Look across the civilized world and you’re invariably going to find an election. This is a quaint institution where every once in a while ordinary people decide who’s going to kick them around for the next couple of years. Once it’s over half the people are pleased and the other half are pissed off. But that’s the nature of democracy: somebody’s gotta lose, and losers are generally vocal about it. In fact (and it’s a little known fact) the word “democracy’ comes from two words: “demos” (a corruption of “demons”) and “cracy” (a corruption of “crazy.”) These were the pejorative terms opponents shouted at each other in the Athenian Agora where democracy was born. However, despite the sophisticated name calling, Greek democracy was very primitive. For example, not everybody got to vote — or even speak — including slaves, women, Pericles’ mistress Aspasia, convicted felons, tax evaders and anybody named Xerxes. Nor was democracy universally accepted. The great philosopher Socrates wasn’t a fan and advocated that only men who wore socks should vote. When the youth of Athens began wearing socks and sandals, he was put to death. (Rightly so!) Some years later, Alexander the Great came along and put Athenian democracy to death — where it lay dormant for about 2000 years. The democracy we know is a weird evolution of English barons, Boston lawyers, Virginia farm boys, French revolutionaries and John Stuart Mill. It serves us well, but it’s by no means the only form of government available. Here are a few other systems of note.
Monarchy – Named for the Monarch butterfly, this is government by glamour with plenty of crowns and gowns to go around. Monarchy is characterized by over-the-top weddings, footmen, tiaras and glass slippers. And even though one out of two princes are charming, monarchy has some serious enemies — such as spinning wheels, poison apples and wicked stepmothers. However, when done properly, Monarchy can result in happily ever after. (I’m lookin’ at you, Kate.)
Authoritarianism – Sometimes called “tyranny,” “despotism” or “one-man rule” — whatever it’s called, though, it invariably works the same. There’s always a short man who didn’t get laid in high school. He somehow seizes power and spends the next few years acting like a paranoid dick to everybody. (Hence the name – dictator.) Dictators are characterized by funny hats, funny haircuts and no sense of humour. And they don’t like to be called Winnie the Pooh.
Theocracy – No idea what this is, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t some silly-ass notion that religious leaders should run the government! I mean really! Nobody’s that stupid!
Tribalism – See Facebook.
Fascism – You get to march a lot, but you have to do as you’re told.
Patriarchy – This is where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.
Matriarchy – Oddly enough, this is also where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.
Parliamentarianism – This is a combination of two French words, “parle” which means “to talk” and “merde” which means – uh – google it. The theory behind government by parliament is if enough elected officials talk enough shit long enough, eventually the problem will simply go away. The best example of parliamentarianism is Canada where they’ve been talking about poverty, homelessness and unemployment for 50 years.
Republic – Parliamentarianism on the Potomac.
Anarchy – This looks great on paper but normally ends up with a big, ugly biker drinking beer out of the skull of the college sophomore who thought it was a cool idea. It’s basically Mad Max meets academia.
Communism – Sometimes called Soviet Democracy, there’s only one party, and it isn’t very much fun.
Socialism – Favoured by actors, rock stars and other rich people, the single premise of socialism is somebody else (normally called “they”) isn’t paying their fair share. Socialists are political tourists who drink champagne, ride around in limousines, attend the occasional rally and then retreat to the leafy green suburbs to contemplate their awareness.
Polygamy – Oops! Wrong blog!
Ochlocracy – This is a fancy word for Mob Rule. It was made popular during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, and if you still think you’d like a taste of it, open a Twitter account.
Oligarchy – Not to be confused with Russian gangsters, this is where several groups of powerful people get together, hijack the government and do whatever the hell they like because they’re so badass/ruthless, ordinary people are too scared to …. Hey! Wait a minute!
Meritocracy – A Cloud-cuckoo-land form of government popular with children and those college sophomores again.
Magocracy – A society ruled by magicians. It’s hard to explain, but essentially it’s Harry, Hermione and Ron Weasley running the show.
Plutocracy – This is rule by rich people who – I suppose — take their instructions from Pluto. This form of government has probably fallen into disfavour since a gang of treacherous scientists defrocked the tiny planet.
And finally, two forms of government that are very popular these days:
Kakistocracy – This is where the voting public continually elect the stupidest people possible and then wonder why nothing ever gets done.
Kleptocracy – This is where people vote for the candidate who certainly seems sincere — only to be taken in by these con artists who, once elected, turn out to be nothing more than common thieves.