government


government
governmental /guv'euhrn men"tl, -euhr men"-/, adj.governmentally, adv.
/guv"euhrn meuhnt, -euhr meuhnt/, n.
1. the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.; political administration: Government is necessary to the existence of civilized society.
2. the form or system of rule by which a state, community, etc., is governed: monarchical government; episcopal government.
3. the governing body of persons in a state, community, etc.; administration.
4. a branch or service of the supreme authority of a state or nation, taken as representing the whole: a dam built by the government.
5. (in some parliamentary systems, as that of the United Kingdom)
a. the particular group of persons forming the cabinet at any given time: The Prime Minister has formed a new government.
b. the parliament along with the cabinet: The government has fallen.
6. direction; control; management; rule: the government of one's conduct.
7. a district governed; province.
9. Gram. the extablished usage that requires that one word in a sentence should cause another to be of a particular form: the government of the verb by its subject.
[1350-1400; ME < OF governement. See GOVERN, -MENT]
Usage. See collective noun.
Pronunciation. Normal phonological processes are reflected in a variety of pronunciations for GOVERNMENT. Most commonly, the first /n/ of /guv"euhrn meuhnt/ assimilates to the immediately following /m/, with the resulting identical nasal sounds coalescing to give the pronunciation /guv"euhr meuhnt/. This pronunciation is considered standard and occurs throughout the U.S. For speakers in regions where postvocalic /r/ is regularly lost, as along the Eastern Seaboard and in the South, the resulting pronunciation is /guv"euh meuhnt/ or, with loss of the medial unstressed vowel, /guv"meuhnt/.
Further assimilation, in which the labiodental /v/, in anticipation of the bilabial quality of the following /m/, becomes the bilabial stop /b/, leads in the South Midland and Southern U.S. to the pronunciation /gub"meuhnt/. See isn't.

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I
Political system by which a body of people is administered and regulated.

Different levels of government typically have different responsibilities. The level closest to those governed is local government. Regional governments comprise a grouping of individual communities. National governments nominally control all the territory within internationally recognized borders and have responsibilities not shared by their subnational counterparts. Most governments exercise executive, legislative (see legislature), and judicial (see judiciary) powers and split or combine them in various ways. Some also control the religious affairs of their people; others avoid any involvement with religion. Political forms at the national level determine the powers exercised at the subnational levels; these have included autocracy, democracy, fascism, monarchy, oligarchy, plutocracy (government by the wealthy), theocracy, and totalitarianism.
II
(as used in expressions)
tent government
cloistered government
Friends of Constitutional Government

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Introduction

      the political system by which a country or community is administered (state) and regulated.

 Most of the key words commonly used to describe governments, words such as monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy, are of Greek or Roman origin. They have been current for more than 2,000 years and have not yet exhausted their usefulness. This suggests that humankind has not altered very much since they were coined; however, such verbal and psychological uniformity must not be allowed to hide the enormous changes in society and politics that have occurred. The earliest analytical use of the term monarchy occurred in ancient Athens, in the dialogues of Plato (c. 428–c. 348 BC), but even in Plato's time the term was not self-explanatory. There was a king in Macedonia and a king in Persia, but the two societies, and therefore their institutions, were radically different. To give real meaning to the word monarchy in those two instances, it would be necessary to investigate their actual political and historical contexts. Any general account of monarchy required then, and requires today, an inquiry as to what circumstances have predisposed societies to adopt monarchy and what have led them to reject it. So it is with all political terms.

      This article discusses the historical development of governments, primarily in the societies of the West. (See also political science, political system, state.)

Primitive (primitive culture) government

Agricultural society
      So long as humans were few, there was hardly any government. The division of function between ruler and ruled occurred only, if at all, within the family. The largest social groups, whether tribes or villages, were little more than loose associations of families, in which every elder or family head had an equal voice. Chieftains, if any, had strictly limited powers; some tribes did without chieftains altogether. This prepolitical form of social organization may still be found in some regions of the world, such as the Amazonian jungle in South America or the Upper Nile Valley in Africa.

      The rise of agriculture began to change that state of affairs. In the land of Sumer (in what is now Iraq) the invention of irrigation necessitated grander arrangements. Control of the flow of water down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers had to be coordinated by a central authority, so that fields could be watered downstream as well as farther up. It became necessary also to devise a calendar, so as to know when the spring floods might be expected. As those skills evolved, society evolved with them. In early Sumer, it is reasonable to assume, the heads of the first cities (city), which were little more than enlarged villages, only gradually assumed the special attributes of monarchy—the rule of one—and the village council only gradually undertook a division of labour, so that some specialized as priests and others as warriors, farmers, or tax gatherers (key figures in every civilized society). As organization grew more complex, so did religion: an elaborate system of worship seemed necessary to propitiate the quite elaborate family of gods who, it was hoped, would protect the city from attack, from natural disaster, and from any questioning of the political arrangements deemed necessary by the ruler group.

      Unfortunately—but, given human nature, inevitably—the young cities of Sumer quarrelled over the distribution of the rivers' water, and their wealth excited the greed of nomads outside the still comparatively small area of civilization (a word deriving from the Latin word for city, civitas). War, perhaps the most potent of all forces of historical change, announced its arrival, and military leadership became at least as important an element of kingship as divine sanction. It was to remain so throughout the long history of monarchy: whenever kings have neglected their military duties, they have endangered their thrones. The wars of Sumer also laid bare another imperative of monarchy—the drive for empire, arising from the need to defend and define frontiers by extending them and the need to find new means to pay for troops and weapons, whether by the plunder of an enemy or by the conquest of new lands, or both.

The spread of civilization
      The history of Old World monarchy, and indeed of civilization, was to consist largely of variations on the patterns mentioned above for four or five millennia. Trade contacts carried the principles of civilization to Egypt and to India (China, like the pre-Columbian societies of the Americas, seems to have evolved independently); and everywhere, once the social order was established the problem of defending it became paramount. For although the broad zone of civilization spread steadily, so that by the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (AD 98–117) there was a continuous band of civilized societies from Britain to the China Sea, it was always at risk from the barbarian nomads who roamed the great steppelands of central Eurasia. These nomads had retained the loose and simple institutions of primitive societies, but they had in other ways evolved as rapidly and successfully as the cities themselves (and partly under the cities' influence). The steppe was horse country, and, armed with bows and arrows, the barbarians of all epochs were marvelously swift and deadly light cavalry. They fought constantly among themselves for pasturage, and the losers were forever being driven west, south, and east, where they often overcame any defenses that the farms and cities of civilization could muster against them.

      Yet the nomads' military challenge was never sufficient to overturn civilization entirely. Either the invaders would overrun the settled lands and then adopt civilized customs, or the frontier defenses would prove strong enough to hold them off. There were even long periods of peace, when the barbarian threat was negligible. It was at such times that the spontaneous ingenuity of humankind had greatest play, in politics as in everything else. But it is noteworthy that, in the end, what may be described as the ancient norm always reasserted itself, whether in Europe, the Middle East, India, or China. Military crises—barbarian invasions, civil wars, or war between competing polities—recurred, necessitating the strengthening of government.

