oligarchy

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oligarchy

(ŏl`əgärkē) [Gr.,=rule by the few], rule by a few members of a community or group. When referring to governments, the classical definition of oligarchy, as given for example by Aristotle, is of government by a few, usually the rich, for their own advantage. It is compared with both aristocracyaristocracy
[Gr.,=rule by the best], in political science, government by a social elite. In the West the political concept of aristocracy derives from Plato's formulation in the Republic. The criteria on which aristocracy is based may vary greatly from society to society.
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, which is defined as government by a few chosen for their virtue and ruling for the general good, and various forms of democracydemocracy
[Gr.,=rule of the people], term originating in ancient Greece to designate a government where the people share in directing the activities of the state, as distinct from governments controlled by a single class, select group, or autocrat.
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, or rule by the people. In practice, however, almost all governments, whatever their form, are run by a small minority of members. From this perspective, the major distinction between oligarchy and democracy is that in the latter, the elites compete with each other, gaining power by winning public support. The extent and type of barriers impeding those who attempt to join this ruling group is also significant.

oligarchy

see IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY.

Oligarchy

 

a form of government in which state power belongs to a small group of people, as a rule, the most powerful economically (hence the term “financial oligarchy”). The ruling group itself is also called an oligarchy.

The term “oligarchy” first appeared in the works of a number of ancient Greek authors, including Aristotle’s Politics (book IV) and The Constitution of Athens and Polybius’ The Histories (book VI). In these works it designated a form of state structure that arises as a result of the degeneration of the aristocracy.

oligarchy

1. government by a small group of people
2. a state or organization so governed
3. a small body of individuals ruling such a state
4. Chiefly US a small clique of private citizens who exert a strong influence on government