Poll: Aristocracy vs Plutocracy. Which do you think is better?

So, traditionally an Aristocracy (at least in American culture) has been the go to "Bad Guy". The title of "Lord" or "Baron" has always been treated with contempt. "Ser Roger" or "Baron Hapsburg" conjures up images of a stuffy, prideful man who gloats over the fact he was born "superior". Yet we live in changing times, especially here in America. The terrible recession that's been slowly destroying the middle class has lead to a certain contempt towards Plutocrats. The occupy movement is just another sign of the growing hatred towards the rich big business owners, and the fact that despite so many people suffering, they seem to be doing perfectly fine and even show signs of getting richer.

The rich have been blamed for many things, from starting the war in Iraq to throwing this country into a recession. You know see more Hollywood villains with the prefix of "CEO" rather than "Lord" and with the growth and spread of fantasy movies and old fiction, people are starting to look back on the old Aristocracy with rose tinted glasses, making characters with the title of "Lord" or "Ser" heroes more often than villains. So my question to you is, if given a choice where your countries power is distributed either between an Aristocracy or a Plutocracy, which would you choose. Now before I get a thousand comments that say "Both of those things suck, I'd choose neither", let me just say that this isn't a thread asking "What is the best government type ever", it's just asking if you believe a Plutocracy is better than an Aristocracy or vice versa, if you think they both are terrible ways to distribute power, which do you think is the lesser of the two evils?

To those who don't know, an Aristocracy is a form of Government where power is distributed to a small group of elite individuals. They're usually given titles that are usually hereditary. Some of the pros of an Aristocracy are that the people born into being "Lords and Ladies" are usually trained from childhood to 'rule' and run a nation, essentially it's trying to insure that only the best of the best can be given power. The downside to this is, of course, if a person is inexperienced yet still born into an influential family, they could be given power and muck up the country. Plus Aristocrats competing for more power in the government could lead to instability and, at times, out right civil warfare.

And for those who don't know what a Plutocracy is, it's essentially a form of Government where the more money a person owns, the more of a say he has in Government affairs. The plus sides to this is that you have wealthy individuals backing a nation, and it's generally assumed that they have to be at least partially competent if they can earn and maintain such a large fortune. The downsides, of course, are that they may take more selfish actions to ensure that they can make more profit and may steer legislation towards favoring them. They also may lead to dependence on certain businesses or corporations that eventually end up becoming "Too big to fail"

So, out of those two political ideas, which do you favor. A Noble Aristocracy, or Wealthy Plutocracy.

In truth, considering I've spent a good portion of my life seeing the effects of all these economic problems on society, I'm leaning more and more towards an Aristocracy.

I-- hmm...

I'd never heard of this "Plutocracy" thing before.

If we can change who the aristocrats are, it might be the better system, so we can remove the imbeciles.

They are both bad. An Aristocracy is a Plutocracy because the nobility vacuums up all the wealth. Similarly, Plutocrats use their wealth to take political authority, making themselves Aristocrats in all but name. Their children inherit, making the notion of wealth being earned moot.

I'd edge out a Plutocracy as slightly less evil, as it's still (technically) possible for new people to get in and the grossly incompetent inheritors to lose the family inheritance and fall, whereas the Aristocracy wields power strictly by bloodline.

given your pretty much living in one The Thinker (assuming you speak English at home) you should probably do some reading on it.

Capitalism, as originally envisaged and ultimately institutionalised, was supposed to co-opt the greed of the rich and use it to disperse their wealth amongst the lesser mercantile, middle and working classes classes via the mechanism of investment of capital in business in pursuit of profit (even if a business venture failed) and was intended to avoid what was seen as the inevitable result of the free reign of human greed which was basically a return to feudal serfdom of the masses at the hands of a tiny plutocratic elite.

that original intent of Capitalism has long since been subverted to the point that many now believe it has no social intent and the greed that drives the system should be indulged as much as possible and given free reign.

hence why instead of enriching the middle any more it now only enriches the "1%" and everyone else has statically enjoyed near zero social mobility for the last 30 years since the birth of "neo-liberal" economics.

i'm well aware that a modern economics student may cry foul to that but its all there in The Wealth of Nations and its pretty clear that the point of the system as put forward by Smith is the subversion of the base instinct for the wider greater good and reshaping of society in terms of who holds the political power (away from the super rich).

it was never supposed to be "unrestrained" but then the rich twisted that one little nipple, corrupted the whole thing and made everyone think that's what it was about and *bang* were almost back to where our ancestors were hundreds of years ago where the content of our lives is now to be dictated by what they require of us to facilitate increasing their own wealth even further.