      The effort to secure a measure of peace and prosperity required the assertion of authority over vast distances, the raising of large armies, and the gathering of taxes to pay for them. Those requirements in turn fostered literacy and numeracy and the emergence of what later came to be called bureaucracy—government by officials. Bureaucratic imperialism emerged again and again and spread with civilization. Barbarian challenge occasionally laid it low but never for very long. When one city or people rose to hegemony over its neighbours, it simply incorporated their bureaucracy into its own. Sumer and Babylon were conquered by Assyria; Assyria was overthrown by the Medes (Mede) of Persia, in alliance with a resurgent Babylon and nomadic Scythians (Scythian); the empire of the Persians was overthrown by Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) of Macedonia; the Macedonian successor states were conquered by Rome (ancient Rome), which was in due course supplanted in the Middle East and North Africa by the Islamic Caliphate of Baghdad. Conquerors came and went, but life for their subjects, whether peasants or townspeople, was not much altered by anything they did, as long as the battles happened elsewhere.

      Nevertheless, from time to time experiments were made, for no monarchy had the resources to rule all its subjects directly. So long as they paid tribute punctually, local rulers and local communities were perforce left to govern themselves. Even if they did not pay, the effort required to mount a military operation at a distance from the imperial centre was so great that only in exceptional circumstances would it be undertaken, and even then it might not succeed, as the kings of Persia found when they launched punitive expeditions from Asia Minor against mainland Greece at the beginning of the 5th century BC. Thus, in normal times the inhabitants of the borderlands had extensive freedom of action.

      Although civilization, as its advantages became clear, spread west and northwest out of Asia, bureaucratic monarchy could not easily follow it. The sea was becoming a historical factor as important as the steppe and the great irrigable rivers. Tyre and Sidon, maritime cities of Phoenicia (modern Lebanon), had long exploited their coastal situation, not only to remain independent of the landward empires but also to push across the sea, even beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, in quest of trade. Their daughter-cities, Carthage, Utica, and Cádiz, were the first colonies, but primitive communications made it impossible for Phoenicia to rule them.

      The Phoenician example was followed by the Greeks, originally Indo-European nomads who gradually made their way south to the Aegean and there took to the sea. They built on the achievements of earlier peoples and even took over the first bureaucratic monarchy to appear on European soil, the Minoan civilization of the island of Crete, which succumbed to invaders from the Greek mainland in about 1450 BC. Other invaders from the north overthrew the mainland kingdoms of Mycenae, Tiryns, and Pylos in about 1200 BC. The so-called dark ages of Greece that then began lasted until the 8th century BC, by which time the Greeks not only had adapted the Phoenician alphabet and begun to found overseas colonies but also had brought nearly to maturity the city-state (polis in Greek, from which the term politics derives). This form of government was the great political invention of classical antiquity. (See also ancient Greek civilization.)

 The city-state was made possible by Mediterranean geography, which is such that every little fishing village had to be able to defend itself against attack from land or sea, for outside help could not reach it easily. A person's dependence on his community, for physical as well as economic survival, was therefore obvious and complete. The city had first claim on his labour and loyalty, a claim that was usually freely recognized. It was this reality that led Aristotle (who himself came from just such a small commonwealth, Stageira) to define man as a political animal. In addition, coastal mountain ranges made it difficult for any community in Greece to dominate more than a few square miles of land. Therefore, in the Greek world (which by c. 600 BC stretched from the coasts of Asia Minor to what is now southern France), there were dozens of centres of government. The term city-state expresses the double aspect of those small settlements.

      Each city-state was, on the one hand, an economic, cultural, and religious organization; on the other hand, each was a self-governing community capable, in theory, of maintaining absolute independence by enlisting all its adult male inhabitants as soldiers. It was like a business association and also like an encamped army. (In many respects, the city of Sparta actually was an encamped army.) Freedom was defined as the right and ability of every city to govern itself. What freedom meant for the internal order of such cities was fiercely and often bloodily debated for more than two centuries.

      Although it was a fact of the Greek world that geography deterred the rise of an empire to federate and control all the cities, a few nevertheless rose to imperial greatness. Those cities engaged in profitable trade across the sea, as their Phoenician predecessors had done. Athens, for example, exported olive oil, silver, and pottery, and the profits of that trade enabled it to build a great navy and formidable city walls. Athenian ships defeated Persia (480 BC) and won a small empire in the Aegean; the combination of ships and walls enabled Athens long to defy and nearly to defeat Sparta, its chief rival among the Greek cities. Even after Sparta's triumph at the end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BC), Athens remained an independent, sovereign state until its defeat by Philip II of Macedonia at the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC). In short, during the period of its prime Athens was free to make what experiments it liked in the realm of government, and to that period are owed not just the first example of successful democracy in world history but also the first investigations in political thought.

Monarchy, oligarchy, democracy
      No Athenian believed that he had anything to learn from the bureaucratic monarchies (monarchy) of the East, which were incompatible with Greek notions of citizenship. If self-defense necessitated that every citizen be required to fight for his polis when called on, in return each had to be conceded some measure of respect and autonomy—personal freedom. To protect that freedom, government was necessary: anarchy had no attractions for any Greek except perhaps Diogenes, the father of Cynic philosophy.

      The central question of politics, then, was the distribution of power among the citizens. Was Greek freedom best preserved and defined by the rule of the few or by that of the many? On the whole, the great names favoured aristocracy—the rule of the best. Plato believed that the object of politics was virtue, and that only a few would ever thoroughly understand the science by which virtue could be attained and that those trained few should rule. Aristotle, his pupil, seems to have put the cultivation of the intellect highest among human goods, and he believed—quite reasonably, given the limited economic resources then available—that this fruit of civilization could be gathered only among a leisure class supported by the labours of the many. In return for their leisure, the gentry should agree to sacrifice some of their time to the tedious business of governing, which only they would be sufficiently disinterested and well-informed to do successfully. Neither of these apologies for oligarchy had any success in practice. The champions of democracy carried the day, at least in Athens and its allied cities. In return for playing their parts as soldiers or sailors, ordinary Athenians insisted on controlling the government.

      The result was imperfect but impressive. The people were misled by demagogues; they were intolerant enough to put Plato's master, Socrates, to death; they were envious of all personal distinction; and of their three great wars (against Persia, Sparta, and Macedonia), they lost two. Furthermore, passionate devotion to the idea that Athens was the greatest of all cities, the school of Greece and the wonder of civilization, misled them into basing their society in large part on slave labour, into wanton imperial adventure abroad, and into denying Athenian citizenship to all who were not born into it (even Aristotle), however much they contributed to the city's greatness and however much more they might have done. The foundations of Athenian democracy were narrow, shallow, and fragile. But to say all this is only to say that the city could not entirely shake off the traditions of its past. Its achievement was the more remarkable for that. Seldom since has civilized humanity surpassed democratic Athens, and until the last the city was satisfactorily governed by law and by popular decision. It owed its fall less to any flaw than to the overwhelming force that was mounted against it.

