The main difference between oligarchy and plutocracy is that oligarchy is the rule by a privileged minority whereas plutocracy is the rule by a wealthy minority. Hence, plutocracy is a form of oligarchy, but plutocracy distinguishes the particular ruling minority by their great income or wealth.
Oligarchy and plutocracy describe two forms of the ruling members of a country or an organization. In other words, they represent two forms of government systems.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Oligarchy
– Definition, Characteristics
2. What is Plutocracy
– Definition, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Oligarchy and Plutocracy
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Oligarchy and Plutocracy
– Comparison of Key Differences
Administration, Government, Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Politics
What is Oligarchy
Oligarchy refers to the government system ruled by a small set of people, either social elites, wealthy nobles, religious and martial nobilities, etc. Thus, this ruling system is very limited as they don’t represent the common public. In other words, this refers to a minority rule controlling the whole affairs of a country or state.
Hence, the sovereign power of the state or country is vested in this small group of people that may usually comprise of wealthy people, elites, landowners, royalty, noblemen, high-ranking military officers, renowned academics, religious people, or philosophers. Moreover, their rule is typically passed through inheritance; however, inheritance doesn’t always count in this.
The term oligarchy is derived from the Greek word Oligarkhia, which means ‘to rule of command by a few’. Hence, in brief, oligarchy means the rule or governance by a privileged few. Moreover, Aristotle used this term to explain the minority rule, especially when it is not by good rulers who rule unjustly.
Moreover, oligarchies have often been regarded as tyrannical as they disregard the public opinion and exert oppression on the public according to the wishes of this minority ruling group. They rule in a way their agendas are fulfilled directly or indirectly.
What is Plutocracy
Plutocracy refers to a government system ruled by a set of people having great wealth and income. Hence, being wealthy is the primary necessity to belong to this minority ruling class in this system of government.
The term plutocracy is derived from the Greek word Ploutokratia meaning rule of wealth. Hence, plutocracy means the rule or command by the wealthy class. In other words, the source of the governing power of this ruling class is their great income or wealth.
Likewise, this wealthy ruling minority will govern the general public in a way that will increase their wealth in direct or indirect measures. Consequently, there is grave inequality and injustice to the common public in this form of a government.
Moreover, at present, this term is sometimes used in a pejorative sense to refer to societies rooted in state-corporate capitalism which prioritize the accumulation of wealth over other interests.
Similarities Between Oligarchy and Plutocracy
- Both Oligarchy and Plutocracy are government systems ruled and controlled by minorities.
- However, both are not promising ruling systems to the general public.
Difference Between Oligarchy and Plutocracy
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. These two definitions explain the difference between oligarchy and plutocracy.
The ruling party is the major difference between oligarchy and plutocracy. The ruling party in an oligarchy can be nobles, religious people, elites, academics, philosophers, military officials, wealthy people, etc. while the ruling party in a plutocracy government form is only wealthy people.
Some examples of oligarchy in the world history are Ancient Sparta rule and Vatican government while some examples of plutocracy in the world history are the Roman Empire and Merchant republics of Venice.
Oligarchy and plutocracy are two forms of government forms that are ruled by minority groups. However, the ruling parties in these two government forms differ. Accordingly, the oligarchy is the rule by a privileged minority whereas plutocracy is the rule by a wealthy minority. Thus, plutocracy is also a form of oligarchy. This is the difference between oligarchy and plutocracy.
1. “Oligarchy.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2019, Available here.
2. “Plutocracy.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Feb. 2019, Available here.
3. “Oligarchy.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 June 2013, Available here.