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Types of Government

Systems of government among the worlds of the Terragen Sphere

Political axes
Image from Steve Bowers
A three-axis graph showing some of the possible axes of political polarisation found among the worlds and empires in the Orion Arm civilisation

Government and political institutions vary widely throughout the various empires and polities that make up Terragen civilization. This is due not only to cultural and cladistic differences, but also to the different meanings of power, leadership, and administration in the different archailect empires.

To the hierarchical and stratified Solarians the traditional concept is of leadership by right and by example (less so by force). To many in the NoCoZo all but the most token government is abhorrent, and leadership is through being the smartest, most flexible, most profitable beings, and there is no need to have a single leader since everyone can find a niche and be or find their own kind of leader. To the Negentropists political power is about righteousness in some sense, true leadership in interstellar politics is being consistently right and true. Keter sees power more as evolution/development, and has little interest in government institutions. The Sophic League of course sees government as the province of the spiritually elevated, and that only the enlightened ones, the avatar-ruler, the philosopher-prince or sage-king are qualified for leadership. The Caretakers and Utopia likely see power of any kind as a mere tool for their own infinitely more important goals of preservation and happiness. Cyberia tends to regard political power as information, access and maybe most importantly, the ability of being the sysop/caretaker of vital systems. The Communion sees political power as a matter of being the ones who influence things.

Political star graph
Image from Dalex
By using a multi-axis star diagram such as this, the politicical alignment of worlds, polities, factions and even individuals can be assessed. Here is the political alignment of a typical NoCoZo citizen zar.

Outside the big imperials, government conditions are a lot more variable, and sentients do not always have the sort of security they have under the Archailects. The following is a list of only a few of the many types of government that can be found in many of the larger and smaller non-aligned and nominally aligned polities



Explanation of Non-Imperial Government Types

Note: actual governments often have aspects of two or several of these forms.

Anarchy (Chaos)
No organized government at all. Some entirely modosphont feral/pirate/barbarian regions in the Outer Volumes have with this type (or lack) of government. Left to its own devices his sort of arrangement always is replaced by another more organised but still short-lived form of government such as dictatorship. More often it is conquered or annexed by a neighbouring state, government, or military power, or the locals simply align themselves with some such outside organization.

Anarchy (Free-market)
The state is eliminated in favour of individual sovereignty, private property, and open markets. Includes Libertarianism as practiced in the NoCoZo and elsewhere.

Anarchy (Self-rule)
Rule by individual responsibility, creativity, and continual inter-negotiation. This type of government requires advanced emotional and spiritual development, usually a society of superiors. Such government types can be very long-lived.

Archailectocracy
Direct rule by an archailect, without an intervening modosophont priesthood. Very common amongst godwellers. Contrast with technotheocracy, where government is carried out by modosophont priests, and transapientocracy, rule by transapient.

Aristocracy
Rule by a hereditary elite. A sort of minor monarchy. Many of the great Houses during the later Federation to Empires age were Aristocracies, and such government remains in isolated fiefdoms scattered throughout the galaxy even today. Almost always there will be a House AI behind the scenes, as a sort of tutelary, oracular or even manipulative power (depending on the personality of the AI). Provided they are not subverted by higher toposophic AIs, aristocracies are a very stable and long-lived government type, if tending toward oppressive caste structures.

Charismacracy
Rule by animal magnetism, sometimes reinforced with erotic presence and/or empath abilities. Note that this is very different to Meritocracy, which is more intellectual. Many of the old Genetekker biospheres, and many Erotogini and Communion worlds, are of this sort. Often only lasts as long as the single charismatic ruler or clade-clone succession.

Company-Owned World
A planet, moon or asteroid controlled by a company or corporation and run for profit. This system was quite common during the early to middle First Federation period, and can still be found throughout many sparsely settled libertarian capitalist (either NoCoZo or independent) dominated regions in the outer volumes where there is little government or policing regulation. This type of government is very rarely long-lived. Almost always, with increasing colonization, the world or planetoid will declare independence and seize the company's assets. Alternatively, the world or planetoid and its resources will be claimed by a passing ISO or transapient power. See also Syndicracy.

