Top 10 Obscure Forms of Government

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We’ve all heard of a democracy, a republic, and probably a monarch-type government. In the past, there have been monarchs ruling society, tyrants, enlightened despots, and so many other types of leaders. In the end, it’s safe to say that the world has seen several different types of governments over the centuries.

Even in today’s world, different governments rule different countries. Despite the idea of Westernization of the world and the thought of “spreading democracy,” there are plenty of countries and areas in the world that aren’t ruled by the widely-known democracy, or even a republic. In the end there are plenty of different governments that exist in the world today. Here’s a list of the top 10 forms of government you’ve probably never heard of.

10. Meritocracy

Meritocracy was the primary basis for selection of chiefs and generals in the Mongol Empire.

Meritocracy was the primary basis for selection of chiefs and generals in the Mongol Empire.

A meritocracy is a type of government that appointments people to work but they are given certain responsibilities based on their ability and talent, instead of focusing on family connections, wealth, or popularity. In a meritocracy, those who are able to show their talent are the ones rewarded. Though it seems extremely unreliable, meritocracies have existed in the world. During the time of Genghis Khan, a meritocracy was used in order to choose his generals and chiefs of the Mongol Empire. Napoleon was also said to be somewhat meritocratic. Today, Singapore claims to be meritocratic.

9. Diarchy

The old coat of arms of Andorra at Casa de la Vall, parliament, in Andorra la Vella, the capital city of the country.

The old coat of arms of Andorra at Casa de la Vall, parliament, in Andorra la Vella, the capital city of the country.

A diarchy is a government in which two diarchs are made heads of the state. Many times, these diarchs are rulers until their death, or until the power is passed on to a family member or child. Though extremely common in the past, it’s very rare to find a diarchy existing in today’s world. Today, the only country that can be seen as a diarch is Andorra, which has two heads of state known as co-princes. In the past, places such as Rome, Sparta, Carthage, and the Inca Empire were all diarchies.

8. Kleptocracy

Mobutu Sésé Seko King of Zayre his name is synonymous with kleptocracy in Africa.

Mobutu Sésé Seko King of Zayre his name is synonymous with kleptocracy in Africa.

Kleptocracy is a government similar to a plutocracy where a few people rule, but only rule because of their wealth. However, with a kleptocracy, those who are already rich generally start to embezzle money from those beneath them, making themselves even richer. Many times rulers will take money that is set aside for certain projects such as school and hospital improvements, public services, fixing roads, and other things. There is no real kleptocracy in the world today, and even if their was, its highly doubted that it would be found out at the time. However, there was a list released by a German NGO that listed leaders who are self-enriched.

7. Exilarchy

Dalai Lama

An exilarchy is a government that is usually monarchic or theocratic that has rule over a certain religious sect of ethnic group rather than being in control of the entire society. The ruler, called an exilarch, is usually one that is honored and is powerful in a certain religion or ethnic group. However, the exilarch only has power that is given through him by honorary and cultural means. In essence, those ruled by the exilarch are generally also ruled by a larger government of that location. An example of an exilarchy is Dalai Lama and the Tibetan diaspora.

6. Plutocracy

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A plutocracy is a government where the wealthiest people in society have the most power. This means that economic inequality is generally at a high, while social mobility is extremely low. In the past, Italian merchant republics in Genoa, Florence, and Venice can most definitely be seen as plutocracies. Other places such as Carthage and Ancient Greece also had plutocracies at one point in time. Today there isn’t a plutocracy that exists, but many countries have been criticized for acting on plutocracy-like ideals and situations. For example, a country that uses a lot of corporations, which are government owned, in order to pay for political revenues spurred up by politicians or a certain political party.

5. Ochlocracy

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First used in Polybius’ Histories, an ochlocracy is a government that consists of a mass of people, or a mob. Today, this type of government is generally called a mobocracy. An ochlocracy has no clear authority at all. This means that only dispute or questions that arise are usually contended and then closed of shut off generally by brute force, commonly seen as “might makes right.” However, this can set off a chain reaction as another mob may feel differently and can easily sway the decision making. In very early Greek political thought, an ochlocracy was seen as one of the three bad types of government because the government acts in self interest, not out of the interest of the community.

4. Minarchism

founding-fathers

Minarchism basically states that the government should have minimal function, especially when playing into the lives of individuals. The government theory states that the only legitimate function that the state has is to protect each individual from aggression. Those who believe in monarchism see government as a necessary evil, but agree that a state does need to exist in order to protect the life, liberty, and property of those they are ruling. Minarchists wholeheartedly believe in a Night Watchman State, which consists of only a small military, a small police force, and simple courts.

