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Aliens Never Invented Democracy

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As soon as Kang was elected President of the United States, he made some changes.

Atvar summed up the Race’s view of the United States in one scornful word: “Snoutcounters! How do they have the hubris to imagine they can build a land that amounts to anything by counting one another’s snouts?”
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A Sub-Trope of Humans Are Special, in some works of fiction it seems that Humanity is the only civilization in the Universe that ever thought it was a good idea to choose leaders by voting.

Sometimes this is done because the writer wants to make the aliens truly alien in culture, thus having weird, even sometimes incomprehensible, political systems is a way. However, if the aliens' government system is just another non-democratic human system like absolute monarchy or dictatorship, then this is not the reason. In some works it could be a way to present humanity's nice democratic system vs the aliens' evil Empire, which is very common when The Federation faces The Empire. (This is especially common in works made during the Cold War for obvious reasons.) Sometimes is just a matter of Planet of Hats: some writers just can't think that a Proud Warrior Race can be democratic (despite the fact that we have many examples in our own world) because, well warriors are not democrats, also in scenarios of Alien Invasion, having the invaders enjoying a democracy would feel kind of contradictory (despite, again, many examples in our history where democratic republics held vast, cruel empires and subjugated other peoples without considering this a contradiction). And since Everything Is Better With Princesses, a space princess is probably going to need a monarchy to hail from.

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Contrast with Aliens Never Invented the Wheel for the technical counterpart. See also Feudal Future for when the humans don't have democracy any more either. Often overlaps with One-Federation Limit, with humans as the one democratic government.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Aldnoah.Zero. Martians have a monarchy but they aren't actually aliens. They're humans who created civilization on Mars and dissociate themselves from Earth bound humans due to Fantastic Racism.
  • Fantastic Children features an example. The people of Greecia have the power to travel to the land of the dead. They can reincarnate themselves and live several lifetimes. They can even put a soul into a mechanical body. Yet they're still a monarchy. They're ruled by a senile and slightly insane king to add extra insult to the injury.
  • The Gamilons in Star Blazers are unabashedly fascist, led by Leader Desslok (in German, "fuhrer" literally means "leader.")
  • The Robotech Masters rule their empire with iron fists, and most of the populace consists of clones (both Tirolian and Zentraedi) with no concept of free will. The Expanded Universe reveals that before the discovery of Protoculture, Tirol had been a Roman-style republic. The Invid, meanwhile, are ruled by the unhappily married Regent and Regis.
  • In Tenchi Muyo!, Jurai is a feudal monarchy similar to old Japan.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics has the following:
    • In most versions the Kryptonians are presented as a caste society with an all-powerful oligarchic High Council.
      • In Pre-Crisis days, Krypton was run by the "Science Council" and described as a "technocracy". In practice, this seemed to be a sort of parliament where the representatives were picked for their scientific accomplishments. The odd implication that scientific prowess alone would be the best qualification for a good politician probably wouldn't fly outside of the Silver Age, but it was established in the Fifties and the Bronze Age kept it until the Crisis due to the Grandfather Clause.
    • New Genesis is a monarchy under a good king.
    • Apokolips is an absolute totalitarian dictatorship under Darkseid.
    • Maxima is the queen of her home planet of Almerac
    • Starfire is a princess of Tamaran, with all that that implies.
  • Marvel Comics has the following:
    • The Shi'ar have an empire led by an emperor or empress.
    • The Skrulls likewise have an emperor or empress.
    • The Kree government is described as "Military-technocratic dictatorship" in the Marvel wiki, and is usually ruled by the Supreme Intelligence, a Hive Mind composed of brain uploaded dead Kree, usually represented by an image of a hideous blobby green face; whether this blobby mass actually is made of a bunch of disembodied brains varies Depending on the Writer. The Intelligence is one of the most brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe and pulls Xanatos Gambits constantly, but it is hellishly ruthless in its dealings with its own people and will pull genocidal acts of violence against them if it perceives some long-term or eugenic benefit from doing so. The Kree themselves literally worship the thing.
    • The Inhumans (who are human offshoots that live on the moon) are ruled by their king Black Bolt.
    • In The Mighty Thor, Asgard has an absolute monarchy. Ditto for Olympus and most of the Earth's other pantheons.
    • The individual members of the Technarchy are not social and seem to barely tolerate each other enough to share a "crecheworld" for reproduction.
  • Emperor Ming from the Flash Gordon universe rules not only his homeworld of Mongo, but subjugates several neighboring worlds as well, organized roughly like fiefdoms. Ming shrewdly encourages these worlds to fight among themselves to curry his favor, as it weakens their defenses and confounds efforts to overthrow him.
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    Eastern Animation 
  • The State Tech Kino film Interplanetary Revolution from 1924 shows fearless Marxist cosmonauts landing on Mars, and overthrowing the Martian ruler, who sits still during the whole rhubarb looking displeased about this development. The implication is that hereditary monarchies (we are looking at you, Britain) do naught but pontificate and bellyache.

