Can America’s descent into Plutocracy (Rule-by-the-Rich) be Reversed?

Lawrence Lessig Has a “Moonshot” Plan to Halt Our Slide Toward Plutocracy (via Moyers & Company)

Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig, the crusader for campaign finance reform, feels that his fellow reformers don’t think big or boldly enough to inspire the kind of grassroots campaign that might break elite donors’ stranglehold on America’s political…


Related video:

Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk last year: “We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim”

9 Responses

  1. The convolutions of the growing resentment of the rich by the far right, despite their unshakable support for ever more extreme laws that make the rich richer, surely deserve more study.

    I think that since it is now difficult to openly proclaim white supremacy and win elections, “free enterprise” has become a surrogate for white supremacy, because “obviously” whites are more entrepreneurial. So, all power to the just-happen-to-be-white billionaires.

    But the scary part of that is, the Christian & racist Right expect “free markets” to thus reward the whitest of the white, since they must have the most merit. And it doesn’t happen. So they start looking to government to subsidize “patriotism”, via the military-industrial-imperial complex, the police-security-prison complex, and of course the subsidies of the disproportionately-white, mythically-more-virtuous elderly.
    Go further Right, to the truly wacky New Apostolic Reformation movement linked to Sarah Palin, and you see talk about taking over the “Seven Mountains” of secular power, including wealth and government, and a “great redistribution” carried out by to God to his favorites.

    Since we’re not allowed to call all of this Fascism, we’re denied the chance to study how Fascism in the past co-opted anger against the rich while maintaining its anti-Communist obsession. It was the same grievance: the bigots loved the intrinsic inequality of private property, but only if their own kind were the winners. Fascists often create a myth of “good” capitalists in manufacturing/defense who are of our religion/ ethnicity, vs unproductive bankers-lawyers-actors-etc. who are Jews and must have cheated. Thus it’s okay to use Big Government to fight back and restore natural aristocracy.

  2. short answer, no.
    the political system and the internal propaganda are perfectly set, allowing the illusion of choice to pacify the populace, while maintaining near seamless avoidance of substance.

  3. Why not impeach judges who are “corrupt” because as follows: If a judge changes the meaning of a word like corrupt to suit his agenda and is thus partial and unfit for his job, adding more words to the constitution is not going to stop them or fix the problem, which is a corrupted judge. Look up the definition of CORRUPT. It’s broad, not narrow as the Supremes say. If a Supreme says corporations are people and money = free speech, then they are by definition “corrupt” (look it up in the dictionary).

    The best way to deal with corrupt judges, it to remove them from office (impeach).

  4. While this article seems interesting, it seems to me to be another marketing campaign. To think that these ideas to “reform” the system will:

    1: go unnoticed by the 0.1%, is silly, clearly they will head it off like they have any number of other similar ideas, history has shown this time and again. The only case where they could not was the 1930s when the communist and socialist parties were so well supported that they actually held congressional seats and received support by the unions. This power compelled FDR to negotiate with the 0.1% as the only option to save the capitalistic system.

    2: be a marketing campaign. Really, and to take on the systems that have been actively marketing for the last what, 100 years? To think that a rag-tag group can out-market the unholy alliance of the media-corp/political circus is a fantasy. You have neither the $, nor the medium to do so. (think brand obama circa 2008)

    The bankrupt president idea: The corp-media and political critters are so active in watering down, dismantling, un-enforcing the existing rules upon the 0.1% class, that this is simply another rule to be taken apart. Play it out, your president gets in on some miracle, performs another miracle by getting the laws past and enacted. The third and most incredible miracle, the power structure was sleeping and never responded to the campaign (think Howard Dean), the bill passed (think any corp/tax reform of the last 20 years), and finally they don’t mind losing market share and profits as the new rules level the playing field. And as the president fades into the night, the next morning the critters are tearing up the rules almost immediately (Think Dodd-Frank).

    This article reeks of the typical american “silver-bullet” formula. Preaching, all you have to do is follow this script and everything will work itself out from there. It is almost child-like, to think that the power structure will not respond immediately, harshly and unanimously reveals just how little thought went into this piece. Unseating predatory capitalism is going to take more than a cheesy marketing campaign.

    • Those are good points. The problem is finding the chinks in the armor of oligarchy in its many forms (plutocracy, royalism, etc.). The weaknesses are the loyalties of the controlled media, bought officials, and forces of repression. With recent totalitarian control of communications, we may see non-electronic organization of opposition, physical attacks on controlled media, and a key role of minority members within the forces of repression.

  5. Lessig calls it right. Plutocracy NOT Oligarchy

    The difference inferred from wikipedia’s definition is an Oligarchy allows the technocrats to have real power and wealth. A Plutocracy does not. In the US, scientists, economists, and other technocrats may often be well-off financially, but typically they do not have a hold any ‘reins of power’. They are ‘helpers’… “Loyal (in academia ‘Peer-reviewed’) Subjects”


        Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning “few”, and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning “to rule or to command”)[1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.


        Plutocracy (from Greek πλοῦτος, ploutos, meaning “wealth”, and κράτος, kratos, meaning “power, dominion, rule”) or plutarchy, defines a society or a system ruled and dominated by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens. The first known use of the term is 1652.[1] Unlike systems such as democracy, capitalism, socialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense…

    Personally, I think Herbert Marcuse’ concept of “Repressive Desublimination” is in play in Western consumer capitalist societies and it allows for suppressing the knowledge of that plutocratic state-of-government by controlling the other “classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion” by the simple act of obsessive shopping, with the help of psychologically designed-to-be-predatory advertising and the media… which is now in the hands of six conglomerates in the US.

    After all, the reason you never hear about media concentration is BECAUSE OF media concentration.

  6. Having to maintain a growth economy to outspend competing nations doesn’t solve the problem of them reverse engineering everything invented on our dime!

    What part of the alleged social contract allows capital to possess all voting rights? Severely Libertarian capitalism. “Dust bowl capitalism.”

    We’re about to infect Mars with this sh!t, and you know damn well what come next.

  7. Maybe yes. The global 0.0001% are fighting out to the death in Ukraine, I quote from M.K. Bhadrakumar: The US seems to have figured out meticulously the dark secrets of the Russian elites — where they keep their illegal wealth in the western world and so on.
    Armed with that wealth of information, the US seems to be aiming to create dissensions within the Russian elites and crack up the calculus of power in Moscow — a veritable “regime change”. Capitulate or regime change — that’s the choice the US is offering Moscow.
    It’s a high-risk project. Of course, the system that Putin created is not a pushover. But, the US is undoubtedly in a punishing mood. What accounts for it? Can’t be Syria. Can’t be Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan. Can’t be the Arctic, can’t be BRICS.
    Yes, it has to be the unprecedented humiliation and damage caused to the US’ global standing and foreign and security policies by the Edward Snowden affair, which Washington believes was masterminded from the Kremlin. It’s payback time for the CIA.
    Clearly, the Ukraine game is no longer being played by politicians and diplomats. Smiley’s people are on the prowl. The fact that the CIA director John Brennan visited Kiev a week ago underscores that the game is deadly serious.

  8. There is no reverse on this runaway train. All of the mechanisms which could stop this are in the hands of those who caused this runaway in the first place. Few are willing to sacrifice themselves in the service of greater humanity to end this.

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