Oligarchs are not suitable candidates to lead nations.

March 2016 / Before 58th U.S Presidential Election

As I am writing these words, a CNN anchor in the background is ecstatically telling the story of Donald Trump’s yet another spectacular set of victories in the US Republican primaries. Yes, this is March 2016 and a real estate magnate, flamboyant billionaire with no political experience is taking American politics by storm, leading a political revolution of sorts — destroying all stereotypes and rules that political experts thought ruled politics until his appearance. People who know a lot about these particular subject and who express ideas and opinions about politics publicly are shocked and amazed, they all admit that no one saw this coming. Bill O’Reilly, America’s highest rated cable news star, recently stated that “the two most shocking political stories”[1] of his life are “the assassination of President Kennedy[2] and rise to political prominence of Donald J. Trump”. According to the pre-trump political rulebook, billionaire, whose name has become the brand of luxury and glamour, possesses all the traits that would make anybody not only unelectable, but also unqualified for any political career. But since the tycoon entered the political contest for the highest ranks and positions, the old “rulebook of politics” has destroyed. Despite his wild ideas for the world economy, total unpredictability, disregard of political correctness, lack of substance, exposed greediness and past life of deal-cutting that often lacked moral integrity, Trump seems to be invincible in selling something, none of the politicians could sell before. So what is it? What is Trumps selling point[3] that in a blink of an eye turned a business tycoon into a real contender for the office of the president of the United States? As Max Abelson [4] notes, “Trump is selling himself to America as the king of builders, a flawless dealmaker, and masterful manager” [5] . In fact, his only product is — himself; and this product is defined by one major characteristic — his wealth. It is his wealth that makes him so appealing to millions of voters, because it allows him to present himself as a credible and smart manager, it is his wealth that allows him to sell his independence from special interests, because he can’t be bought (unlike traditional politicians), it is his wealth that allowed him to develop such a high name recognition for himself over the decides, it is his wealth that makes him able to sell winning as his personal brand, but most importantly it is his wealth and the nature of unchecked power of the owners of mega corporations that has formed his direct-talker, aggressive, dominant, loud and overriding personality, that is so appealing to the voters, frustrated by spinelessness of classic politicians.

The main reason why carrier politicians, honoured by decades of successful public service record, have been powerless to confront the Trump phenomenon is simple — democratic political culture and the political process of becoming a leader is so regulated by political correctness, so ruthlessly transparent, that it would simply not allow a formation of a Trump-like personality. A Trump could never be a product of a democratic political manufacturing, a trump could only be produced in a culture of business tycoons, with nearly unchecked personal powers and authoritarian self-reliance, elevated to the levels of narcissist egocentrism — often observed in oligarchic personality patterns. In normal times, Trump like individual would never get close to the highest elected office, but sometimes politics take unexpected turns, and public frustration with political “business-as-usual” [6] grows so wild, that it opens opportunities for experiments such as electing a political outsider business tycoon to power. Disregarding the historic circumstances, as America is nearing the most important political decision and as Donald J Trump seems to be an unstoppable train rack to winning the nomination, the following question has become as relevant as ever — can billionaire tycoons, owners of mega corporations, and ruthless sharks of the corporate world make good political leaders, able to lead nations to prosperity and democracy? [7]Are oligarchs suitable candidates to lead nations? The true dimensions of this question are not limited to certain individuals, but rather expand much further. This is a question about the contrasts between political and corporate cultures. Is corporate culture [8] of vertical management and obedience to the business owner the environment where moguls can develop personal, psychological and ethical characteristics that we look for in best presidents? Can oligarchs, the super rich and super successful, that have for the most parts of their lives enjoyed limitless powers within their own business empires (often larger than some sovereign nations), and received praises from most of the people around, adjust to the new environments of democratic political playing fields?

This is a profound question that needs to be studied and researched, so far it does not seem that scholars have not put a considerable amount of work in researching this phenomenon. And the relevancy of this question is not limited to the current American political cycle. Ever since elective politics became a tradition that defines democracies, nations around the world from time to time are faced with a choice to elect some successful business tycoon that has never been a politician. Sometimes they look charming and tempting, sometimes they carry the torch of change, sometimes they seem overwhelmingly competent because of the record of success in accumulating immense wealth, this is also a reason why they come across as credible and trustworthy. In some elections they come close but fall short, think of Ross Perot’s [9] 1992 run for US Presidency; but in some cases they actually succeed in taking over power and become presidents or prime ministers of sovereign nations, [Silvio Berlusconi[10] of Italy and Bidzina Ivanishvili [11] of Georgia is just a couple of extreme examples], and as they assume power, their respective countries are at their mercy. Different societies have paid a price for experimenting with tycoons — Georgia is the latest example. However, with Trump being so close to presidency, this question had never been more relevant to the whole world as it is today — Are oligarchs who we need at the helms of our nations?

