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As a kleptocracy ( . Give a wiki κλέπτειν kléptein steal 'and -kratie : κρατία kratia , rule', ie about "rule of looters", "thieves rule") is one in the strict sense of rule referred to in the ruling arbitrary power over property and income of the ruled and enrich themselves or their clientele at the expense of the ruled.


The term was coined by Patrick Meney , who describes the conditions in the Soviet Union at the end of the socialist era and in Russia at the beginning of the Yeltsin era. Kleptocracies are mostly dictatorships , often in connection with nepotism .

Examples of kleptocracies are the rule of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua , of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire , the Marcos regime in the Philippines and the five-year reign of Sani Abacha , who in Nigeria shared in the profits of oil exports for most of the population refused and let the income move outside the country. After the Malta Files were published, Erdoğan's rule in Turkey was also added.

Extension of the term

The political scientist Götz Aly explicitly uses the term kleptocratic in his book Hitler's People's State and advocates the thesis that the Nazi state bought the loyalty of a broad middle class of 95% of Germans with means from excessive taxation of the rich and from the robbery of the Jews and the population of the occupied states.

Classification in today's time

The stockbroker Dirk Müller writes in one of his books that the election of the billionaire Donald Trump as US president will replace the current political system in the USA with a kleptocracy in which the rich sell themselves to the common good through tax cuts.

The professor of economics Hans-Hermann Hoppe from the University of Nevada leads in his book The competition of crooks. Regarding the mischief of democracy and the way out into private law society (2012), that mass elections favor an institutionalized kleptocracy that has “little or no inhibitions” to “steal other people's property”. The democratic state operates “as the ultimate legal monopoly in a legal vacuum without a contract”, because there has never been a contractual submission of everyone to the state. As a result of excessive debt-making at the expense of others, the time of the great democracies is over in the near future. You could end up in a new totalitarianism or in a private law society.


  • Karen Dawisha: Putin's Kleptocracy, Who Owns Russia? Simon & Schuster, New York 2014, ISBN 978-1-4767-9519-5 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Kleptocracy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Patrick Meney: La kleptocratie: La delinquance en URSS . 1982
  2. Craig Shaw, Peter Zink: Erdogan's secret ship deal . In: Spiegel Online , May 27, 2017.
  3. Götz Aly: Hitler's People's State , p. 386 of the paperback edition