Is there a name for our form of government in which the forms of democracy are observed while all meaningful power lies with money? If so, I don't know what it is, but there should be one.And the response:
roi - that's easy: Oligarchy. This is what prevails in Russia, the middle east, most of Latin America, including the pseudo-socialist states like Chavez's Venezuela and Fidel's Cuba, where the oligarchs wear fatigues.
Oligarchy in the present environment denotes that polity where the commanding heights of the economy are controlled by a few actors who move frictionlessly in and out of the halls of political power.
The main political idea of the oligarchs is of a continuum between the state and private enterprise. Unlike fascism, which seeks to organize and co-opt powerful private groups (labor, industrial sectors, the church, etc) into "corporate" entities existing in uneasy harmony with the reigning political party, the oligarchs have little interest in society as such and are motivated less by power than by the desire for financial gain. They are happy to preserve a two- or multi-party system, so long as each side recognizes that political power is merely a stepping stone to the lucrative, state-affiliated key industries of investment banking and political lobbying.
While the twin oligarchic parties in this country fight bitterly over social issues, on the core issue of access to financial power, the parties share a fundamental belief that the state is subservient to financial interests which themselves are viewed as the the key driver of economic growth and the ultimate arbiter of wise policy.
Some oligarchs extend this belief further to the idea that the nation = the state, and that those who control the state-- the permanent political class, which rotates in and out of power into lobbying firms and corporate suites closely aligned to the state-- have sole authority for the state's direction, scope and resources. In this political model, the public is redirected away from fundamental economic and financial discussions toward socio-cultural battles via feigned outrage, "dog whistles", phony controversies.
in sum, the animating principles of Oligarchy are:
-- lack of transparency
-- redirecting the public gaze to non-economic issues
-- the blurring of the state and the private financial sector
-- sweetheart $$$ deals for the permanent political class
Meanwhile, our government-as-Davos model proceeds apace, with each party ensuring that it can land safely in a seven- or eight-figure salaried position for an investment or lobbying firm, as Rahm Emanuel, the Bojangles of the Banking Business, did in 1998 when he schlepped his DNC donor Rolodex to an investment fund for $18m in three years, or Tom Daschle did in 2006, on his way to $5m in quick money, or Donna Shalala and Walter Mondale did, as directors of that poster child for corporate misgovernance and theft, United Health, or the new ass't HHS sec'y, Ms DeParle did when she left the public sector to run an fund investing in, you guessed it, health care companies, or....