    Fan Works 
  • History Is Not Legendary (a backstory piece for The War of the Masters) states that the Klingons attempted to establish a democratic government thousands of years ago after First Contact with the Orion Empire led to the subversion of the emperor at that time. The Klingons fell into civil war five years after adopting their new constitution, which led to a restoration of the monarchy after a distant relation of the former dynasty was found. Some of the failed regime's ideas, such as a Bill of Rights equivalent, were kept, however.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Works of M.C.A. Hogarth
    • The Eldritch and Chatcaava of the Paradox Universe have feudal governments. Though the Chatcaava place more importance on strength than bloodline. Most governments run by humans and their Pelted creations are representative democracies though there are some (like the Hinichi) that chose other forms of government.
    • Kherishdar is about the Ai-Naidar, a species with a rigid, caste-based empire. The short stories are largely about how this works for them, while the novel shows what happens when foreign ideas are introduced into such a system.
    • The Jokka generally don't have much of a government, several houses bound more by contract than blood coexist in a city and generally handle their own affairs, until the rise of the autocratic Stone Moon Empire.
  • The Jan in Alien in a Small Town have a Hive Caste System and are ruled by their small number of breeding females, the Matriarchs. We're told that some of their colonies do have elected legislatures in addition to the Matriarchs, but that it's not common.
  • H. G. Wells' story The First Men in the Moon has a civilization inside the Moon, ruled by the Grand Lunar, who holds that office by virtue of having the biggest brain. It is noted in-universe that Lunars conduct eugenics to produce Lunars specific to a societal purpose.
  • The atevi of C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series cannot conceive of any other form of governance than monarchy.
  • In the John Carter of Mars series most of the Barsoomian races are ruled by monarchs, save for the tribal Green Martians. John Carter of course marries the princess of the Red Martian city of Helium.
  • H. P. Lovecraft rarely went into detail about his aliens' societies, except in The Shadow Out of Time with the Great Race of Yith described as having "a sort of fascistic socialism".
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • Some novels portray the Romulan Star Empire as having a ceremonial emperor, though the true power lies with the Senate and its praetor. Diane Duane's Rihannsu series is an exception, depicting a Romulan culture distrustful of single leaders due to the ancient tyrant Vriha t'Rehu. The Romulan deuteragonist Ael t'Rllaillieu is proclaimed empress at the finale, though we're not told how much political power she has. The Senate is not really a Senate in the democratic sense and senator in Romulan actually means something like "clan leader".
    • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch novel Andor: Paradigm reveals that the name of the Andorian Empire is actually an Artifact Title. The last Empress deliberately died childless in the 19th century AD after establishing a parliamentary state.
  • The Takisians in Wild Cards practice especially skullduggerous medieval feudalism, with the noble families being selectively bred for superior psychic ability, scientific acumen, and physical beauty. Dr. Tachyon still doesn't get democracy after living among us for decades, not entirely seeing why elections are preferable to assassinations.
  • The Race in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar had no concept of democracy until they attacked the Earth and met humans. The name for the system in their language is "snout-counting".

