Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Worldbuilding Wednesday - Politics in the Making

As authors we make many decisions. The story, setting, characters all lie in our imaginations and storytelling. In traditional novels we may choose to set the story in the real world as we know it - or perhaps an alternative history to our world, however, in fantasy and science fiction we create not only our story but the story of the world in which our story takes place. There are many things to consider when we build worlds.

Government is but one element. There are many types of government we have experienced in our world through various cultures throughout the world throughout the years. When you consider worldbuilding for your story, what type of government will rule your world? Here are some possibilities to consider:

Absolute Monarchy -- kingdom in which monarch has complete power

Anarchy -- absence of government

Aristocracy -- government by a wealthy, privileged minority or hereditary ruling class

Caliphate -- government by Islamic civil and religious leader

Civil Government -- government established by laws made by citizens or their representatives; nonmilitary, nonreligious authority

Coalition Government -- temporary alliance of members of two or more parties to form governing majority

Collective -- group or institution organized and run by all members equally

Commonwealth -- government in which ultimate authority lies with people

Constitutionalism -- government based on written constitutional principles

Constitutional Monarchy -- government headed by monarch and regulated by constitution

Democracy -- government by the people with majority rule exercised in periodic, free election of representatives

Despotism -- government in which ruler exercise absolute power

Dictatorship -- government in which absolute power rest with one person or a few

Duarchy or duumvirate -- government by two equally powerful rulers

Dyarchy -- dual responsibility shared by colonial government and native ministers

Empire -- several territories, nations or peoples governed by single sovereign authority

Fascism -- government based on establishing oppressive, one-part, centralized national regime

Federal Government -- system in which political units surrender individual sovereignty to central authority, but retain designated powers

Feudalism -- political system in Europe from 9th to 15th century in which lord owned all property worked by vassals

Gerontocarcy -- rule by elders

Gynecocracy -- government by women

Hagiocracy -- government by group of persons believed to be holy

Hierocracy -- rule by priest or clergy

Isocracy -- government in which all individuals have equal political power

Matriarchy -- government or monarchy in which power rests with females or descends through female line

Meritocracy -- government in which criterion for leadership is skill or intellectual achievement

Monarchy -- government with absolute hereditary ruler who serves for life

Ochlocracy -- rule by the multitude or mob

Oligarchy -- government by small group of privileged individuals

Pantisocracy -- utopia in which all members rule equally

Parliamentary Government -- system in which executive (prime minister) is chosen by elected legislature (parliament) from among its members

Patriarchy -- government or monarchy in which power rests with males or descends through male line

Plutocracy -- government by the wealthy

Principality -- state ruled by a prince, often part of larger state or empire

Regency -- reign of non-monarch during youth or indisposition of monarch

Republic -- government in which power is vested in elected representatives of citizenry

Sovereignty -- political autonomy and freedom of state from outside authority

Stratocracy -- government by the military

Technocracy -- government run by experts and technicians

Thearchy -- government based on divine sovereignty

Theocracy -- government by church officials, who believe they have divine authority

Timocracy -- government based on love of honor and military glory or on requisite ownership of property

Totalitarianism -- authoritarian political system in which citizen is totally subject to will of state

Triarchy -- government ruled jointly by three person; triumvirate

Tyranny -- government by single absolute authority, especially one exercising oppressive power

Unitary Government -- system in which power is held by single central source, and local governments are merely administrative agents, the opposite of federalism

Welfare State -- system in which ultimate responsibility of government is well being of all citizens

Choosing how to run your country will have an obvious impact on every day life. Where will your imagination lead you and your story? Which system of government will you opt for in your world? Why? Think about the impact it will have one your storyline and how the storyline will depend on details such as this. It is mindboggling how much the change of one detail, such as government, can change your entire story.

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Anonymous said...

Some very good words in this list. There were a few I was unfamiliar with but all the old favourites as well. I think this is a great reminder for all authors (but very relevent to those of use who write fantasies) that we are creating worlds and there is always some form of government, even if it is mostly unofficial and unmentioned. Something to keep in mind while writing. Thanks for the excellent post.

N A Sharpe said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! I was amazed as the list kept growing of how many different types of government we have in the various societies in our own world!

Maybe in your worldbuilding you'll come up with something totally different...but these ideas can get you started.

Ironically, I am probably the least political person you will ever know, lol.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Karen Walker said...

I had no idea there were so many different kinds of governments. Great post, Nancy.

Anonymous said...

Very thorough list and one authors should save to their Favorites. I just did. When developing the setting, a writer needs to set the political, social, economic, and religous background of the time.

Stephen Tremp

Tara said...

That's a great list and well worth some thought. :]

The Old Silly said...

You blew my mind with this one! I had no idea all those forms of government! My first choice would be Gerontocarcy (wink) well, dependin on WHICH elders, lol.

Good points made here, Nancy!

Marvin D Wilson

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Wow! I hadn't realized how many types of government exist. I must get out into the world more. :)


N A Sharpe said...

Hi everyone - thank you so much for stopping by. You know, I was amazed when I was researching this one - I had no idea there were so many types of government. Think what else you may come up with for your world!?! It boggles the mind.


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