The main difference between plutocracy and aristocracy is that plutocracy is the government by the wealthy, whereas aristocracy is the government by the nobility, the hereditary ruling class.
Both plutocracy and aristocracy are two forms of oligarchy, which refers to the rule by an elite few. However, the difference between plutocracy and aristocracy stems depends on the group of people who has control over the government; in a plutocracy, it is the wealthy that rules whereas, in an aristocracy, it is the nobility that rules.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Plutocracy
– Definition, Characteristics
2. What is Aristocracy
– Definition, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Plutocracy and Aristocracy
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Plutocracy and Aristocracy
– Comparison of Key Differences
Aristocracy, Government, Plutocracy
What is Plutocracy
Plutocracy refers to a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. The word plutocra,cy itself originates from the Greek word ‘ploutokratia’; ploutos meaning wealth, and kratos meaning power or rule. Plutocracy can refer to a government exclusively controlled by wealthy people either directly or indirectly. In an indirect form of plutocracy, a country will have a regulatory framework and programs that only benefit the wealthy. Here, wealthy individuals may not always directly involve in the administration of the country, but they will influence the administration and decision-makers by legal and illegal methods such as bribing, sponsoring election campaigns, and lobbying.
In a plutocracy, there is a wide gap between the rich and the poor. Moreover, this is typically a self-reinforcing system; once a group of wealthy people come into power, they will use their political power and wealth to change the law and system of the country to acquire more money and power.
It is also important to note plutocracy is not exactly an accepted political system or a form of government in the modern world. This term is often used in an insulting way to refer to an unfair system. City-state of Venice during the 14th century, which was ruled by patricians, can be taken as an example for plutocracy.
What is Aristocracy
An aristocracy is a form of government where power lies in the hands of the privileged ruling class. This ruling class consists of aristocrats or nobles, who enjoy social and economic prestige as well as political power. Aristocracy is hereditary since children inherit aristocratic status from their parents. In an aristocratic society, the plight of the whole population depends on the ruling class; if the aristocrats are benevolent, the people will prosper, but if the aristocrats are avaricious and cruel, the people will suffer. Moreover, we often associate aristocracy with mthe onarchy, which is the rule of a single person, typically a king or queen.
However, the term originates from the Greek word aristokratia, which means the rule of the best. This term was first used by Greeks to describe a system where only the best of the citizens were chosen to rule through a careful process of selection.
Similarities Between Plutocracy and Aristocracy
- Plutocracy and aristocracy are two forms of oligarchy, which refers to the rule by an elite few.
- Present-day governments cannot be explicitly called a plutocracy or an aristocracy. However, some countries are sometimes pejoratively called these terms.
Difference Between Plutocracy and Aristocracy
Plutocracy is the government by the wealthy whereas aristocracy is the government by the nobility, the hereditary ruling class.
In a plutocracy, the government is exclusively controlled by wealthy people whereas, in an aristocracy, the government is controlled by nobles.
Moreover, in a plutocracy, the power may not be hereditary, i.e, the children of the ruling class may not always inherit the ruling power; other wealthy individuals may come into power. In contrast, aristocracy is hereditary.
Plutocracy and aristocracy are two forms of oligarchy, which refers to the rule by an elite few. However, the main difference between plutocracy and aristocracy is their ruling class; plutocracy is the government by the wealthy whereas aristocracy is the government by the nobility, the hereditary ruling class.
1. Chavan, Akshay. “A Nice Comparison Between Aristocracy, Plutocracy, and Oligarchy.” OpinionFront, 3 June 2018, Available here.
2. Deering, Mary. “Aristocracy: Definition & Explanation.” Study.com, Available here.
3. Halton, Clay. “Plutocracy Definition.” Investopedia, 25 June 2019, Available here.
4. “Plutocracy.” Philosophy Terms, 25 Oct. 2018, Available here.