In my world, there are humans (often called Earthlings) and eight alien species.

Humans have an Earth government best described as a democratic quinquevirate: to be exact, this is an elective semi-presidential republic with five Presidents, ten Prime Ministers, and one honorary Emperor/Empress/Empross (this is a United Nations pastiche) (in real life, the United Nations is composed of five permanent members of the Security Council, ten elected members, and a General Secretary).

The eight alien species are (they are provisionary names):

  1. Blue Squirrels. They look like bear-sized blue-furred squirrels. They live in a matriarchal tribal society. Their cradle is a temperate rainforest planet.
  2. Mountain Albatrosses. They look like raven-sized red-feathered albatrosses. They live in a theocracy, and individuals of power are celibate priests and celibate priestesses. Their cradle is a mountain planet.
  3. Huge Forest Tortoises. They look like ostrich-sized green-scaled tortoises. They live in a hereditary semi-presidential republic (both the President and the Prime Minister inherit their respective position from their respective parents, and have limited power). Their cradle is a dry tropical forest planet.
  4. Orange Desert Flatworms. They look like falcon-sized orange planarians. They live in an elective constitutional monarchy. Their cradle is a sand desert planet.
  5. Giant Purple Iguanas. They look like gharial-sized purple-scaled iguanas. They live in a Singapore-like benevolent dictatorship. Their cradle is a swamp planet.
  6. Ice Termites. They look like rabbit-sized yellow termites. They are eusocial and they live in a matriarchal absolute monarchy. Their cradle is an ice planet.
  7. Sponges. They look like human-sized red sea sponges. They live in a semi-presidential republic with one President and four Prime Ministers. Their cradle is an oceanic planet.
  8. Purple Cannabises. They look like human-sized purple cannabises. They are best described as benevolent libertarians (if we compare them to humans). Their cradle is a grassland planet.

So, I wonder why would most aliens species have a non-democratic political system.

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    $\begingroup$ This question could be paraphrased as: Brainstorm: Why would societies avoid democracy? Which is an extremely open ended question. Please. Narrow down your question. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ Meanwhile, here in the real world, we have those alien species called (in alphabetical order) Arabs, Chinese, Iranians, and Russians who, for reasons of their own, keep having decidedly non-democratic political systems. (Actually, the Chinese, if anybody can understand their alien language, seem to pretend that they have a real democratic system and the western countries don't.) The question blissfully assumes that whatever system the West adopts is necessarily the best, and when barbarians or aliens choose a different system then this abnormality needs to be explained. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 1, 2022 at 2:40
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    $\begingroup$ Before even asking about the government system of each of them, perhaps the focus should be on how each of these societies evolved, and especially if in the evolution of each of these species something similar to individual consciousness emerged. It is a little complicated to imagine a democracy where there is no individuality. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 4:23
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    $\begingroup$ i'd rather try to explain why the "pink naked apes" have a democratic system. and also: why all of your species seem to have done the impossible of actually forming world governments, without significant deviations in der lower layers. (also: the sponges should live in a semi-pineapple republic.) $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ I see 7 answers and 1 upvote. People who write answers: encourage people who write questions you feel are worthy of your time by giving your upvote. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:54

16 Answers 16


Plenty of your races have Democratic Governments already

There is a difference between a democratic government (a government containing elements or ideas of a democracy built into it), and a pure democracy (a government where everyone is an equal member of legislation)

The two main qualities we use to define a "Democratic" government are the existence of elections and distribution of power. Of your 9 races, it looks like 6-8 of your races have elective systems of some sort, and 5-7 practice some form of distribution of power. So, I would say the majority of these races are democratic which is actually much more that we see historically. I would if anything be questioning why so many of these alien races ARE democratic, not why more of them are not.

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... unless you are asking why there are no Pure Democracies

That said, none of your races practice Pure Democracy (AKA Direct or True Democracy). Even your Humans are just a Representative Democracy (AKA Indirect Democracy or a Republic). The thing is that here on Earth, there have been very few Pure Democracies beyond the scale of small tribal/commune settings. Once you get past Dunbar's Number, Pure Democracy often becomes unstable.

