On one end of a continuum of theories of governance is Democracy, where the People rule. On the other is Plutocracy where the wealthy class calls the shots. In the public discussion of this polarization in the United States there are those who take a sort of middle position and confusedly think of themselves then as moderates. But is it a “moderate” position to compromise Democracy?

The argument might be clarified if we put it in these terms: Democracy demands one person, one vote, Plutocracy demands rule by the rich, and “moderation” offers a compromise where the vote is based on dollars, that is, one dollar, one vote. Somehow I don’t think this is what the Greek Philosopher had in mind, that moderation consists in taking a position sort of half way between the extremes. Not when these are false, set up to give the appearance that a violation of the principle of Democracy has parity with it, that Democracy is an extreme.

Someone at the table declares they have a right to 100% of the meal so a “moderate” would accept that demand as valid but work out a compromise where that person ends up with only 90%. It is apparently unthinkable in respectable quarters of the U.S. but taking the view that a tiny minority should have disproportionate influence is an extremist position. It is the task of the mainstream media, on behalf of their wealthy and corporate owners, to obscure this simple fact.

Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

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  1. The current public discussion of moderation has nothing to do with democracy and plutocracy, two forms of government, but rather finding compromise between two political parties within the context of a vibrant democracy. Moderates in the context of our democracy are those who try to straddle the fence between the liberal policies of the Democrats and the conservative views of the Republicans. Are you implying that Republicans are somehow favoring a plutocracy? Only those who are fueling class warfare in our society would confuse Republicans with a plutocracy.

    It’s a bit misleading to frame your continuum in the way you have. In fact, if you look at “theories of governance” I would say the more accurate continuum is democracy and a dictatorship (or monarchy) – rule by all the people vs rule by one, where there is, of course, no viable middle ground.

  2. Tom Ferguson

    I was trying to be careful about that… aware that i could pair (or pole) democracy/plutocracy, democracy/dictatorship etc; (democracy/capitalism though there has been much effort to equate the two for propaganda purposes) essentially the same applies in whichever case and yes I see the republican party as leaning toward plutocracy (look at the recent debate on extending tax cuts… they were reluctant to help working people but obsessive about the wealthy – extending tax breaks despite the deficit, eliminating the inheritance tax which already excludes the first million (or 5 million) AND their are conservative democrats of course AND they are ALL dependent on corporate funding for their campaigns, ratcheted up now by the supreme court decision confirming that corporations are PERSONS! My intent wasn’t to be misleading though i accept that i was being fairly loose to make a general point. There’s a difference between “fueling” class warfare and recognizing it when it is all around us. The wealthy and corporations have disproportionate influence on our democracy (thus distorting it)… it is really not much of an exaggeration to say that our govt. is run by for and of the wealthy class. If you doubt this try reading some noam chomsky, michael parenti or naomi klein.

  3. I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!………………….Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism. Barry Goldwater, 1964 Republican Party Acceptance Speech 1964

  4. Tom Ferguson

    Umm… maybe that’s why old Barry lost, no one could understand what he was saying. That and his threats to use nuclear warheads in Vietnam.

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