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Plutocracy, Facism vs Democracy: Comparing oranges and apples (part 14)

INTRODUCTION

 

When governance becomes the whims and infuriated schemes of a small powerful, wealthy minority that only listens to itself, unmodified by the normal checks and balances of a functioning constitutional democracy, it should be treated by the non-partisan as what it is, plutocracy or facism. It is certainly not democracy. Today, we shall x-ray how plutocracy and facism differ from democracy.

PLUTOCRACY CHRYTIA FREELAND, author of Plutocrats said: “The Rise of the New Global Super- Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, says that the present trend towards plutocracy occurs because the rich feel that their interests are shared by society”.

 

ORIGIN OF PLUTOCRACY

 

Viewing Plutocracy from the lens of history and collection of other governance concepts will reveal that the concept is as old as the evolution of man himself, governance concepts and political theories.

 

There have been many plutocracies down through history- Carthage, Italian city-states of the Middle Ages were plutocracies.

 

Other historic examples of plutocracies include the Roman Empire, some city-states in Ancient Greece, Merchant Republics of Venice, Florence and Genoa, and the pre-World War II Empire of Japan (the Zaibatsu).

 

It was chronicled that early kings of Carthage were military leaders, and being a monarchical country, the Sovereign or Crown was generally available to the highest bidder.

 

The Italian city-states of the Middle Ages were good examples of plutocracies, and in many ways, they ran the show in medieval Europe. History also has it that the United States was founded as a plutocratic state.

 

From the incipient, one of the major criteria for enfranchisement in the United States of America was the mass acquisition of land and landed properties. In other words, the qualification for voting was benched on vast ownership of land.

 

For a person to vote, he had to own land. You must prove that your wealth was above a certain threshold; that you belonged to the land-owning class.

 

You also had to be a white male in order to vote and you may well have owned African slaves. This reinforced the idea that “democracy” was not really a core concern at the time. Gradually, black men were allowed to vote; later even women, of all people. It was gradual, but tortuous.

 

DEFINITION OF PLUTOCRACY

 

The concept, plutocracy is widely used dyslogistically to describe or admonish against an undesirable condition. Plutocracy or Plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. Unlike systems such as Democracy, Capitalism, Socialism or Anarchism, Plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy.

 

Plutocracy is linked to the term dynastic wealth. Plutocracy is also a type of state government controlled by a wealthy oligarchy.

 

This is unsurprising, since wealth can easily be translated into power and power can easily be consolidated for purposes of political control. Also, wealth can easily be used to create more wealth. Power and wealth are lovers.

 

This naturally leads to the well-worn division of the “Haves” versus the “Have-Nots”; and to the consolidation of political power in the hands of the Haves.

 

There weren’t always state governments because there weren’t always states, anyway. Contemporarily, the concept of Plutocracy is used derogatorily. It is sometimes used to refer to societies deeply ingrained in state-corporate capitalism, or whose ultimate priority is the obscene and primitive accumulation of wealth over other interests.

 

In agreement with the above position, Kevin Phillips, an author and political strategist to Richard Nixon, once opined that the United States is a plutocracy in which there is a “fusion of money and government.”

 

ACCEPTABILITY OF PLUTOCRACY

A number of politicians have never agreed that they work as a plutocracy, even when the last four decades has certainly been run by plutocrats, with plutocracy thriving incredibly and successfully, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the populace. It creates a disharmony and enthrones class differences to distract the poor masses from their thievery.

 

This is exemplified by some USA politicians: Honest Abe was not for plutocracy when he championed free soil, free labour and free education for all. Progressives were not for plutocracy when they got the USA country in the Trust Busting mood.

 

Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson were certainly not for plutocracy when they promoted civil rights legislation and an extension and renewal of some of the New Deal policies of the past.

 

In a nutshell, Plutocracy can be summed up in the following words: Private store of money by few individuals for their own interest; Medium of extracting tribute; Unsafe store of values; Small number of people running the show and getting a whole lot of shockers to work for them; Legalization of sectional reserve system and wealth. Sikena!!!

 

FASCISM

 

Fascism is another form of government, radically difficult to define because it has no single philosophy. Mussolini’s brand of Fascism is not exactly like Adolf Hitler’s brand of fascism, which is different from the neo-fascist views of groups like the skinheads and post- World War II beliefs.

However, there are some core principles that identify a fascist movement. We shall consider these principles when discussing the characteristics of fascism.

