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In our next episode on Plato’s forms of government we’re looking at oligarchy. Similarly to Aristocracy, Plato’s definition of the word contrasts with our modern day understanding of it, meaning it needs a more detailed definition. I recommend you watch my other videos on Aristocracy and Timocracy before watching this video, the links are in the description. Also, subscribe for the next episodes in this series I’m doing. Let’s get to it.
Word for word, Oligarchy means rule by the few. In this sense, both Aristocracy and Timocracy are forms of oligarchy, whereas Democracy is rule by many, and Tyranny is rule by one. But Plato’s Oligarchy is different, it’s separate from both Aristocracy and Timocracy, a kind of plutocracy where the rich rule. In Plato’s conception of governmental systems degenerating from Aristocracy all the way to Tyranny, Oligarchy comes after Timocracy. People’s priorities have shifted from honour and duty, and the desire for power that was left unchecked in Timocracy has led to greed. Laws are restricted so that only the rich oligarchs have power.
In Plato’s view, this materialistic society has many problems that will lead to it becoming a democracy. Huge social divisions anger the poor and make them ripe for revolution. Because of the leaders’ priorities shifting from honour and duty to money, the military is also weakened. Also the society is more generally weakened by the fact that positions in society are decided by income as opposed to merits, it’s the inverse of a meritocracy. A good example of this kind of system is pre revolutionary France, a vastly unequal society that soon fell into revolution when the poor had had enough.
To conclude Oligarchy is the last of Plato’s rule by the few. A materialistic society dominated by greed, it soon falls into a Democracy followed by Tyranny. Stay tuned. Thanks for watching and please like share and subscribe.
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