List of forms of government
| It doesn't stop|
at the water's edge
Ever wondered what all those -ocracies and -archies were? Seek no further than RationalWiki's list of forms of government.
- A form of government (or lack thereof) with no ruling hierarchy, instead decisions are made at a directly democratic level: laws are created by citizens alone, although they may be enforced by institutions that are not publicly controlled.
- A stateless society composed of sovereign individuals living within the constraints of a corporatist market.
- Anarchy is lack of a central government, as there is no one recognized governing authority; in anarchy there is no effective government (as opposed to an "ineffective government") and each (rugged) individual has absolute liberty. It is important to note, however, that the lack of a government to enforce laws does not automatically imply that there are no laws; anarcho-capitalism in particular posits a form of anarchy with a body of explicit laws.
- A form of government in which a select few rule based on inherited hereditary right.
- A form of government in which the political power is held by a single, self-appointed ruler. This should be distinguished from monarchy, which involves some traditional basis for that power, usually birth, and is often weakened (especially in modern times) by the presence of countervailing institutions, like a Parliament. Which is not to say that dictators who've awarded themselves the position of king or emperor are exempt from being categorized as autocrats, of course.
In practice, it is almost impossible to be a real autocrat, because every state must rely on an array of lesser officials to enforce the dicta of the autocrat. Moreover, any given autocrat will have to appease certain factions, most notably the military, to avoid the Praetorian treatment. At a bare minimum, the autocrat will need the threat of force to compel obedience, which necessitates some willing underlings to carry out that threat.
Autocracy, though, is one of the most overused words in the foreign policy lexicon, as it is often used to simply mean "authoritarian" or "totalitarian" governments. For example, many writers will refer to Chinese "autocrats," not understanding that the mere fact that there are more than one person making decisions means it is not an autocracy.
Some examples are:
- Stalinist USSR (well, Uncle Joe was certainly an autocratic leader, but totalitarian is probably a better description of Stalinism in general)
- The Putinarchy in modern day Russia.
- North Korea under three generations now. Legally, the actual 'leader' of the country is Kim Il Sung, despite being dead for 21 years.
- Rule by goat. Without a doubt, the most superior form of governance known to man or to goat.
- Communist state
- A hypothetical stateless entity that follows after socialism as according to Marxist theory.
- A form of government where a corporation, a group of corporations, or government entities with private components control the direction and governance of a country. (See USA.)
- A group of nations or states, or a government encompassing several states or political divisions, in which the component states retain considerable independence. The members of a confederation often delegate only a few powers to the central authority.
- A hypothetical political system run by randomly selected
decidersdecision makers who have been selected by sortition (drawing lots). Think selecting a legislature or executive in the same manner that a jury is presently selected.
- Refers to a broad range of types of government based upon the "consent of the governed". In its purest form it is the same thing as mobocracy, but it is usually practiced in the form of a republic or constitutional monarchy, which provides checks and balances and an establishment that is able to tap an unruly mob on its collective head. In the US, "democracy" is often mistakenly assumed to mean direct democracy as opposed to representative democracy (see also Republic).
- Rule by an all-powerful individual. A less polite term for "autocracy."
- Rule by a dictator instead of a despot. Political science is very nuanced. Technically, a dictatorship is where the executive holds a disproportionate amount of power, so an oligarchy (see below) can be a dictatorship, as in the case of South American juntas.
- A utopian type of society and government in which people of rank, including those holding political office, are those who possess epistemic humility.
- A form of government where representatives of a particular ethnic group hold a number of government posts disproportionately large to the percentage of the total population that the particular ethnic group(s) represents and use them to advance the position of their particular ethnic group(s) to the detriment of others. In Nazi Germany ethnic groups Hitler supported held all the power. Neo-Nazis often accuse Jews of possessing an ethnocracy in the person of the U.S. government, which they call the Zionist Occupation Government.
- A form of government, usually theocratic or monarchic, that is established and constituted for rule over an ethnic or religious diaspora rather than over the place of origin whence the diaspora originated.
- Rule by a totalitarian and corporatist government. It has also gone by the names Nazism, Baathism, Corporatism, and Falangism.
- Government by a usually hereditary class of military landowners, who exact goods and services from a peasant class in exchange for protection. Usually features complex webs of loyalties and ranks.
- A federal government is a system that divides up power between a strong national government and smaller local governments. We'll take a look at how power plays out between the national and local government, and the benefits of a federal government.
- System of government proposed by economist Robin Hanson based on the idea of voting on a certain outcome and then figuring out how to achieve it.
- A system of government first proposed by Rael (leader of the International Raëlian Movement) in 1977, which advocates problem-solving and creative intelligence as criteria for regional governance. Not, unfortunately, rule by genies, which would be much more awesome.
- Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens, "Government by the worst." See also United States.
- A term applied to a government that extends the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats) at the expense of the population.
- Rule by those who are strong enough to seize power through force or cunning.
- Kritocracy or Krytocracy
- Rule by judges. See also judicial activism.
- Rule by women, or a government which regards female humans as entitled to rule and to exercise power over men.
- A government wherein appointments are made and responsibilities are given based on demonstrated talent and ability, usually incentivising "merit".
- A political ideology which maintains that the state's only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression.
- Mobocracy or Ochlocracy
- Rule by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of constitutional authorities; think Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail "witch/duck" mob.
- Rule by an individual for life or until abdication, often hereditary. On a positive note, a monarchy usually possesses more checks and balances than an autocracy or dictatorship.
- A government that operates under the rules of a dead ruler. See also North Korea.
- A form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military or religious hegemony. The term dates back to Aristotle, who considered oligarchy to be the corrupted form of aristocracy, and worse than mob rule, but better than tyranny. No modern country identifies itself as an oligarchy. The term is used by scholars to describe various societies, historical and modern, or thrown around as a pejorative epithet.
- A political philosophy emphasizing each individual's right to freely join and leave the jurisdiction of any governments they choose, without being forced to move from their current locale.
- Rule by men, or a government which regards male humans as entitled to rule and to exercise power over women.
- Rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth.
- Historical and international definition: Any of a wide variety of non-monarchical governments where eligibility to rule is determined by law. US definition: Rule by elected individuals representing the citizen body and exercising power according to the rule of law.
- Socialist republic or people's republic
- A state run by a communist party, or worker representative democracy, with a centrally controlled economy and resources distributed by need and produced by ability, where workers, or the Party, control the means of production.
- A system of government in which there is no distinction between the military and the civil power.
- A form of government in which engineers, scientists, and other technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields.
- A form of government in which a god or deity is recognized as the state's supreme civil ruler. Since said god or deity is usually absent from decision making, a self-appointed or elected leader or leaders of the religion of said god or deity will rule instead through personal interpretation of the laws commanded by the god in that religion's (usually written) law.
- A political system theorized by Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement (Mormons). As the name implies, theodemocracy was meant to be a fusion of traditional republican democratic rights under the US Constitution combined with theocratic elements.
- Either a state where only property owners may participate in government or where rulers are selected and perpetuated based on the degree of honor they hold relative to others in their society, peer group or class.
- Rule by a selfish or otherwise bad single ruler.
- A unitary state is a state governed as a single power in which the central government is ultimately supreme and any administrative divisions (sub-national units) exercise only the powers that the central government chooses to delegate. The majority of states in the world have a unitary system of government.