Some people say Ancient Athens was a Pure Democracy with ecclesias that would include thousands of citizens coming together to propose and vote on laws, but Athens was a Patriarchy and only about 1 in 10 families were part of the citizen class; so, only about 5% of the adult population could actually participate in an ecclesia making it arguably just a really big Oligarchy rather than a Pure Democracy. The thing about Pure Democracy is that it often does not work well on larger scales. Although modern technology makes coordinating the votes of billions of people easier than ever, the much harder question of who gets to propose a law becomes a major matter of contention. Imagine if Earth had a citizen-class democracy like Athens did, today. 5% of 8 billion is still 400 million people. If 400 million people could propose a law then there would be WAY too many bills for everyone to read to be able to also vote on and the complexity of the legal system would quickly spin out of control.

That said, many Representative Democracies also have a referendum system in which the citizenry has the right to propose and vote on laws directly bypassing representatives. In these systems, the typical solution is to require citizens to fulfil a petition requirement showing a certain number of people in support of a new bill (filtering proposals to a more manageable number) and that bill can then be voted on in a Direct Democracy fashion. Even so, these states/countries still do not quite constitute a Pure Democracy, because they still rely on their representative form of government... but it does give a very good example of how a Pure Democracy could function at scale.

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    $\begingroup$ I think that who proposes a law does not really matter. The inability of every citizen to make an informed decision on each and every proposal (or candidate in a representative democracy) is what makes 'true' democracy impossible. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 1, 2022 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Otkin Who proposes a law is if anything more important than the right to vote on it. It is the difference between an obvious anti-human-trafficking law, and an anti-human-trafficking law that also reallocates part of the education budget to subsidizing the oil industry. Having the right to vote on laws does not help much if those writing the laws have your worst interests at heart. When every vote is a Sophie's choice, then no amount of being informed prevents a bad outcome. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Feb 1, 2022 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Otkin But it's not a categorically bad proposal, and that is my point. Politicians already do this all the time (the official term is a rider) where they know that thier law is popular enough to pass by a lot; so, they add in some self-serving provisions that they believe it can still pass with because the main goal of the law is popular enough that people will take the rider along with the law. If people want the anti-human-trafficking law more than they oppose the budget reallocation, then they will still vote for the law even if they are fully informed. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Feb 2, 2022 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Otkin, No, the US is a Democratic Republic. All people have the right to vote on representatives, but they can not put forth bills or vote directly on federal laws. A true Democracy is where all people have the right to propose and vote on legislation instead of electing people to do that for them. So, if congress composed of every single US citizen, that would be a True Democracy. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Feb 2, 2022 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ "so, only about 5% of the adult population could actually participate in an ecclesia" - this is also true of a fair number of countries pre-1900s. For example, in the 1800s working-class men and women in the UK did not have the right to vote. The Chartists specifically struck for women's ability to vote, and also the ability of working-class people as a whole to vote. $\endgroup$
    – Aster
    Feb 3, 2022 at 16:46

Well, Simply put, it's not just aliens

Throughout history, most governments were not democracies. The idea that democracies are very common in human society is something that you may think because you were born after the end of the 19th century, but before that time democracy was the exception, not the norm.

Because of this, you don't really need an explanation for why aliens tend to be non-democratic when humans are already usually non-democratic. Our modern age is an exception, and an important one, but still an exception.

It should be noted that governments do tend to have a religious (will of God) or pseudo-religious (will of the people) reason for existing, so you should probably come up with why the people in those nations believe their governments should exist. What I mean by religious justification is some justification for the mode of government in the very religion of the people, and by pseudo-religious I mean that they do not have a religious belief in the governments legitimacy, but their legitimacy is determined by some other ideal whether it be cult of personality, democracy, inheritance, etc...

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    $\begingroup$ Also, it should be noted that not all that is called democracy is a democracy. Athens' democracy of 2000 years ago was closer to a plutocracy, with only a small portion of the population being a male "citizen" (ie, not a foreigner, and not a slave) and China's current democracy doesn't abide by the Western definition. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ Just to expand a bit: once human societies reached certain complexity, it tended to be easy for organized few in power to control large number of uncoordinated powerless. The "reason for existing" (i.e. legitimacy) of any form government is usually intertwined with and reinforced by military/police power and money: if you have one, you are more likely to get the others starting a positive feedback loop. A nice read discussing some mechanisms like this throughout history would be A.Gat: War in the Human Civilization. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ Frame challenge: More democracies than non-democracies have reached space. I think. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Up until the Peace of Westphalia, ALL Western governments were based on religious order. Even in Japan, the Emperor was a god, in every sense of the word. The Divine Right of Kings is all about Kings being a spokesperson for god, if not god themselves. It wasn't until after the Peace of Westphalia when religion began to lose its grip on white or whitish government. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 5:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Blueriver Russia and China vs America. You do the math. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 5:33

As North America is now demonstrating harder than before, Democracy is less about who can lead a country the best and more of a popularity contest*. Our current Democratic development may just be a fluke and will eventually collapse.

