that, no matter how egalitarian or even radical the original ideology and goals of a party or union may be, there must emerge a limited group of leaders at the centre who can direct power efficiently, get things done through an administrative staff, and evolve some kind of rigorous order and ideology to ensure the survival of the organization when faced by internal division and external opposition. Learn a new word every day. Most classic oligarchies have resulted when governing elites were recruited exclusively from a ruling caste—a hereditary social grouping that is set apart from the rest of society by religion, kinship, economic status, prestige, or even language. An oligarchy of Islamic clerics, relatives, and business associates runs the country. Although the term, Putin also took steps to limit the political and economic power of the infamous oligarchs, whom many Russians considered to be thieves and one of the main causes of the myriad problems facing Russia. In this sense, oligarchy is a debased form of aristocracy, which denotes government by the few in which power is vested in the best individuals. In this sense, it is a degraded form of aristocracy, denoting government by a few in whom power rests with the best individuals.Most classical oligarchies have arisen when ruling elites were recruited exclusively from a ruling caste, a hereditary … Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The word oligarchy is from the Greek words for "few" (ὀλίγios olígios) and "rule" (ἄρχeiv arkhein).. Jonathan Farrington's Blog. If you say that you can't fight the oligarchy, you mean the leaders of such a place. The word oligarchy comes from a Greek word coined from the words oligoi (“few”) and arkhein (“to rule”). A … The ruling party in an … Children must be drilled … is that oligarchy is a government run by only a few, often the wealthy while monarchy is a government in which sovereignty is embodied within a single, today usually hereditary head of state (whether as a figurehead or as a powerful ruler). Oligarchies consolidate power with those who have the expertise, especially those in familial oligarchies, because family members are raised and conditioned to take over specific positions within the … Some of these words, such as plutocracy, have an exceedingly similar meaning (both may be used to refer to rule by an economic elite, but oligarchy often has the additional connotation of corruption). About six centuries later, in northern Italy, some of these entities developed into more or less independent city-states and inaugurated systems of government based… Omissions? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible). Jimmy Carter comments on the influence of money in politics ... “Oligarchy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oligarchy. Autocracy, democracy and oligarchy are terms used to define different systems of government. English. The increased revenues that burgeoning commerce provided allowed elites to consolidate more orderly political systems in some countries. An oligarchy is a small group of people who control and run a particular country or organization. As a government structure, an oligarchy looks like a group of nobles with a royal family. It is compared with both aristocracy, which is defined as government by a few chosen for their virtue and ruling for the general good, and various forms of democracy, or rule by the people. Sanders said his former opponent would nominate justices prepared to overturn Citizens United. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words for "few" and "rule".. 1 : government by the few The corporation is ruled by oligarchy. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. Oligarchy becomes tyrannical and/or oppressive when there is a limitation in the separation of powers and when the rule of law is violated. Subsequent writers of various persuasions have attempted either to expand on Michels’s thesis, extending it to legislatures, religious orders, and other organizations, or to restrict or criticize the thesis, charging that the iron law of oligarchy is not universal and that some unions and parties do maintain a viable system of democratic expression and governance. (Definition of oligarchy from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press) Likewise, the controlling group within an organization does not occupy the same position under democratic conditions (which allows for effective challenges to the group by outsiders at regular intervals) as it does under an authoritarian plan. These people may be distinguished by nobility, wealth, education, corporate, religious, political, or military control. 2 : a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes a military oligarchy was established in the country also : a group exercising such control An oligarchy ruled the nation. The next form of government is oligarchy. This can mean that these few people are the actual leaders, or that they influence or control the decisions that the leaders make (that they’re the ones “ pulling the strings ” behind the scenes). Oligarchy. The classical definition of oligarchy, as given, for example, by Aristotle, is governance by a few, usually the wealthy, for corrupt or selfish purposes. Oligarchies in which members of the ruling group are wealthy or exercise their power through their wealth are known as plutocracies. The Republic by Plato ; translated by Benjamin Jowett Other articles where Constitutional oligarchy is discussed: democracy: Constitutional oligarchies: After the western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, the Italian Peninsula broke up into a congeries of smaller political entities. Oligarchyis a form of government in which all power resides with a few people or in a dominant class or group within the society. What made you want to look up oligarchy? Political science and sociology have differentiated more carefully between various types of control and power. Send us feedback. Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times. The valuations of target companies then explode, too, but street-level investors, once again, are shut out of these stratospheric early gains, which flow to the same impregnable, Many of New York's housewives have links to political, The alternative is in the hands of the progressive insurgents, those truth tellers whose agenda requires deficit spending to promote the public good, and not to feed the ravenous appetites of an entrenched, The judges Kennedy has appointed in the South are designed to protect the, On the fringe of the left there are those who want to overthrow the racist, cisgendered, patriarchal neoliberal, As a former senior military intelligence officer told Belton, the KGB once had to serve the, From 1994 to 2000, when Putin came to power, Russia was an, Post the Definition of oligarchy to Facebook, Share the Definition of oligarchy on Twitter, The Difference Between 'Hoard' and 'Horde'. 'Nip it in the butt' or 'Nip it in the bud'. 