 For to the north of Hellas proper, a new power arose. Greek civilization had slowly trained and tamed the wild men of Macedonia. Their king, Philip II, forged them into a powerful army; he and his son Alexander the Great then seized the opportunity open to them. History and geography made it impossible for the Greek cities to hang together, so they were hanged separately. It seemed as if the city-state had been but a transient expedient. Henceforward Athens and Sparta would take their orders from foreign conquerors—first Macedonia, then Rome.

The republic
      But, as it turned out, the city-state had barely begun to display its full political potential. To the west, two non-Greek cities, Carthage and Rome (ancient Rome), began to struggle for mastery, and after the defeat of the Carthaginian general Hannibal at Zama (202 BC), Rome emerged as the strongest state in the Mediterranean. (See ancient Rome.)

      The Greeks did not know how to classify Rome. The Greek historian Polybius, who chronicled Rome's rise, suggested that its constitution was such a success because it was a judicious blend of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. The Romans, a conservative, practical people, showed what they thought of such abstractions by speaking only of an unanalyzed “public thing”—res publica—and thus gave a new word, republic, to politics. With this focus the patriotism of the city-state reached its greatest intensity. The Romans were deeply attached to their traditions, all of which taught the same lesson. For example, the legendary hero Gaius Mucius Scaevola (Scaevola, Gaius Mucius) gave his right hand to the flames to prove that there was nothing a Roman would not endure for his city, which therefore would never be defeated. That passionate devotion to Rome's survival was tested again and again in war. All the tales of early Rome turn on battle. With dour persistence the peasants who had gathered on the seven hills beside the river Tiber resisted every invader, fought back after every defeat, learned from all their mistakes, and even, however reluctantly and belatedly, modified their political institutions to meet the new needs of the times as they arose.

 Polybius was right: power in Rome was indeed shared among the people, the aristocracy (embodied in the Senate), and the consuls (consul)—the executive officers of the republic who had replaced the kings. The claims of the many and the few were fought out at election time, when the world's first clearly identifiable political parties appeared. Until the republic's decline, the results of elections were universally respected, and the triumphant alliance of the few and the many against the world was proclaimed in the letters blazoned on the city's buildings and battle standards: “SPQR,” for Senatus populusque Romanus (“The Senate and the people of Rome”).

      Like Athenian democracy, this system worked well for a long time, and if the chief Athenian legacy was the proof that politics could be understood and debated logically and that under the right conditions democracy could work, Rome proved that the political process of competition for office and the public discussion of policy were valuable things in themselves.

      Nevertheless, the Roman Republic had been forged in a grim world. Wars, always supposedly in self-defense, had gradually extended Rome's power over Italy. It is not surprising that what impressed the world most about the city was its military strength rather than its political institutions, even though the two were intimately related. As the weakness of Rome's neighbours became apparent, the Romans began to believe in their mission to rule, “to spare the conquered and war down the proud,” as their greatest poet, Virgil, put it. Military strength, in short, led to military adventurism. By the 1st century BC, Rome, having become a naval power as well as a military one, had conquered the whole Mediterranean basin and much of its hinterland. The strains of empire building made themselves felt. The Roman armies, no longer composed of citizens temporarily absent from the plow or the workshop but of lifetime professionals, were now loyal to their generals rather than to the state; and those generals brought on civil war as they competed to turn their foreign conquests into power at home. The population of Rome swelled, but economic growth could not keep pace, so many citizens became paupers dependent on a public dole. The aristocrats appointed to govern the provinces saw their postings chiefly as opportunities to get rich quickly by pillaging their unfortunate subjects. The republic could not solve those and other problems and was in the end superseded by the monarchy of Augustus.

The empire
 The bedrock of the emperor Augustus's power was his command of the legions with which he had defeated all his rivals, but he was a much better politician than he was a general, and he knew that naked political power is as insecure as it is expensive. He reduced the military establishment as much as was prudent, laboured to turn the revolutionary faction that had supported his bid for power into a respectable new ruling class, and proclaimed the restoration of the republic in 27 BC. But not even Augustus could make the restoration real. The safety of the state, questions of war and peace, and most of the business of governing the empire were now in the hands of a monarch; consequently, there was not enough for the Senate to do, and Augustus never went so far as to restore genuinely free elections or the organs of popular government. He kept the population of the city happy with chariot races, gladiatorial contests, and the dole of bread. Nevertheless, he could not give up the attempt to legitimize his regime. Like earlier monarchs elsewhere, he called in the aid of religion, even though the religion of Rome was as republican as its constitution. Later emperors made their own divinity a tenet of the public faith; later still, they imposed Christianity as the sole legitimate and official religion of the empire, and they exploited the power and prestige of the church to buttress their own authority.

      For four centuries the resemblance between Rome and the bureaucratic Eastern monarchies steadily increased. Roman nationalism, Roman traditionalism, and Roman law survived as legacies that posterity would one day claim, and if nobody much believed in the constitutional shams of Augustus's day, the example of his constitutional monarchy was to prove potent at a much later period.

      The age of the city-state was at last drawing to a close. The emperor Caracalla extended Roman citizenship to all subjects of the empire, so that he could tax them more heavily. The demands of the imperial administration began to bankrupt the cities, which had previously prospered as the local organs of government under Rome. New barbarian attacks threw the empire onto the defensive, and in AD 410 the city of Rome itself was captured and sacked by the Visigoths (Visigoth). About 65 years later the last Roman emperor in the West was deposed: henceforward the caesars reigned only in Constantinople and the East.

Dissolution and instability
      Seen against the background of the millennia, the fall of the Roman Empire was so commonplace an event that it is almost surprising that so much ink has been spilled in the attempt to explain it. The Visigoths were merely one among the peoples who had been dislodged from the steppe in the usual fashion. They and others, unable to crack the defenses of Sasanian Persia or of the Roman Empire in the East (though it was a near thing), probed farther west and at length found the point of weakness they were seeking on the Alps and the Rhine.

      What really needs explaining is the fact that the Western Empire was never restored. Elsewhere, imperial thrones were never vacant for long. Thus in China, after every time of troubles, a new dynasty received “the mandate of Heaven,” and a new emperor, or “Son of Heaven,” rebuilt order. For instance, in AD 304 the nomadic Huns invaded China, and a long period of disruption followed, but at the beginning of the 7th century the Tang dynasty took charge and began 300 years of rule. Similar patterns mark the history of India and Japan.

 The Europeans failed to emulate that story. Justinian I, the greatest of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperors, reconquered large portions of the West in the 6th century, though the destruction wreaked by his soldiers made things worse rather than better. In 800 Charlemagne, king of the Franks, was actually crowned emperor of the Romans by the pope. In later centuries the Hohenstaufen (Hohenstaufen dynasty) and Habsburg (Habsburg, House of) dynasties tried to restore the empire; as late as the 19th century, so did Napoleon I. None of those attempts succeeded. Probably the chance was only real in the earliest period, before western Europe had become used to doing without an overlord. But at that time there was never enough breathing space for society to regain its stability and strength. Most of the barbarian kingdoms, successor states to Rome, succumbed to later assailants. Britain fell away from the empire in the 5th century; the little kingdoms of the Angles and Saxons were just coming together as one kingdom, England, when the Viking invasions began. In the 7th century the Arabs conquered North Africa; in the 8th they took Spain and invaded Gaul. Lombards, Avars, Slavs, Bulgars, and Magyars poured into Europe from the East. Not until German king Otto I's victory over the Magyars at Lechfeld in 955 did those incursions cease, and not until the late 11th century was Latin Christendom more or less secure within its borders; and by then it had been without an effective emperor for more than 600 years.