So instead of opening up the system of government to propaganda attacks and misinformation campaigns the aliens prefer other types of government.

*yes the US has some baked in extra flaws like only two parties but there are plenty of problems with basic Democracy anyway. Although when you get down to it all types of Government we have invented so far have problems.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Feb 3, 2022 at 11:09

An evolved lack of sociopathy or extreme selfishness; but your story would need to support that notion in the action.

Democracies are for beings that cannot trust strangers of their own species. They don't trust kings, because most people that become kings came to that by sociopathy and violent force, not caring who they hurt in their quest for power and riches.

Democracy was a direct rebuke of Royalty, and particularly selfish, greedy, careless royalty. It was an alternative that was designed to balance powers so that different factions could keep others in check and prevent any sociopaths from gaining all the power and corrupting everything for their own personal gain.

But what if there were no such people? No megalomaniacs, no religious ideologues, no senselessly money-obsessed grifters. Nobody wanted that much personal gain, and everybody was content with a modern "comfortable" living? Including the king, they lived the same lives as anybody else.

The Earth would still be full of kingdoms if it was not for the greed of Kings, if it was not for the wars trying to take more territory, gain more power, gain more taxes. If it were not for the jealousy over greater wealth, territory and power. In fact, it seems likely we'd already have a world government, coordinating the resources of the Earth for the benefit of all. We'd have no military. We'd have fewer cops.

If everybody is reasonable, we can agree that there may be thousands of worthwhile things to do, but only resources to do hundreds of them at a time. So somebody has to prioritize these projects, and that means researching them, understanding them, figuring out co-dependencies, and their impact, and coming up with what we do now. That is the job of a government, and it is most efficient in a pyramidal structure where the final decisions are made by a singular leader that mentally synthesizes the top level information.

That all works great, fast and efficient if we can trust every level of government to not corrupt their decisions with personal preferences or attempts to get rich or powerful by their decisions. That can happen if people are inherently trustworthy and incapable of anything else, or if we can read minds without error and the corrupt cannot hide their greed, criminal intent and disregard for others.

There would be no reason to overthrow the rule of singular authority, if such singular authorities are never oppressive to the people.

Democracies arose in rebellion against oppressive, greedy and self-indulgent royalty. Take away the reason for Democracy, and Democracy never appears.

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    $\begingroup$ Narcissism has always been a trait of democratic leaders. Getting to the top in a democracy is a cut-throat business, and you HAVE to be in it for yourself. It HAS to be for your own personal power and glory. Democracy is not a response to narcissism, it is a direct result of narcissism. Like the Americans are fond of saying, 'In God We Trust, all others are suspect'. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond We are talking about separately evolved species. Trying to assign them human psychology is rather self-centered. Perhaps you failed to read what I wrote: Democracy is for species that cannot trust each other, hence the need to balance power, pit greed, narcissism and megalomania against other greed, narcissism and megalomania. Other species may not evolve the same negative psychological traits; and the point of this answer is to explain why Democracy may not evolve in other species -- They don't need it, because they have no narcissists. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Feb 3, 2022 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, there is no one 'human' species either. We have regional genetic interplay between various hybrids of breeding between distinct humanoid predecessors. There is no one single human species predecessor. That is why 'humans' have very distinct governing styles that work for distinct regional populations, depending on the mix of genetic mix between the human species predecessors. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ My point is, most posters here assign AMERICAN psychology and cultural traits to ALL humans. That is the ultimate social narcissism - to treat everyone like yourself. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond I don't believe that is true. Every culture has had their fair share of megalomaniac leaders, sociopathic and pyschopathic leaders, violent Kings, Emperors, etc. In Russia, South America, Africa, all over Europe, in China, in Rome, everywhere. There can certainly be cultural differences in how we are raised, but we all interbreed, intelligence is the same everywhere. There is one human species, with some evolved differences in morphology. Emotionally we are, everywhere, birthing people capable of violence, megalomania, narcissism, sociopathy and psychopathy. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Feb 3, 2022 at 17:00

Democracies aren't stable to alien interference.

