was neither a democracy nor a dictatorship. Throughout its history
Venice was governed by a group of about 500 billionaires. These
billionaires were called "noblemen", but in those days this meant
"billionaire". The more money you had, the more noble you were. The
ideas of nobility and money were inextricably linked, and a "duchess
without dosh" would be a contradiction in terms, like a millionaire
without a million.
Venetian system of government was based on the Roman system of
government before Julius Caesar introduced czarism. Before this, Roman
society was divided into basically three classes. There was the
Patrician class, made up of billionaires, who made the laws and
commanded the armies. Then there was the Equestrian class, made up of
millionaires, who had the privilege of serving in the army on horseback,
as opposed to walking. They were also called Knights, and were the
forerunners of the feudal knights like Sir Lancelot. Finally there was
the Plebeian class, of Roman citizens who didn't have enough wealth to be
classed as Knights.
the Roman system of government, all of the classes had influence, but
the wealthier classes had more influence then the poorer classes. This
appeared natural to people. The influence of the Plebeian class was
limited to vetoing the actions of the other classes. The Plebeians
elected Tribunes, who had the power of veto. For example, they could
veto a law, or stop a prosecution, or stop the actions of an official.
Roman system was carried over to Venice, in that the government was in
the hands of the billionaires, but nothing important could be done
without the approval of the ordinary citizens. Eventually it was found
that the ordinary citizens always agreed with the wishes of the
billionaires, and that their approval was a mere formality, so it was
abolished, and the billionaires were officially in control of the
government from then on.
might imagine that a government run by billionaires would be a
disagreeable place for ordinary people. After all, Australian employers
seem to be constantly trying to get their employees to do more work for
less pay. As it turned out, however, throughout its entire 1100 year
history, Venice was the best place in the world for ordinary people to
live. If you could send a message backwards in time to your ancestors,
that message would be, "Move to Venice!"
an idea of how life was in those days, Eastern Europe was like China
today, with both poor and well-off people. Western Europe was like North
Korea today, with most people living in extreme poverty. Venice was like
Hong Kong today, with most people having an adequate standard of living.
Venice was a very healthy place to live, despite the primitive
sanitation arrangements in those days, because the sea washed all the
effluent away. Venice was so healthy that visitors would remark that
there was a higher proportion of old people than anywhere else in the
Venetian billionaires were very concerned to prevent a czarism system of
government being set up. They had seen how the czarism system had led to
the decline in size of the Roman Empire, with whole provinces being
occupied by barbarian tribes. The problem with the czarism system was
that 80% of the emperors were incompetent. The other 20% of emperors
were good, but were unable to undo the damage that their incompetent
modern times, governments have tried the czarism system of government.
Under Stalin, the Soviet Union gained control over a large part of the
world. But all this was lost through Gorbachev's incompetence. In Spain,
General Franco defended traditional values, but his successor, King Juan
Carlos, set up a "politically correct" regime and traditional values
were swept away. This is the same with all dictatorships. No matter how
careful and competent a dictator is, he cannot ensure that his
successors will do a good job. His only hope is to set up an oligarchy
like the Venetians did.
Venetian billionaires were directly affected by the Roman Emperors'
incompetence. Originally they lived in Italy, but in the fifth century
Italy was overrun by Gothic tribes. The plight of Romans was very
similar to the situation for whites in Southern Africa today. The Goths
would steal peoples' belongings, occupy their houses and farms, and
extort money from people. Many Romans moved to the eastern parts of the
Roman Empire, just as many Southern African whites are moving east to
Some Romans noticed how
the Goths had an aversion to water. The Goths couldn't swim or sail
boats, and being uneducated low-lives, had no
inclination to learn how to. The Romans realised that anyone who lived
in the Venetian Islands would be safe from attack. Consequently many of
them moved to the islands. The Venetians realised that if they set up a
czarism government, some future dictator would give the islands to the
Goths, so they resolved to prevent a dictatorship arising at all costs.
appointed a Prime Minister, called the Doge, but made sure that he could
do nothing without the approval of a council of other billionaires. The
Prime Minister was required to be constantly in the company of other
billionaires, to prevent him scheming to make himself a dictator. He had
no formal powers at all, other than to suggest courses of action to the
other billionaires. The following picture is of the Prime Minister
Leonardo Loredan, a fifteenth century billionaire.