2. uncountable noun Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! Oligarchy, like other forms of government, has its pros and cons. Each of these types had a good form and a bad form. Corrections? Thus, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels insisted that, throughout the history of capitalism, the key capitalists had controlled the government; they coined the dictum, “the state is the executive committee of the exploiting class.” The Italian political scientist Gaetano Mosca likewise insisted that a “ruling class” always constituted the effective oligarchic control. Oligarchy Definition by Oxford Dictionary: Oxford dictionary is one of the most popular dictionaries. Such states are often controlled by families who pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition of oligarchy. As per its definition, an oligarchy is a system of government where the few - be it families, businesses, scholars, or individuals - rule. An oligarchy is a power structure that allows a few businesses, families, or individuals to rule. Any system of government in which virtually all political power is held by a very small number of wealthy but otherwise unmeritorious people who shape public policy primarily to benefit themselves financially through direct subsidies to their agricultural estates or business firms, lucrative government contracts, and protectionist measures aimed at damaging their economic competitors — while … oligarchy (n.) "form of government in which supreme power is vested in a small exclusive class," 1570s, from French oligarchie (14c. ), from Latinized form of Greek oligarkhia "government by the few," from stem of oligos "few, small, little" (a word of uncertain origin) + -arkhia, from arkhein "to rule" (see archon).An earlier form of the word in English was oligracie (c. 1500, from Old French).. Aristotle, after some … In the Aristotelian classification of government, there were two forms of rule by the few: aristocracy and its debased form, oligarchy. “So nobody must be allowed to think at all. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. And what manner of government do you term oligarchy?. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Among industrialized countries that have been identified as oligarchies are Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union and China since that country’s embrace of capitalism in the late 1970s. Oligarchy definition: An oligarchy is a small group of people who control and run a particular country or... | Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Definition of oligarchy. Down with the public schools! See the full definition for oligarchy in the English Language Learners Dictionary, Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oligarchy, Nglish: Translation of oligarchy for Spanish Speakers, Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oligarchy. Aristotle defined aristocracy as government … The people who hold the power in an oligarchy are called “oligarchs” and are related by characteristics such as wealth, family, nobility, corporate interests, religion, politics, or military power. Aristotle used the term oligarchy to designate the government of a few when it was unjustly exercised by the best men, but who at the same time were the most unjust. a country or industry that is controlled by a small group of powerful people, or these people considered as a group: The electricity industry has moved from being a state monopoly to being a de facto … a country or industry that is controlled by a small group of powerful people, or these people considered as a group: The electricity industry has moved from being a state monopoly to being a de facto oligarchy. The two forms of rule by the few were aristocracy and oligarchy. Athens was suffering under the rule of an oligarchy. Ruling party. Those few ruling members have enough power to create policies that benefit them to the exclusion of the rest of society. These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oligarchy.' Delivered to your inbox! A daily challenge for crossword fanatics. The ruling party is the major difference between oligarchy and plutocracy. Noun (wikipedia oligarchy) (oligarchies) A government run by only a few, often the wealthy. Oligarchy is one of numerous English words for a type of rule or government. For example, on… In a business environment, it may look like a family maintaining full control of the Board of Directors. Oligarchy, government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes. Such elites tend to exercise power in the interests of their own class. The type of power held by a party boss in a democracy, while overwhelming in relation to any single member of the party, is very different from that wielded by the boss of the single party in a totalitarian or authoritarian system. Vilfredo Pareto elaborated the idea in his doctrine of the “elite.” The modern tendency to analyze social patterns in terms of an elite, though greatly reinforced by Pareto’s theory, goes further back than Marx and Engels, who employed elite to describe the class-conscious communists, the leading group within the proletariat. When referring to governments, the classical definition of oligarchy, as given for example by Aristotle, is of government by a few, usually the rich, for their own advantage. Oligarchy, government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes. How to use a word that (literally) drives some pe... Do you know these earlier meanings of words? Oligarchy is a term for a government in which power is held by a select few individuals or a small class of powerful people. These people have the power to control everyone else within that specific society. Explore some different ancient and modern oligarchy examples. These groups of people may be distinguished by royalty, wealth, education, or military control. oligarchy . You can also refer to a country which is governed in this way as an oligarchy. If effective control changes hands as rapidly as it does in a city of the United States or a British trade union, it is doubtful that those exercising it should be spoken of as a “class” or an “elite.” The expression “the few” is too abstract to convey much information. In practice, however, almost all governments, … Aristocracy, oligarchy, monarchy, and democracy are old concepts of government which can be traced back to Ancient Greece. An oligarchyis a form of government in which power is vested in the hands of a small group, because of factors which favor them, like wealth, race, political connections, military capability, education, etc. Updates? Oligarchies in which members of the ruling group are wealthy or exercise their power through their wealth are known as plutocracies. It is compared with both aristocracy, which is defined as government by a few chosen for their virtue and ruling for the general good, and various forms of democracy, or rule by the people. They maintain their power through their relationships with each other. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/topic/oligarchy, The Balance - Oligarchies: Pros and Cons, With Causes and Examples, oligarchy - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Oligarchs will secure effective control whether the formal authority is vested in the people, a monarch, the proletariat, or a dictator. This could be the wealthy, a military group or even a family. In the Aristotelian classification of government, there were two forms of rule by the few: aristocracy and its debased form, oligarchy.... Friedrich Engels, German socialist and supporter of Karl Marx, 1879.