It's pretty easy for an alien race to influence the population en masse. This tends to mean any alien democracies tend to have their rivals seek to ruin their democracies and succeed.

A dictatorship is easier to maintain, as you just need to shield a small number of elites at the top from influence, and because it's easier to kill any subordinates who are swayed by aliens.

Earthlings would experience this soon after, with large scale efforts made by the aliens to destabilize them by making their members fight.

  • $\begingroup$ Or just an unusual immunity humans have to the indigenous body-snatching or mind altering parasites. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Feb 2, 2022 at 2:01

Throughout human history, democracies are very rare and recent. Some say that we live in a time where we see the decline of democracy, and frankly, this is at least not all wrong. The reason, as is so often the case with humans, is greed. Amadeus in his very good answer suggested that this personality trait might be special for humans, and might not exist in your other species.
Who knows, maybe that is the reason they could evolve to spacefaring civilizations in the first place, while those species that create egomaniacs never reach that state. But i digress.
Amadeus also hinted at the problems we on earth had with our non-democratic governments. But, if we look around, we notice that even today on earth, a lot of countries are not democracies, especially since you seem to imply that you don't count constitutional monarchies as democratic. I don't share that view, but that's a different matter.

Democracies arise on earth when a ruler is overthrown. This happens when a large part of society thinks that the risks involved in revolutions are worth taking, i.e. if their situation is pretty bad under their current ruler.
While Amadeus points out how to remove the problem of opressing rulers from a species, i would like to offer a different approach:
remove the oppressability!
Since your different species are all space faring, i fnd it safe to assume that they manage to provide very large amounts of energy when needed and that they are generally technolocically advanced. From there it's just a small step to a post-scarcity civilisation.
Now, take a look at the people in your country. How many of them, would you say, have a deep understanding of politics? I assume it would be the same as in my vicinity: not that many, to put it mildly. They do get interested when they feel they are missing something.
Now, in a post-scarcity society it is fair to assume that noone lacks food or shelter. And once that is the case, the number of people actually interested in politics gets very small. And it removes a strong incentive of revolutions. All you have to do is let people live their lives without too much interference. So, you can have almost any kind of government, once you have a general population that doesn't lack vital things. They, in general, just won't care who's ruling, and by what means.

  • $\begingroup$ The only thing democracy does is legitimizes oppression. Greed is the root cause of democracy, not the other way around. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 5:17

Just ask bees, ants, horses, and any other number of Earth animal and insect species why THEY do not use 'democracy'.

Democracy is actually an aberration and an abomination of the natural order of species government. It is not natural, otherwise it would not be so fragile. Humans, in fact, were never designed nor intended to be a 'democratic' species. It is a completely artificial construct to even us. Without all of the time, energy, resources, and dedication we put into maintaining it, we by nature resort to more autocratic systems. America just proved that in 2020.

No major corporation has ever survived with a democratic leadership structure. In fact, that style of management is completely opposed in our 'democratic' nations. It is called 'Communism', and ridiculed and given a negative emotional tag, instead of being called a 'Democratic' management style and promoted.

Really, even on Earth among Human populations. 'Democracy' tends to be a purely Anglo-Germanic Saxon White 'fetish', that this particular demographic tries to artificially and unproductively 'force' or 'impose' on others. Afghanistan is the perfect example. The North American system of 'democracy just does not work for most humans.

In absolute terms, no 'two-party' or 'multi-party' adversarial system where 'winner takes all' can ever be called 'democratic'. Only a 'no party' system would be truly 'democratic'.

So the frame challenge answer to the question becomes 'Why would any other society or alien species ever WANT to be 'democratic'?