 

ORIGIN OF FASCISM

Fascism refers to a form of radical totalitarian rule often characterized by dictatorial rule and the forcible suppression of its populace’s social, economic and physical facilitation within the confines of a nation state. The phrase was however first used in 1919 to describe a movement started under the leadership of Benito    Mussolini, who described Fascism as an ideology of avid moral standing.

 

Nevertheless, the principles of Fascism rotate around the facilitation of a doctrine based on totalitarian dogma or system of governance that involves itself with not only political organizations within a state but the political tendency of its social environment.

 

Furthermore, Fascism as a process, involves a hostile approach to all peaceful systems of governance. This veracity can be noted as Fascists often view the state as an entirely mental construct. Consequently, fascists often claim the nation is never really made, neither can the state attain an absolute physical form due to the fact the nation-state is viewed as a mental political manifestation.

 

Robert Paxton, a professor at the Columbia University of New York, also known as the elaborate of Fascism, does however describe this practice as a distinctive administration which gained wide held acceptance and popularity in the 20th century.

 

In accordance to his beliefs, this philosophy involves the invocation of enthusiasm among a populace through the promotion of refined propaganda techniques based on an anti-liberal, antisocialist and expansionist national agenda.

 

Nonetheless, Fascism in today’s global epoch is commonly associated with many popular German Nazi and Italian regimes after World War I in Europe. On the other hand, Fascist ideology does however aim to create a mixed economy through the creation of a national and independent economy that is not only sovereign but self-sufficient. As such, Fascists often view, Imperialism, political violence and war as appropriate means which can be used to achieve national rebirth. This veracity can be noted as fascist often claim there is nothing wrong with displacing weaker nations through territorial expansion.

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM

  1. Extreme nationalism in fascism/ultranationalism The first pre-dominant characteristic of Fascism as an ideology is however known as Extreme nationalism or Ultra nationalism.

 

Whilst most cosmopolitan conservative ideologies are based on the principals of international cooperation and an elite culture, extreme nationalism with regard to the ideals of Fascism does nevertheless, promote the interest of one state or populace directly over that of another.

 

Extreme nationalist or ultranationalists heavily rely on propaganda as a means to spread information to achieve a particular goal. Moreover, advocates of this process use Propaganda as a means to manipulate the human emotions of fear and insecurity with regard to a populace.

This is often carried out in an attempt to influence citizens to support a particular association or opinionated move  ment. Conversely, nationalist movements are often turned ultra-nationalist by social or economic cries from a populace, the emergence of a charismatic authoritarian leader or beliefs of long standing national superiority.

 

  1. Elitism in Fascism Elitism or the elite theory does however refer to the third feature of Fascism as a regulated ideology. Elitism refers to the theoretical perspective that most communities would be better off if all economic, social and environmental decisions were made by a small exclusive group of individuals within a state.

 

This theory is however, characteristically defined by a group of powerful elite in large scale societies who offer a sense of radical critique and wisdom with regard to improving living conditions for a populace.

 

  1. Fascism the one-party state The one party state, also known as the single party system is a phrase used to describe another aspect of Fascism as an interstate ideology. States that follow this arrangement are however often autocratic and non-democratic political regimes, where only one specific political party has control over all political decisions.

 

On the other hand, many scholars of the one party framework argue, in some cases the single party system if well-structured and committed to the social contract of its populace serves a viable tool to not only serve as a tool capable of facilitating nation building in vulnerable nations but a means to uphold valuable interstate values and cultures.

 

  1. Militarism in Fascism Militarism refers to the fourth aspect of fascism as an ideology. However, militarism does not, merely institute the presence of war or military institutions within a state but rather the promotion of values rooted in the patriarchal construction of gender roles which socialize men and boys to believe that violence is masculine.

 

Militarism culture allows states and non-state actors to act with impunity with regard to a wide range of social agenda have in order to maintain power and control over a populace. What’s more, militarism, nationalism and imperialism were all intrinsically connected philosophies in the 19th and early 20th centuries as military power was considered not only a measure of national but imperial strength among members of the global community. In fascist ideology, the State cannot achieve and maintain power without strict discipline and the complete unity of mind and body. In this way, physical violence is necessary to suppress anyone who stands outside the group and in the way of the State’s power. The State’s ever-increasing strength is, in effect, the meaning of life. One might wonder, then, what life is like in a fascist society. How exactly does one live for the glory of the State?

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

“Fascism is not defined by the number of its victims, but by the way it kills them”. (Jean- Paul Sartre).

 

LAST LINE

 

Fellow Nigerians, synergise with me every week, to put our heads together on how to retool Nigeria. Right here on “The Nigerian Project”, by Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D.

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