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Thread: Building a plutocracy?

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Feb 2005
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    Default Re: Building a plutocracy?

    The thing is very few government system start off as plutocracy in our world...so they don't really have specific NAMES for roles in a plutocracy.

    I mean if we take the above examples and replace "aristocratic councils" or "seats in a body of a republic" with "seat on the corporate board" it would make basically no difference. So just assume the running of civic institutions (defense, law, infrastructure, etc) is a business. Possibly a loss leader if you want to say that its purpose is to support the profitable businesses in town but also quite possibly a business that runs a tidy profit via taxes, tithes, fines, bribes, etc (I means isn't this how rulers normally afford all that bling?). So just treat it as a business...(with board room drama, takeover attempts, buyouts, etc)

    But a company town-the owners control the money making apparatus and may even control the money itself (if they pay in chits)

    Now there isn't much of change to say the company town's business is food production and you have bonded labor contracts and suddenly you are halfway to feudalism. Investor owned may be more council of boyars/republic of venice but a family owned business would be pretty classic medieval stereotypes.

    Then again who can afford to pay the most people with pointy sticks rules is also kinda plutocracy. If society rates there to be no social stigma in working for whoever pays you rather than some social/identity bond. Bunch of merc's to enforce your will makes your word law...until the mercs end up taking over your business and we a halfway back to feudal Europe again.

    But a ruling town council? if the seats are for sale that's a plutocracy...and a oligarchy...scale it up the Holy Roman Empire analogue...just with the electors being officially open to bribes....and when the Medici's basically bought themselves the papacy or cardinal positions that could be argued that is a plutocracy as much as theocracy...and in the Church of Waukeen could well be held up as a virtue.

    then pretty much any oligarchy also "looks like something else" a lot of the time. The boundaries between most "government forms" is very blurry and subject to interpretation and propaganda

    Another classic form, a "populist" twist the vote for sale model....landowners. Now often landowners of a favored (often "home") region may be the only ones who qualify. A member to be of the Roman Senate needed a certain amount of land in Suburbia (basically the Italian peninsula) at one point in time. US history? had to be a landowner to vote originally. Just make that land highly limited and its value will soon rise to the point only the rich can afford the franchise and you have a plutocracy....for even more fun have such people carry the title of "elector" just to mess with your players idea of democracy...but at that point the rulers are just the hired hand of the rich or the person most popular to the rich and everyone knows it...it isn't trying to present as anything else. Its just us 21st century moderns that try to describe in other terms first and foremost.

    then again if you have a ruling power (say a "king", "head of church", "chairman of the board") who can just flat out sell other titles of power...you also have a ripe open plutocracy. Various historical empires sold the right to raise taxes in given areas, but would also just sell titles. These title holders would then be backed with the power of law...usually by the military force the ruling power could support selling those titles (but skimming off enough to be the richest person themselves)...This works especially well if when the holder of the supreme ruler title dies the highest office holders can bid to become the supreme ruler (plenty of real world inspiration here but dangerously close to politics and religion) by paying off the army or other potential bidders. Again we just associate most of the titles that we would use as connected with other forms of government and so would be labeled as "hidden" or "masked" plutocracies...but that is pretty much our language bias showing.

    EDIT: and funny thing about money...basically the idea of currency to store value so it can be converted into other things later....its ability to convert into other stuff is a huge part of its point...so basically no matter what you base "power" off of money could in theory be converted into that thing unless something stands in its way....
    bloodline? marry in for large dowry
    military power? mercs
    church or military status? buy position, raise your own army (seriously rich Roman families did this), sponsor new monestary/whatever with your heir/puppet in charge.
    land? buy it or swap for it
    ships for the defense of the island kingdom? build you own shipyard if you have to.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2019-08-17 at 03:56 PM.