in other words: "trickle down" my hairy ginger Scottish ass.

the current universal plan for the future is the production of endless worker drones dedicated to nothing other than work until they die and the erosion of wages and workers rights until you can directly compete with China (who btw are moving in exactly the opposite direction) on your corporate masters behalf and then after that..India ? Brazil ? Africa ? who knows. there will always be someone who can do "your job" cheaper so you best get used to wage slavery and the constant arguments that your quality of life just has to keep getting shittier and shittier...

its a "race to the bottom" anyway and we sure as hell won't be living in "developed" nations after its actually achieved.
they will. in suitable "ivory towers". but we won't. we'll be back to being glad of a mud hut and a sack to wear.

in answer to the OP quandary i say neither not because they "both suck" but because in effect they are one in the same.

"Lords" were always "CEO"s its just their "business" was owning everything and everybody around them.

Is making a revolution to reform the system so political power isn't based on bloodline/money an option?

Aristocracy; hereditary elite, us 'lesser beings' can't change it nor join them
Plutocracy; no wealth, no power. If they fuck up, they're gone, and if somebody does great (Google?) they join the plutocracy.

Plutocracy knows a lot more social dynamism, and therefore, it's the better system.

Plutocracy is better iff getting rich requires doing good. Normal, voluntary trade helps that along. Theft and fraud corrupts it.

Aristocracy is better iff being a good leader is hereditary (it's not) or well taught (it rarely is).

I think it's easier to turn plutocracy into the better of the two, but it isn't always better.

Danyal:
Aristocracy; hereditary elite, us 'lesser beings' can't change it nor join them
Plutocracy; no wealth, no power. If they fuck up, they're gone, and if somebody does great (Google?) they join the plutocracy.

Plutocracy knows a lot more social dynamism, and therefore, it's the better system.

I'd agree with that, as long as a clear distinction is made between "better" and "good".

thaluikhain:

Danyal:
Aristocracy; hereditary elite, us 'lesser beings' can't change it nor join them
Plutocracy; no wealth, no power. If they fuck up, they're gone, and if somebody does great (Google?) they join the plutocracy.

Plutocracy knows a lot more social dynamism, and therefore, it's the better system.

I'd agree with that, as long as a clear distinction is made between "better" and "good".

That's pretty clear from the OP :)

Witty Name Here:
Now before I get a thousand comments that say "Both of those things suck, I'd choose neither", let me just say that this isn't a thread asking "What is the best government type ever", it's just asking if you believe a Plutocracy is better than an Aristocracy or vice versa, if you think they both are terrible ways to distribute power, which do you think is the lesser of the two evils?

Danyal:
Aristocracy; hereditary elite, us 'lesser beings' can't change it nor join them
Plutocracy; no wealth, no power. If they fuck up, they're gone, and if somebody does great (Google?) they join the plutocracy.

Plutocracy knows a lot more social dynamism, and therefore, it's the better system.

Except that, in practice, plutocracy is very nearly as bad as an aristocracy in terms of social dynamism. Indeed, the chance of any statistical individual(a hypothetical person who has been statistically normalised) breaking into the plutocracy is likely about the same as the chance a commoner would be elevated to the gentry by royal decree.

Once you have a certain amount of money, the only way that "fucking up" will result in you losing enough of that money to fall out of the plutocratic elite would be if "fucking up" meant "piled up all their money and possessions and then set them on fire". Most plutocrats can fuck up all they like and retain their job, and in the rare circumstances they do get fired(most choose to resign or take early retirement, and are allowed to do so), their contracts include ludicrous golden parachutes that give them stupendous amounts of cash - indeed, these clauses are often why they get to keep their jobs; their mistakes are cheaper than it would be to sack them.

In addition, with inheritance set up in the way it is, plutocracy is every bit as hereditary as aristocracy; the wealthy are, 99 times out of a hundred, the children of yesterday's wealthy.

Indeed, if forced to choose between an aristocracy and a plutocracy, I'd choose the aristocracy. Why? Well, because it's at least honest. An aristocrat will flat-out state that he owns you, your home, and the land that it's built on; a plutocrat provides the common man with the illusion of freedom and ownership, but that's essentially a lie. It's also more likely that an aristocracy would result in a revolution or transformation into a more pleasing form of government, again because that honesty makes it harder to defend. Most American Republicans would vomit blood out of rage if anyone tried to claim their fealty by right of birth, but they eat up all the bullshit propaganda about "job creators" like it's haute cuisine.

