What kind of people does the word “oligarch” bring to mind? The Russians: Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The Ukrainians: Rinat Akhmetov, Victor Pinchuk, Kostyantyn Zhevago, Ihor Kolomoyskyi. You might think of the Middle Eastern and Chinese tycoons. You might think of the drug czars of South America. But you are unlikely to think of the Western tycoons as oligarchs. This is because of the power of Western propaganda, which has convinced most people that oligarchy is a problem of the non-Western nations.
Some of the most notorious oligarchs of the last 400 years were Western. Sir Francis Drake was a British oligarch of the sixteenth century. He was among the richest Englishmen of his time—he ran a piracy operation which looted and destroyed the ships belonging to Britain’s rivals. The East India Company was a powerful oligarchic entity of its time. They were involved in every possible crime and atrocity—they overthrew governments, they conducted massacres, they profited from piracy and slavery, they smuggled opium, and they looted the countries where they operated.
During the Age of Imperialism, the Western powers managed to conquer the world because of the operations of their oligarchic organizations: Sir Francis Drake’s privateers, the East India Company, the Dutch East India Company (VOC), the Royal Africa Corporation, the British South Africa Company (led by Cecil Rhodes), and several others.
Oligarchy is primarily a Western problem. Even in the twentieth century, the Western oil, mineral, and defense multinationals have been exercising an oligarchic control on the oil and natural gas resources in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. The Western digital companies control the global flow of information. The Western Pharma companies dictate the health-related agenda of many countries. The Western banks and insurance companies have the power to make or break the economies of several nations, including the Western ones.
The predatory methods of the oligarchic multinationals has made it impossible for genuine free market societies to emerge anywhere in the world.