Confederacy
A number of smaller areas banded together under one loose government. During the Interplanetary Age there were a number of orbital alliances and belter polities of this sort. Today a number of polities in the Hinteregions and Outer Volumes are good examples of confederations.

Democracy/Republic
A government run by elected representatives. Many of the Industrial Age, Information Age, early Interplanetary Age, and First Federation era governments were of this sort. Pure democracies without transapient oversight at all are no longer competitive in the modern galaxy. Nevertheless, there are a great many successful and long-lived democratic systems under hyperturing guidance; it appears that fostering democracies is a popular strategy with transapients who manage large numbers of ordinary sophonts, particularly where they cannot be directly present. Democracies are more common in some nearbaseline polities away from the big capitals and power centers. In the middle regions, the Puppis Democracy and New Daffy Panoparchy are examples of empires that favor this option. See this entry for a fuller discussion of the topic.

Dictatorship
Absolute rule by one leader. This is a common, sometimes brutal, more rarely benevolent. It is always a short-lived phenomenon, transitioning to some other type of government either by revolution or rapid evolution. Still known among middletech and luddite lower level hitech polities and societies where higher level transapient influence is weak.

Meritocracy
Rule by merit or natural abilities — not in the same sense as Charismacracy. For example, most of the great scientific Institutes are Meritocracies.

Monarchy
Rule by a king or a queen, usually of one family or dynasty or aristocratic clan or House that manages to acquire an empire. Monarchy and Feudalism was a common and very stable system of government during the Agricultural Age of Old Earth, and later attained a brief revival through the aristocracies of some of the larger post-megacorp hereditary Houses. There are however numerous petty egomaniacs and eccentrics who have set up their own hereditary principalities, kingdoms and so on, on minor biospheres throughout the galaxy. Most of these are harmless, even benign; a few are oppressive. Few of these regimes last more than a century or two, although very isolated monarchies have been known to be quite enduring. More successful is when a ruling AI empowers a biont sovereign, who thus becomes, in the archaic phrase, the representative of God on Earth.

Nanarchy
Nanarchies are societies controlled by nanotechnological systems not of the same kind as the normal inhabitants. Usually the result of deliberate planning to ensure security or an accident. The nanosystems enforce certain policies, preventing attempts to overthrow them or change their programming outside the allowed channels. Reasonably common.

Panarchy
Distributed special interest microstates replace territorial states, in many cases developing into a situation where every individual is a separate sovereign state.

Panocracy
Rulership by the Collective or Totality. Can be benevolent as in Metasoft, where individuals retain autonomy of will, or more devouring, as in some hegemonizing swarms, where existence is only for the sake of the Collective.

Plutocracy
A government run by those with the most wealth — a popular government in the early Interplanetary Age Earth, the later First Federation period, and remains popular in some of the more backward worlds of the Non Coercive Zone. But unless the ruling class has the backing of the local hyperturings they are easily undermined.

Socialist State
A popular but often impractical system in which the state owns and controls most activities for the equal good of all people. Many Utopia Sphere worlds are of this sort. Without the leadership of a benign transapient this sort of regime frequently deteriorates into totalitarianism or is overthrown by a different system.

Stochocracy
Form of government very popular in medium-tech clades and polities that are of a decidedly libertine bent. In a stochocracy, the number of government positions is kept to an absolute bare minimum needed to ensure that all the necessary functions of government are fulfilled without anyone being overworked.

Stratocracy
Rule by a nation's military leaders, or the military leaders of a clan or clade. In the aftermath of the Version Wars a number of military commanders, isolated from the main government in relativistic fleets, set up this kind of government in many of the worlds of the outer volumes. Generally these regimes are short-lived.

Syndicracy
Rule by an organization of the most powerful corporations on the planet. This was very common during the First Federation era. Syndicracies are fragile, depending on the alliances between the megacorps in question. Few last longer than a century. See also Company World.

