My concern is certainly both philosophical and political ...I'm looking for interesting writings ( book, article, essay, etc .. ) about a theory on similarities between known forms of democracy and oligarchy ... I'm really curious if some of our predecessors used to focus on this topic ..

Sources similar to this: Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy, which claims "The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite."

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    Are you thinking about democracy as a fixed stable system? Every democracy is unstable. In a crowded environment humans tend always to try and prevail over other humans to guarantee for them and their offspring the best possibilities, that's their nature. Democracy is a system where people have to keep always fighting against those trying to prevail. If there is no fight it is already a dead democracy.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 12:44
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    You could start at the beginning with Πολιτεία, (*The Republic by Plato, especially book 8)
    – James K
    Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 13:23
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    Yes, start with Plato and then read Machiavelli The Prince Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 16:32
  • @herbertpondi - Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. As I understand your question, it could be read as: "Is democracy actually an oligarchy?" For example, Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy. Is this similar to the types of sources you are requesting?
    – Rick Smith
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 0:00
  • @RickSmith yes yes it's exactly that ... Since nursery they teached us that democracy is political governance mode where the population holds the power ....
    – Camer Guy
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 5:11

5 Answers 5


Check out "Manufacturing Consent" by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. The gist of it is that the media, and by extension anyone who can game or own the media, controls to some degree what issues the public pressures modern governments to address and which solutions to implement. So the people really in charge are not the voters nor the politicians, but whoever can control the media. This is a pretty small group, so I don't think it'd be much of a stretch to call it an oligarchy.


I don't recommend it on its merits, but Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is rife with precisely that sort of reasoning. As a history text it's of questionable value, but as a Socialist Philosophy treatise it's decently solid.


The book The dictator's handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alistair Smith argues that there is no fundamental difference between a democracy, oligarchy or a dictatorship. All forms of government require a certain percentage of support within the population. In a democracy this percentage is larger, in an oligarchy or a dictatorship this percentage is smaller.

  • +1 I think in democracy consulting the population is institutionalized: there are well-established procedures of how and how often the government receives the feedback from the population. In oligarchy or dictatorship the feedback is communicated either via unofficial channels or in a form of protests/revolutions/rebellions/coups.
    – Morisco
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 12:27

Zhang Weiwei (2012), The China Wave: Rise of a Civilizational State, World Century Publishing Corporation.

You can also watch: Is democracy wrong for China?


It's all very well documented and codified into law here... 2017 Trump Republican Tax Act. Cuts taxes for wealthy people and corporations. Removes most tax credits and deductions for working people. Most Americans would have benefitted from the Home-Office Tax Deduction in 2020 that was removed under this law.

US Department of Justice and here U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Enforces and protects the oligarchy.

The results are documented here Tax Records for 25 Wealthiest People in the United States Most working Americans, who get a paycheck for their labor, have paid more in taxes than the billionaires.

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