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Russian Oligarchs are a Problem, But Let’s Not Forget American Ones

Russian Oligarchs are a Problem, But Let’s Not Forget American Ones

Photo Source Matt Brown | CC BY 2.0

Oligarchs the world over have long been destabilizing economies and shaping governing bodies for their own benefit. For instance, if we turn to the supposed ‘birth of democracy’ in Ancient Athens, elites (called ‘citizens’) of the polis ruled over the mass populace (the common people of the hoi polloi). Plato had instilled in many Greeks at the time (and this is an idea seen in practice from fascist lies of white supremacy to false justifications for criminal wars) a faith in the supremacy of ruling class that the elites could justify lying to the hoi polloi,masking the truth the public was too ‘stupid’, too ‘ignorant’ to comprehend behind pathos and logos. The specific role of the noble lie, as presented by Plato’s Socrates is to have a good effect on the polity by clearly defining social classes and position within the social hierarchy for all. Never a supporter of democracy, in the Politicsand in De Anima, Plato’s student Aristotle presents a model of an oligarchic meritocracy (or in his preferred term for the rule of the few, an aristocracy), a social organization that depends upon those with ‘lesser’ souls (or those less noble, less filled with virtue than with vice), and those of the working classes especially had to be less concerned with the metaphysical and more concerned with their material labor. Over centuries of European and Anglo-American ‘democracies’, such positions on the deliberate maintenance of popular ignorance (typically coupled with or contributing to widespread compliance or complicity) through administrative means and misinformation have been re-articulated from Machiavelli to Mandeville to McCarthy, Robespierre to Rumsfeld, Burke to Bannon, ‘Socrates’ to Stalin.

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