Magichead:

In addition, with inheritance set up in the way it is, plutocracy is every bit as hereditary as aristocracy; the wealthy are, 99 times out of a hundred, the children of yesterday's wealthy.

1. Sources for that claim? As far as I known Bill Gates and the creators of Google weren't born in insanely wealthy families
2. If there is no social dynamism in an aristocracy and '1%' social dynamism in a plutocracy, plutocracy is still better and knows a lot more social dynamism.

Indeed, if forced to choose between an aristocracy and a plutocracy, I'd choose the aristocracy. Why? Well, because it's at least honest. An aristocrat will flat-out state that he owns you, your home, and the land that it's built on; a plutocrat provides the common man with the illusion of freedom and ownership, but that's essentially a lie.

We were talking about plutocracy and aristocracy, not feudalism and a marxist version of capitalism.

Aristocracy based on the concept of Polybius (Aristoteles and Platon as well...)in the historical/philosophical debate over the theory of the state is generally accepted as one of the best forms of government available to us. Our modern parliamentarianism and representative democracy are more or less based on this concept.

Danyal:

Magichead:

In addition, with inheritance set up in the way it is, plutocracy is every bit as hereditary as aristocracy; the wealthy are, 99 times out of a hundred, the children of yesterday's wealthy.

1. Sources for that claim? As far as I known Bill Gates and the creators of Google weren't born in insanely wealthy families
2. If there is no social dynamism in an aristocracy and '1%' social dynamism in a plutocracy, plutocracy is still better and knows a lot more social dynamism.

Indeed, if forced to choose between an aristocracy and a plutocracy, I'd choose the aristocracy. Why? Well, because it's at least honest. An aristocrat will flat-out state that he owns you, your home, and the land that it's built on; a plutocrat provides the common man with the illusion of freedom and ownership, but that's essentially a lie.

We were talking about plutocracy and aristocracy, not feudalism and a marxist version of capitalism.

1. Well in that case I am mistaken, my greatest apologies, two people do not follow the trend, I am a fool. You know what? I'm sick of providing people on the internet with statistic after statistic after study, because I could prove to you there was an omnipotent god, take you to heaven to meet him, and have him flat out tell you that such and such is the case, and you'd still bloody argue. If you're seriously going to try and claim that the vast majority of the wealthiest didn't get there as a result of parental wealth, then I can't be arsed, go and study a course in sociology or ask someone who has to educate you.

2. Technically not the case. If you can argue that three people making it into the plutocracy on their own merits invalidates the plain, bald fact that the vast vast majority of such people are there as a result of parental wealth, then I can argue that the tiny, tiny, tiny handful of people around the world who were raised out of the common classes constitutes some social mobility.

Your last argument doesn't even make sense. What the hell is a "marxist version of capitalism"? That has to be the most oxymoronic statement I've ever seen in my life.

Plutocracy, because I like the trade benefits that Plutocracy brings and I don't use cavalry much anyway so Aristocracy does do much (kudos to whoever can identify which game I am referencing).

Seekster:
Plutocracy, because I like the trade benefits that Plutocracy brings and I don't use cavalry much anyway so Aristocracy does do much (kudos to whoever can identify which game I am referencing).

that would be europa universalis my good sir, i winz internetz pointz.

reonhato:

Seekster:
Plutocracy, because I like the trade benefits that Plutocracy brings and I don't use cavalry much anyway so Aristocracy does do much (kudos to whoever can identify which game I am referencing).

that would be europa universalis my good sir, i winz internetz pointz.

You are now the Defender of the Faith, long may your stability stay about +3

Aristocracy: people use power to generate wealth.
Plutocracy: people having wealth determines their power.

An aristocracy is far more likely to be at least somewhat concerned with the interests of the whole community because of incentives. When power is directly produced from wealth, there is no incentive to use that power to do anything but gain yourself more wealth. When wealth is produced from having power, then there is some incentive to use one's power to efficiently manage the governing of the community, as doing so makes opposition to one's position (or threat of assassination) less of a concern and generates more wealth. An aristocrat is likelier to do well by his constituents than a plutocrat, as there is nowhere near as much reason for a plutocrat not to act like the worst gangster he possibly can. There are still some reasons, but not nearly as many.

Veylon:
They are both bad. An Aristocracy is a Plutocracy because the nobility vacuums up all the wealth. Similarly, Plutocrats use their wealth to take political authority, making themselves Aristocrats in all but name. Their children inherit, making the notion of wealth being earned moot.