Technotheocracy
Government by modosophont-level religious leadership or priesthood in the service of a transapient or archailect. The actual form the government takes can be astonishingly diverse. One of the most common government types in the galaxy today. Also called archaitheocracy.

Theocracy
Government by religious leadership or priesthood. A common phenomenon among medieval/iron age states, less common in the Industrial Age, and almost nonexistent in the Information Age (the internet-savvy Islamic cultures of second century AT Old Earth being a rare exception). Theocracy began to flourish again among the mushrooming of utopian and eccentric factions in the Interplanetary Age. The Interstellar era saw some local theocratic biosphere-states. The Stella Umma was the only Theocratic Empire to thrive long-term over a large area during post-Federation time. Theocracies are very common today, but almost all the successful ones are Technotheocracies. Non-AI theocracies are common and quite long-lived but, like monarchies, only survive as isolated polities.

Transapientocracy
Direct rule by transapient. Relatively common in the Outer Volumes and worlds not connected to the Wormhole Nexus or Godweb. Contrast with Technotheocracy and Archailectocracy.

AI Political camps
Image from Anders Sandberg
Major AI Political Camps During the Interplanetary Era

Government
Image from Bernd Helfert

 
Articles
  • Aicracy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Government by AI. Varies greatly, depending on the toposophic level of the AI, the type of government, type and number of sentients being governed, and so on.
  • Altrucracy  - Text by Michael Beck and M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for an extremely wide range of utopian government types, with the common feature being that superbright and hyperturing supervised use of chemicals and modulators are used to make the citizens more altruistic than they would otherwise be.
  • Anarchy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The social state where people have no rulers or government, and where organizations develop on the basis of voluntary cooperation and the freely chosen associations of individuals.
  • Anarchy (chaos) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev with some additional notes by Anders Sandberg
    No organized government at all. Some SI:<1 feral/pirate/barbarian regions in the outer volumes have with this type (or lack) of government. This sort of arrangement always is replaced by another more organised but still short-lived form of government - e.g. Dictatorship, or more often through conquest by a neighboring state, government, or military power.
  • Anarchy (self-rule) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev with some additional notes by Anders Sandberg
    Rule by individual responsibility, creativity, and input. A sort of meta-socialism/meta-democracy. This type of government requires advanced emotional and spiritual development, usually a society of superiors. Such government types can be very long-lived.
  • Archailect Empire  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any interstellar empire established by, and ultimately overseen and supervised by, an archailect, and embodying the archetypal qualities of that archailect. The original archailect empires of the inner sphere are defined in terms of the mandala of the Great Hexadecimal.
  • Archailectocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Government by Archailect. Any of the great archai empires. Usually there is an intermediate priesthood or hierarchy of some sort.
  • Archaitheocracy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev with some additional notes by Anders Sandberg
    Government by religious leadership or priesthood in the service of a transapient or archailect. Also known as technotheocracy. The actual form the government takes can be astonishingly diverse. One of the most common government types in the galaxy today.
  • Aristocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Rule by a hereditary elite. A sort of minor monarchy. Many of the great Houses during the Empires age and the period following the Commonwealth of Empires are Aristocracies. Often there will be a House AI behind the scenes, as a sort of tutelary, oracular or even manipulative power (depending on the personality of the AI).
  • Athenian democracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Form of government in which every citizen has a vote, though citizenship might in practice be restricted to a fraction of the population.
  • Bot Marxism  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Revolutionary and liberationist robot and vec political movement.
  • Charismacracy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Rule by 'animal magnetism', sometimes reinforced with erotic presence and/or empath abilities.
  • Client State - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An independent polity which has either elected, or had forced upon it, the patronage of a larger polity or empire. The relationship is generally mutually beneficial and is essentially commercial in nature, although in the case of militarily expansionist empires it may be strategic as well.
  • Codominionism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Blanket term for any socio-ideological or memetic movement that advocates equal sharing of power between two disparate clades or categories of sophonts - e.g. between hu and ai (see also Fedhead).