      Various institutions had emerged to fill the gap. The Christian church, against enormous odds, had kept the light of religion and learning alive and spread what was left of Roman civilization into Ireland, England, central Europe, and Scandinavia. It also provided a reservoir of literacy against the day when professional government should again be possible. The kings of the barbarians, of whom Charlemagne was the greatest, had provided military leadership and tried to acquire some of the prestige and governmental machinery of the Roman emperors. But the troublous times, during which trade and urban life were minimal, meant that effective power lay with those who controlled the land and its products: a military aristocracy of great estates and fiefs (Latin: feodum, hence “feudal system (feudalism)”). The aristocrats called themselves nobiles in the Roman fashion and appropriated various late-imperial titles, such as comes (count) and dux (duke). But those titles were mere decoration. The new kings, lacking the machinery for imperial taxation, could not pay for standing armies. Besides, this was the age in which the heavily armoured cavalryman ( chevalier in French, knight in English) dominated war. He was an autonomous force and thus a much less dependable instrument than a Roman legionary had been. Legally, the new masters of the soil were liegemen of the various kings and princes (it was a maxim that every man had a lord), but in practice they could usually ignore royal claims if they chose. Europe thus fell under the rule of armoured knights, and the course of the next few hundred years gives reason to think that the democrats of Greece were right to distrust the very idea of oligarchy, for the keynote of noble rule seemed to be almost incessant warfare.

The rise of law and the nation-state
      Yet even at their height the military aristocrats never had it all their own way. Strong monarchies gradually developed in England, France, and, a little later, in the Iberian Peninsula. During the most vigorous period of the papacy (c. 1050–1300) the Roman Catholic Church was able to modify, if not control, baronial behaviour. Trade gradually revived and brought with it a revitalization not only of the city but also of the city-state in Italy, the Rhineland, and the Low Countries, for the newly prosperous burghers could now afford to build stout walls around their towns, and it was difficult for the nobility to muster sufficient force to besiege them successfully. Even the peasants from time to time made themselves felt in bloody uprisings, and the nobility itself was far from being a homogeneous or united class.

 Medieval Europe, in fact, was a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of political arrangements; to the extent that it ever settled down, it did so on the principle that because everybody's claim to power and property was fragile and inconsistent with everybody else's, a certain degree of mutual forbearance was necessary. This explains the great importance attached to custom, or (as it was called in England) common law. Disputes were still often settled by force, especially when kings were the disputants, but the medieval European became almost as fond of law as of battle. Every great estate was hung about with quasi-permanent lawsuits over ownership of land and the rights and privileges that went with it, and the centralization of the church on the papal court at Rome ensured yet more work for lawyers, the greatest of whom began to merge with the military nobility into an aristocracy of a new kind. Rights, titles, and privileges were forever being granted, revoked, and reaffirmed. Parchment deeds (of which Magna Carta, exacted from King John of England by his subjects in 1215, was perhaps the most famous) came to regulate political, social, and economic relationships at least as much as the sword did. In those ways the idea of the rule of law was reborn. By the beginning of the early modern period legally demonstrable privileges had become the universal cement of European society. The weak were thus enabled to survive alongside the strong, as everyone in Europe knew to which order of society he belonged.

      However, there was a dynamism in European society that prevented it from setting permanently into any pattern. The evolving Europe of privileged orders was also the Europe of rising monarchies (monarchy). With many setbacks the kings clawed power to themselves; by 1500 most of them presided over bureaucracies (bureaucracy) (initially staffed by clerics) that would have impressed any Roman emperor. But universal empire was still impossible. The foundations of the new monarchies were purely territorial. The kings of England, France, and Spain had enough to do to enforce their authority within the lands they had inherited or seized and to hammer their realms into some sort of uniformity. That impulse explains the wars of the English against the Welsh, Scots, and Irish; the drive of the French kings toward the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Rhine; and the rigour of the Spanish kings in forcing Catholicism on their Jewish and Moorish subjects. Uniformity paved the way for the most characteristic governmental form of the modern world, the nation-state.

      This entity, like the city-state that it superseded, had and has a double aspect. A nation or people can exist without taking the form of a state: physical geography, economic interest, language, religion, and history, all together or in ones and twos, can create a generally accepted and recognized identity without a political organization. The Kurds (Kurd) are an example of such a nation. But such an identity can, in the right circumstances, provide a solid foundation for government, and the territorial monarchies' quest for external aggrandizement and administrative uniformity soon began, half deliberately, to exploit that possibility.

Emergence of the modern world

The rise and fall of absolute monarchy
      The development of the nation-state was not easy, for the monarchs or anyone else. The legacy of the Middle Ages was so intractable that the emergence of nation-states was very slow. It may be argued, however, that the modern period was born during the reign of Henry VIII of England (1509–47), when that king more or less simultaneously declared himself head of the national church and his realm an empire—sovereign and unanswerable to any foreign potentate, particularly the pope.

 The rise in power of Henry VIII and other early modern kings may be attributed in part to the use of gunpowder, which had enabled the kings to overbear their turbulent nobles—cannons were extremely effective at demolishing the castles in which rebellious barons had formerly been quite safe. But artillery was exceedingly expensive. A sufficient revenue had always been one of the chief necessities of monarchy, but none of the great European kingdoms, in their autocratic phase, ever succeeded in securing one permanently. The complexities of medieval society had permitted very little coercion of taxpayers. For the rest, money could only be secured by chicanery; by selling offices or crown lands (at the price of a long-term weakening of the monarch); by robbing the church; by a lucky chance, such as the acquisition of the gold and silver of Mexico and Peru by the king of Spain; or by dealing, on a semi-equal footing, with parliaments (or estates, as they were most generally known).

      Yet the monarchs did all they could to resist the rise of such representative institutions—except in England, where Henry VIII and the other Tudor (Tudor, House of) monarchs worked with Parliament to make laws and where the folly of the Stuart (Stuart, House of) kings ultimately ensured Parliament's supremacy. On the whole, however, the monarchs of Europe—especially in France, Spain, Prussia, and Austria—had great success at ruling autocratically. Their style of rule, known as absolute monarchy, or absolutism, was a system in which the monarch was supposed to be supreme, in both lawmaking and policy making; in practice, it was really a system of perpetual negotiation between the king and his most powerful subjects that could not, in the long run, meet the challenges of modern war and social change.

      Absolutism lasted into the 18th century. Well before that time, though, three great occurrences—the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the discovery of the Americas—had transformed Europe. Those events contributed to the eventual failure of absolute monarchy and profoundly influenced the development of future governments.