Pretty much, yeah.

The main difference between the two is that aristocrats have a certain amount of power guaranteed by bloodline, whereas plutocrats are more insecure as their power is dependent on wealth.

Both will tend to use power to amass wealth, obviously. Realistically plutocrats will tend to resolve their insecurity by creating barriers of entry into their ruling clique, and effectively turn themselves into an aristocracy.

ive always found it kinda weird that Americans make a big deal about not having an aristocracy when at the same time there are REALLY obvious power dynasties in US public life who virtually are aristocracy in all but name.

i mean you've had two Presidents in my own lifetime from the same family (and the rest of the brothers are what ? governors ?). almost two Presidents from another (the Clintons) and that's without touching on the Kennedys (Camelot ? really ?) and there are without doubt others that i've seen mentioned around (isn't Ron Pauls son also a Senator or something ?).

its kinda like "we're proud we don't have these hereditary power wielding families...except for these hereditary power wielding families we're proud of".

i know you've got an historical axe to grind with ye olde country but comon...

we have virtually nothing like that in the UK now. i can't think of a single MP who's a relative of another...except the miliband brothers...and they're both muppets....no, seriously, ed miliband IS a Muppet :P

that's not to say i'm in favor of this concept obviously.

indeed letting Bush Jr run the country after Bush Sr is about as good an example as you're gonna get why these things are bad.

I'd prefer the Aristocracy. A plutocracy has the tendency to placate the lower classes by giving them a false hope that "I could be one of them," and thus allows the plutocrats to get away with far more than the aristocrats. At least with the aristocrats, their title paints a target on their head and the more-self-preserving ones will fight for the poor and the down-trodden as a matter of preventing revolution.

Magichead:
snip

Yes, I know a plutocracy doesn't know a lot of social dynamism, but it has more than an aristocracy.

You weren't talking about aristocracy and plutocracy. Those concepts don't say anything about slavery or freedom. I see it like this;
Aristocracy;
Hundred families hold all power; these families have once claimed they were 'noble' or 'royal' and everyone accepts this.
Plutocracy;
The hundred most wealthy people/families hold all power. Political power is not determined by your 'nobleness' or 'royalness' but by your bank account.

You were talking about feudalism;
'An aristocrat will flat-out state that he owns you, your home, and the land that it's built on'
And you were describing a capitalist society in the way marxists generally do it;
'a plutocrat provides the common man with the illusion of freedom and ownership, but that's essentially a lie.' 'Most American Republicans would vomit blood out of rage if anyone tried to claim their fealty by right of birth, but they eat up all the bullshit propaganda about "job creators" like it's haute cuisine.'

You could have an aristocracy that is tied to a constitution (I'm living in a constitutional monarchy, it's quite common) where the citizens are fairly independent and free.
You could have a plutocracy where everybody who isn't part of the wealthiest 100 is enslaved by those wealthy 100.

But that's not where we're talking about. Even inside of an aristocracy or a plutocracy you can have endless variations. But an aristocracy gives power to the noble/the royal, while a plutocracy gives power to the wealthy.

It's very probable that there is more social dynamism in a plutocracy than in a aristocracy.

The Gentleman:
I'd prefer the Aristocracy. A plutocracy has the tendency to placate the lower classes by giving them a false hope that "I could be one of them," and thus allows the plutocrats to get away with far more than the aristocrats. At least with the aristocrats, their title paints a target on their head and the more-self-preserving ones will fight for the poor and the down-trodden as a matter of preventing revolution.

And the aristocrats claim to be chosen by God and be divine rulers.

Romans 13:1-7
New International Version (NIV)
Romans 13

Submission to Governing Authorities

1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

And everyone who rebels against this religious oppression will be called a heretic and burned at the stake. 'For rulers do not bear the sword for no reason.'

Danyal:

The Gentleman:
I'd prefer the Aristocracy. A plutocracy has the tendency to placate the lower classes by giving them a false hope that "I could be one of them," and thus allows the plutocrats to get away with far more than the aristocrats. At least with the aristocrats, their title paints a target on their head and the more-self-preserving ones will fight for the poor and the down-trodden as a matter of preventing revolution.

And the aristocrats claim to be chosen by God and be divine rulers.

Only if you believed believed in the divine right of Kings. If you didn't and, in the late 1800s, you understood what happened to the upper classes that didn't care about the lower classes, you understood why taking care of the lower classes was important. Indeed, Fredrick Engels, heir to his family's textile fortune, understood this point well enough to help write the Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx. Granted he wasn't an official aristocrat, he was part of the new industrial baron class of England that rose in parallel to the aristocracy.