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    $\begingroup$ Two-party systems are called democratic. Redefining democracy doesn't help the argument. $\endgroup$
    – prosfilaes
    Feb 1, 2022 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ Large scale government is not natural; for most of humanity's existence, we existed in small tribes, not cities with thousands of people in them. The US government is ruling over more people than lived on the planet 1000 years ago, much less were joined into one nation. Any government for humans today is not natural; natural systems simply can't support eight billion people on this planet. $\endgroup$
    – prosfilaes
    Feb 1, 2022 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ Democracy requires buy-in and work, and doesn't tend to work when imposed from above. But democracy as generally used is far from "North American"--the Democracy Index puts Norway, Sweden and Iceland at top. Even Germanic is overstretching it; the 23 countries on the Democracy Index as full democracies include Taiwan, Chile, South Korea and Japan, and the 50 more around the world include a number of African countries, several more Asian countries (including India), and most of South America. $\endgroup$
    – prosfilaes
    Feb 1, 2022 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ "North America system of democracy" umm lol wut? USA is not the only government in North America. There are 23 recognized sovereign states. USA has destroyed democracies via the CIA. So don't be surprised if some people feel that USA is not the model to aspire to. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ @prosfilaes Redefining 'Communism' to fit the American narrative does not make any sense, either, but somehow Americans continue to do it. China seems to be doing just fine ruling over 1.2 billion people, more than lived on the entire Earth 150 years ago. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 15:32

The king or monarch is very caring

In human history, there had been kings or monarchs who cared about their people a lot like a father caring about his family. These kings were loved by the people and people were very content with them.

Maybe the alien king cares about his nation and the nation loves him.

Democracy is best only under certain conditions

Free and Fair elections: The most important condition for democracy to be the best form of government is Free and Fair elections.

Their are countries where election are held after a certain term but same guy keeps geting 95% of votes for several terms. He is elected but he is much worse than many dictators.

Judicial system: Second most important condition is a judicial system that provides justice.

Worst people get elected by certain means and they remain in power because the judicial system is compromised. See the list here. People in countries on top are happy but as you go down, people are more miserable.

There are some other factors that can ruin a democratic system e.g.

  • corrupt government officials
  • landlords or tribal chiefs who force their people to vote for a wrong person
  • poor people bribed by a wealthy person

If democracy is not in its perfect or near perfect form then in most cases it is worse than monarchy.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you mean "free and fair" unless this is some a clever critique of democracy as a popularity contest. $\endgroup$
    – Jontia
    Feb 1, 2022 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ I would add common shared identity as one of the conditions for functional democracy. As most democracies in the world have proven, if there're multiple groups that don't care about each other, democracy is just contest to see who gets to oppress who for the next mandate. Hell, even the US had a civil war due to one group enforcing their morals and laws on other group, it ended slavery, but still. $\endgroup$
    – LuizPSR
    Feb 1, 2022 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I meant "FAIR". Thanks Jontia. But maybe in some situation, some people ask for FARE also $\endgroup$
    – imtaar
    Feb 1, 2022 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but a monarchy has the same problems you list with the added difficulty of needing a war to get rid of the monarch. In a democracy, there is the possibility of voting out someone who is terrible. (That is why certain people are trying to get rid of voting in the US.) $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ LuizPSR, I have seen this actually happening where one group comes in power and puts all opponents in jail by making false criminal cases against them and bribing the judges to give them sentences. But if judiciary is giving independent decisions, then such things are rare. $\endgroup$
    – imtaar
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:08

Why would different species not have democracy? One reason might be due to a genetically driven change that causes the top individual to develop a number of different characteristics. Someone who is not the top individual is genetically programmed to obey. Somone who becomes the top individual goes through a number of changes both to how they look and how they act. They become the individual that can make decisions for the species and show their status with special fur / plumage.

One could add a whole bunch of other such genetically determined changes such as ability to see patterns of behavior, teaching abilities, etc. It could be that an individual might be able to go through one or two of those changes in their lifetime. (See Niven and Pournelle ideas of the Moties.)

  • $\begingroup$ "Genetically driven change"? Even in humans the genetic code does not indicate 'democracy'. Humans are by genetic nature a herd animal, with a dominant herd 'leader'. That is why human 'democracy' just ends up electing a 'dictator' for a certain period. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 15:42

Democracy is, in many ways, a luxury option; for a society to be democratic, you need to be able to communicate with the majority of your electorate in some way, and you need to have the resources and the surplus necessary to spend time on things like elections and debates.

Furthermore, for it to be a real democracy, the population needs to be educated in democracy, and convinced that it will work - not just in the sense that there will be some form of government, but in the sense that everybody will trust the system enough to accept losing elections, and trust the winners to govern in the interest of the whole of society.

Democracy isn't a magic, universally good thing that will sweep away all that is bad; it is at best a difficult, ongoing project that needs constant nurturing by a sufficiently large proportion of the people; otherwise it degenerates to become nothing more than an expensive show.