      The impact of the Renaissance defies summary, even if its political consequences are all that need be considered. The truest symbol of its importance is the printing press. For one thing, this invention enormously increased the resources of government. Laws, for instance, could be circulated far more widely and more accurately than ever before. More important still was the fact that the printing press increased the size of the educated and literate classes. Renaissance civilization thus became something unprecedented: it acquired deeper foundations than any of its predecessors or contemporaries on any continent by calling into play the intelligence of more individuals than ever before. But the catch (from a ruler's point of view) was that this development also brought public opinion into being for the first time. Not for much longer would it be enough for kings to win the acquiescence of their nobles and the upper clergy; a new force was at work, as was acknowledged by the frantic attempts of all the monarchies to control and censor the press.

      The Reformation was the eldest child of the press; it, too, had diffuse and innumerable consequences, the most important of which was the destruction of the Roman Catholic Church's effective claim to universality. It had always been a somewhat fraudulent assertion—the pope's claim to supreme authority had never been accepted by all the Christian bodies, particularly the Orthodox churches of the Greeks and Slavs—but after Martin Luther (Luther, Martin) and John Calvin (Calvin, John), the scope of his commands was radically reduced. In the long run, the consequence was the secularization of politics and administration and the introduction of some measure of religious toleration. Gradually the way became clear for rational, utilitarian considerations to shape government.

      The discovery (European exploration) of the Americas opened a new epoch in world history. The Spanish overthrew the monarchies of the Aztec and the Inca, thanks partly to the Spaniards' superior weapons and partly to the diseases they brought with them. It was a spectacular episode, the first to proclaim that the old struggle between the steppe and sown land had been bypassed: the drama of history was now going to lie in the tension between the oceans and the land. The globe was circumnavigated for the first time; European ships bearing explorers, traders, pirates, or men who were something of all three penetrated every sea and harbour; and although the ancient civilizations of Islam, India, China, and Japan saw no need to alter their customs to take account of European innovations, the signal had been given for their fall (see European exploration). Portuguese and Spanish explorations gave far-flung overseas empires to both countries—and as many difficulties as benefits. Other countries—France, England, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark—thought it both undesirable and unsafe not to seek such empire themselves; the Iberian monarchies were thus involved in a perpetual struggle to defend their acquisitions. Those battles entailed incessant expenditure, which was more, in the end, than the kingdoms' revenues could match. Financial weakness was one of the chief causes of the decline of Spain.

 But by then the inadequacies of the monarchical system had been cruelly exposed in such episodes as the revolt of the Netherlands against its Spanish overlord, the defeat of Spain's Invincible Armada by England, and, worst of all, the snail's-pace development of the Spanish colonies in the New World. The Spanish king Charles V and his son Philip II were as able as all but a few monarchs in recorded history, but they could not overcome the structural weaknesses of hereditary monarchy. There was no mechanism by which they could devolve their most crushing duties onto their ministers, so government moved slowly, if at all. As lawful sovereigns they were bound by the customs of their numerous realms, which frequently blocked necessary measures but could not safely be challenged, as Philip found when he tried to rule the Netherlands autocratically. They also were unable to guarantee that their heirs would be their equals in ability. The only remedy discoverable within the system was for the king in effect to abdicate in favour of a chief minister. Unfortunately, a man equal to the task was seldom found, and no minister, however gifted, was ever safe from the constant intrigues and conspiracies of disgruntled courtiers. Problems tended to accumulate until they became unmanageable. The same difficulties eventually ruined the French monarchy as well.

representation and constitutional monarchy
      Meanwhile, the republican tradition had never quite died out. The Dutch had emerged from their long struggle against Spain clinging triumphantly to their new religion and their ancient constitution, a somewhat ramshackle federation known as the United Provinces. Switzerland was another medieval confederation; Venice and Genoa were rigidly oligarchical republics.

      In England, the rise of Parliament introduced a republican, if not a democratic, element into the workings of one of Europe's oldest kingdoms (United Kingdom). The tradition of representative estates was first exploited by the Renaissance monarchy of Henry VIII and his children, the Tudors, and then unsuccessfully challenged by their successors, the Stuarts. The English Civil Wars (1642–51) remade all institutions and climaxed in the execution of King Charles I; in the long period of aftershocks opponents of King James II called in a new king and queen, William III and Mary II. William was a Dutchman who was quite content to let Parliament take an unprecedentedly large share in government so long as it voted money for war against Louis XIV of France. He conceded, in short, full power of the purse to the House of Commons, and before long it became a maxim of the dominant Whig (Whig and Tory) party that no man could be legally taxed without his own consent or that of his representatives. A radically new age had dawned.

      The Whig system was called constitutional monarchy. The increasingly rationalist temper of the times, exemplified in the works of John Locke (Locke, John) (1632–1704), finally buried some of the more blatantly mythological theories of government, such as the divine right of kings, and Parliament finally settled the issues that had so vexed the country by passing a series of measures that gave England a written fundamental law for the first time. Henceforth the country was to be ruled by a partnership between king and Parliament (in practice, between the king and the oligarchy of country gentlemen who controlled most parliamentary elections); and if many Englishmen looked with distaste on the squabbles of party politics, which were the sordid result of that arrangement, few could propose a plausible alternative. Tories (Whig and Tory) drank toasts in private to the Stuart kings in exile across the water; republicans published eloquent pamphlets; and Sir Robert Walpole (Walpole, Robert, 1st earl of Orford) ruled for 21 years (1721–42) as the first prime minister of Great Britain (as the country was called after the merger of England and Scotland in 1707).

      The secret of Walpole's strength lay in his ability to simultaneously please the king, give the country sound government finances, and command a majority in both houses of Parliament. He performed the last trick partly by giving out sinecures, salaries, and titles to his supporters, partly by his superiority in debate, and partly by exploiting Whig fears of Tories and Roman Catholics. Those three elements—party interest, practical decision making, and party ideology—have in one form or another come to dominate most modern political systems where brute force is checked by law.

      Even after Walpole's fall his arrangements continued. They were vindicated by the Seven Years' War (1756–63), when Britain defeated both the French and Spanish empires and emerged predominant in every ocean and (especially) in North America. Immediately afterward, modern republican ideology found its classical expression.

The American (United States) and French revolutions
 The limited British monarchy found it little easier to govern a seaborne empire than did the kings of France and Spain. If Britain's North American colonies were to grow in population and riches—so as to become sources of strength to the empire, not military and financial liabilities—they had to be given a substantial measure of religious, economic, and political autonomy. However, that gift could not be revoked. Once British policy had created a chain of more or less self-governing communities along the Atlantic seaboard—communities much like the city-states of old—it could not undo its own work, even when it found its clients unreasonable, small-minded, and recalcitrant. Thus, when the British government attempted to impose tighter rule from London, the old empire broke down in bickering about taxation and in rioting, rebellion, and civil war—in short, the American Revolution. From 1775 to 1783 the Anglo-Americans fought with determination and good luck against their former overlord, King George III, and in 1776 their leaders determined to be rid of him and the British Parliament forever. The principles on which they meant to found a new commonwealth were expounded in their Declaration of Independence:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That, to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . .

