Plutocracy

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Plutocracy (from the Greek Ploutus, wealth and Kratos, power)

Influence of the rich on the State. Government of the rich. Carthage was a plutocracy (Larousse). In fact, there has never been anything but plutocracies. Every so-called civilized State is the expression of the dominating class and this class is that which possesses the wealth (capital and instruments of production). It was plutocracy in the Middle Ages, in the feudal system, when the lord, the landowner, dictated his law to the peasants. It is plutocracy in modern nations when the capitalist imposes his will on the workers: “Capital is a lord who swallows all gains; and work is a slave that they force to move mountains” (Pecqueur). There is plutocracy everywhere because the concentration of capital ends up putting all accumulated wealth into the hands of a few influential privateers. And yet how many gullible people think they live in a democracy! How many believed in the “night of August 4 [1789]” and the “sovereignty of the people”, in the free “expression of the national will”! “No more privileges. The law is equal for all.” What a sham! But it must be said that people are less and less gullible: the increasing number of financial scandals and more and more frequent application of the adage:
“Depending on how much you have or lack, the court will judge you white or black”
have opened the eyes of the most naïve of our contemporaries. One must suffer the “law of the rich” everywhere. And citing S. Faure in La Douleur Universelle we can quote Necker who said, “All civil institutions have been made by owners.” And Turgot: “The most powerful have made the laws and devastated the weak everywhere.” Lamennais, too, wrote: “What pleased the masters to command they called Law and the laws have been, for the most part, only measures of private interest, means to increase or perpetuate the domination and abuse of the domination of a small minority over the majority” (The Book of the People). Etc. In the same book S. Faure has brilliantly shown show so-called democracy, in reality, ends up in a covert plutocracy. And everyone knows that behind the “sovereign people”, behind the hundreds of puppets who say they represent it, there is the “wall of money”: a handful of magnates from Banking and Industry who are the real masters of the people.
Whether the government be a monarchy or a republic; whether Alfonso XIII [of Spain] be replaced by a democracy; whether a bloc from the so-called “left” be put in power instead bloc from the so-called “right”; whether X be put where Z was… or vice versa; what will have changed for the proletariat? Tomorrow it will have to sacrifice its arms to live just like before and the red or white politicians who step on stage, one after another, are there to fool them with their acrobatics. While over the wretched life of the worker looms the crushing shadow of the safe. And in the wings are the plutocrats, the true kings of the moment, the powerful dictators whose hands hold the lives of millions of human beings.

–C.B.

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