Plato on Oligarchy

Plato was no fan of democracy, but he got this one right.   

‘We must describe’, says Plato, ‘how timocracy changes into oligarchy … Even a blind man must see how it changes … It is the treasure house that ruins this constitution. They’ (the timocrats) ‘begin by creating opportunities for showing off and spending money, and to this end they twist the laws, and they and their wives disobey them …; and they try to outrival one another.’ In this way arises the first class conflict: that between virtue and money, or between the old-established ways of feudal simplicity and the new ways of wealth. The transition to oligarchy is completed when the rich establish a law that ‘disqualifies from public office all those whose means do not reach the stipulated amount. This change is imposed by force of arms, should threats and blackmail not succeed …’

Popper, Karl R.. The Open Society and Its Enemies (Princeton Classics) . Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition. 


Citizen's United super-charged the plutocracy, and Trump represents a sort of triumph of the vulgar plutocracy. 

The transition from democracy to tyranny, Plato says, is most easily brought about by a popular leader who knows how to exploit the class antagonism between the rich and the poor within the democratic state, and who succeeds in building up a bodyguard or a private army of his own. The people who have hailed him first as the champion of freedom are soon enslaved; and then they must fight for him, in ‘one war after another which he must stir up … because he must make the people feel the need of a general’20. With tyranny, the most abject state is reached.

Popper, Karl R.. The Open Society and Its Enemies (Princeton Classics) . Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition. 

"Stand back and stand by" - DJT

 

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