 The application of those principles was more difficult than their enunciation, and it took the Americans more than a decade to create a suitable framework of government. When they did adopt a new constitution, it served them so well that it is still in operation. That durability is not unconnected with the fact that the Constitution of the United States of America opened the door to modern liberal democracy—democracy in which the liberty of the individual is paramount (see liberalism). “The consent of the governed” was agreed to be the key to governmental legitimacy, and in practice the phrase rapidly came to mean “the consent of the majority.” The principle of representation was embodied in the U.S. Constitution (the first section of which was entirely devoted to the establishment of Congress (Congress of the United States), the American parliament); this implied that there was no necessary limit to the size of a successful republic. From Plato to Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques), theorists had agreed that democracies had to be small, because by definition all their citizens had to be able to give their consent in person. Now that notion had been discarded.

 The American example might have had little effect on Europe but for the French Revolution of 1789. The French (France) had helped the Americans defeat the British, but the effort had been too much in the end for the monarchy's finances. To avert state bankruptcy the Estates-General were summoned for the first time in 175 years, and soon the whole government had been turned upside down. The French repudiated the divine right of kings, the ascendancy of the nobility, the privileges of the Roman Catholic Church, and the regional structure of old France. Finally, they set up a republic and cut off the king's head.

      Unfortunately for peace, in destroying the monarchy the French Revolution also crowned its centuries-old labours. The kings had created the French state; the revolution made it stronger than ever. The kings had united their subjects in the quest for glory; now the nation made the quest its own. In the name of rationality, liberty, and equality (fraternity was not a foremost concern), France again went to war. The revolution had brought the idea of the nation-state to maturity, and soon it proved capable of conquering the Continent, for everywhere French armies went, the revolutionary creed went too.

      In all this the French Revolution was giving expression to a general longing for government to be devoted to the greatest happiness of the greatest number. But there was also considerable resistance, which increased as time went on, to receiving the benefits of modern government at the hands of the French. So the wars of Napoleon (Napoleon I), which opened the 19th century with the victories of Marengo, Austerlitz, and Jena, ended in the defeat of Waterloo. After further revolutions and wars, the century ended with the French Third Republic nervously on the defensive, for the facts of demography had tilted against France as population growth in Britain and Germany accelerated and French growth slowed down. Moreover, French society was still bitterly at odds with itself.

      Yet, on the whole, the work of the French Revolution survived. However many changes of regime France endured (seven between 1814 and 1870), its institutions had been thoroughly democratized, and the underlying drift of events steadily reinforced that achievement. By mid-century universal manhood suffrage had been introduced, putting France in that respect on the same footing as the United States.

      Britain (United Kingdom), pursuing its own historical logic, evolved in much the same way; its oligarchs slowly and ungraciously consented to share political power with other classes rather than lose it altogether. By the end of the 19th century manhood suffrage was clearly at hand in Britain, too, and women would not be denied the vote for much longer. Smaller European countries took the same course, and so did the “white” dominions of the British Empire.

      Everywhere, the representative principle combined with the necessities of government to produce the modern political party. Elections could be won only by organized factions; politicians could attain or retain power only by winning elections (election), and they could wield it only with the support of parliamentary majorities. Permanent parties resulted. The Industrial Revolution and continuing population growth made an elaborate state apparatus increasingly necessary; the word bureaucracy came into general use. The spread of education and prosperity made more citizens feel fully able to take part in politics, whether as voters or as statesmen. Modern government in the West thus defined itself as a blend of administration, party politics, and passionate individualism, the whole held together, deep into the 20th century, by the cement of an equally passionate nationalism.

Nationalism and imperialism
      The kingdom of Prussia and the empires of Austria and Russia readily learned from the French Revolution that it was necessary to rationalize government. They had been struggling along that path even before 1789. Carrying out the necessary changes proved exceedingly difficult. (Russia, with its sacred, autocratic monarchy, in some ways more like ancient Egypt than a modern country, made far too few changes until far too late.) Meanwhile, the libertarian and egalitarian components of the revolutionary legacy were rigidly resisted. The great dynasts, and the military aristocracies that supported them, had no intention of admitting their obsolescence. Although they were forced to make limited concessions between 1789 and World War I, the autocratic citadel of their power was never surrendered. Instead, the myth of the nation was adopted to reinforce the authority of the state.

       nationalism intensified the competitiveness that had always been a part of the European state system. Peoples, it emerged, could be as touchy about their prestige as monarchs. But for one hundred years there was no general war in Europe, leaving the powers free to pursue interests in other parts of the world. Asia and Africa thus came to feel the full impact of European expansion (imperialism), as the Americas had felt it before. Only the Japanese proved to have the skill to adapt successfully to the new ways—taking what suited them and rejecting the rest. They kept their millennial sacred monarchy but modernized the armed forces. In 1895 they fought and won a war against China, which was sliding into chaos, and in 1905 they defeated a great power, Russia. However, Japan was wholly exceptional. Elsewhere, European power was irresistible. Britain gave up the attempt to govern overseas settlements (colonialism, Western) of its own people directly—the experiment had proved fatal in America and nearly so in Canada—but it had no scruple about wielding direct rule over non-British peoples, above all in India. France, Germany, and the United States eagerly followed this example; The Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal clung to what they had, though the last two suffered great imperial losses as Mexico, Brazil, and other Latin American colonies shook off imperial rule. It seemed that before long the whole world would be ruled by half a dozen powers. (See imperialism; colonialism, Western.)

 It did not turn out so, or not for long. The problem of governmental legitimacy in central, eastern, and southern Europe was too explosive. The obstinate conservatism of the dynasts proved fatal to more than monarchy. There were too many who regarded the dynastic states as unacceptable, either because they were the instruments of class oppression, or because they embodied foreign rule, or both. And the romantic tradition of the French Revolution—the fall of the Bastille, the Reign of Terror, the Jacobin dictatorship—helped to drive many of those critics into violent rebellion, permanent conspiracy, and corrosive cynicism about the claims of authority. Authority itself, corrupted by power and at the same time gnawingly aware of its own fragility, gambled on militarist adventures. The upshot was World War I and the revolutions that resulted from it, especially those in Russia in March and November 1917, which overthrew the tsardom and set up a new model of government. (See Russian Revolution of 1917.)

20th-century models

Communism and fascism
      In cold fact, the new Russian government was not quite as new as many of its admirers and enemies believed. Tyranny—the oppressive government of brute force—was as old as civilization itself. The first dictator in something like the modern sense—an absolute ruler owing little or nothing to tradition and in theory untrammeled by any institution or social group—was Julius Caesar (Caesar, Julius), the great-uncle of the emperor Augustus. Caesar took the title of dictator from that of an emergency Roman office, and his assassination in 44 BC foreshadowed the fate of many of his later imitators. Napoleon (Napoleon I) was the first modern dictator, and he was copied in Latin America, where many a general seized power after the disintegration of the Spanish empire. During the mid-19th-century wars of Italian unification, Giuseppe Garibaldi (Garibaldi, Giuseppe), idolized as a heroic leader, was briefly recognized as the dictator of Sicily. Born in chaos, commonly sustained by violence, 20th-century dictatorship, as a mode of government, was always fundamentally unstable, however long it lasted; it was a distilled expression of that craving for order and hatred of perceived threats to order that had always been the justification for autocracy and monarchy. It enacted the belief that society was best governed by the discipline thought necessary in an army at war. Such, too, was the underlying principle of the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), though it professed to be a democracy and to be guided by the most advanced and scientific social philosophy of its age.

