From the New World Dictionary:
— n , pl -chies
1. government by a small group of people
2. a state or organization so governed
3. a small body of individuals ruling such a state
4. chiefly ( US ) a small clique of private citizens who exert a strong influence on government
So, who qualifies as an “oligarch?” Like “decimate” this is a term that’s roundly abused. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page weighed in on the idea recently. Excerpt:
You may have noticed that our friends on the left have begun to refer to the Koch brothers and other rich conservatives as “oligarchs.” Like calling evangelicals “jihadists” and the tea party “racist,” this comparison to the billionaires in Vladimir Putin‘s circle is meant to stigmatize and marginalize these men politically and socially.
This latest Saul Alinsky tactic got us thinking about who really qualifies as an American oligarch. If the definition is someone who becomes rich by association with government power and policies, and then assists those in power, the Kochs would barely make the list. Their companies are usually harassed by government.
The list, with supporting data, is wonderfully illustrated by Doug Ross here (image from that site.)
The demonization of political opponents is nothing new, dating at least back to the Roman Republic – if you think pols today have problems with incivility, read some of Marcus Tullius Cicero’s speeches, especially those about Mark Antony.
Cicero really, really hated Mark Antony. He was eloquent about it, but the hate really comes through in his speeches to the Roman Senate.
But I digress.
The fact is, the Left – in and out of government both – are demonizing the Koch brothers for activities that some of their own staunchest (and richest) supporters are guilty of, in spades. Demonization is one thing, hypocrisy another; while there is plenty on both sides of the aisle, this example by the Left is particularly egregious.
And what’s more – the examples listed on the left side of the political spectrum have, by and large, made their fortunes through collusion with government, while the Koch brothers – agree with their politics or not – have made their fortunes by providing products and services that people want to buy.
Ayn Rand called it the “aristocracy of pull.” In this as in many other things, she was remarkably prescient.