A Brief Guide To Political Systems

The volume of public ignorance on this topic is deafening. With no common definitions, we end up with continual verbal skirmishing over fine yet scarcely relevant details. This usually devolves into namecalling, which inevitably stifles meaningful discourse and ends productive conversation.

So here’s a quick guide to the types of political systems presently active in the world today. Doubtless there will be disagreement over the abstract terms; hopefully, this can be resolved without namecalling. (Probably not, because people are idiots — but what the hell. -Editor)

Democracy — Issues are addressed individually, and solutions are agreed on by popular vote. Does not exist in the wild, though it has been tried in a few places with more or less success. One illustration of this is that Norway is commonly considered by political authorities to be the most democratic full democracy in the world, and yet Norway has a king as head of state.

Parliamentary Democracy, or a Republic — Issues are addressed by a body of elected officials, who make their decisions based on the merits of a concept relative to the will of the voters who put them in office. Does not exist anywhere in its pure form, though most of the world’s nations adopt a version of this model. These include a Federalist system, which has a strong executive branch, a ministerial government, and variations on the constitutional monarchy.

Monarchy, or Feudalism — Ultimate rule is given to hereditary kings, each of whom has power more or less absolute just as long as they don’t try to use it. The apparent paradox of this is explained by the use of the words “is given to”; someone has to choose the king, after all. In a true feudal system, this power is held by the local barons (sometimes also called Earls, Dukes, Counts, and so on). In a parliamentary or constitutional monarchy, the power to remove a king is usually entrusted to a group of elected officials.

Dictatorship — This is the ultimate distillation of democracy into its most idealized form: One Man, One Vote. The dictator is The Man, and he alone has The Vote. In small nations, this is the most efficient possible form of government, since all theft and graft is centralized along with all power. Fewer hands in the till make for less operating loss. Would-be dictators would do well to remember that this form of government is identical to a monarchy, in that the power to rule is held by one man but the power to select a dictator is held outside that person’s direct control.

Fascism — Tyranny of the many over the whole in a single-party system. Fascists hold power by the collective will of those inclined to power, usually a small percentage of the population, who rely on collective force to hold this power rather than any vote or otherwise democratic affirmation. Individual executives are granted larger or smaller realms of authority based on demonstrated ability; ability is often judged by one’s adherence to strict definitions of party doctrine. The highest ideal in a fascist government is service to the State.

(Please note that the term “Fascist Dictatorship” is a contradiction in terms. One either has fascism or a dictatorship, never both. -Editor)

Communism — An economic theory that uses government to enforce its dictates, pure communism holds all property in common. The ideal sought by communists is “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” In practice, this has usually generated uniform scarcity, starvation, and incapacity among the working classes, with actual wealth and power centered in the hands of a small oligarchy. True communism only ever exists in the wild in small communes, and usually only for a very brief time.

Forms Within (not of) Government

All government is a conspiracy against the individual, one which robs from the poor to enrich the wealthy, suppresses the able in favor of the politically pure, and regiments the populace by force in order to ruthlessly stamp out all forms of originality and individuality. It follows naturally that, from a citizen’s perspective, that government is best which governs least, imposing its will only where absolutely essential for the good of the entire population. Unfortunately, no working model of this form of government has yet been created, and so it has no one name.

Adherents to the above political theory often label themselves Anarchists, Nihilists, and Libertarians. This is usually done improperly. Anarchism is opposition to all government-by-force; Nihilism is defined as an active desire for destruction; Libertarianism is the pursuit of a process maximizing freedom of individual action.

The opposing school of thought is that of Socialism, including democratic socialism, social democracy, socialist communism, socio-capitalism, and any number of similar mixed theories. The central tenet is that, contrary to the majority of human experience, government can be used as a force for good, improving the lives of all its citizens though cooperative spending and activity.

Curiously enough, in practice, Socialists are occasionally proven correct in this assumption, though the general experience of the mass of humanity tends to support the opposite principle. This only appears paradoxical, though the reasons for this remain topics of debate. Libertarians in particular have been seen to observe this phenomenon and have their brains explode in fits of incomprehension.

And yet, the common operative principle is uniformly accepted: that all political power derives from a mandate from the masses, and either exists as a consensus among a people or soon ceases. If people believe in socialism, it tends to work; if people believe in freedom from government, that tends to work. Even communism, impracticable on a large scale, is extremely efficient locally. This is because all government, fundamentally, is a form of democracy in action.

Credit to Terry Pratchett for defining a dictatorship in terms of democracy.

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