To understand whether a business tycoon is suitable for the highest political office we should understand and compare the two cultural environments: an environment of democratic political culture and an environment of corporate/oligarchic culture. As noted by Ozgur Zeren [12] in his article “There is no Democracy or Free market in a Corporation”, the order of conduct in large corporations if far from any standard of democracy and participation. Giant CEO’s consult with only few shareholders but impose their will in a strict hierarchic order down to thousands of employees where the only choice each employee has is “do it or quit”[13]. Self-made billionaires in such environments are the kings and gods within their kingdoms and realms, with absolute control over everything and everyone beneath. They are the owners and the rest are the subjects and objects they own. The goal of every employee within the hierarchy is to maximise the profit for the owner, and this is the only merit employees are judged by. It is not hard to imagine the treatment such moguls are used to receive from the surrounding subjects. It is possible that temptations , that pave the way to eventual egomania[14] await them at every step. There can be little doubt that their personalities, among other factors, are also shaped by the limitlessness of their capabilities. Bidzina Ivanishvili liked penguins, so he made himself a penguin zoo within his Chorvila estates. Before discovering his new passion to gigantic trees, he added zebras, sharks and giraffes to his pet zoo. This was happening shortly before he was elected as the commander and chief and chief executive of a sovereign nation. “He lives in a glass house and keeps a personal zoo of penguins but what Bidzina Ivanishvili is looking for now is power.” [15] My goal is not to speculate that every oligarch is an egomaniac, but it is almost certain that they are frequently tempted to adore themselves. As reported by Bloomberg, when once asked to name the leader to whom he looks for advice, Trump’s short reply was: “Me”. [16] Neither is my aim to condemn or challenge the way business is conducted in the corporate world. The aim of my paper is to highlight the need for a more comprehensive research of the compatibility of personal traits and value-systems of business tycoons with highest political offices.

“He lives in a glass house and keeps a personal zoo of penguins but what Bidzina Ivanishvili is looking for now is power.”

Now lets compare corporate environment to political environments in a democratic format. In political arena, the “art of the deal” [17] is not in choking the opponent but in finding a compromise. In political dimension one person is one vote unlike in corporate dimension where one vote is one share, and he who holds most of the shares makes the call. The system checks and balances, accountability and transparency regulate politics, in its democratic form. In corporate world, the largest owners are rarely checked or balanced within their business empires. Political leaders are constantly controlled and scrutinised ; they have to live a very transparent life in order to succeed. Oligarchs have opposite record of behaviour: hidden accounts, secret business deals, confidentiality agreements and so on. Politicians become national leaders when their values are larger then life, not material. Business tycoons are who they are because they are driven by the only value they recognise — the value of profit. How much can their value system be trusted the leadership of a nation? Will they make the decisive decision in favour of national interests or personal value? The examples of Berlusconi, Ivanishvili, Viktor Yanukovich[18], or Petro Poroshenko [19](who also happened to be an oligarch elected president), give us a lot of reason to be skeptical. A true political leadership requires the ability to listen to many voices and take wise advise from those who know better. Can King-like titans do that? Do they really have the capacity to take advice and make well-judged and balanced decisions? No one knows yet, but one can only imagine how good will president Trump be in taking advice; we can already guess how good was at it Mr. Ivanishvili judging by the decline of Georgia’s economy under his watch and subsequently his meltdown of political ratings. In democratic political environment every word of every statement of a leader matters, unlike in the business world where what matters are just the words in a signed contract. In politics modesty should be a trait deserving respect, in corporate world respect is normally earned by showing off your wealth and greed. In politics, good leaders are judged by the measure of their closeness to the ordinary people, how much they are in touch with reality, how well do they understand the pains of deprived citizens. In the world of mega tycoons, it is probably hard to stay in touch with reality when you fly only on private mega jets and sail on private mega yachts. And it has been proven over and again that national leaders who are out of touch with reality tend to be quite bad at their jobs of leading nations.