  • $\begingroup$ Aboriginal societies were the most democratic of any society, with rule by consensus. Everyone's consensus, male. female, disadvantaged, old, young, EVERYONE had a say, everyone had a vote, on EVERYTHING. Seems to ne they did not have an 'economic advantage'. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond I know - but they generally tend to be small, which means communication is less of an issue; smaller societies also normally require less 'government', so it is easier to talk about everything. Ironically enough, you would also describe these small societies as 'communist' or 'socialist'. $\endgroup$
    – j4nd3r53n
    Feb 3, 2022 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ Which just goes to show that the most successful form of government is 'regional' and local in nature, but with an over-riding world order that keeps peace and universal standards. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond The most successful form of government can't be one that doesn't exist. I don't even know how that would exist; military alliances are tricky, with NATO members constantly bickering about money and control, Warsaw Pact members staying under military duress only, and WWI starting because of military alliances. As for universal standards... yeah. If the current world system hasn't got metric enforced on the US, what makes you think a peaceful world order could? With small regional governments, the only mostly universal standards will be the most brutally practical. $\endgroup$
    – prosfilaes
    Feb 3, 2022 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ @prosfilaes Can you plug in your appliance into a standard household outlet in any house? $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 23:03


If democracy reigned throughout the universe, they would all go to live on the planet of the Benevolent Libertarian Purple Cannabises. The native inhabitants would be admired by philosophers and celebrated in story and song, and ruthlessly hunted down by malevolent aliens implacably dedicated to their immolation.


The giant purple iguanas can never rise up against the benevolent dictatorship of their Esteemed Leader Barney, because he leads them in a song of praise that they cannot help but dance along to. Even on Earth this song has been used in attempts to rehabilitate dissidents and freedom fighters. (For the full history, see The Men Who Stare At Goats)


The orange desert flatworms need an iron hand ruling over them because virtually anything they do will get them sued for infringement by the Herbert estate, in the sympathetic local courts of Giedi Prime.


The tortoises keep electing non-hereditary candidates, but they don't finish the trip to the capital before their term expires.

Purity of Essence

The thoughts of all the ice termites that can think (Cerebrates) are directly integrated with the Overmind. The Overmind has assured them that if ever their flesh should fail it, that flesh will be made anew.

Unenlightened Thinking

Not even the President or Prime Minister of the sponges knows what their governmental structure is. Their sole method of voting consists of pumping water through their spongoceol, occasionally decorated with a release of gametes, but these can't be tallied on a large scale.


There might be legitimate biological reasons for an alien species to resist democracy.

In our own past, the people in power have always found justifications for denying the vote to groups they think are unworthy. They said that (women / ethnic minorities / people who own no land) just didn't have the wisdom to know who to vote for. Nowadays we reject that type of thinking as prejudiced.

But what if, for the aliens, this was objectively true? What if the ability to understand complex issues was inherited genetically, while the lower castes are incapable of even learning to read? Wouldn't this naturally lead to a system of aristocratic rulers?

Or what if these aliens are instinctively drawn to follow whoever emits the most powerful leadership pheromones? They would instinctively unite behind a single leader, and voting would be pointless.

Or they could be naturally dishonest - there would be no point holding an election because it would just be a contest to see who was best at cheating.

Or they might be too easily swayed by bribery - any election would go to the one who buys the most votes.

Or perhaps they instinctively resolve all disputes through physical violence, and the losers automatically obey the winners.


As Winston Churchill once said:

Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those others that have been tried.

Representative democracy is not perfect. Decisions take a long time to make. Voters are too easily influenced by the media. Representatives have too many conflicts of interests. Political strategy leads to decisions which are sometimes not the best for society but rather the best to keep certain people in power. Minority interests get either too much or too little attention, depending on how good those minorities are at gaming the system.

And yet, representative democracy works pretty well for humans. In our world, countries with representative democracy are objectively those with the best general quality of life. Today and in all of history.

But what works for humans does not necessarily work for aliens. Aliens are not human personalities trapped in weird bodies. Their psychology can be just as alien as their appearance. Which means that they might be able to function in societies which would be completely infeasible for humans. They might be too selfish and violent to make democracy work. So they must be oppressed by an authoritarian leader, or there will be chaos. And they actually prefer it that way. Or they might be altruistic enough that they don't need leaders. They can make anarchy work, because everyone already knows by themselves what's in the best interest for the species and act accordingly without requiring any incentives or threats. Or perhaps they are solitary creatures which only cooperate with each other temporarily and otherwise stick to themselves, so they don't really have an organized society at all.

