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Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.
—Barnhill, John Basil (1914).
Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
H.L. Mencken[1]

A government is a system designed to make sure the citizens of a nation play nicely with its other citizens. Several different types of government have been implemented in attempts to accomplish that goal, with widely varying results. It is usually made up of several distinct parts with varying degrees of independence from each other, most commonly divided into executive, legislature and judiciary.

Political views on government[edit]

Governments are generally held responsible for the form and nature of a country's domestic economic system, and also for the level of personal freedom enjoyed by its citizens. It exercises sovereignty over a territory on behalf of its citizens and is armed with the responsibility to make and enforce laws.[2] It is a tenet of the structure of the liberal theory of international relations that all governments are responsible to some fraction of the citizenry, and that understanding this can lead to a better understanding of the choices governments make.[3] Other theories treat the government as a unitary and autonomous actor, mostly for the sake of simplicity.

Some people are okay with their current form of government, but others express their displeasure through acts of civil disobedience or sometimes even revolution.

What is a Government?[edit]

In international affairs, the government acts on behalf of its people, negotiating treaties, starting, ending, or avoiding wars, and managing how foreign trade is conducted. There are many different forms of government that mostly differ on the number of people holding power, and the degree to which they allow input from other elements of society. Sometimes, we see what might be called "hybrid government" systems, where some tenets of different systems are fused together, such as a dictatorship that is still up for (real) periodic elections.

Very commonly, governments are used as scapegoats to the problems of society such as economic troubles and social injustice. Crank conspiracy theories often view the government as perpetrators outright, using rhetoric such as "the government did it" or "the government is your enemy".[4]

The claim that the government is the enemy of the citizens appears to have a notable uptake in the United States: according to a survey by the Pew Research Center on 23 November 2015, 27 percent thought of the government as their enemy. The percentage in the survey was higher with Republican and independent voters (35% and 34% respectively), and lower with Democrat voters (12%).[5] The idea of government being the citizens’ enemy often fuels the freeman on the land and the sovereign citizen pseudolaw movements.

Forms of government[edit]


  2. Some countries, most notably Switzerland, allow their citizens to frequently exercise the former power directly.
  3. Even a pure dictatorship is responsible to a very tiny fraction of the citizenry — the dictator. And any realistic dictatorship is responsible in addition to at least that fraction of the people who have the ability to overthrow the dictator, for example the military.
  4. Ewart, Ron (3 March 2013). "Why Government Is Your Enemy!". 
  5. "Report: More Than 1 In 4 Americans Believe Government Is The Enemy". CBS Local Media. 25 November 2015.