What is Government?

Civilized societies could not function effectively without a government. For example, in the United States, teams of people run the cities, states, and the country. These teams of people are called government. Through the electoral system, people get elected to be part of the government.

The president of the United States leads the country. The governor of a designated state leads the state. Even our community is governed by government leaders, too. The mayor leads the city. The police chief, the sheriff, and the fire chief are other leaders who make your neighborhood a better place.

Government is a system of social control made up of a teams of people who governs or runs an organized society, usually a country, a state, a city or a town. The word government comes from the Latin word gubernar, literally means to rule or to steer.

The Columbia Encyclopedia defines government as follows.

Government is a system of social control under which the right to make laws, and the right to enforce them, is vested in a particular group in society. The Columbia Encyclopedia

Government wields supreme power to make and enforce laws. It exists as a mechanism for determining policy. Each government has a kind of constitution, a statement of its governing principles and philosophy that prevents laws from being passed arbitrarily.

We need a government to make laws. Laws are rules that keep us safe and help us work together. A government also makes sure we all follow those laws. Even easy things cannot be done without laws. Imagine if the government did not control things like streets and traffic! For example, would you want to cross the street if people drove their cars too fast?

Historically, the nations of the world boast a variety of government systems including monarchy, aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, theocracy and tyranny. The main aspect of any philosophy of government is how political power is obtained, with the two main forms being electoral contest and hereditary succession.

There are some restraints to government. For example, Libertarianism and anarchism are political ideologies that seek to limit or abolish government, finding government disruptive to self organization and freedom (Wikipedia).

The Emergence of Government

In earliest times, there were no governments because there were so few people. people spent their time just surviving. These ancient people lived with their families or in small groups called clans. They moved around a lot, so they didn’t have a need for laws or a system of order. Instead, the few adults in a family or group made the decisions about where to live or how to find food.

But overtime, people began to cultivate farms instead of hunting and gathering for food, they moved less and instead began to settle in places. They formed societies and lived together in cities and towns. As people lived in larger and larger groups, it became harder to make decisions. They needed leaders to run things and settle disputes, so they began to establish governments.

Some of the earliest examples of government were in ancient Greece. During this period, people lived in separate city-states, which were like very large cities. Each city-state had its own government. Some were run by kings, while others were run by small groups of rich landowners.

In the city-state of Athens, the citizens ran the government. This form of government is known as a democracy. In a democracy, the people hold the power and choose their leaders. The free men who were citizens of ancient Athens came together in large meetings to discuss issues and to decide how to vote. Soon, other city states followed Athen’s example.

related literatures:
  1. U. S. Congress Man, Myke Doyle, About Our Government Opens in new window
  2. Baron Bedesky, What Are the Levels of Government, (p.6-7)
  3. Wikipedia, Government Opens in new window