The difference between an oligarchy and democracy


Jason Jones is exasperated with Jon Stewart because he does not seem to be able to grasp the fact that while there may be great similarities between the two nations, there is a simple difference that makes Russia an oligarchy while America remains a democracy.

(This clip aired on May 13, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Comments

  1. says

    America is not a democracy; it never has been. A “representative democracy” is at best an oligarchy and at worst an aristocracy. And never a democracy.

  2. sailor1031 says

    Sorry Mano – Marcus and Dalillama are right. I grew up in a democracy – the USA today isn’t one.

  3. lorn says

    The US is a representative democracy, used to be, more or less, that the representatives represented the people. We still have a representative democracy except that now the representatives represent the oligarchs.

  4. Nigel Appleton says

    Never mind – I’m sure the millions descending on DC today will oust the oligarch-lovers.

    And install a new lot.

    Or perhaps not.

  5. A Masked Avenger says

    “The US is a representative democracy, used to be, more or less, that the representatives represented the people. We still have a representative democracy except that now the representatives represent the oligarchs.”

    Except they always represented the oligarchs. See, for example, Howard Zinn. Don’t fall for the myth of the good old days.

  6. says

    For those who didn’t actually watch the video, it’s pretty clear the point of it is that America is, in fact, an oligarchy like Russia.

  7. says

    used to be, more or less, that the representatives represented the people.

    Far from it. The representatives represented the landed elite and smuggler wealthy. That’s why one of their first acts once they set up their government over the people was to raise taxes on the middle and lower classes (relief from taxation was the ostensible reason for the revolution) then use the newly-formed standing army to repress Shay’s rebellion (which was about tax and rent relief) … The “representatives” of the people have never represented the people; they represent the rich. That’s not just how the US has evolved to be, that’s how the US was created to be.

  8. says

    I’m sure the millions descending on DC today will oust the oligarch-lovers.

    Fortunately, they won’t. Because if you look at their agenda and semi-formed rantings there is a near-complete lack of any understanding of politics. The only thing that mob would be capable of creating would be a reign of terror followed inevitably by dictatorship as the savvy political operators moved in.

    What we have to remember about the american revolution is that the reason it was relatively bloodless (though it was far from bloodless) was because the savvy political operators were already in place to consolidate their power over the newly established oligarchy. If you look at the French and Russian revolutions you can see what happens when things get a bit rougher between the new establishment. The break between Danton/Robespierre and Stalin/Trotsky damn near played itself out between Jefferson/Hamilton — as the looters divide up the political pie they often resort to violence; after all violence has just proven itself to work very well for them and they have all the tools for it right at hand.

  9. says

    Want to know the difference between an oligarchy and a democracy? Under an oligarchy, man exploits man. Under a democracy it’s exactly the opposite.

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