Created By: JujuP on April 27, 2014 Last Edited By: rexpensive on November 14, 2014
Nuked

Oligarchical Collectivism

Most of the wealth of a society is collectively possessed by a tiny group of persons

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Trope

Oligarchical collectivism describes any setting where the wealth is collectively possessed by a tiny group of persons.

Bonus points if the majority of the population is enslaved by this elite.

The oligarchs are often Social Darwinists and/or perceive themselves as a Master Race.

The setting can take place in Feudal Future, Medieval Stasis or After the End.

Such society can be born from:

The Hero can search to overthrow such a system.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Neo City, in Secret of Cerulean Sand, is organised as this.
  • The Class and, to a lesser extent, the Organo in Texhnolyze are like this: They live in a bizarre sort of peaceful bubble society high above the impoverished people whose lives they control through violent go-betweens given just a small modicum of their privilege.

    Of course, the people of the surface world are even further up the ladder, but they are completely outside the system and their absence only enforces the very Orwellian nature of Luxite society below.

Film

Literature
  • The Trope Namer is Nineteen Eighty Four:
  • The economical system of the Domination of Draka is described, by a character, by using these exact same words: the land and its Serfs were alloted to a Citizen and could be seized in cases of lack of use.
  • The Hellhole Trilogy has the vast lions share of all wealth controlled by noble families. While they aren't out to screw the poor or private, non-noble entrepreneurs, they aggressively seize all of the major cash industries. Such as the mining for the mineral that makes FTL navigation possible. They're also out to screw each other over for control of these industries and ownership of planets as possible. The heroes, naturally, are a mix of Defector from Decadence and good old working class entrepreneurs.
  • In the SF novel This Perfect Day, the tiny class of controllers have access to great luxury and advanced medical care, while the rest of the populace lives under rationing so strict that maximum allowed lifespans are enforced.
  • In Das Kapital, Karl Marx describes the theory of the Asiatic mode of production, where a tiny despotic and urban elite appropriate the surplus of village communities, whom they own as a collective.

    The theory is very controversial because the name refers to the theory of Oriental despotism and that this mode don't differs much from feudal Europe.

Tabletop Game
  • The Clans in BattleTech, nearly all property belongs to the Clan as a whole, including people. With the exception of Bondsmen who serve the Warrior who captured them until the Bondsholder determines that they can be freed to join one of their holding Clan's castes.
  • It is safe to assume some worlds in Warhammer40000 are organised as this. For instance, Sepheris Secundus in Dark Heresy, a Medieval world where serfs are heavily exploited by the nobility in mines.

Video Games
  • Vault City in Fallout 2 is organised as such, with a tiny number of citizens living in great luxury on the work of servents bought from the outside.

Real Life

Please include only historigical exemples, per Ban on Politics


Community Feedback Replies: 51
  • April 27, 2014
    zarpaulus
    • The Clans in Battle Tech, nearly all property belongs to the Clan as a whole, including people. With the exception of Bondsmen who serve the Warrior who captured them until the Bondsholder determines that they can be freed to join one of their holding Clan's castes.
  • April 27, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Fixed a typo and a Red Link + italicized the examples.
  • April 27, 2014
    Earnest
    I know you're citing a good, true source for the name, but for lay tropers such as myself oligarchcal collectivism sounds at first almost like an oxymoron. Oligarchs horde wealth and often feud with each other, agreeing only to keep wealth from the poor, not necessarily share it equally as collectivism would imply.

    Could we consider different names? Something like Oligarchic Setting, or Planet Of Haves And Have Nots?

    Literature example.
    • The Hellhole Trilogy has the vast lions share of all wealth controlled by noble families. While they aren't out to screw the poor or private, non-noble entrepreneurs, they agressively seize all of the major cash industries. Such as the mining for the mineral that makes FTL navigation possible. They're also out to screw each other over for control of these industries and ownership of planets as possible. The heroes, naturally, are a mix of Defector From Decadence and good old working class entrepreneurs.
  • April 27, 2014
    DAN004
    The oligarchs are often Social Darwinists.

