Those not familiar with political theory or how nation-states are governed may not realize exactly how many types of government there are in the world. Sure, the big ones always get the lion’s share of the attention, but most countries operate on variants of the most recognizable ones in existence, including the United States. Here are just a few examples of the more well-known ones.
- Federal Republic. It is one of the most well-known types of government in the world and the one employed by the United States. That’s right; we are not a democracy in the strictest sense of the word. Democracy literally means government by the people. And as a country we’re simply too big to govern ourselves directly, so we’ve set up a system where we elect people to do it for us.
- Theocracy. Simply put, this type of government is one in which a particular deity is seen as the supreme ruler of the land and civil society. Typically, said deity has representatives to interpret and enforce specific dogma. In general, theocracies tend to be very oppressive and intolerant towards women, members of the LGBT community or anyone who would disagree with those in power. Iran is a good example of a theocratic state.
- Socialism. Despite what people hear from the American political group known as the Tea Party, there are no socialist governments within the confines of the Unites States and the U.S. is not a socialist state. This type of government is ideally intended to be one in which the production and distribution of goods, services and political power is controlled by a centralized committee rather than a single individual for the good of all. Russia under Vladimir Lenin was an attempt at socialism on a very large scale, while Russia under his successor, Joseph Stalin, abandoned that principle in favors of a brutal dictatorship.
- Communist. This type of government describes a state where a central, often one party government owns all aspects of production and capital. There are no private businesses of any kind and no socio-economic classes (at least theoretically). The goal of this system is to provide the social order and service equal across an entire populace. China is an example of one of the last and certainly largest communist states left.
- Totalitarian. This type of government is one of the worst and most brutal forms in existence. In a totalitarian state, the people are ruled by a leader with absolute authority of all aspects of life, including production, distribution, capital and even social. Totalitarian states are always brutal and without mercy for those who would oppose them. Past and present examples include Germany under Adolf Hitler, Russia under Joseph Stalin, and North Korea under Kim Jong-il.