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: The Universe is ruled by the Big Giant Head, an absolute monarch.
  • In Babylon 5: Earth Alliance is the only known democracy in the Galaxy, and even it becames an authoritarian police state for a while. The others are:
    • The Minbari Federation: a federation of the various Minbari clans, with at the top at least two oligarchical councils with three representatives of each of the three Minbari castes (Warrior, Religious and Worker), the highest of which, the Grey Council, wields effectively absolute power (the Council of Caste Elders mostly serves to deal with matters not important enough for the Grey Council).
    • The Centauri Republic: despite the name, it's a monarchy (and not the constitutional one) with an Emperor full in power. The Centaurum, a small legislature made up of the leaders of the eleven Great Houses and a representative for the Lesser Houses of nobility, acts as a counterweight, but how much power it actually has depends on the strength and popularity of the specific emperor.
    • The Narn Regime: a Military Junta lead by the leaders of La Résistance against the Centauri. Background material goes into more detail and explain that the Narn government's name is the Kha'ri and it is made of several concentric circles of power from nobility and high priests to artisans and peasents. G'Kar is from the third circle of profesionals and intellectuals.
    • The Drazi Freehold: every five years the population takes at random a green or purple scarf creating two factions (with even local and higher leaders being chosen at random) and the two newly born factions fight each other, the winning side taking power then. As Ivanova finds out by accident, any non-Drazi can join the fray simply by taking the scarf of a faction member (the rules date to before first contact with aliens, and the rule change made specifically to keep the thing restricted only to Drazi was caught in a committee for centuries).
    • The Hyach Grand Council of Elders: A gerontocracy.
    • The Brakiri Syndicracy: A case of Corporatocracy.
    • The pak'ma'ra: A communitarian society with no State (the dream of the anarchists).
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Time Lords, bless their double hearts, actually were a democracy, though the elections usually didn't amount to much because the Lord President's hand-picked successor almost always won. Then during the Time War, Rassilon got revived to lead them, and things went downhill.
    • As Space Nazis, the Daleks are certainly not democratic. The Daleks are ruled either by a Supreme Dalek or by their creator Davros, depending on how favorable they're feeling towards Davros on any given week. He's been the cause of at least one civil war over whether they should obey him or not, but even at his lowest popularity dips, they can never quite bring themselves to kill him or let him die.
    • The Ice Warriors appear to have monarchs and nobility.
    • The Sontarans have no civilian population. The entire race is an army.
  • Farscape:
    • The Peacekeepers are under a military dictatorship so ingrained that practically in their society Army equals State. Partially averted in that they are Transplanted Humans.
    • The Scarran Empire is ruled by an absolute monarch.
    • The Nebari Establishment is an Orwellian totalitarian nightmare.
    • The Hinerian Empire is another absolute monarchy.
  • Stargate SG-1: Between the collapse of the Goa'uld Empire and the Ori invasion, the Free Jaffa attempt to establish a nation of their own. Early on, there's a conflict between Teal'c, one of the main cast members and pro-democracy, and Gerak, who favors representation based on military strength. Gerak later has to make a Heroic Sacrifice to end the Ori plague on Earth, and Teal'c and Bra'tac push the Free Jaffa Nation back to traditional representative democracy.
  • Star Trek didn't tend to flesh out the workings of alien cultures until Star Trek: The Next Generation. Some of the major ones:
    • The human-led Federation is the only democratic power in the Galaxy, the others are:
    • The Klingon Empire: A feudal oligarchy with the heads of the noble houses conforming the High Council and choosing a Chancellor. They use to have fully empowered Emperors who were successors of Kahless (their culture's Jesus) but the figure was abandoned some 200 years before the first series starts. A clone of Kahless was later named Emperor but with only decorative and religious functions.
      • An episode of Deep Space Nine references they did, briefly, practice democracy after a coup ousted the current emperor. It didn't last long, and Klingon history refers to it as "the Dark Time." Make of that what you will.
    • The Romulan Star Empire is technically a parliamentary republic, with the praetor seemingly equivalent to a prime minister. However, it's also very much a Police State where the major state security agency, the Tal Shiar, wields significant political power: they station political officers on naval vessels, and at two separate points in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the vice-chair and chairman of the Tal Shiar also sit in the Senate.
    • The Cardassian Union is a military dictatorship with a merely symbolic civil government. It has similarities with both Fascist and Soviet regimes. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Way of the Warrior", a popular uprising overthrows the military government and restores power to the Detapa Council. Later the Dominion invades Cardassia and overthrows this government to install Gul Dukat as their puppet dictator. Democratic rule is restored after the Dominion defeat in the ensuing war.
    • The Tzekethi Coalition: Its leader is named the Autarch, you make the math.
    • The Dominion: Officially a Theocracy with the Founders (who are considered gods by their subjects) at the top, in reality an Ethnocracy with a species ruling collectively over the others in its Empire.