The power, gained by an oligarch, is not the merit of his personal achievement or his unique essential quality but his wealth. The oligarch itself means a briber who gives a bribe to society in order to gain influence and respect from them. The benefit he gives to society, makes him believe that he is a king, who is vitally needed for everyone. Everyone is afraid to loose their bribe, their prosperity and well-being, and in order to preserve the interrelation with him, they act like the oligarch has all desirable qualities which is needed for a ruler. In reality, most of them don’t think that he is a perfect one, but they need to act like that, essential requirement is to lavish a praise.. The competition is between that type of people, a better lickspittle will be rewarded with a better life. Therefore, the ruler is surrounded by flatterers and it gives him a certitude that he is a king with no faults. This belief convinces him that he is the dominant over society and there is no balance between him and people, because of his perception of surroundings and feelings of being undefeated, he equates himself with a god, a supreme being with an unlimited power. That is why oligarchs are directed to create a most beneficial system for them, where dominant power is held by them, elite segment of society. Oligarchy — “the rule of the few;” the form of government where the head of state is only chosen by his wealth. Aristotle [20] says “wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy” The Athenian coup of 411 BC, even still in Ancient Greece, is a vivid proof that oligarchs are trying to bring the most beneficial system for them in existence. The Coup, occurred during the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta, when Athenian democracy was around 100 years ago. The revolution, led by a number of prominent and wealthy Athenians, overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with an oligarchy known as The Four Hundred. After the revolution, Athen officially became the citizenship of Sparta, and the destruction of Athen meant annihilation of whole Greece. The results of oligarchic regime evoked terrible economical, social and political conditions, which made the country very weak.

Even still in Ancient Greece, people, who came from business to politics, were misfired. So far some research has been conducted to measure the success of American presidents who came from business to politics. The result is astounding — they all failed. As William W. Campbell writes in his article, In US history, there is neither of the successful businessmen who became highly successful presidents or nor the number of successful presidents who were successful businessmen.[21] “ Truman[22], a very successful president, failed in business. Harding[23] was very successful in business but is consistently rated as one of the worst presidents, so one of the most successful businessmen was a conspicuous failure as president.”

If trump becomes the 45th president of the united states I would only wish for him to be the greatest President possible and maybe make America great again; but if he is to be a mistake of a democratic choice, just like almost every oligarch elected president was before him, then the United States and the whole world are faced with the greatest possible danger of all times. Then the mankind is at the mercy of an unchecked and untested egomaniac that listens to no one but his own reflection in the mirror.

A 40 meter high perennial tulip tree was transported by the Black Sea to a dendrology park owned by Georgia’s billionaire former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

[1] Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, shared the two most shocking political stories of his lifetime on his show earlier this week for Glennbeck.

[2] American politician who served as the 35th President of the US from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.

[3] An aspect of a product or service that is stressed in advertising or marketing. ( thefreedictionary)

[4] Reporter at Bloomberg News

[5] Article “How Trump Invented Trump” for Bloomberg News by Max Abelson

[6] The normal course of an activity, particularly in circumstances that are out of the ordinary.

[7] Democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is given to people, every member of society has an equal rights and privileges.

[8] Corporate culture is the pervasive values, beliefs and attitudes that characterise a company and guide its practices.

[9] Henry Ross Perot, known as Ross Perot, is an American businessman best known for being an independent presidential candidate in 1992 and the Reform party presidential candidate in 1996

[10] is an Italian media tycoon, listed in The World’s Billionaires by Forbes Magazine and politician who served as 50th Prime Minister of Italy in four governments.

[11] is Georgian businessman and politician who was Prime Minister of Georgia from 25 October 2012 to 20 November 2013. He is listed in the world’s billionaires with an estimated worth of $6.4 billion, making him Georgia’s richest oligarch.

[12] is a journalist who writes on foremost Politics, Foreign Policy, Economics, Society, Technology, History, Equality, Change, among a large array of topics. Currently publishes his articles on Via Populi.

[13] From article “There is no Democracy or Free Market in a Corporation” by Ozgur Zeren

[14] the quality or state of being extremely egocentric and self-centred.

[15] Article “Bidzina Ivanishvili: the eccentric billionaire chasing Georgia’s leadership” published in Theguardian

[16] Bloomberg Article “How Trump Invented Trump” by Max Abelson

[17] Trump: The Art of the Deal is a 1987 part memoir and part a business advice book by business magnate Donald Trump.

[18] is a Ukrainian politician and billionaire who served as the fourth President of Ukraine from February 2010 until his removal from power in February 2014.

[19] is the fifth and current President of Ukraine in office since 2014 and listed in The World’s Billionaires by Forbes Magazine.

[20] Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city of Stagira, Chalkidice, on the northern periphery of Classical Greece.

[21] Article “History shows businessmen make bad presidents” By William W. Campbell.

[22] was the 33rd President of The United States (1945–53), an American politician of the Democratic Party.

[23] was the 29th President of The United States, serving from March 4, 1921 until his death