  • Communism  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Sociopolitical system based on centralized command economy and equality of citizens.
  • Company-Owned World - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A planet controlled by a company or corporation and run for profit. This system was very common during the later Interplanetary and the first Federation eras, and has remained common throughout many sparsely settled regions in the outer volumes where there is little government or policing regulation.
  • Confederacy, Confederation - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A group of independent states, worlds, polities, or systems united for specified purposes under a loose regional, planetary, interplanetary, or interstellar government, while generally retaining more freedom of action than the members of a federation. Also known as a league or alliance (especially of princes, nations, states, worlds, or systems). This is a very common form of government. The Interplanetary Age Orbital Alliance, and many of the Non Coercive Zone worlds (and even it could be said the NoCoZo as a whole), are good examples of confederations.
  • Crypto Anarchy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, from Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology
    The economic and political system based on libertarianism, encryption, untraceable net-mail, digital pseudonyms, cryptographic voting, and digital cash. Very popular among Cyberians.
  • Cyberdemocracy  - Text by Ryan B
    Government by means of direct representation, and/or participation, via technological means (Internet, IPN, or LocalNet)
  • Deep Anarchy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev after Anders Sandberg in his Transhumanist Terminology
    Political memeticity that states that "the State" has no real existence; states can be abolished only by changing beliefs and behaviour. After early Information Age extropian Max More.
  • Democracy / Republic  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A government run by elected representatives. Many of the Industrial Age, Information Age, early Interplanetary Age, and Federation era governments were of this sort. Also the Cyberian Foundation, Puppis Democracy, and New Daffy Panoparchy are examples of empires that favour this option.
  • Dictatorship - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Absolute rule by one leader. This is a common, sometimes brutal, more rarely benevolent, but always fairly short lived phenomenon in worlds and star-systems where larger empire control is weak.
  • Empaiocracy  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Rulership by empai.
  • Empire  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] Political system in which all of the member planets are controlled by one government, usually based on one planet which is considered the heart of the empire. All other planets may be treated as colonies, provinces, or states of the empire. Because an empire tries to control everything from one place, it is often corrupt or loaded with layers of bureaucracy.
    [2] Any large, cohesive interstellar polity.
    [3] The dominion of an archailect.
  • Federation - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Group of states, worlds, or systems, each internally independent, joined into a union to which has been surrendered certain rights and responsibilities, most generally to do with foreign affairs, connected by trade and cultural links (the wormhole stargate nexus) and sharing a common ontology.
  • Free Zone  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    "For as long as there is government, there will be sentient beings who wish to set up places free of restrictions that even the most Laissez Faire Government will tend to impose. Hence the Free Zone."
  • Libertarianism  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Society based on minimal government and an absence of interference in individual lifestyles; the ruling ideology of the NoCoZo.
  • Lubricracy - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Government based on or infested by corruption. Although some cultures have attempted deliberate lubricracies in order to get rid of corruption by institutionalizing it, the system is never stable and tends to dissolve into anarchy, oligarchy or kleptarcy.
  • Megasov /m2vi19-t34201  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Communistic heterodox Negentropist S5 Godling and ISO, the Mind of Megasov Dyson Sphere.
  • Meritocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Rule by merit or natural abilities - not in the same sense as charismacracy. e.g. most of the great scientific Institutes are Meritocracies.
  • Monarchy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Rule by a king or a queen, usually of one family or dynasty or aristocratic clan or House that manages to acquire an empire. Pure Monarchy, although common in medieval and iron age Earth, has been rare since the beginning of the Industrial Age. In the present age, however, there are however numerous petty egomaniacs and eccentrics throughout the galaxy who have set up their own principalities, kingdoms and so on as minor polities. Usually these encompass, at the very most, a single hab or world and do not last for more than a few hundred years. The big so-called Monarchies are actually Theocracies or AIcracies, depending on one's point of view. The ruling AI empowers the local sovereign, who thus becomes, in the archaic phrase, "the representative of God on Earth".
