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Oligarchy & Plutocracy: Exploring the Differences

Oligarchy & Plutocracy: Exploring the Differences

A government is the boss of a country and has a right to make or break laws and enforce them accordingly.

People follow traditions instead of rules where there is no government.

The job of the government is to make rules and regulations while making sure people abide by them.

It’s the government that maintains the list of activities that are against the law and decides its punishment for breaking the law.

The government keeps the police force to make the people follow rules. The government also hires diplomats to communicate with other countries to resolve political issues and make the social and cultural experience friendly.

It hires forces to protect the country’s territory from enemies and major attacks.

The government has advisors and ministers to look after the particular department and ensure economic growth.

There are multiple types of government, and these are five of them:

  • Oligarchy
  • Plutocracy
  • Democracy
  • Monarchy
  • Aristocracy

Aristotle invented the term Oligarchia to define the law of a few but powerful people who are just a bad influence and run the country unjustly.

People in oligarchy use power for corruption and illegal purposes. Whereas a Plutocracy is a society in which wealthy people rule.

Pluto is the Greek god of the underworld. The underworld is where all the wealth of the earth is stored (in the form of minerals), and that’s the basic idea behind the plutocracy government that came into existence via money and wealth.

The main difference between Oligarchy and Plutocracy is that Oligarchy is a government system ruled by powerful people, who can be unjust or corrupt while Plutocracy is the form of government ruled by wealthy people only. Plutocracy is a part of Oligarchy.

To know more about the government system of Oligarchy and Plutocracy, keep reading till the end.

Let’s start.

What Is Oligarchy?

An oligarchy is a form of government in which most or all control is held by influential people who can have a good or a bad influence.

It can also be described as the power exercised by the elite class to support their own illegal activities rather than using it for the betterment of other classes.

The government ruled by Oligarchy supports corruption and unjust behavior.

Italian Sociologist Robert Michel used the phrase “Iron Law of Oligarchy” which says that there is more tendency for organizations to become more oligarchic and less democratic.

Oligarchies also control constitutional democracy.

Oligarchic government becomes authoritative when it exercises self-serving and also results in exploitative government policies through which the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

Oligarchy also helps in economic growth as it maintains the status of the wealthy class, which eventually benefits the middle class as well.

The most negative impact of Oligarchy is puppet leaders who appear as strong leaders in front of the public, but their decisions are ruled by Oligarchs who fund their election campaigns.

Check out this video to have more understanding of Oligarchy.

Oligarchy Explained

What Are The Types of Oligarchy?

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Voting day is important for a nation.

Based on the ruling power of the small group, oligarchy can be of the following types:

AristocracyIn this form of Oligarchy, the government is ruled by the royal family and transfers power to the hereditary.
PlutocracyIn this form, the government is ruled by a few wealthy people.
KratocracyThis government is ruled by people with stronger physical power in this society. The political power of a country is controlled by physical powers.
StratocracyThe government is ruled by military forces in this form of Oligarchy. They practice military control instead of dictatorship.
TimocracyAristotle defined this form as a government that would be run by only property owners.
MeritocracyThis form of government is selected on the basis of merit.
TechnocracyGovernment is by technical experts who have experience in technical fields.
GeniocracyThis form of government is ruled by genius people.
NoocracyThis form of government is ruled by philosophers.
TheocracyIn this form of Oligarchy, the power is run by religious people.
The different types of Oligarchy

What Do You Mean by Plutocracy?

Plutocracy is a form of Oligarchy in which the government and power remain in the hands of wealthy people directly or indirectly.

In this form of government, policies are designed to benefit wealthy people and are greatly influenced by economic, political, and social conditions.

The regulatory focus is narrow and limited to wealthy people in Plutocracy.

Some people say that rising inequality in income is the name of Plutocracy through which the rich get richer.

In order to govern the country, one doesn’t need to be wealthy but only the support of wealthy people to act as per their interests.

What Is An Example of Plutocracy?

America has been an example of Plutocracy in modern times because there is a disproportionately wealthy influence in the policy-making and elections of the country.

In the past, America was highly influenced by a small group of wealthy people who used to live in New York which resulted in big titans (people holding business) operating the financial system of the country.

Another example of Plutocracy is the city of London, an area of about 2.5km that had a unique electoral system for local administration, and one-third of its voters were not the residents of London but the representatives of the business empires located in the city.

Their votes are distributed according to the number of employees the business empires have.

Their justification was that the services of London City are used by business empires mostly, so they have more rights to vote rather than the country’s residents.

What Is The Difference between Plutocracy And Aristocracy?

The difference between Plutocracy and Aristocracy is that the former can be run by wealthy people who are just rich and can have either a bad or good influence, whereas Aristocracy latter is run by royal people who are not only rich but noble also.

An official building
The place where major decisions take place.

Aristocracy is inherited, while Plutocracy is not hereditary.

Plutocracy and Aristocracy are forms of Oligarchy and are interrelated because if you consider wealth, then Oligarchy would be Plutocracy, and if you consider class and caste, then Oligarchy would be Aristocracy.

In Plutocracy, individuals may or may not be directly involved in the administration of the country but on the other hand, in Aristocracy, individuals are directly involved in administrative matters.

In Plutocracy, people influence decision-makers in illegal ways also.


  • An oligarchy is a form of government that is ruled by wealthy people.
  • In Plutocracy government is ruled by wealthy power directly or indirectly.
  • In Aristocracy, the government is ruled by an elite class having class and caste by birth.
  • Plutocracy and Aristocracy are the branches of Oligarchy.
  • If wealth is considered then Oligarchy would be the same as Plutocracy.
  • If status, class, and caste are considered, then Oligarchy would be like Aristocracy.

You might also be interested in reading Republican VS Conservative (Their Differences).

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