A Brief History of Governance
Your history lessons have told you how people eventually began to prefer a settled life to the previous nomadic existence. The earlier nomads had their own set of rules within the tribe. Back when men did the hunting and the women would do the gathering and child-care, people lived in small communities of tribes.
When tribes settled in lands next to each other there would often be a battle for supremacy. The tribe that won the battle would claim the lands of the others and impose their laws onto the people there.
Sometimes leaders would agree not to fight with each other based on certain conditions. These were known as treaties and we began calling the people who signed them kings. Oftentimes when kings signed treaties they joined their houses by marrying their children to each others. These were hardly ever marriages of love.
Fast forward past kings and colonies and we get a system where people’s rights and economic welfare was governed by groups of people rather than kings alone.
Civic amenities like roads and reservoirs, public spaces like roads, gardens and potable water required a regulatory body. The people that formed these bodies were called the government. It was mainly broken up into the people that made the laws and the people that enforced the law. To pay for all this maintenance and growth in the land the offices of the government collect taxes on certain activities.
Clearly, rules became necessary for the fair functioning in an increasingly complex world. People had to know how to function in a given city –state or country. What currency would they use? Were they allowed to trade anything they pleased? Were outsiders allowed to marry within the community? Could you just move into someone else’s house and never leave?
These problems had to have consistent solutions within a regular framework– there could not be one rule for one person and another for someone else. This need for regulation, based on the needs of masses of people instead of just one king, along with administrative networks required to collect revenue and maintain law and order, is what gave rise to governments.
In class, discuss what it would be to live like hunter-gatherers. Where you don’t have a home and you have to keep going where you can hunt for food or gather what nature gives you. Then compare that to how different your life is now that there are ways to get food without having to move around constantly.
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