 Vladimir Ilich Lenin (Lenin, Vladimir Ilich) and his followers, the Bolsheviks (Bolshevik) (later known as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union), won power in the turmoil of revolutionary Russia because they were abler and more unscrupulous than any other group. They retained and increased their power by force, but they argued that the theories (Leninism) of Karl Marx (Marx, Karl) (1818–83), as developed by Lenin, were of universal, permanent, and all-sufficient validity, that the leadership of the Communist (communism) Party had a unique understanding of those theories and of the proper tactics for realizing them, and that therefore the party's will could never legitimately be resisted. All institutions of the Soviet state were designed primarily to assure the untrammeled power of the party, and no methods were spurned—from mass starvation to the murder of artists—in furtherance of that aim. Even the economic and military achievements of the regime were secondary to that overall purpose; its most characteristic institutions, after the party, were the secret police and the forced labour camps. (See communism, Leninism).

  The Soviet model found many imitators. Lenin's strictly disciplined revolutionary party, the only morality of which was unswerving obedience to the leader, was a particularly attractive example to those intent on seizing power in a world made chaotic by World War I. Benito Mussolini (Mussolini, Benito) of Italy, who won power in 1922, modeled his National Fascist Party on the Leninists, but he also exploited Italian traditions (including that of Garibaldi) in his portrayal of himself as a heroic leader. The ideology he manufactured to justify his regime, fascism, combined strident nationalism with unrelenting bellicosity. Adolf Hitler (Hitler, Adolf) of Germany added a vicious anti-Semitism and a lust for mass murder to that brew. Mao Zedong in China combined Leninism with a hatred of all the foreign imperialists who had reduced China to nullity. In the Soviet Union itself Lenin's successor and disciple, Joseph Stalin (Stalin, Joseph), outdid his master in building up his power (Stalinism) by mass terror and party discipline (see Stalinism). Fascist practices were to some extent adopted by the government of Japan, the Nationalist victors in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), and others. All in all, the post-World War I period was characterized by state criminality on an unprecedented scale. It unsurprisingly culminated in World War II, which was marked by even greater atrocities, of which Hitler's murder of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust was the worst.

      None of those tyrants can be said to have vindicated in practice their ostensible theories of government; fascism, in particular, was never more than an ideological sham, a facade behind which individuals competed shamelessly for power and wealth. Its only answer to the problems of peace was war. Terror and technology were all that kept their regimes afloat, yet in their time they undeniably had a certain prestige. Liberal democracy and liberal economics had apparently failed, suggesting to some minds that the future of government lay with totalitarianism. (George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-four [1949] depicts the dangers of that possibility.) Indeed, after his country's victory in World War II Stalin was able to extend the Soviet model to 11 states in eastern and central Europe.

      However, after Stalin's death in 1953, the Soviet empire began to lurch from crisis to crisis, never resolving its basic dilemma; party dictatorship condemned the Soviet Union and its vassal states to permanent inefficiency and unrest, while reform would destroy the communist ascendancy. In 1985 a new generation came to power under Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail), who was willing to take enormous risks in order to revitalize the Soviet empire. Before long, though, the communist regimes in Europe disintegrated, and in 1991 the Soviet Union itself dissolved. It suddenly became clear to most of the world that the Leninist experiment had failed as definitively as that of the fascists a generation earlier.

Liberal democracy
 Meanwhile, liberal democracy had gotten its second wind. Although the democracies had failed to avert the world wars and the Great Depression, they crushed the Axis powers in World War II and warded off the rivalry of communism in the Cold War that followed. Those achievements were undoubtedly in large part attributable to the colossal strength of the United States, but that strength itself was largely created by the American system of government, especially in the hands of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Roosevelt, Franklin D.). American success scarcely faltered when Roosevelt suddenly died in 1945: by the end of the 20th century the country was generally looked on as the world's only superpower. Yet the parallel success of many other democracies—and the fact that the American model could not really be exported, being closely adapted to specific American conditions—showed that there was more to the triumph of the West than Americanism.

      The democratic system everywhere brought with it growing prosperity, the emancipation of women, recognition of the equal rights of law-abiding individuals and social groups (whatever their origins or beliefs), and a professed commitment to international cooperation—indeed, in the second half of the 20th century no Western democracy made war against any other. The turbulent processes of open debate and decision produced an economic order that was vastly more productive than communist command economies. This gave hope to Western democracies that the world's largest democracy, India, would before long not only overcome its many intractable problems but also economically catch up with China, where the communists clung to power into the 21st century and made only incomplete adjustments to the social order.

      However, the prosperity of Western democracies, as well as their free markets and free political institutions, was putting enormous strain on the rest of the world, since the West used up far more of the globe's natural and human resources than the size of its population seemed to justify. Non-Western societies were also having to cope with the disproportionate effects of such problems as a rapidly growing population, the HIV/ AIDS pandemic, and the worldwide environmental issues of ozone depletion and global warming. It was natural for some, or most, in every country threatened by the hurricane of change to cling, however futilely, to the shreds of tradition, or even to try to rebuild an order that had failed. So it was in much of the Islamic world (Islāmic world), where a resurgence of religious fundamentalism led to campaigns for the establishment of Islamic republics, following the example of Iran and the short-lived Taliban regime of Afghanistan. But religious dictatorships did not seem likely to solve modern problems any better than the military or secular kind had done.

Prospects in the 21st century
 In a world increasingly knit together by trade and communications technology, it seems ever more unlikely that the single nation-state can on its own successfully handle the universal enemies of poverty, hunger, disease, natural disaster, and war or other violence. Some thinkers believe that only a form of world government can make decisive headway against those evils, but no one has yet suggested convincingly either how a world government could be set up without another world war or how, if such a government did somehow come peacefully into existence, it could be organized so as to be worthy of its name. Even effective global cooperation among national governments can be extremely difficult, as the examples of the United Nations and other international bodies have shown. Nevertheless, those bodies have had many accomplishments, and the European Union (EU) has been particularly successful. The EU began as an attempt to bury the long-standing rivalry between France and Germany through economic cooperation; by the early 21st century it had come to include almost all the states between the Russian frontier and the Atlantic Ocean. Though its overall constitutional structure remained weak, and agreement on how to sufficiently strengthen it seemed unattainable, the EU's common laws and policies were playing a large part in the lives of its citizens.

      Yet Western democracy also faces other problems that may prove too big for it to solve. The great experiment of European imperialism has long since collapsed, but its legacy of corruption, war, and poverty, especially in Africa, seems even more challenging at the beginning of the 21st century than it did 50 years previously. In all countries, nationalism still distorts voters' judgments in matters of foreign policy, as greed misleads them over economic policy. Class conflicts have been muted rather than resolved. Demagogues abound as much as they did in ancient Athens. The incompatible claims of the city-states ruined ancient Greece; modern civilization may yet be imperiled by the rival claims of the nation-states. At least one thing is clear, however: if human beings, as political animals, are to progress further, they cannot yet rest from seeking new forms of government to meet the ever-new needs of their times.