    • The Borg Collective: It's an absolute monarchy or a classless collective society depending on how you see it. The Borg Queen rules over billions of mindless collectivized drones.
    • The Ferengi Alliance: A Monarchy lead by the Grand Negus as the figurehead, all the rest of the administration is basically Corporatocracy.
    • Bajor is technically a presidential republic with free elections to choose the First Minister once they got rid of the Cardassian occupation. However, the Kai (equivalent to a Pope or Dalai Lama) has excessive amounts of power and at one point Kai Winn takes over as interim First Minister after her predecessor dies in office shortly before the election (she's defeated by former Resistance leader Shakaar Edon and concedes peacefully).
    • The Orion Syndicate is The Mafia at the Galactic level, dedicated to all sorts of organized crime including slave trade and prostitution.
    • Even before the existence of the Federation, Star Trek: Enterprise shows that the other founding members apart from humans were not that democratic; Vulcans were lead by the Vulcan High Command, essentially a Military junta, the Andorians were pretty militaristic and their state was described as the Andorian Empire.
    • And Kirk certainly encountered plenty of planets-of-the-week ruled by computers, often masquerading as gods.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect:
    • The Salarian Union have a decentralized feudal matriarchy.
    • The Turian Hierarchy is a hierarchial meritocracy with a strong military culture. It is noted in-universe to have potential for great misuse, but this is apparently mitigated by the strong values of civic duty and responsibility that permeates Turian culture.
    • With the Krogan their tribal society is built entirely upon Asskicking Equals Authority. You want your voice heard when the leader is being stubborn? Either impress the leader with your strength enough that he concedes the point, or force him out of power and take the reins yourself.
    • The Quarian Migrant Fleet is under perpetual martial law, but each ship has an elected council that sends representatives to the Conclave.
    • Subverted with the Asari Republics, who have an absolute direct democracy facilitated by the Extranet.
    • Also subverted with the angara, who have a representative democracy with very strict term limits.
  • Among the standard races of Master of Orion 2 only humans have democratic government. All other races are ruled by dictators, by feudal lords or have hive mind.
  • In Sword of the Stars none of the non-human factions are democratic. And it's unclear if SolForce itself allows much democracy.
    • The Tarka Imperium is an oligarchic monarchy with a caste system stratifying its society. To be more specific, the oligarchic system effectively comprises three different forces: The Nine Emperors, who govern separate polities; the Supreme Commander that heads the military caste; and the police caste, who have a strong rivalry with the military caste, and whose support any strong emperor or supreme commander needs to have.
    • The Hivers are semi-feudal, divided into clans founded by "Princesses" spawned by the Queen.
    • The Liir are a gerontocracy.
    • The Zuul have a chaotic hierarchy held together by psionic domination.
    • The Morrigi are tribal, with females holding land planetside and males living as stellar nomads.
  • X: The Argon (a Lost Colony of humans) are the only explicitly representative government among the major factions, giving a senator to every inhabited planet, moon, or space station in their territory. The rest are the Boron (The Kingdom), the Split (The Empire), the Paranids (The Theocracy), and the Teladi (Corporatocracy). It's unclear what form the Terran government takes.
  • Star Trek Online: Generally avoided with factions original to the game. The playable Romulan faction is the Romulan Republic, a successor state to the vestigial Star Empire. The Lukari and Kentari also have democratic societies (the Lukari are similar to the Federation, while the Kentari are a fairly transparent Strawman Political of the present-day United States, complete with a Donald Trump stand-in for defense minister). The Iconians, however, are an ethnocracy very similar to the Dominion: a small circle of all-powerful rulers of one species, and several servitor species.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, whilst the Earth government is essentially a carbon copy of the US presidential system, the rest of the species have:
    • The Decapodians are ruled by celibate priests (out of necessity, as everyone else dies after mating).
    • The Amazonians are ruled by a female robot/computer.
    • Brain Spawns seem to have some sort of collective Hive Mind.
    • The Native Martians live under a tribal society led by a stereotypical Big Chief.
    • Omicronians have an absolute monarchy.
    • Niblonians are the parody of the Omniscient Council of Vagueness
  • On The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror VII segment, "Citizen Kang", aliens kidnap Homer and ask him to Take Me to Your Leader. Homer hesitates, because they are about to have an election between President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole, so Homer doesn't know what to tell them. The aliens Kang and Kodos are apparently familiar with the concept of an election, having monitored human activity for years, but when they kidnap Clinton and Dole and impersonate them, their campaign styles make it clear that they have no direct experience with elections. Once Kang is elected, he enslaves the human population and converts the United States into a dictatorial monarchy.
  • Winx Club: It seems like most, if not all, of the civilizations outside of earth are still making use of the feudal system and are ruled by monarchies. Probably because Everything Is Better With Princesses.


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