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All Formats Kindle Edition Sort by: Popularity Popularity Featured Price: Low to High Price: High to Low Avg. Poems Aug 01, Available for download now. A Tea Party Primer: The war ended in ; briefly, the 13 colonies toyed with the idea of becoming 13 separate states. Instead, they stayed united under the Articles of Confederation. Congress had no power over the states and no authority to raise money. In , a subset of the folks we think of as the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia at what became known as the Constitutional Convention. They faced an uphill slog. They distrusted centralized power, but they knew that government needed some power in order to get anything done.

Under a total news blackout, they hammered out the document that became known as the Constitution, which was eventually approved by all 13 states. It attempted to balance power between different branches and levels of government, and it gave Congress the power to tax and spend, and to regulate commerce that travels between the states.

The Founding Fathers were by no means perfect, and there are no perfect governments. But the depth and breadth of their experiment, which has had a large impact on the practice of politics all over the world, still is worth thinking about and admiring. The result was the United States of America.

While not the first republic, it was certainly the largest ever attempted.


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Previous attempts at participatory government tended to be small, homogenous states, and the degree of participation was limited. Voting as part of government long predates the American Revolution. Electing kings and chiefs was common in many ancient cultures. All this being said, the American experiment was ground-breaking.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

History did not stop with the U. Subsequent experiments in government have had a record no less mixed, and perhaps more uneven, than has the American one. Slowly, over the last two centuries, more states have adopted participatory forms of government—allowing more and more people to vote. As the world moved into the s, more and more states added legislative bodies such as parliaments to their governments.

So even where kings and emperors still ruled, they were increasingly aided by legislatures. The pressure for this came from citizens of all types, including business people and nobles. Civil unrest and outright revolutions occurred across Europe during the s, and pressure for a state that offered more to all people began to grow. Nonetheless, this was actually a relatively stable period for the Europeans, who used that stability and advances in military technology to conquer and subjugate most of Africa and large parts of Asia.

Africa had been home to a long series of substantial kingdoms and empires, some of which were greatly damaged by the slave trade that followed the conquest of the New World. African states went to war with each other to capture slaves to sell to Europeans, to the extent that all were weaker when the Europeans showed up with guns and a hunger for land. So, it was a profitable time for some Europeans, but not such a good time for many other people around the world.

The years around World War I saw the end of monarchy Rule by a king. The last few major monarchic states fell apart, from the Qing Dynasty in China to the collapse of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires at the end of World War I in The side trips from what we loosely call democracy have been significant.

Many European and Asian nations tried to become participatory—governments based on voting and elections. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes these fledgling republics were overwhelmed by strong men who became dictators.

Economist's View: Political Centralization in Africa

Republican Russia lasted all of six months until the government was toppled by the Bolsheviks, who became the Communists and, after World War II ushered in a half-century of experimenting in dictatorial socialism. Those governments eventually lost legitimacy too. They were economically inefficient and politically closed and unfair. As there was no check on the power of the state, the state could go haywire and often did.

The Soviet dictator Josef Stalin killed perhaps seven and 20 million of his own people estimates vary widely while attempting to create a communist paradise.

Centralized & Decentralized Structures

Germany and Italy experimented with fascism in the middle of the 20th century, and multiple states tried out socialism as an economic system and communism as a political and economic system up until the s. The results, as you probably know, ranged from inefficient moribund economies that never seemed to produce enough goods and services all the way to catastrophic—war, repression, millions of people killed over their beliefs and refusal to cooperate with ideas that they disagreed with.

Governments today remain diverse in their approaches to governing, but democratic-style governments have been on the rise. By one account, of sovereign states rely on elections for choosing governments, up from only 76 in the s. Meanwhile, the 21st century world features very few actual monarchies, which was the dominant form of government for much of the last 2, years.


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Communist states have shrunk to two—Cuba and North Korea—while many states remain dictatorships with limited political participation outside of an inner circle of rulers. Increasingly, states have to prove their legitimacy by letting people participate meaningfully in government. That can range from a parliament in a monarchy such as Kuwait, to a theocratic church-based republic such as Iran also called a theocracy Rule by the church.

We appear to live in an age dominated by market economics and, in some small way, by more participatory government. Hopefully, how it works will make more sense as we go along. Creative Commons supports free culture from music to education. Their licenses helped make this book available to you. Help a Public School. Learning Objectives Understand the historical path of the development of governments. Understand historical events and forces that shaped the development of those governments. The Greeks and Romans Not every state was ruled by a king or an emperor.

Seen from a wider perspective, the development of the strong central state we described in our previous post in Rwanda is anomalous in African history. Though states did form in pre-colonial Africa, for example around the Niger bend in the late middle ages, and in many parts of West, Central and East Central Africa after the 17 th century, it is clear that these processes lagged those which took place in Eurasia. One can get some quantitative picture of this via the data coded by Louis Putterman and his collaborators see this paper.

What can explain this retarded political centralization?