In what kinds of environments would the irrigation of crops require authoritarian governments ? This would be about ancient pre industrial societies.

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    $\begingroup$ You are referring to international political environments? Could you supply a bit more context? Not sure geography and underwater are quite what you're after unless I've misunderstood, as type of government doesn't really have much relation to geography - except maybe in the centralisation/decentralisation dimension. $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2021 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ I was the last close voter, please let me explain why. (a) It is inappropriate on SE to re-ask a closed question. The approved method is to edit the initially closed question to improve it, which automatically places it in the Reopen queue for re-evaluation. (b) The fundamental problem with both questions is that you are providing no context, details, or conditions, which are required (see help center). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 27, 2021 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ Please note going forward that the only irrigation project I know of throughout history that mandated a government due to its environment was the Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature. Among its more (in)famous projects were the diversion of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers from the Aral Sea, once the 4th largest lake in the world, to irrigate a desert. I don't believe that could have been done without an authoritarian government. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 27, 2021 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ Having said that, it wasn't so much that the environment required the authoritarian government, but the size of the project that demanded it. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 27, 2021 at 5:30

1 Answer 1


None. Anything that can be done with authoritarianism can also be done with democracy and other means. The Indus Valley Civilization is very unlikely to have been authoritarian (after 100 years of archæological work, no depictions of rulers have been found), and had sophisticated irrigation.

  • $\begingroup$ nevertheless, the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia were despotisms and, thanks to this, they carried out large-scale irrigation and other works $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2021 at 5:10
  • $\begingroup$ "no depictions of rulers have been found" - whether it is true or not, in itself this doesn't mean anything. For example - a taboo on the depictions of rulers :) $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2021 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ The debate on whether Indus Valley had rulers or not has been raging for decades and we're not going to settle it here. However, it is true to say no evidence has been found showing they had either rulers or flying unicorns. $\endgroup$
    – Humphrey
    Sep 27, 2021 at 8:07

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