Hugh Brogan

Additional Reading
Classic texts on governmental forms are widely available in numerous editions. They include Plato, The Republic; Aristotle, Politics; Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince and The Discourses; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; John Locke, Two Treatises of Government; Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract; Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence; Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist; Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France; Thomas Paine, Rights of Man; Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America; Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution; James Bryce, The American Commonwealth; Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State; and Vladimir Ilich Lenin, The State and Revolution.For a subject of this nature, a solid background in world history is absolutely necessary, and William H. McNeill, A World History, 4th ed. (1999), is an excellent introduction. Gordon Childe, What Happened in History, rev. ed. (1954, reissued 1982), is a classic survey of the contribution of archaeology to our understanding of prehistory and the ancient world. The development of governmental forms in Greece can be found in The Cambridge Ancient History, 3rd ed. (1970–); and in N.G.L. Hammond, A History of Greece to 322 B.C., 3rd ed. (1986). A.H.M. Jones, Athenian Democracy (1957, reissued 1986), has a corrective to Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides. The most exciting work about the Romans since Gibbon is Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939, reissued 1987). Those wanting more general accounts of the Romans may turn to J.P.V.D. Balsdon (ed.), The Romans (1965); and H.H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68, 5th ed. (1982, reprinted 1992). A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284–602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey, 2 vol. (1964, reprinted 1986), is the most authoritative account of the fall of the empire.The best introduction to the medieval papacy is Walter Ullmann, A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages (1972, reprinted with corrections, 1974), while The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power, 3rd ed. (1970), links ideas and institutions but makes few concessions to beginners. Marc Bloch, Feudal Society (1961, reprinted 1989; originally published in French, 1939), is an indispensable study of its subject.The development of political thought from the Renaissance to the 19th century is well presented in John Plamenatz, Man and Society: Political and Social Theories from Machiavelli to Marx, new 2nd ed., rev. by M.E. Plamenatz and Robert Wokler, 3 vol. (1992). An attempt to trace modern government back to its origins is demonstrated in Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (1966, reissued 1993). Further information is available in Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (1974); and Franco Venturi, Utopia and Reform in the Enlightenment (1970; originally published in Italian, 1970).Works on governmental forms of a general, comparative nature include Albert Goodwin (ed.), The European Nobility in the Eighteenth Century: Studies of the Nobilities of the Major European States in the Pre-Reform Era, 2nd ed. (1967); A. Lawrence Lowell, Governments and Parties in Continental Europe, 2 vol. (1896, reissued 1970); Eugene N. Anderson and Pauline R. Anderson, Political Institutions and Social Change in Continental Europe in the Nineteenth Century (1967); Michael Oakeshott, The Social and Political Doctrines of Contemporary Europe (1939, reissued 1953); and S.E. Finer, Comparative Government (1970, reissued 1980).Useful studies of English government include J.H. Plumb, The Origins of Political Stability, England, 1675–1725 (1965; also published as The Growth of Political Stability in England, 1675–1725, 1967, reissued 1980); and Elie Halevy, A History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd rev. ed., 6 vol. in 7, trans. from French (1949–52). The French experience is dealt with in C.B.A. Behrens, The Ancien Régime (1967, reissued 1989); Georges Lefebvre, The French Revolution, 2 vol. (1962–64; originally published in French, 1930); and D.W. Brogan, The French Nation from Napoleon to Pétain, 1814–1940 (1957, reissued 1989). Prussia and the development of fascist Germany are discussed in Hans Rosenberg, Bureaucracy, Aristocracy, and Autocracy: The Prussian Experience, 1660–1815 (1958, reissued 1968); A.J. Nicholls, Weimar and the Rise of Hitler, 4th ed. (2000); Franz Neumann, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933–1944, 2nd ed. (1944, reissued 1983); and Martin Broszat, The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich (1981; originally published in German, 1969). Sources on Italy include Denis Mack Smith, Italy: A Modern History, new ed. rev. and enlarged (1969); and S.J. Woolf (ed.), The Nature of Fascism (1968). Jerome Blum, Lord and Peasant in Russia: From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century (1961, reissued 1971); Leonard Schapiro, The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase, 1917–1922, 2nd ed. (1977, reprinted 1987); and Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the U.S.S.R., and the Successor States (1998), deal with Russia and the Soviet Union. Coverage of the United States is in Richard Hofstadter, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (1948, reissued 1996); Alfred H. Kelly, Winfred A. Harbison, and Herman Belz, The American Constitution: Its Origins and Development, 7th ed., 2 vol. (1991); and Melvyn Dubofsky and Athan Theoharis, Imperial Democracy: The United States Since 1945 (1988). The governing structure of the European Union is discussed in Desmond Dinan, Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration, 3rd ed. (2005).Hugh Brogan

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • government — gov‧ern‧ment [ˈgʌvmənt, ˈgʌvnmənt ǁ ˈgʌvərn ] also Government noun [countable] the group of people responsible for running a country or state and making decisions about taxes, laws, public services etc: • The Government is planning further cuts …   Financial and business terms

  • government — gov·ern·ment / gə vər mənt, vərn / n 1: the act or process of governing; specif: authoritative direction or control 2: the office, authority, or function of governing 3: the continuous exercise of authority over and the performance of functions… …   Law dictionary

  • government — [guv′ərn mənt, guv΄ərmənt] n. [OFr governement: see GOVERN & MENT] 1. a) the exercise of authority over a state, district, organization, institution, etc.; direction; control; rule; management b) the right, function, or power of governing 2 …   English World dictionary

  • Government — Gov ern*ment, n. [F. gouvernement. See {Govern}.] 1. The act of governing; the exercise of authority; the administration of laws; control; direction; regulation; as, civil, church, or family government. [1913 Webster] 2. The mode of governing;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • government — government, governance Note the n in the middle of government (based on the word govern with the noun suffix ment), and that it should be pronounced as well as written. Government is the workaday word for the system by which a state or community… …   Modern English usage

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  • government — late 14c., act of governing or ruling; 1550s, system by which a thing is governed (especially a state), from O.Fr. governement (Mod.Fr. gouvernement), from governer (see GOVERN (Cf. govern)). Replaced M.E. governance. Meaning governing power in a …   Etymology dictionary

  • government — [n] management, administration authority, bureaucracy, command, control, direction, domination, dominion, empire, execution, executive, governance, guidance, influence, jurisdiction, law, ministry, patronage, political practice, politics, polity …   New thesaurus

  • government — ► NOUN 1) (treated as sing. or pl. ) the governing body of a state. 2) the system by which a state or community is governed. 3) the action or manner of governing a state, organization, or people. DERIVATIVES governmental adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • Government — For government in linguistics, see Government (linguistics). Part of the Politics series Basic forms of government …   Wikipedia


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