HaHA! I have fooled you all. You expect me to spend a page and a half talking about how, technically, it’s a Republic. To that I say “Pshaw!”
America is a very polite, Practical Anarchy.
We are a nation so founded on hatred of tyranny that we established a non-government government. Our greatest political pride comes from our Bill of Rights — protecting the citizens of the country from any actual government — and our Checks and Balances — protecting our government from the terrible responsibility of actually being able to accomplish anything.
Seriously, consider your education in the nature of our government. How much focus was given to checks and balances? You know what “checks” are, in this sense? They’re things that stop forward motion. We have a system in place to prevent the government from going anywhere. We have “balances” to make sure that these checks are equally restrictive on all branches of our government.
We are the first nation (at least to my knowledge) to wholly gloat in the deliberate and successful construction of an impotent government.
We’ve done okay, though, haven’t we? I’m not denying that. When I claim that the U.S. is an Anarchy, I do so in the terminology of political philosophy, not popular media. We have constructed a system that politely tells the American government to stay out of the lives of the American people, and everything will be fine.
What amuses me most is that our Founding Fathers recognized Government as an inevitable aspect of human society so, instead of trying to establish a nation free from Government entirely, they quarantined it.
We provide our government with just enough power, just enough resources, and just enough attention to keep them concentrated on their nonsense, while we go about our lives. Our corporations act, our entrepreneurs act, our charitable organizations and special interest groups and legal teams and community organizations all act, while our government blusters and talks.
We don’t have a representative government at all — instead we have direct representation, in that we have built a society to enable the citizens to express themselves without the interference of a Government.
No, it’s not a perfect Anarchy, and I didn’t claim it was. I called it polite Anarchy, and then I went on to acknowledge that we do have an established government structure. My point is that, practically, the main political concern of most Americans is to keep the government out of their lives. We’re still the Colonialists, who built their own cities, who managed their own affairs, and who were willing to pay taxes to keep the king on the other side of the sea, but willing to fight a war when he actually tried to control their lives.
It’s worked, because of the massive amount of resources available to everyone in our society. When our poor are better off than most of the world’s middle class, we don’t need government in the way so many nations do. We have, in Practical Anarchy, what most nations need rigorous Socialism to achieve.
We have Corporations so wealthy they don’t need tarriffs. We have Charitable Organizations with sufficient volunteer funding to dwarf the public works projects of many developed countries. We have, in our individuals, what most societies only have through the organization and administration of a careful government.
In other words, we’re spoiled. Furthermore, as all spoiled children do, we’re squandering. Governments develop in order to help a society make the most of its resources. Governments organize and control independent elements so that the productivity of the whole can be greater than the sum of their parts. That’s what Governments do.
It’s also what we call tyranny. The importance of the individual must be placed below the importance of the society for the society to fully attain its potential. We as a nation dread that pragmatism, and so we designed a self-contained, cannibalistic system of Government, encased it in a fancy marble shell, and got on with our lives.
Listen to the outcry right now against the Federal government’s response to the Katrina disaster. It’s too slow, it’s unproductive. When it should be rushing in to save people’s lives, something has stopped its forward motion. When the Government should be acting, it is instead quibbling, attempting to assign blame to all of its balanced members.
Look: that’s the way the system was designed to work. That’s what we’re so proud of, in our civics classes. We chose to hamstring our Government and that’s why, right now, the volunteers and the aid organizations and the independent assitance groups have so much more to offer than the Federal response. It’s not a matter of resources, but of structure, and the philosophy that designed our nation in the first place.