    Better title would be Oligarchic Society.
  • April 28, 2014
    zarpaulus
    @Earnest: You're talking about Plutocrats, not Oligarchs, Plutocracy is the most common form of Oligarchy but Oligarchy itself is not necessarily rule by the wealthy.

  • April 30, 2014
    JujuP
    Added exemples.
  • April 30, 2014
    bitemytail
    That 40k example needs work. Maybe go through some lore and find an example planet?
  • April 30, 2014
    Earnest
    Voting for Oligarchic Society as the trope name.
  • April 30, 2014
    zarpaulus
    Oh, and how about Real Life
    • Large scale Communism.
  • April 30, 2014
    zarpaulus
    Fixed a red link.
  • April 30, 2014
    Generality
    Technically this has been true of the United States for the last couple of decades. So we might want to include some kind of disclaimer to encourage Rule Of Cautious Editing Judgment.
  • May 1, 2014
    Arutema
    Do we want Real Life examples at all for fear of Flame Bait?
  • May 1, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^^ I think the intention was specifically 1984-style governments, not ones where the oligarchs hold wealth privately. See my previous explanation of oligarchy vs. plutocracy.
  • May 1, 2014
    Folamh3
    I agree with above posters that allowing Real Life examples is only asking for trouble.
  • May 1, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ so... what does exactly count for this trope?
  • May 2, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^ All the examples already listed except the Hellhole Trilogy example, that's closer to a Feudal Future.
  • May 2, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ dang.

    Please explain what 1984 government looks like.
  • May 2, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^ The Party controls everything including distribution of resources, children of Party members are assigned to either the Inner or Outer Party based on test scores but Proles who display signs of intelligence are "disappeared".
  • May 2, 2014
    DAN004
    So it's actually not just oligarchs having lots of wealth and resources, they actually prevent others from getting them?
  • May 2, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    In the SF novel This Perfect Day, the tiny class of controllers have access to great luxury and advanced medical care, while the rest of the populace lives under rationing so strict that maximum allowed lifespans are enforced.
  • May 3, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^^ No, that's generally assumed for all oligarchs. This is where the oligarchs collectively own the majority of the wealth and resources but no one oligarch owns it.

    In other words Communism.
  • May 4, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Real Life: The House of Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia descended from Muhammad bin Saud, in theory collectively owns the entire kingdom, including it's vast oil wealth. About 2000 core princes control the vast majority of the wealth, with lesser relations bringing up the total to about 15,000 members.
  • May 4, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ do we have an useful note for that?
  • May 8, 2014
    hbi2k
    In the Warhammer 40K example, "organisated" is not a word. I believe the word you're looking for is "organized." "Organized."
  • May 9, 2014
    Arivne
    • Blue Linked Examples section media titles(s).
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Namespaced work name(s).
    • Corrected spelling (colectivism, agressively, it's -> its).
  • May 18, 2014
    MorningStar1337
    If we're adding real life examples I think the Occupy Movement sees the Goverment and certain corporations as this. Thie Anti-thesis, the Tea Party might also see the Librals as this.

    please don't quote me on this though. I might be wrong and Politics in general are Flame Bait
  • June 21, 2014
    JujuP
    No other contribuers?
  • June 21, 2014
    DracMonster
    Having a Real Life section for this one is very dubious. I think it would make the page deteriorate into a mess of flames and political soapboxing.
  • June 21, 2014
    Quatic
    This is essentially inevitable in any capitalist society, ever. Those who innovate best (or who cheat best) become wealthy.

    Picture a society with one million people, each with exactly one thousand dollars.

