|Part of the Politics series|
|Basic forms of government|
Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning "few", and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning "to rule or to command") is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may be distinguished by nobility, wealth, education or corporate, religious, political, or military control. Such states are often controlled by families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.
Throughout history, oligarchies have often been tyrannical, relying on public obedience or oppression to exist. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as meaning rule by the rich, for which another term commonly used today is plutocracy. In the early 20th century Robert Michels developed the theory that democracies, as all large organizations, have a tendency to turn into oligarchies. In his "Iron law of oligarchy" he suggests that the necessary division of labor in large organizations leads to the establishment of a ruling class mostly concerned with protecting their own power.
This was already recognized by the Athenians in the fourth century BCE: After the restoration of democracy from oligarchical coups, they used the drawing of lots for selecting government officers to counteract that tendency toward oligarchy in government.[page needed] They drew lots from large groups of adult volunteers to pick civil servants performing judicial, executive, and administrative functions (archai, boulē, and hēliastai). They even used lots for posts, such as judges and jurors in the political courts (nomothetai), which had the power to overrule the Assembly.
The exclusive consolidation of power by a dominant religious or ethnic minority has also been described as a form of oligarchy. Examples of this system include South Africa under apartheid, Liberia under Americo-Liberians, the Sultanate of Zanzibar, and Rhodesia, where the installation of oligarchic rule by the descendants of foreign settlers was primarily regarded as a legacy of various forms of colonialism.
The modern United States has also been described as an oligarchy, with its Republican Party representing a minority of the population but securing control of the Senate, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, while the Democratic Party has control of the House. Migration to cities will likely see the Republican Party's hold over the Senate strengthen in subsequent elections, despite an expected demographic shift to a majority-minority population by 2045. Lifetime appointments of Supreme Court justices could also make that body's conservative majority a likelihood for at least eight years.
A business group might be defined as an oligarch if it satisfies the following conditions:
(1) owners are the largest private owners in the country
(2) it possesses sufficient political power to promote its own interests(3) owners control multiple businesses, which intensively coordinate their activities.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and privatisation of the economy in December 1991, privately owned Russia-based multinational corporations, including producers of petroleum, natural gas, and metal have, in the view of many analysts, led to the rise of Russian oligarchs.
The Zimbabwean oligarchs are a group of liberation war veterans; who form the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front, a colonial liberation party. The philosophy of the Zimbabwean government is that Zimbabwe can only be governed by a leader who took part in the pre-independence war. ZANU-PF has a theme motto in Shona "Zimbabwe yakauya neropa" meaning Zimbabwe was born from the blood of the sons and daughters who died fighting for its independence. The born free generation (born since independence in 1980) has no birthright to rule Zimbabwe.
- Shadow Party
- O'Sullivan's Law
- Inverted totalitarianism
- Iron law of oligarchy
- Military dictatorship
- Oligarchical Collectivism
- Political family
- Power behind the throne
- "ὀλίγος", Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- "ἄρχω", Liddell/Scott.
- "ὀλιγαρχία". Liddell/Scott.
- Winters (2011) p. 26-28. "Aristotle writes that 'oligarchy is when men of property have the government in their hands... wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a democracy'."
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- Hollingsworth, Mark; Lansley, Stewart (12 August 2010). Londongrad: From Russia with Cash: The Inside Story of the Oligarchs. Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-0007356379.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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- Ramseyer, J. Mark; Rosenbluth, Frances McCall (28 March 1998). The Politics of Oligarchy: Institutional Choice in Imperial Japan. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521636490.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Tabachnick, David; Koivukoski, Toivu (20 January 2012). On Oligarchy: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1442661165.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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- Winters, Jeffrey A. (2011). Oligarchy. Northwestern University, Illinois: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107005280.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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