3. Technocracy

technocracy

Definitely an odd government, a technocracy is a government in which scientists and technical experts rule. A technocracy does not depend on political capital; instead those in charge are selected based upon how much knowledge they know about certain technical aspects. The most knowledgeable are put into power of their own specialized section to provide for efficient and effective administrative functions. For example, a few medical experts would be in charge of the entire health care system, or public education experts would control the public education system. There has never really been a technocracy, but in the 1930s, there was a technocratic movement that wanted to make North America technocratic

2. Ethnocracy

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Said to be non-democratic by nature, an ethnocracy is a government where the top officials of a certain ethnic group hold all of the power. This generally means one religious sect, race, or language is said to dominate every other option politically. This ethnic group is generally the minority in the location, meaning that minorities are generally discriminated against by the state itself and may be subject to human rights violations and repression. In today’s world, it can be said that locations such as Israel, South Africa, Uganda, and Pakistan are all dealing with some degree of ethnocracy. One could also say that Hitler’s most prized aim was an ethnocracy.

1. Timocracy

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Timocracy is definitely a government that many haven’t heard of or seen. A timocracy is a government based on the ideas that only property owners may participate in government, but those who are elected to rule are generally those who have a strong love and need for honor. The idea was first brought up by Plato as a government that is governed on the principles of military glory and honor. Aristotle also used the term, considering it to be a government where civic honor and political power grow as the amount of property one owns also grows.


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11 Comments

  1. "This ethnic group is generally the minority in the location, meaning that minorities are generally discriminated against by the state itself and may be subject to human rights violations and repression."

    shouldn't that say "This ethnic group is generally the majority in the location"?

    • Nope I'm wrong, but i think the sentence above is a little confusing. "This ethnic group is generally the minority' is not correct, it's not necessarily a minority, it just holds more power than the number of it's ethnic group should. Like if 65% of the people were white and 99% of the power was in the hands of whites.

      • Robinanna neibauer on

        Or if the majority was Christian and they hold all of the power, a la Merchant of Venice. Venice, at least in that play was both a plutocracy and an ethnocracy. Poor Shylock didn’t stand a chance.

  2. You might as well add Democracy to that list. Its got quite a few oddities of it's own:

    +Rulers are generally chosen for their ability to speak, not to rule

    +Since power is limited to a few years, almost no long-term projects are undertaken, noone wants to take the risk of an unpopular decision

    +In many countries, the opposition can block the ruling party(filibustering), so no decisions can be made at all

    +Separation between "left" and "right" sparks conflicts most of the time, often leading to fundamentalism

    +The ruling party tries to install as many of their own members into important positions as possible, regardless of knowledge or competence

    +The fight for power never really stops – as soon as someone is elected, his opponent try to discredit him

    +…

  3. PragmaticStatistic on

    It seems to me that the U.S. form of Republican representative government is a combination of six of these odd forms of government.

    1) A Meritocracy because the founding fathers replaced an aristocratic society with a mercantile one based on the merits of controlling the economy.

    2) A Kleptocracy because the efforts of the wealthy redistribute the wealth of the middle-class by socializing the cost of business via government-funded job incentives, corporate tax breaks, etc., while privatizing the profits.

    3) A Plutocracy because Congress responds more to the influence of the politically influential business and elite to get government to intervene in business to the advantage of the politically influential business over their American competitors, consumers and taxpayers.

    4) A Minarchism in that they perceive smaller government as the route for greater profits through the privatization of government services. Thus, hiding a growing government by converting government jobs into fewer government-funded private-sector merged jobs in order to fund a private profit..

    5) An Ethnocracy because a large portion of our country believes in a white, male and Christian dominated government.

    6) A Timocracy because our Article of Confederation and U.S. Constitution of 1791 were based on the ideas that only property owners may participate in government, but those who are elected to rule are generally those who have a strong love and need for honor.

    Check out this Google Map of the History of Republic Forms of Government (Good, Bad, & Troubled) to see examples of Republics where Republics form some of the most troubled areas of the world, where terrorism, war, revolution, fiscal crisis, corruption, the worst human right violations, apartheid, and wide spread genocide have occurred.

    http://myreadingmapped.blogspot.com/2012/12/history-of-republic-forms-of-government.html

  4. The future of intelligence is civilocity, a neologism defined as a form of government where we get to watch the leader of our country for the entire time anybody ever leads our country. Imagine that intelligence community. Power to the people not genocide for the people!!!

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