    If one thousand of those one million people each come up with a product or an idea which everybody else is willing to spend one dollar each on, at the end of that spending cycle you've got a thousand millionaires, and 999,000 people with nothing left.
  • June 21, 2014
    DracMonster
    ^See what I meant? This can't have a Real Life section. That way lies madness.
  • July 17, 2014
    JujuP
    Bump.
  • July 17, 2014
    MorningStar1337
    By way of the Ban On Politics I must motion to discard until the Flame Bait (as in the Real life section) is cut
  • July 18, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ How is talking about ancient Sparta Flame Bait? :)
  • July 18, 2014
    hbi2k
    ^ As a Greek-American who's been diagnosed with an acute case of temporal displasia, I take great exception to that.
  • August 22, 2014
    JujuP
    Bump.
  • August 23, 2014
    Elbruno
    That quote is no good. 1) A title of an in-universe book doesn't hold any information of use. 2) Simply repeating the name of the trope doesn't help at all, Trope Namer or not.

    Speaking of that, I'd tone done the use of the words "Trope Namer" in 1984's entry. Naming a trope is not a badge of honor.
  • August 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Thiiiiis. Trope Namers ain't something to be proud of, honestly...
  • September 5, 2014
    JujuP
    Given this universe works by giving the wealth to all the Inner Party, this title is a good Trope Namer.
  • September 6, 2014
    StarSword
    ^No, a good Trope Namer is one that doesn't require familiarity with the work it's derived from to understand the trope. The rule is Clear Concise Witty.

    For example, my Fowl Mouthed Parrot trope is derived from a joke in Neverwinter Nights 2, but you can figure out that it involves swearing parrots without needing to have played the second expansion.

    This has a nasty case of Trope Namer Syndrome. Tagging for Needs A Better Title.
  • September 7, 2014
    JujuP
    The name is also enlightening: "oligarchical" means "a little elite," and "collectivism" means "the attribution of the property to a collective."

    "Oligarchical collectivism" thus means "when all property is to a little elite."
  • September 7, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ is than an accepted term in Real Life, by any chance? Has ppl discussed that kind of thing before? It does sound like a basic knowledge for economists.
  • September 11, 2014
    JHM
    The Class and, to a lesser extent, the Organo in Texhnolyze are like this: They live in a bizarre sort of peaceful bubble society high above the impoverished people whose lives they control through violent go-betweens given just a small modicum of their privilege.

    Of course, the people of the surface world are even further up the ladder, but they are completely outside the system and their absence only enforces the very Orwellian nature of Luxite society below.
  • September 11, 2014
    SolipSchism
  • September 30, 2014
    SolipSchism
    If the Trope name sticks, and the page quote sticks, AND if the title of the Book Within a Book from Nineteen Eighty Four needs to be in all caps per the source material (I don't remember if it was in all caps in the book), then it should probably be in Small Caps, because it looks kind of obnoxious at full size.

    Also, the warning line on the Real Life examples reads "historigical" instead of "historical".
  • September 30, 2014
    dexterian120
    NO REAL LIFE EXAMPLES. Also, want to list notable aversions, too? Because with most societies that are deliberately not like this, it's a pretty big plot line.
  • October 1, 2014
    kjnoren
    I'm not sure exactly how Orwell defined Oligarchical Collectivism, but I know that "Oligarchical collectivism describes any setting where the wealth is collectively possessed by a tiny group of persons" is not it.

    To take one example, the Catholic Church would arguably fit under this. Collectivism definitely refers to the entirety of the population, not to the moneyed/ruling elite.
  • October 21, 2014
    JujuP
    @kjnoren

    Oligarchical Collectivism refered to the state of things in Oceania and its ennemies, Eastasia and Eurasia, where all the wealth was possessed by the local Inner Party as a collective.
  • October 21, 2014
    rexpensive
    Fixed the indentation.
  • October 21, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    Menachem Begin once accused the kibbutzim in Israel of being this to some extent, dismissively referring to them as 'the millionaire kibbutzniks in their swimming pools'.
  • November 6, 2014
    JujuP
    @Svarti Kotturinn

    This could be construed as Flamebait.
  • November 14, 2014
    SolipSchism
    ^ and ^^ Besides, we've already established that this willneed to be either historical examples only, or just plain No Real Life Examples Please, either of which would exclude that.

    EDIT: Also... it seriously looks as though this is not being maintained, it has no hats, three Motions to Discard, and it's 7 months old. I think it's time for this to go.
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