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Comparative political systems

By Tom Glendinning
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - In this dialogue about "lefties" and "righties," I will interject some discrimination of political systems. Since these terms are used "liberally," I feel that this short piece is appropriate, though not seemingly Chathamcentric in its scope. It does pertain to the political discussions of the last sixteen months. I hope that the scope is acceptable for the Chatlist. Chatham County once could have been considered a pseudo-democracy.

China, once run as an empire by emperors, was transformed into a communist state by Mao Tse Tung in the early part of last century. In the political spectrum of governments, communism is classified as "left," meaning liberal,
socialistic, or other than authoritarian or democratic.

Though political powers of communist countries may be run by "old men" (and old women), their position in this spectrum is on the left, or communist side to philosophy and management. Linking age to a political persuasion is
not a proper analysis of form of government. The Greek city-states, the cradles of democracy, were run by old men too. Our country was formed by old men and is run by old men and women today (save Renee Ellmers.) The
same can be said for France and Morocco, the constitutions of which preceded ours.

The right, in political analysis of governments, is linked to authoritarian forms, such as monarchies, dictatorships, totalitarian states. Form notwithstanding, the operation of said governments may be liberal or conservative in their rule. Spain, once a monarchy, became a nationalistic dictatorship during which time many rights and improvements were bestowed. The economy flourished after WWII, so the people benefited from Franco's rule.

Of the governments listed on>Government Statistics>Status (by country), most are listed as democracies, dependent democracies or in transition. Many are pseudo-democracies such as Belarus. There are a few monarchies - Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Brunei, Bhutan and The Holy See. And several dictatorships - Libya, Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, Burma, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Laos, and China.

The USSR, Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, was a republic with voting. The votes were inconsequential in how the government was run (by old men.) It had a president, a legislature, and maybe a functional court, but it was
viewed as a leftist government. Now Russia, and its former territories, are considered federal democracies, just as is Canada. Our democracy, or republic, is considered more liberal in form. It may function with liberal or conservative values, but is certainly more liberal than a dictatorship.

Joy Hewitt's comments are correct in that China is considered a dictatorship, though it claims a communist form of government, supposedly a liberal form. This distinction is probably the same as the one between democracies, the US, and pseudo-democracies, such as Singapore or Venezuela.

Since posts are parsing government persuasions, I thought this was appropriate. The discussion on calling someone liberal or conservative is another topic. It harkens in our system to English history, Whigs, Tories and Progressives and such. Whether the Democratic Party may claim honor and cleanliness or the Republican Party may claim proper pursuit of democratic ideals are topics of more historical analysis. But the discussion of "left" and "right" forms of government should be left to academicians and political historians. It's too confusing to attribute these values.

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Comparative political systems

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