Democracy / Republic
Low tech philosopher
Image from Kevin Williams (copyright; used with permission)
Image copyright Kevin Williams
Narrowly defined, a democracy is a government run by elected representatives. In practice most democracies carry elements of one or several other forms of government. Many of the Industrial Age, Information Age, early Interplanetary Age and Early Federation Age governments were democracies. In modern times the Cyberian Network, Puppis Democracy, and New Daffy Panoparchy are examples of empires that favor this option.

Democracies in the broader sense, under which all or most citizens have some role in their polity's decisions (see also cyberdemocracy) are a common endpoint in the development of unsupervised human nearbaseline societies. For large societies, this requires, at the least, technologies of Industrial Age level or greater. Based on cliological, anthropological, and sociological evidence, a broadly-defined democratic polity is part of the default baseline human condition in Paleolithic societies. Societies from the Age of Agriculture (post-Paleolithic but pre-Industrial) favour a larger component of monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy, or other more strongly coercive forms of government.

In many Archailect-ruled areas, full democracies have been superseded to one degree or another. However, many Archailects encourage democracies as a form of local government for human nearbaselines. Democracies are more likely than other forms of government to have a peaceful and somewhat equitable distribution of goods, power and rights. They are also much less likely than most other forms of government to attack neighbouring polities; wars between two democracies are extremely rare. This means that fewer management issues arise, and the Archailect and eir agents may spend time and thought on other matters. In addition, it may be that local democracies are intended to occupy the attention and time of otherwise idle nearbaselines.

Many other terragen clades find democracy an attractive form of government, and tend to practice it in one form or another if they have the choice. This may be because of human sophont influence, either through physical descent or because human baselines directed the first provolution attempts. It may also be a memetic founder effect. Too few forms of true xenosapient government are known to make any general statements regarding their tendencies, and in some cases the concept of democracy is clearly irrelevant.

Multi-clade democracies are possible, but are often difficult to maintain. Clades may differ on any of a number of serious points, beginning with what constitutes a valid individual citizen. Unlike different ethnic groups within a single clade, they cannot necessarily solve these differences through discussion, cultural evolution, or intermixture, since some of their views are the result of innate biology or programming. Of course it is extremely rare for entire clades to merge through intermarriage or the equivalent, as ethnic groups on Old Earth once did, so differences in the modern world tend to persist for centuries. Incompatible clades usually simply form separate polities at the outset, and negotiate differences polity to polity. Virch clades nearly always form their own polities, as their environment and their concerns are very different from those of vecs or bionts or even from ais..

According to transapient informants, there are other, more advanced forms of government which use some elements of democracy. These forms are used when there are sufficient numbers of trans-sapients within the same area to warrant it. However, the concepts involved are not amenable to translation.

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Text by Stephen Inniss
Initially published on 12 November 2004.