What is Oligarchy?

Oligarchy is a philosophical word like democracy, authoritarian, and monarchy. Philosophical words are hard to illustrate in every day, what-does-it-do terms. However, thanks to the New York Times, an article appeared in the November 29, 2015 edition that captured oligarchy as a political operation that can be compared to political behavior readers are more familiar with from news coverage, elections, and economic headlines.

It is a must read for all readers. The article illustrates how very wealthy individuals band together, using immense amounts of cash and influence to interrupt what otherwise would be normal democratic elections. In the State of Illinois, backed by a group of billionaires primarily from banking and investment firms, Bruce Rauner was elected Governor.

“Unprecedented political spending helped
         elect a fresh-faced financier. But his ideological
         vision has unsettled many in the state.”

“….The richest man in Illinois does not often give speeches. But on a warm spring day two years ago, Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, rose before a black-tie dinner of the Economic Club of Chicago to deliver an urgent plea to the city’s elite….

Their response came quickly. In the months since, Mr. Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.

….Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions…..”

This revealing article continues with charts, background interviews of the top 1%, and side articles expanding the subject of political influence by the extremely wealthy. As a movement, the super-wealthy are taking increasing interest in American politics. The reader – and any common citizen – will be alarmed at the brutality of their public policies on the American people.

The behavior of Oligarchy is clearly defined. Yes, a must read article. See:


Ancient Mariner

2 thoughts on “What is Oligarchy?

  1. As a movement, the super-wealthy are taking increasing interest in American politics.

    Ed, I do not think that there has ever been American politics without much interest from the superwealthy, especially since the 1960’s or so. Perhaps it could or is being made to look so, for some type of political reason. Without statistics and all of that..it appears to me that a new class of the wealthy is attempting to rise against the old class, world wide, perhaps.(IE the Russian billionaire who is donating 100 million to Stephen Hawking to study the possibility of other life in the universe)…The old power structure seems to be actively bringing in the fascist new world order, and for a couple of decades have been extremely successful at obtaining the support of the American people to limit rights, and Americans have simply learned that this is an acceptable thing to do. They got in through health and safety legislation, at first, in my opinion..remember long ago when due process laws prohibited people from being stopped in cars for suspected drinking or anything else without reason, without due cause and then remember in the 1980’s when the had literally roadblocks just checking everyone? The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. Compare that to Warren Court ruling that it was unconstitutional to pump a suspected drug users stomach, or use the contents of the stomach, to prove that he was using drugs(self incrimination, I think) And, in the 1980’s or 1990’s you could just drug test almost anyone for no reason at all..the public supported all of this…there is no outcry when you cannot even smoke outdoors in some places, business owners cannot smoke in their own businesses, some towns outlaw hanging clothes out on the line, there is legislation proposed for the government to regulate even garden produce..people just blithely go on their way, ignoring all of it, or at best griping once or twice and forgetting it

    • I agree with your general observation, Karen, that the common citizen seems oblivious to significant culture change. The right to vote brings with it a citizen’s willingness to pay attention to what’s different as time passes. That seems to be a lost art in our democracy.


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