Financial Oligarchy

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Financial Oligarchy


the elite of the monopolistic bourgeoisie (major owners of capital; the most influential representatives of commercial, industrial, and financial monopolies), embodying the dominance of finance capital in the economic and political life of capitalist countries in the imperialist stage. The financial oligarchy arises from the coalescence of industrial and banking capital that results from the concentration and centralization of production and capital. Financial monopolistic groups —amalgamations of industrial, banking, and commercial monopolies with the largest monopoly in each group exercising control —are the form of the oligarchy’s dominance.

The financial oligarchy exercises control over vast amounts of social capital and wealth and over the activities of commercial and industrial corporations, credit and financial institutions, and multinational monopolies. The control derives from the oligarchy’s own capital and from the monetary resources and savings of various classes and social strata of bourgeois society that have been mobilized through a ramified network of credit and financial institutions. Dominance is ensured through holding systems, personal link-ups, and other types of long-term relationships (formation of corporations and cartels, issuance of stock). V. I. Lenin observed: “Finance capital, concentrated in a few hands and exercising a virtual monopoly, exacts enormous and ever-increasing profits from the floating of companies, issue of stock, state loans, etc., strengthens the domination of the financial oligarchy and levies tribute upon the whole of society for the benefit of monopolists” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 350).

The financial and industrial elite controls the decision-making process in the realm of economic and social policy; it coordinates and directs the coalescence of the economic power of the monopolies and the political power of the bourgeois state into a single mechanism. The state-monopolistic regulatory programs designed to ameliorate the contradictions of capitalism ultimately serve the interests of the financial oligarchy. The internationalization of economic life, the intensification of integrative processes, and the development of multinational industrial and banking monopolies promote the emergence of financial groups that are international in composition and influence and lead to an ever closer intertwining of the interests of the financial oligarchies of different capitalist countries.

The structure of the financial oligarchy is modified with the development of state-monopoly capitalism and the evolution of various forms of capitalist ownership. In imperialism’s formative stage, the financial oligarchy developed primarily on the basis of family dynasties (Rockefellers, Morgans, Du Ponts, and Mellons in the United States; Rothschilds, Lazards, and Barings in Great Britain; Rothschilds, Michelins, and Peugeots in France).

The concentration of production, the expansion of fictitious capital, and the competitive struggle between monopolistic alliances favored regional financial oligarchies. This trend was especially pronounced after World War II, as seen in Cleveland, Chicago, California, and Boston financial groups in the United States and the Bavarian group in the Federal Republic of Germany. The family dynasty, however, continued to figure in the structure of the financial oligarchy between the 1950’s and 1970’s (the financial empires of the Gettys and Hunts in the United States and of the Oppenheims, Thurn and Taxis, and Kiihl-mann-Stumms in the Federal Republic of Germany). The entry of top-level managers into the financial oligarchy has also been typical of the postwar period.

The financial oligarchy’s dominance reflects the stagnation of capitalism and exacerbates the socioeconomic contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and between the developed and the developing countries.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 3, chs. 23, 25, and 27.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 25, part 1.
Lenin, V. I. Imperializm, kak vysshaia stadiia kapitalizma, ch. 3. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27.
Men’shikov, S. M. Millionery i menedzhery. Moscow, 1965.
Beglov, I. I. SShA: Sobstvennost’ i vlast’. Moscow, 1971.
Politicheskaia ekonomiia sovremennogo monopolisticheskogo kapitalizma, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1975.
Perlo, V. Imperiia finansovykh magnatov. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from English.)
Lundberg, F. Bogachi i sverkhbogachi, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1975. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
During the euro crisis, populist leftists thus developed a "transversal strategy" of cutting across traditional ideological divisions, on the assumption that citizens would be open to blaming a financial oligarchy for their woes.
This is because profit fall in traditional sectors has long been compensated by the bubbles created by financial oligarchy. These profit bubbles, composed of interconnected chains (Ponzi structures) like a bunch of grapes, led to the current crisis with the blowup of the largest bubble (the mortgage system) in 2008.
Ergo, would that be a pure construct of financial oligarchy whose invisible hand tacitly corrupted the Maastricht Treaty as to web-up a borderless, limitless, wireless and careless power hub, while at the same time entrenching, silencing and rarefying labor within each nation state?
The inconceivability of such a policy is a mark not of any impracticability, but of the capture of governments by a financial oligarchy. As an analytical tool, Kunkel's little book shows Marxism remains useful, vibrant, and relevant, even if only among privileged intellectuals and writers, as he freely admits.
A columnist for the Star daily, Cemil Ertem, for instance, wrote on Tuesday that the operation was part of a conspiracy deployed by the "global neocon gang and the gigantic financial oligarchy behind it" who want to disband the Turkish government, which they see as an impediment to their plans to shape international politics.
Their struggle will gain in force when it is directed against the EU and its agencies in the country, and is linked to the European working class, which faces the same enemy everywhereathe insatiable European financial oligarchy.
The monopoly bourgeoisie has resorted to tricks of finance capitalism and has spawned a financial oligarchy in a futile attempt to override the recurrent crisis of overproduction and the tendency of the profit rate to fall.
MADRID, MAY 15 Tired of seeing the balance between politics and economics tipped definitively in favor of the latter, and aware that the financial oligarchy determines our fates even more directly than the military-industrial complex did during the Fordist period, a varied multitude occupied the center of Madrid.
An executive junta, of elected and non-elected officials, resolves questions of war and peace, allocates billions of dollars or euros to a financial oligarchy, and reduces living standards of millions of citizens via class-biased "austerity packages." The legislature abdicates its legislative and oversight function and submits to the executive junta's "accomplished facts." The citizenry is assigned the role of passive spectators -- even as anger, disgust and hostility spreads and deepens.
"The US, NATO and governments are exponents and defenders of the interests of big capital, monopolies, the war industry, the financial oligarchy and totally ignore the people." It was obvious that "NATO is claiming the role of world guardian of the geo-strategic and economic interests of imperialism," and was "sidelining the UN and international justice."
* Simon Johnson, NBER and MIT, "The Financial Oligarchy in the United States"

Full browser ?