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Crony Capitalism vs Oligarchy: Know the Difference

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Both crony capitalism and oligarchy are commonly used interchangeably; however, they refer to different political systems. While both result in an excessive amount of wealth and power being held by a small number of people or organizations, they do it in very different ways and have far-reaching consequences for society as a whole. We’ll discuss crony capitalism vs oligarchy in this article concerning politics and economics.


Crony Capitalism vs Oligarchy


What is Crony Capitalism?


What is Crony Capitalism, crony capitalism vs oligarchy


We get crony capitalism when government officials and wealthy businesspeople create cozy partnerships. The term “crony capitalism” refers to situations in which the government unfairly benefits some enterprises or individuals to the detriment of others. There are a variety of ways that businesses might foster these connections with one another.

The term “crony capitalism” is commonly used to describe the practice of government officials using their position to profit themselves and their family and friends in the private sector. Furthermore, it can cause economic inefficiency because government-favored enterprises are not exposed to the same market pressures as their rivals. Because of this, innovation and competition may be stifled, and misplaced resources may be used inefficiently.

A strong interaction between government officials and business elites characterizes crony capitalism. These connections are frequently based on favors and insider information rather than on professional competence or market forces. This can cause the government to start favoring the interests of a select few wealthy and powerful people above those of the general populace.


“People feel they are not participating in the decision-making process. Decisions are exclusive to those at the very top. You have grown up with crony capitalism and it creates ever more resentment.” – Sri Mulyani Indrawati


What is Oligarchy?


What is Oligarchy?


As a form of government, an oligarchy sees supreme authority a small elite holds. In an oligarchy, a few powerful people or organizations wield undue influence over a nation’s government and economy. They can use their riches and power to influence public policies and decision-making.

As a rule of thumb, oligarchies are not known for being very open or accountable. When a few people or organizations retain a disproportionate amount of power, it can be challenging for the public to hold them accountable for their decisions. Corruption and power abuse become commonplace, and a select few’s interests take precedence over those of the general public.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small elite is a defining feature of oligarchies. Family background, formal education, and access to influential people or organizations can all contribute to this clustering. In an oligarchy, a few wealthy and politically connected elites have significant sway over public policy and the ability to enact change.


“An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.” – Albert Einstein


Crony capitalism vs oligarchy: Contrasts and Comparisons


Crony capitalism vs oligarchy: Contrasts and Comparisons


Although there are some overlaps between the two concepts, crony capitalism and oligarchy are different. Here are some of the main distinctions between these two types of concentrated wealth and power:
Governing Body Connection with Businesses:
In crony capitalism, government and corporate elites have a symbiotic relationship in which both parties benefit from the government’s assistance and the elites’ influence in business decisions. Those at the top of an oligarchy use their wealth and influence to influence public policy and keep their hands on the government’s reins.




Main Focus Area:

Simply put, crony capitalism prioritizes the accumulation of wealth and power by a select few business leaders. The goal of an oligarchy is to concentrate political power in the hands of a select few.


  1. Inefficiencies:

Because favored enterprises are not subject to the same market constraints as their competitors, economic inefficiencies can result from crony capitalism’s concentration of power and wealth. Political inefficiencies can arise when a small group holds a disproportionate amount of power, as they may use their position to advance their interests at the expense of the general good under an oligarchy.


2. Accountability


The term “crony capitalism” is commonly used to describe the practice of government officials using their position to profit themselves and their family and friends in the private sector. Those in power in an oligarchy are rarely brought to account for their acts because they may easily dodge public scrutiny.



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3. Area of Impact

While oligarchy is characterized by a similar concentration of power and riches in the political sphere, crony capitalism is more closely associated with the corporate world.



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Which is Worse? Crony Capitalism vs Oligarchy?


which is worse


There are wide-ranging consequences of both crony capitalism and oligarchy. This can cause a country’s political and economic systems to be unduly dominated by an elite few. Corruption and power abuse become commonplace, and a select few’s interests take precedence over those of the general public.

Businesses that the government supports under a crony capitalism system have an unfair edge over their rivals. When this occurs, it can slow down the economy and stifle new ideas. It can also cause a situation in which the government stops looking out for the general population and starts looking out for a select few with a lot of power and money.

The oligarchic system is characterized by the concentration of power in the hands of a few persons or organizations, which can result in a scenario where the general population cannot hold those in power accountable for their actions. As a result, corruption and abuse of authority may become commonplace, and the few may have their interests served at the expense of the many.


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Finally, both crony capitalism and oligarchy refer to the consolidation of power and money into the hands of a small elite. Although they have some commonalities, their methods of operation and social effects are distinctive. We hope this article on Crony Capitalism vs Oligarchy enhances your understanding of these concepts.


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