312_Asia_govts_legit - ASAN 312 (Pollard) Contemporary...

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ASAN 312 (Pollard) Contemporary Asian Civilizations Spring 2009 Asian governmental systems Whenever you wish to understand how a governmental system in Asia or anywhere else really works, ask “who rules?” And “how do they rule”? The name of the system (for example, “democracy”) and a country’s constitution (basic law) will never tell you the whole story. For example, the English word democracy is derived from two ancient Greek words— kratein (meaning “to rule”) and demos (“people,”). And from those two root words, emerges the concept (and the claim) with which you are familiar, namely, “the rule of the people.” But that label and even the written text of a country’s constitution (basic law) usually are not sufficient to tell us how power is wielded in a society. Instead, one must also ask, “Who rules?” And then ask, “How do they rule?” In contrast to one’s family, churches and gangs, official governments differ from other large, power organizations in any society in at least the following three respects: 1) The official government is usually the largest and most powerful organization in society; 2) Official governments claim—and try to enforce—a monopoly on the “legal” use of violence, i.e., police, courts, judges, prisons, executions, and military; and 3) on certain occasions, the government’s chief executive (top leader) speaks—or claims to speak—for everyone in the country. Questions about legitimacy Two types of answers Do people in the country over which a government asserts its authority actively or passively accept its authority? Should they? Descriptive
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312_Asia_govts_legit - ASAN 312 (Pollard) Contemporary...

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