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CHAPTER II

FORMS OF GOVERNMENT

Monarchy. Since government is a growth it passes thru many forms. Thousands of different governments have risen and fallen since the first state was formed. No two of these were exactly alike, yet all belonged to one of three classes,-monarchies, aristocracies, or democracies. The most common form of government has been and still is the monarchy.

A monarchy is a state ruled by a single person, called by various names, such as king, emperor, czar, sultan, etc. The monarch may be a man or a woman, with or without a council of advisers, but in any case a monarch appoints the leading officials of the state. Monarchs usually inherit their positions from their ancestors, and in most cases reign for life. There are great differences in the powers of monarchs.

Absolute and Limited Monarchies.-An absolute monarch is one whose acts are not limited by law; his word is law. The absolute monarch may condemn one to death without a trial; he may change his will daily; he is not obliged to do the will of the people. There are very few monarchs today who exercise such unlimited power. Russia and China are unlimited monarchies, but their monarchs are usually guided by the advice of councils, or ministers.

A limited monarchy is one whose powers are checked by a body of lawmakers chosen by the people. In limited monarchies the most important laws are usually written down in a "constitution," tho some

limited monarchies, like England, have no written. constitution. The constitution declares what the government of the country shall be, and what the king may and may not do. The purpose of the constitution is to guard the liberties and rights of the people. Whatever the king does must agree with the laws of this constitution. For this reason a limited monarchy is often called a constitutional monarchy. Most of the great monarchies of the world today are limited monarchies.

Aristocracy. The aristocracy is a government by a few very powerful men. In former times a few distinguished men would sometimes seize the rule of a country and divide the power among themselves. The term "oligarchy" is similar in meaning to aristocracy, except that it is usually applied to a group of oppressive rulers.

There are no aristocracies today, but a government in which a rich or titled class of people have most of the power is a government with aristocratic tendencies. It is entirely possible to have a so-called republic with aristocratic tendencies. Some of the South American republics have frequently been under the control of a small class of political conspirators. The name "republic" has often been a mask for misgovernment of the worst kind.

Democracy.—A government in which all political power belongs to and is exercised by the people of a state is a democracy. This word means the rule of the people. If the people of a state meet in great popular assemblies and determine the laws by direct vote of the majority we have a pure democracy. A

pure democracy is possible only in very small states. When cities were independent states such a government was possible. In the great modern countries with many millions of people it is impossible for more than a small fraction of the people to meet in any one place and make the laws.

The towns of New England are governed as pure democracies; but no state in the world today is a pure democracy.

A state in which the majority of the people elect representatives to make the laws for them is called a representative democracy. This is the form of government of the republics of the world today. Since all the people cannot meet in one place to make the laws, they meet in their own towns and choose delegates to a central legislative body.

Colonial Governments.-In addition to the three forms of government mentioned there are many governments in the world that cannot be classed as monarchies, aristocracies, or democracies. These governments are not governments of true states, because they do not express in all cases the will of the people who are governed. They may be called subordinate governments. Countries with such governments may be called dependent states, or colonies. Colonial governments are governments within governments, like a "wheel within a wheel." A colonial government may partake of the character of all or some of the three forms of government that have been mentioned.

The States and Colonies of the World.-There are less than fifty independent states in the world today. From time to time the number changes as nations

unite, separate, or conquer each other. By an independent state we mean one which governs itself without interference from another state. Some states are independent in their internal government, while their foreign affairs are managed by other nations. It is sometimes difficult to say whether a state should be called independent or not.

It is important to remember that independence does not mean quite the same thing in any two countries. The little state of Monaco is independent in name. and fact, but it is very small, smaller in area and numbers than the city of Manila. Its territory is entirely surrounded by that of the great republic of France. Nothing could be done by the monarch of Monaco without the approval of the French government.

Some states are independent in name, but because of the jealousy of other stronger countries are prevented from acting with complete independence. Afghanistan lies between the territories of Russia and England. At her court are representatives of both these great powers. The moment Afghanistan shows excessive favor to either of these powers she endangers her independence. In reality, therefore, Afghanistan does not possess true independence.

There are about one hundred and fifty colonies in the world today. Some are very small; others are great countries. The whole of the great continent of Africa is today under some form of colonial control, except the two countries of Liberia and Abyssinia. Fully half the people in the world live under a dependent form of government. All over the world the number of governments has been growing smaller

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and smaller during the last four hundred years. Where once there were thousands of governments there are now hundreds. In form these governments have been slowly changing from monarchies to representative democracies.

We shall see later that the personal liberty and rights which we enjoy do not depend so much on the name of the government we are under as upon other things. The subjects of some monarchs are freer than the citizens of some republics. The people of England are as free as those of the United States, tho England is a limited monarchy and the United States is a representative democracy.

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