This is a heavy word, accompanied with a heavy quotation, and having very heavy implications. A word used to represent a political system, oligarchy is used in negative context, like the usage above. In the given quote, the author goes on to talk about three form of government and what they transform into. In case you are wondering about the meanings of the above governance forms, they are explained here:
1. monarchy: an autocracy where the ruler inherits the authority.
2. tyranny: rule of an absolute ruler/dictator.
3. aristocracy: rule of a privileged class, holding hereditary titles and power.
4. democracy: rule of the people.
Word Origin for Oligarchy:
Oligarchy is based on the Greek roots ‘olig’ and ‘archy’. They mean:
Olig: few or small
Archy: govern or rule
A simple addition of the two roots gives us the meaning of the word in contention: rule or government where power lies in the hand of few individuals.
Meanings of Oligarchy:
1. A political system governed by a few people
Quote Examples for Oligarchy:
1. Monarchy degenerates into tyranny, aristocracy into oligarchy, and democracy into savage violence and chaos. – Polybius 2. The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. – Charles de Montesquieu 3. Where some people are very wealthy and others have nothing, the result will be either extreme democracy or absolute oligarchy, or despotism will come from either of those excesses.- Aristotle
Well the quotes above and the one below provide ample illustration of how this word should be used.