Oligarchy An oligarchy, or minority rule, is a form of government in which political power is confined to a small segment of society distinguished by money, lineage, or military power.
The word “oligarchy” is derived from the Greek word: ὀλιγαρχία oligarchia. Often, oligarchic regimes and states are controlled by a few powerful families, passing on power and power from one generation to the next.
The oligarchy was defined in the French political dictionary as: “The political system in which most of the powers are in the hands of a few individuals, such as some families or a small part of the population, and usually the social class or sect, the source of their strength is wealth, traditions, military power, Cruelty … etc ”.
The French Larousse encyclopédique also defined an oligarchy as: “The political system in power to which a few individuals belong constitutes either the educated elite (the aristocracy) or the royal minority (the wealthy elite), both of which are often confused.”
The French journal Dunet defined the oligarchy as: “A political system that exercises power by a small group of individuals; this is a form of government based on the principle that only a part of the citizens has the skills and knowledge necessary to run a country: it is the ruling class.”
The British dictionary defines oligarchy as: “a form of government in which all powers are vested in a small number of persons, the dominant class, or a certain clique”.
In the Oxford British Dictionary , the oligarchy defined it as: “A small group of people rules a state or an organization.”
Plato is considered the first political thinker in his division into types of government, defining their patterns and characteristics, where the ideal republic, democracy, oligarchy, which means oligarchy, and an extension of aristocratic rule, in his book The Republic.
But he returned and divided it into a more mature and clearer division, which is of six types: three abide by and respect the law, three do not abide by the law, and among them the rule of oligarchy.
Aristotle came after him and gave more details of the characteristics of oligarchy, saying: It requires a certain financial quorum in the one who enjoys the status of a citizen. Aristotle added that the type of government depends on wealth and property, and the extent of the oligarchy of government depends on the breadth of the class of property owners. Thus, Aristotle paved the way for the use of this term as a synonym for the rule of the wealthy or the plutocracy, but oligarchy is a metamorphosis of the aristocracy.
And oligarchy does not always mean the rule of the wealthy oligarchs, but rather a broader term that also includes any advantage other than wealth.
In Aristotle’s view, oligarchy always ends with tyranny and its main problem is the monopolization of power. This term is used in the modern era to describe governments that depend on foreign influence, or that do not have a public balance and rely on circles of influence in power, such as the men of finance or industry.
And it was stated in the dictionary Al-Wasit: The term “oligarchy” refers to “a political system in which power is held by a small group of people with influence and money.” The Merriam Webster dictionary defines an oligarchy as a government led by a small group of people, especially for selfish and corrupt purposes.
Pareto’s definition of the oligarchy is the rule of the minority who scored the highest in the game of life.
In addition, the political elite is a ruling minority, but not every ruling minority is a political elite or subject in its approach to the theory of the elite. This minority may be an authoritarian rule or a military minority that controls the reins of affairs.
Jabbar Allawi sees the oligarchy as a form of government based on the census, where the rich lead, and the poor do not have a share of power, and therefore governance is exercised by the wealthiest people, who will naturally govern in order to use power to increase their wealth even more.
The oligarchy cannot be a system or a good form of government because it threatens to end the unity of society and the possibility of its preservation.
Hence, the oligarchic culture is a superculture, based on the recusal of the essential identities of groups of people, and the elevation of other identities to the performance of a single function of serving the small oligarchy.
In order for this oligarchy to preserve its existence and permanence, it remains concerned with distorting identities, reducing them, marginalizing them, and developing some of them, in a way that serves the largest possible amount of collision in society, that is, away from the superior power, and sectarian conflicts arise.
Writer Amartya Sen says that incitement to violence occurs by imposing isolationist and aggressive singular identities, championed and backed by skilled professionals to terrorize simple and naive people.
The term oligarchy does not stop at the rule of the minority within the state, but it may transgress the rule of the few over the fate of the majority in the countries of the world, primarily for their interests.
The interests of the ruling clique in America – for example – and distributed over the various economic sectors (the military – industrial complex – energy – the financial world – the pharmaceutical industry) is a kind of transnational and multinational oligarchy that is subject to an ideology consistent with those interests.
Financial oligarchy, which is: a social group that includes major bankers and industrialists who control the economy and politics of contemporary countries, where banking capital merges with industrial capital, forming financial capital, and the bulk of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.
Financial capital worked on mortgaging the economy of the capitalist countries of the world by employing it in these countries and achieving profits that exceeded large numbers. The profits that were made by selling their industrial products may reach sometimes more than one hundred percent.
The financial oligarchy is called the consortium – which is known in the Turkish dictionary as konsorsiyum – and it seized economic power in the country, but it has become a term given to the few that control economic power in a few countries.
As members of the consortium owned banks, airlines, cement, insurance companies, exclusive import agencies, the arms market, in addition to electricity, water, hotels, etc., until they became the people’s representatives in Parliament.
Machiavelli summarizes the term oligarchy in his book The Mutatahath that there are six types of political systems that, if transformed into corruption, are:
The enlightened monarchy, if corrupted, turns into a despotic monarchy.
The aristocracy, if corrupted, turns into an oligarchy.
Democracy, if corrupted, turns into anarchism (mob rule).
Sources and references:
Abdel-Wahab Al-Kayyali: Encyclopedia of Politics, Part 1, Third Edition, Beirut, Lebanon, Arab Foundation for Studies and Publishing, 1990).
Sheikh Imran Hussain: Lecturer at Tanaka International University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2011 AD.
Bottomor: The Elite and Society, translated by George Juha (Beirut, Arab Foundation for Studies and Publishing, 1972).
Jabbar Allawi: Political Communication (Amman, Jordan, Amjad House for Publishing and Distribution, 2015).
Amartya Sun: Identity, Violence, and the Illusion of Fate, translated by Sahar Tawfiq (Kuwait, The World of Knowledge, June 2008).
Iyad Dhari Muhammad Al-Jubouri: International Crisis Management, 1 (Amman, Jordan, Academics for Publishing and Distribution, 2016).
Fawaz Traboulsi: Social Classes and Political Power in Lebanon, 1st Edition (Beirut: Dar Al Saqi, 2015 AD).
Niccol Machiavelli: Machiavellian Propositions, Arabization of Khairy Hammad, 3rd Edition (Beirut, Dar Al-Horizon Al-Jadeeda, February 1982).