by Quentin Long
©2006 Quentin Long
As I write these words, theres an election coming up in just a few days. At least there is in America, anyway; in other nations, elections may happen now, or not for a while yet, or perhaps not at all. We humans have dreamed up quite a variety of different forms of government in our time, and weve tried out most of them, in one form or another. Of course, some forms of government have been (and still are) decidedly more common than others!
At present, representative democracy is one of the biggies; direct democracy, not so much. One shouldnt overlook monarchy, however. Not only does it predate (all flavors of) democracy by a number of millennia, but its still going strong. In addition to countries like England, whose putative monarchs are more-or-less symbolic figureheads with relatively little real power, there are also countries such as North Korea
Hold it, I can hear you object. North Korea isnt a monarchy, its a Communist state!
Well, yes, it is a Communist state which just happens to have all of its power concentrated in one mans hands, and whose current ruler just happens to have inherited the position from his dad. Thus, the differences between North Korea and a conventional monarchy are superficial details, not matters of substance. From this point of view, its arguable that the United States is moving towards monarchy, what with the office of the Presidency becoming increasingly powerful in recent decades but thats a topic for another editoral. The point at hand is that monarchies exist, and they come wrapped up in a wide variety of different façades, so that some of them arent easily recognizeable as the monarchies they are.
At this point, it may be instructive to compare human political structures to those of another primate speciesnamely, chimpanzees. Chimps band together in cooperative groups for hunting and other purposes; each such group usually has one chimp, the alpha male, who gets first choice of all the goodies the group happens to run into, and also has the authority to decide which other group-members get second choice. Does this remind you of anything? It bloody well should! And it should also suggest that we humans arent all that different from our evolutionary cousins
Note to Creationists: We are apes. Get over it.
and we share most (if not all) of the same innate impulses, differing only in the specific details of how we respond to said impulses. To a certain extent, therefore, it could be said that humans are designed or built for monarchial governments. Of course, not all species have the same set of innate impulses. Which begs the question: If humans are innately monarchial, what about other species?
Some creatures exhibit instinctual flocking behavior; could these beasties be innately democratic? If such a species were to become sentient, would direct democracy actually work for it? Some creatures are solitary by nature. Would a sentient version of such a species even have governments at all?
These questions arent simple but they are, or at least should be, the sort of thing that furry writers ought to concern themselves with. Any damn fool can write about fur-covered people that think, behave, and react exactly like humans; but if you can treat your anthropomorphic characters as unique individuals with their own beliefs and drives, not just as funny-looking humans, then youve really got something!