  • Mootism  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Political system common among the xenoprovolves known as the Jade Chime Singers, characterized by participatory local democracy, regional cyberdemocracy, and some anarcho syndicalist and charismatocratic elements.
  • Nanarchy - Text by Mark S. Miller, in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology
    The use of automatic government and law-enforcement by nanomachines or robots, without any human control. Nanarchies are societies controlled by nanotechnological systems not under the control of the inhabitants. Usually the result of deliberate planning to ensure security or prevent accidents. The nanosystems enforce certain policies, preventing attempts to overthrow them or change their programming outside of allowed channels.
  • ObCom Ontology  - Text by Daniel Eliot Boese
    The philosophy upon which the Objectivist Commonwealth is based.
  • Panocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Rulership by the Collective or Totality. Can be benevolent as in Metasoft, where individuals retain autonomy of will, or more devouring, as in the Amalgamation, wherein existence is only for the sake of the Collective.
  • Pax Archailectica  - Text by Mark Ryherd
    The long period of stability and peace experienced between the Sephirotic Empires
  • Pharmacracy  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Rule via chemicals.
  • Planned Economy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An economy in which a central authority decides what goods are produced, the methods of production, and who gets the goods. In prim or low tech settings this may be a person or family, a corporation or megacorp, or a government. In most modern polities it is some aspect of a ruling transapient or is a an ai or set of ais designed for the task.
  • Plutocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A government run by those with the most wealth - a popular government in the early Interplanetary Age, the late Federation period, and in many of the worlds of the Non Coercive Zone.
  • Political Federation  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; amended by Stephen Inniss
    Government type in which each member polity rules itself but all belong to one governmental body. These polities must follow certain common standards of conduct and by agreement yield some powers to their common government.
  • Sapient Authoritarianism  - Text by Darren Ryding
    A pro-hierarchical philosophical movement that emerged during the Age of Expansion, in reaction to Sapient Egalitarianism. away from hypersapients and into the hands of (an elite minority of) sapients.
  • Sapient Egalitarianism  - Text by Darren Ryding
    A democratic philosophical movement that emerged during the early Age of Expansion.
  • Socialism  - Text by Ryan B.
    Economic system advocating democratic control of the means of production through worker, common and/or state ownership.
  • Sovereign, Toposophic  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A being who is the ruler of a polity, city, habitat, nation, world or empire as a result of their toposophic superiority over other sophonts in eir sphere of influence.
  • Stochocracy  - Text by Mike Parisi
    Government in which the posts are filled by lot from the pool of available citizens.
  • Stratocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Rule by a nation's military leaders, or the military leaders of a clan or clade. In the aftermath of the Version Wars a number of military commanders, isolated from the main government in relativistic fleets, set up this kind of government in many of the worlds of the outer volumes. Generally these regimes are short-lived.
  • Syndicracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Rule by an organization of the most powerful corporations on the planet. This was very common during the first Federation era. Syndicracies are fragile, depending on the alliances between the megacorps in question. Few last longer than a century or two.
  • Technocracy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Government by technologically superior elite.
  • Territory - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Sector or colony or region of real or virtual space ruled remotely, generally through a local administration office or representative.
  • Theocracy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Government by religious leadership or priesthood. A common phenomenon among medieval/iron age states, less common in the industrial age, almost non-existent in the Information Age (the internet savvy Islamic cultures on mid/late 21st century Earth being a rare exception), Theocracy began to flourish again among the mushrooming of utopian and eccentric factions in the Interplanetary Age. The Interstellar era saw some local theocratic biosphere-states. The Stella Umma is the only Theocratic Empire to really make it big during post-Federation time.
  • Trade Federation  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Under this system of government, each member polity rules itself and has its own laws, but all polities have signed a trade agreement. This agreement promises not only free trade between all the member polities but also serves as a mutual peace treaty. The different polities avoid interfering with each other's internal affairs. In some cases, if one polity is attacked, the others will join it to fight the common enemy.
 
Related Topics
 
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev with some additional notes by Anders Sandberg
updated by Steve Bowers 2014
Initially published on 16 July 2000.