FLVS Civics: Going Global – Forms of Government

You’re cruising the Pacific in your luxury
yacht when you come across a deserted island. Turns out, it’s not so deserted after all. There’s a bunch of islanders arguing about
who owns all the coconuts. You approach them and ask who’s in charge. “No one,” they say. You ask them if they have a government or
any laws. One of them asks, “What are those?” “Well,” you say, “A government organizes people
and makes laws or rules to protect their property and rights. That means you won’t have to fight over the
coconuts anymore. You guys wanna start one?” The Islanders nod. “There are lots of different types,” you say. First you have to decide who gets to have
the decision-making power One type is a democracy. That’s when you
give everyone decision-making power. A democracy can either be direct or
indirect. In a direct democracy, everyone gets a vote on every major
decision. It works best for small groups like the one here on this island, but only if you guys can agree to follow
the decision with the most votes. If you keep arguing like this, all your coconuts
will rot. There’s also an indirect democracy also
called a representative democracy or simply a republic. We have this type of government where I come
from, the United States. We elect a few individuals to represent
us as groups. We trust those people to make decisions
in our best interests. If they don’t, we can elect new
representatives. Another type of government is called an
oligarchy. That’s when a small group of leaders makes
decisions for the whole group. They tend to be members of the same political
party, meaning they have the same ideas about how to run the
government. It doesn’t matter if the people they govern
disagree with them. Since these leaders hold the highest positions
in the government, they have the power to make all their decisions
based on the party’s ideas. An autocracy is when one person runs the
government making all the decisions. A monarchy is
a type of autocracy run by a queen or king. Monarchs rule for life and are hereditary,
meaning each new queen or king is a family member of the previous monarch – usually
a son or daughter. In an absolute monarchy, there’s a single
ruler with no limits on power. In a constitutional monarchy, the
monarchy is limited by a constitution and laws. A dictatorship is also an autocracy. A dictator rules the nation by force making
all government decisions, sometimes with the help of advisors. Dictators want power for life. They like to take all the coconuts for themselves
if you know what I mean. There’s also socialism and communism. They’re not really a type of government – they’re
more like ideas of how to run a government. Socialism is an economic system that limits
individual ownership. Socialists think all resources should be shared
equally. In other words, everyone gets the same number
of coconuts. In a communist system, leaders of the communist
party put socialist ideas into practice. They make all the important economic decisions. If your island was communist, they would control
all the coconuts, assigning who would collect them, cut them down, deliver them, and drill
them for milk. Communist governments tend to practice socialism
and take the form of autocracies or oligarchies. They often use force to protect their power
and limit trade with other nations. They try to meet most of their needs with
their nations’ own resources. So that’s it…democracy, oligarchy, and autocracy, the three main types of government. “Got it?” The natives nod and then look back at
their coconuts. You bid them well, grabbing a coconut from
the pile as you head back to the comfort of your yacht.

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