Conversely, Protestant plutocrats were often just as bad if not worse because they believed that their wealth was a sign of blessing from God and that the gates of Heaven were already open to them, and that any form of success was an affirmation of that blessing. Indeed, if God's showing his blessing while you have children working 14 hours a day and using your financial power to strip workers of any potential power to improve their condition, what reason do you have to change your reprehensible behavior?

The Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

It's not power that corrupts, it's wealth.

Given the choice between those two options with no alterations to basic design, my choice is Plutocracy.

If given the option to do a bit of editing, I'd go with an aristocracy where all aristocrats must earn their title, preferably through action as opposed to any kind of direct test we might set. Any children of aristocrats have a leg up to inherit that title, but must at minimum prove that they have similar levels of ethics and skill as their parents in order to earn it for themselves. Aristocrats may also be stripped of their title under extreme circumstances. If set up properly, this would create an ever shifting category of those best suited to lead.

a memo distributed by citibank a few years back was leaked and outright said the US was a plutocracy. not only that it was but will continue to be up until the masses stop believing the myth that their hard work will make them one of the elite.

I dont personally think either is a good choice. they are both open to abuses of power, both open to doing what ever it takes to remaining in power.

Veylon:
They are both bad. An Aristocracy is a Plutocracy because the nobility vacuums up all the wealth. Similarly, Plutocrats use their wealth to take political authority, making themselves Aristocrats in all but name. Their children inherit, making the notion of wealth being earned moot.

I'd edge out a Plutocracy as slightly less evil, as it's still (technically) possible for new people to get in and the grossly incompetent inheritors to lose the family inheritance and fall, whereas the Aristocracy wields power strictly by bloodline.

I'd say aristocracy is ever so slightly preferable because it is slightly different than plutocracy. It begins like a plutocracy, but because power becomes divorced from wealth, a merchant elite eventually emerges to impose more balance on the system. A plutocracy is worse because it is more stable.

Seekster:

reonhato:

Seekster:
Plutocracy, because I like the trade benefits that Plutocracy brings and I don't use cavalry much anyway so Aristocracy does do much (kudos to whoever can identify which game I am referencing).

that would be europa universalis my good sir, i winz internetz pointz.

You are now the Defender of the Faith, long may your stability stay about +3

I'm more of an Aristocracy man, because, well... LATIN KNIGHTS HOOOOOOOOOOO!

Anyways, back on topic. It seems like Plutocracy has managed to come on top by a few votes.

Heronblade:
Given the choice between those two options with no alterations to basic design, my choice is Plutocracy.

If given the option to do a bit of editing, I'd go with an aristocracy where all aristocrats must earn their title, preferably through action as opposed to any kind of direct test we might set. Any children of aristocrats have a leg up to inherit that title, but must at minimum prove that they have similar levels of ethics and skill as their parents in order to earn it for themselves. Aristocrats may also be stripped of their title under extreme circumstances. If set up properly, this would create an ever shifting category of those best suited to lead.

I believe what you're thinking of is a Meritocracy/Aristocracy. It's sort of been tried before with Rome during it's "Pax Romana" period (at the peak of it's Golden Age) and for a while it was working Amazingly well... At least until one Roman Emperor passed the title onto his son.

Danyal:

It's very probable that there is more social dynamism in a plutocracy than in a aristocracy.

I don't think this is any given at all. Of course, in many respects, a plutocracy arguably is a form of aristocracy.

When we think of an aristocracy, we very much think of a Western European feudalistic model. However, to imagine an aristocracy like the Roman or middle period Byzantine model is to consider an aristocracy with quite a different character.

But even in the Western European system, in practice aristocracies simply introduced the successful non-aristocrats into the ranks of the aristocracy by giving them titles or marriage. Aristocratic failures had their titles removed or dwindled into irrelevance. They weren't so static as is often imagined.

Plutocracy assumes that there is some form of merit involved in being allowed to control the nation. Aristocracy assumes that it is all a birthright.

I tend to favour aristocracy as I like using cavalry, though it comes down to the terrain. =P

They're essentially two different flavours of the same brand of orange juice. Superficially different, but underneath practically identical in form and function. And they have a tendency to rot your teeth. Oh, wait...

Anyways, if forced to choose with a loaded gun at my head, I'd go with Aristocracy. Only because the claims to power and authority are weaker, the targets are much easier to paint, and a social revolution would have an easier time outing Lords and Barons than they would CEOs and Company Presidents.

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked