Saturday, February 16, 2008

Know Your Government! Midterm, Final, Thing...

Multiple choice essay: Which of the following best describes the current United States of America, and why? (Don't you hate it when an otherwise easy question contains the condition "and why"?)

  • Ochlocracy (aka: Mob Rule) — trusting of the instincts and power of large groups—no consistent civics at all.[1]
  • Anarchism — no government or other hierarchy, a common ethical code enforced only by personal governance and voluntary association.[2]
  • Minarchy — a minimal hierarchy—e.g. sometimes said to include eco-anarchism
  • Libertarianism — a philosophy based on the premise that in order to maximize personal freedom, society should value the acquisition of private property over the public good.
  • Direct democracy — decisions made directly by citizens without guidance or moral suasion, e.g. as advocated by H. Ross Perot, usually relying on multiple choice laid out by experts
  • Deliberative democracy — decisions made by locally-grouped citizens obligated to participate in consensus decision making process, e.g. as advocated by Ralph Nader
  • Bioregional democracy — a deliberative democracy regulated by a caste of highly-qualified scientific advisors (both ecologists and ethicists) who can use scientific method to challenge or veto major ecological decisions, means of measuring well-being or selecting criteria for moral purchasing by the entire bioregional state
  • Technocracy — reliance on castes of scientists, e.g. doctors to rule society, and define risk for the whole society - sometimes generalized into anticipatory democracy. Can be interpreted as leading to or including kleptocracy
  • Theocracy - government lead by religion, beliefs or culture. May be led by powerful religious figures such as the Pope and follows rules based on religious documents.
  • Aristocracy — general trust in one class in society to rule and protect, e.g. members of particular noble families that have worked for and/or defended the community across many generations (i.e. "old" money), upholding traditions, standards of living, art, culture, commerce, and defense. Not to be confused with plutocracy, where rule is based solely on financial wealth.
  • Constitutional monarchy — a monarch, possibly purely symbolic and devoted to moral example, avoiding vesting such popularity in any less trustworthy political figure—typically tied to at least some deliberative institutions, and making the monarch a tiebreaker or mediator or coach, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II and Tony Blair
  • Representative democracy — a political class of elected representatives is trusted to carry out duties for the electors - these may be responsible to any group in society, or none, once elected.
  • Absolute monarchy — a monarch who rules for life and can pass on this rule to his or her heirs, but is responsible to some social ideal or culture that has trained him or her to carry out these duties, e.g. Louis XIV, Hirohito, most dynastic Emperors, Augustus Caesar.
  • Dictatorship — a political or military ruler who has the powers of the monarch, but whose basis for rule is not hereditary, but based upon military or political power, or by popular election, e.g. Benito Mussolini, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Julius Caesar, Josef Stalin, Mao ZeDong.
  • Socialism - a broad array of ideologies and political movements with the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community for the purposes of increasing social and economic equality and cooperation.[3]
Extra credit: Which of the above might describe the United States of America after January 20, 2009, and why?

Use a blue book. You have 90 minutes.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


  1. The correct answer is corporatism or neo-corporatism. None of your other choices explain the lobbyist run, corporate owned and financed system that exists. Since you do not have that choice, you have 90 minutes to explain "why?"

    And for extra credit... Corporatism-lite or neo-corporatism-lite.

    "Corporatism or neo-corporatism is often used popularly as a pejorative term in reference to perceived tendencies in politics for legislators and administrations to be influenced or dominated by the interests of business enterprises, employers' organizations, and industry trade groups. The influence of other types of corporations, such as labor unions, is perceived to be relatively minor. In this view, government decisions are seen as being influenced strongly by which sorts of policies will lead to greater profits for favored companies.

    Corporatism is also used to describe a condition of corporate-dominated globalization. Points enumerated by users of the term in this sense include the prevalence of very large, multinational corporations that freely move operations around the world in response to corporate, rather than public, needs; the push by the corporate world to introduce legislation and treaties which would restrict the abilities of individual nations to restrict corporate activity; and similar measures to allow corporations to sue nations over "restrictive" policies, such as a nation's environmental regulations that would restrict corporate activities.

    In the United States, corporations representing many different sectors are involved in attempts to influence legislation through lobbying including many non-business groups, unions, membership organizations, and non-profits. While these groups have no official membership in any legislative body, they can often wield considerable power over law-makers. In recent times, the profusion of lobby groups and the increase in campaign contributions has led to widespread controversy and the McCain-Feingold Act.

    Many critics of free market theories, such as George Orwell, have argued that corporatism (in the sense of an economic system dominated by massive corporations) is the natural result of free market capitalism."

  2. Thanks for the comment! Of all the entries where I criticize things that carry the scent of fascism, or that of corporations running the show and disenfranchising the rest of us, you have to catch me the one time I neglect to do so. :-)

    Of course, "why" is because Ctrl+V and Ctrl+C were my sources...and they weren't very good ones, either.



Please note: Comments are open only for seven days after publication of each blog entry.