Politics > Spiral of Political Maturation > Arrival of Plutocratic Pluralism

Arrival of Plutocratic Pluralism

More Groups Participate

Power is now obtained through wealth rather than privilege and so in the re-entry to Pluralist mode after the Rationalist mode there is financialization of society and control by vested interests.

PlutocraticPlutocracy: A system of government whereby wealth, and the benefits that wealth accrues, lead to a concentration of power in the hands of those with disproportionate access to financial resources—in modern times: politicians, high officials and the financial sector. Pluralism-II is a substantial improvement on Primitive Pluralism-I because:

Location in the pluralist ellipse

Because there are more politically significant groups covering a wider range of interests, Pluralism is entered further along the X-axis (i.e. benefit for others is higher). However, many groups and communities in society are too small, disparate or weak to be considered; and so the ellipse is entered only part of the way down.

Pluralist Values & Institutions Revisited

Pluralism of any variety emerges from the structure of power intrinsic to society's organized groups. So it is always immediate, fairly obvious to all and quasi-automatic.

The fundamental features of pluralism, as specified earlier, are present but they manifest differently because of the new values and institutions.

Society is far wealthier now—and many more groups are able to demand a share of the pie. At this point, the people en masse are focused on what is doled out in the form of benefits or taken in the form of taxes. As a result, the source of political power is money and its control.

Because the Pluralist mode is now re-entered by way of economic development and its consequences, the obviously powerful groups are determined by their wealth and capacity to generate wealth. Hence the name: Plutocratic Pluralism.


Integrating Force:
ClosedPopular ideals: Sectional

Ideals are no longer solely traditional. Each vested interest group has distinctive values and operates with its own «sectional ideal». These ideals inspire and motivate members, and give their interests a broader ethical legitimacy. Sometimes ideals emerge from social movements (e.g. the sustainability movement): but these are still sectional, as many in society usually disagree with either the premises or the proposals.

Each group affirms and promotes its own values, and each feels entitled to a share of power, status and social goods—as big a share as possible.

Socio-political Institution:
ClosedEnduring groups: Interest-based

Groups now organize around interests. They are far more diverse and vary greatly in their influence. Particular groups may support just one political party, but the largest and wealthiest support whoever is in power or might be in power. «Vested interests» refers to groups that can shape public policies in their own area to suit themselves primarily. They become enmeshed with state power.

ClosedCategorization of Interests

Governance Requirement:
ClosedPolitical actors: Group representatives

Balancing interests and compromising amongst numerous dispersed groups is now complicated because issues and choices impact groups differentially. The new political actors are therefore representatives from the groups. They are active in public relations and seek to influence the public as well as government for the group's benefit.

A single lobby with a focused and well-funded effort will be far more politically influential than the general public whose response is fragmentary. Countervailing public interest groups may then spring up, especially when government seems to be more responsive to industry interests than the public good (see Commons-Cycle above).


Personal Benefit:
ClosedAccess to social goods: Via lobbying and pressure

Usually, most people know little of specific issues. Even politicians and officials have little grasp of details. Each group attempts to bring what pressure it possesses to bear on the attitudes of policy-makers and decision-makers within government to get social benefits. Gain to any particular group is sharply focused while any harm to the public is widely diffused.

Lobbyists for affected groups directly target politicians, officials, and regulators so as to shape their views. Their efficacy is largely a function of the wealth of the particular group.  The stronger the lobby and the more effective the pressure, the more benefit accrues to members of those groups.

Social Interactions:
ClosedMaintaining order: Targeted monitoring

Because scientific and technical disciplines are fully accepted within the social system, the government has inspectorates and regulatory authorities at its disposal.  While staff have the requisite expertise and attitudes to assess problems dispassionately, they have limited resources and are subject to political influence and interference.

Governments commonly increase or reduce monitoring budgets to suit vested interests. State bureaucracies, under political guidance, also discriminate between individuals and firms who are monitored closely and those who are monitored with a «light touch». In this way, many problems and complaints affecting powerful interests can be kept out of the public eye and away from the law courts.

Provision of Knowledge:
ClosedManage information: Crusades and campaigns

Governments may run their own campaigns to explain and forward necessary or preferred policies and new regulations.

Where government fails to respond to an issue, industry or professional associations, advocacy groups and reforming bodies may also inform the public directly via private crusades and campaigns. These seek to educate and attract supporters or to devalue and diminish views that run counter to their views and interests.

If direct access to politicians seems insufficient to neutralize public interest initiatives, powerful groups may run counter-campaigns whose funding and control tends to be kept obscure or secret.

Personal-Ethical Requirements

Core Value & Civic Virtue
ClosedFraternity & Prudence

The degeneration of Plutocratic Pluralism-II evokes memory of revolutionary turmoil. However, it is unlike the failure of Privileged Pluralism-I because the social institutions and pattern of forces is so different.

Review Cycle-1

Much has been achieved by society in one revolution of the spiral, so we need to take stock in an orderly way.

Proceed as follows:

1:  Review evolution in the first cycle, then
2:  Review actual political achievements in the West, then
3:  Evaluate progress from a taxonomic perspective.

Alternatively… continue via the degeneration of Plutocratic Pluralism and the painful transition necessarily endured by the people.

Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27 Mar 2014

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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