So don't limit your creativity to thinking of aliens as human-analogs. Think about what kind of alien societies would be possible if you remove the limitations of human psychology.


One reason I didn't see for why they didn't choose democracy:

Democracy and consensus are far too slow!

Democracy is very much like the DMV. Long lines, slow ponderous bureaucratic, labyrinthine organizations dedicated to getting the right result (according to their rules, accuracy may vary). Meanwhile, authoritarian regimes have the benefit of only needing to have the leader say the word and it will be done as swift as possible. This is what applies for the monarchies, dictatorships, etc.

Another benefit is that for non-democracies, Leaders are usually groomed to be leaders. As idealistic as "anyone can be president" is, it is a waste of resources to groom so many wasteful campaigns as well as time consuming!.

These things are compounded if the lifespan of a particular creature is significantly less as their foresight into future events will be more limited as well as more likely to not waste time with democracy!


The Main Problems of Democratic Systems:

  1. Universal Representation 2) The ability to propose new laws
  2. Maintaining fairness (weighting, polling, mechanics of system)

To get back to the OP's question

Why would most species avoid democracy?

  1. Theoretical Knowledge - They don't know what could be gained
  2. Systemic Exclusion - not represented fairly / invited to participate
  3. Doubt - complexity of systems - reliability / fairness of polling

Simply, there has not yet been a system which maintained representation, fairly.

One could look at a largely the phenomenon of distributed ledger systems (generally) and the first, bitcoin (particularly) and ponder how growth in such decentralized ecosystems have attracted many by facilitating human needs to participate. People from all nationalities and walks of life who build, cooperate, debate and manage such systems themselves, through contributions to use of the system itself.

Decision making in its implementation and how that relates to wider ethical and technical matters which has allowed systems to thrive through signaling support for changes to its base protocol. For those who are not involved technically, supporting or declining proposals via signals through financial decisions or vocal support/rebuttal. Everyone and anyone may be involved in different ways or to different extents, similar to the Athenian town-square.

By nature, nobody is excluded from participation (unless under control of those who do not wish them to.) There is truly no bitcoin company nor governance. A faction can choose to fork and split (as has happened) and are free to make whatever networks they choose to. This optionality is the first time when anyone with access to a basic infrastructure can make their own choices to educate themselves further or opt in or out of how a network works.

As more 'species' increase or decrease their level of involvement in the space i.e. organizations, regions, minorities or majorities, they can use their voice(s) to coordinate and participate to a greater or lesser extent. Support or criticize. Invest or divest. Ultimately, this is the closest system that incorporates something akin to an open inter-species democratic system, facilitated through technology, together with the ability to independently verify (trustlessly) on an open distributed system.

Evolution shows us, all species change in a dynamic environment.

Or as they say, bitcoin fixes this.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe sponges would benefit from the stabilization of the power-grid through ecological sustenance of minimizing discarding of energy in inefficient power-grid. Thus allowing them to reach even higher states of consciousness and a greater awareness of inter/intra species co-dependence/symbiosis $\endgroup$
    – XJMZX
    Feb 2, 2022 at 16:59

Simply put. Your Aliens/Animals/Insects do not have the brain capacity of humans. Democracy allows for the will of the people. Most votes for factor x will see it be done.These matters are discussed in length inside a controlled parliament with a speaker in control to ensure the rules are followed. This is my view on democracy. There is a place where we can meet and be equals.

  • $\begingroup$ So, someone with different views must be dumber? $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Feb 2, 2022 at 8:05
  • $\begingroup$ My alien species DO HAVE human-level intelligence. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki Well the source was never identified. I'm sure I'm better at building back end bank systems than a squirrel is. (Am I better than race x at xyz? Hell no! But now we are speaking race and not species. We are equal in design as a race. We look different because we evolved from different places in the world. To suggest otherwise is racists. Ask that man with the tiny mustache.) If mammifereviolet4694 can specify which species he/she/ze refers to, then we can make an intelligent democratic decision with healthy debate. But the modern way of debate is to debunk, and not resolve consensus. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Fourie
    Feb 11, 2022 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @mammifereviolet4694 can you elaborate? Species/alien, or race. You say your subject has human like intelligence? An example perhaps? $\endgroup$
    – Ben Fourie
    Feb 11, 2022 at 18:30

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