Wait--What is government anyway? Government is a system of social control under which the right to make laws, and the right to enforce them, is given to a particular group in society. Government power can be held by one individual, a few, or a majority.
A little more about government… Governments come in different forms. The basic law determining the form of government is called the constitution and may be written, as in the United States, or largely unwritten, as in Great Britain.
A little more about government… Modern governments have many jobs including: providing for the security of their country keeping order establishing a system of justice so that people are treated fairly providing welfare services to those in need regulating the economy (we’ll get to economic systems in a bit!) establishing educational systems ***In extreme cases of governmental regulation, every aspect of people's lives is controlled. This is called totalitarianism. Can you think of a novel that has a totalitarian government?
Government We distinguish between forms of government on the basis of its organizational structure and the degree of control exercised over the society.
Forms of Government We will be learning about the following forms of government: Democracy Monarchy Theocracy Dictatorship Transitional
Economic Systems And a few economic systems…because they are closely connected to governments! Capitalism Socialism Communism
Democracy Supreme power is given to the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation. Democratic countries have free elections where all citizens have a vote.
Democracy Examples of Democratic countries today: United States of America Philippines
Monarchy Rule by a single person (a king or queen), who is the permanent head of state. The term is now used to refer to countries with hereditaryrulers. This means that rule is passed down from parent to child. Constitutional monarchies are more common today. Under this system, the powers of the king or queen are restricted to those granted in the constitution. Most constitutional monarchies use a parliamentary system in which the king or queen may have strictly ceremonial duties. They often have a elected prime minister who is the head of government.
Monarchy Examples of countries with monarchies today: Saudi Arabia Brunei Qatar Oman Great Britain (Constitutional Monarchy) Australia (Constitutional Monarchy) Morocco (Constitutional Monarchy) Bhutan (Constitutional Monarchy—new!)
Theocracy In a theocracy, government leaders are members of the clergy (church officials), and the state's legal system is based on religious law. Rulers are thought to be “divinely guided”.
Theocracy Examples of theocracies today: Iran The Vatican
Dictatorship A government in which a single leader or party exercises absolute control over all citizens and every aspect of their lives. In most cases, this absolute power is exercised in a cruel way. Other names for a dictatorship include: Autocracy, Military Junta, Right Wing, Authoritarianism, Totalitarianism or Fascism
Dictatorship Examples of Dictatorships today: North Korea Libya—but the dictator was just overthrown! Myanmar (Burma) Sudan
Transitional A transitional government is one that is in the process of changing from one form to another Countries with transitional governments are often unstable
Transitional Examples of countries with transitional governments: Afghanistan Iraq
Economic Systems Wait—what is economics about anyway? Economics has to do with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services… **One minute table talk: What do the words production, distribution and consumption mean?
Capitalism An economic system in which individuals and corporations are free to invest in and own all aspect of a business. In a capitalist country, people own their own companies and can manage them to earn a profit.
Socialism Apolitical and economic system in which some businesses are controlled by the government rather than by individuals. In a socialist country, people have equal rights to various benefits (health, education), and there is an effort to limit the inequalities of wealth and power. Taxes are often quite high to provide for these benefits. People do hold private property in socialist countries. A country can be both socialist and democratic
Communism A political and economic system in which the government controls all business. Individual people cannot own property or industries and in theory, people of all social classes are treated equally. Communist countries have totalitarian governments. All communists are socialists, but not all socialists are communists.
Think of it as a spectrum… Capitalism Socialism Communism _______________________________________ United States Canada Sweden China Cuba North Korea
Still a little confused? Watch the brainpop on Communism for a bit more explanation…