term "plutocracy" is formally defined as government by the
wealthy, and is also sometimes used to refer to
a wealthy class that controls a government, often from behind the scenes.
More generally, a plutocracy is any form of government in which the
wealthy exercise the preponderance of political power, whether directly
may also have social and cultural aspects.
Thus, in Democracy
for the Few political scientist Michael Parenti is led to comment
"American capitalism represents more than just an economic
system; it is an entire cultural and social
order, a plutocracy, a system of rule that is mostly by and for the rich. Most
and colleges, publishing houses, mass circulation magazines, newspapers,
television and radio stations, professional sports teams, foundations,
churches, private museums, charity organizations, and hospitals are
organized as corporations, ruled by boards of trustees (or directors
or regents) composed overwhelmingly of affluent businesspeople. These
boards exercise final judgment over all institutional matters."
question of whether or not the United States could be said to be a plutocracy
is discussed at length in
Rules America, by sociologist G. William Domhoff. There Domhoff remarks: "The idea that a relatively fixed
group of privileged people might shape the economy and government for
their own benefit goes against the American grain. Nevertheless . . . the owners and top-level managers in large income-producing
properties are far and away the dominant power figures in the United
States. Their corporations, banks, and agribusinesses come together
as a corporate community that dominates the federal government
in Washington. Their real estate, construction, and land development
companies form growth coalitions that dominate most local governments."
In the US, plutocratic governance is abetted by mass media owned by the hyperwealthy and operated in their own economic self-
interest, the failure to provide public financing to political candidates, poor oversight of the electoral process, elitist Supreme Court appointments, the organization of wealth into socially-irresponsible corporations, the collapse of meaningful regulatory regimes, plutocratically financed "think tanks" (propaganda distribution centers), and an impoverished educational system that has failed utterly to provide Americans with the elements of political literacy (all of which have their foundations in philosophy).
also: class warfare, fascism, democracy,
the business roundtable, and the
links in the resource section below.