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Genericist Government

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In non-political settings, or anything not based on a real-world government, the local government and how it got its power or where it derives its power tends to be really vague. Sometimes there's a princess or two hanging around since, you know. But generally speaking, all we have to go by is that good rulers are good rulers and bad rulers are bad rulers, without any sort of explanation about how exactly things are run. For tax policy, as an example, at best you might get "good rulers don't tax and evil ones do", without really explaining how anyone funds anything without taxes.

This concept is the Genericist Government. Genericists are government the way people who aren't involved in government see it — definitely present, but not relevant except in its lowest level of bureaucracy (e.g. the local police and the DMV). They're most common in works of fiction where the main point of the story is the Call to Adventure, so the nature of government and political science isn't all that important to the plot. This trope is a common cause of much Fridge Logic.

Not so common in non-fantasy works since those are usually based on real-world governments, instead of whatever we think monarchies used to be like. No Party Given is a related trope when a fictional government is based on the specific government of a specific country, but the specificity stops at the individual politicians' ideological affiliations.

Related to Skeleton Government, though a Genericist Government can be of any size. May involve an Evil Chancellor. Subdivides into The Good Kingdom, The Empire and The Federation. Contrast Royals Who Actually Do Something.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Chrono Crusade: In the manga version, we know there's a Queen of the Demons and there are "Elders" that have some position of authority, as well as possibly a caste system or military (Chrono is specifically mentioned to be a soldier, and some demons are referred to as "low-ranked")...but we're never really clearly told how all of this works, and who makes what decisions. We're only really told that it's "corrupt." The anime is even worse in this regard, the demons are said to have a leader that rallied against God, but are still apparently working under God...

    Fan Works 
  • The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World:
    • The Pyar city and town governments appear to be these, though it's implied that if the four bothered to get involved with any of them, their workings would be made clearer. Basically, though, the city guards run things, and what the city governors do is a mystery.
    • Subverted a bit in Chandalla, where Paul and George overhear some business taking place in City Hall. But they're not interested and pay no real attention.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Rather deliberately subverted, where King Arthur claims to be a king, and the peasant blithely demands to know what kind of government he offers, and how it is an improvement over the anarcho-syndicalist model already practiced by the local peasantry (which he insists on describing in detail). The conversation ends with the peasant complaining about "being oppressed" when King Arthur attempts to shut him up in annoyance.
  • Star Wars and its prequels blurs the line between democracy and hereditary autocracy.
    • Naboo is a monarchy with an elected queen who serves a fixed term, more or less negating the concept of even an elective monarchy, and Alderaan is a hereditary principality whose head of state, Prince Bail Prestor Organa, Viceroy and First Chairman, is also the sector's representative in the Galactic Senate (and later, the founder of the Rebellion).
    • Then there's the Galactic Senate itself. While there are certainly tight-knit caucuses, like the pro-democracy Delegation of 2,000, there are no real political parties or ideologies that we can see, and policymakers largely fall somewhere on a vague Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism. Later, the most we really know about the Empire is it's an absolute monarchy (having abolished the Senate in the first film) and the regional governors (Moffs) are now in direct control of their sectors under the Emperor, but nothing further. In the movies, we also don't ever learn anything about their ideology except that they're for "order", though canon finally provides us with the helpful label of "fascism" — the catch being that we have yet to see any fasces in-universe, making the name incongruous.

  • Discworld: Most of the governments are pretty generic, except for Ankh-Morpork (Best. Tyranny. Ever.), Lancre, Klatch and Sto Lat (monarchy) and, kind of, Pseudopolis — in Unseen Academicals, Lord Vetinari is very amused by the fact that they decide to try a brave new experiment in democracy, and promptly vote not to have to pay taxes.
  • In Harry Potter, the title of Minister for Magic doesn't appear to be an elected position, it seems to be appointed in some way (Dumbledore was offered it, but turned it down). They can also be removed somehow, as happens to Fudge (though by who isn't clear). The Daily Prophet is said to be explicitly in the Ministry's pocket. The only other newspaper mentioned is the Quibbler, which seems to be for conspiracy buffs.
  • Inheritance Cycle: For some reason, Galbatorix is 'King' of the Broddring Empire and nothing is really described about how the government works, save for the fact it's "evil". Slightly explained by the fact that Galbatorix has used his immortal status to be on the throne for hundreds of years, and it's likely that there's no one left who remembers how a line of succession or anything else works without Galbatorix at its head.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: Oceania's government doesn't get much explication in the book. However, in form at least their government and economy appear to mirror that of the Soviet Union at the time (from what little we see). This is because it was a Take That! by Orwell against Stalinism, specifically. Ostensibly they're socialist, but they don't actually care anything about that-their rule is solely for power. The book-within-a-book does go into a significantly detailed explanation of the theory and practice of "oligarchical collectivism," but it's an unreliable source that might have been created by La RĂ©sistance or possibly even by the Party itself.
  • The Castle in Septimus Heap has a Queen and a Palace buraucracy, but it is never shown what her job exactly is or what the bureaucracy does, apart from the vague "keeping the Castle safe".
  • Averted with a vengeance in A Song of Ice and Fire, which goes into great detail about the governments of Westeros and some of the nations of Essos too, and how they function. Westeros mostly resembles the feudal system of medieval Europe (namely England) , though things get a bit more complicated when more than one person claims to be king...
  • Star Trek: Articles of the Federation laid out some of the fine points; the Federation, appropriately, seems to be a federal legislature, not entirely unlike the American Congressional system (or perhaps the Articles of Confederation; member nations retain a lot of individual control).
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe averts this trope: many books go into great detail about exactly how the government works. The only problem is, it usually changes beyond all recognition from book to book Depending on the Writer, although this has reduced in recent years.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: There is a Federation Council, but what are its powers and how are its members selected? What's the role of the President (seen in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)? Is Starfleet Earth's space military, the Federation's as a whole, or is it some combination? Is it even a military force at all? We don't know how the civilian government is selected at all, the role of Starfleet (how does it answer to the civilian authority?), what it means to be a member of the Federation (does a member planet completely lose its independence, or is it like being in the UN?)...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons lists a magocracy, a government made up of magic users as a government type. It was also used in a vague manner in The Movie and the sequel. Given the vast distinctions between inherited magic (sorcerers), book-learnin' (wizards), and divinely-granted magic (clerics, etc.), "magocracy" raises lots of questions...

    Magocracies tend to be run by wizards, the ones who benefit the most from a structural edifice with libraries and suchlike. They tend to be like a university on a larger scale, with everyone who can't cast being stuck as a servant. Pretty much a plutocracy/meritocracy, except the only merit being measured is how good you are at playing hob with the fabric of reality and nuking those who annoy you. Except for the monarchy/magocracy, where the ruling family are all sorcerers.
  • GURPS lists "Utopia" as a government type.

    Video Games 
  • The Combine in Half-Life 2 is something of an enigma. Given that the Combine administer all of Earth and have done for about twenty years at the point of the game beginning, it's hard to discern exactly how they do it other than in a very brutal and repressive way with little concern for the lives or happiness of the people on it. Fleeting references are made to some sort of civil code at various points, implying that the Combine have some sort of structured legal system in place — to what extent this is something real, as opposed to a fig leaf over their repressive nature, is open to debate (not least since a great deal of infractions seem to be dealt with via summary capital punishment). Beyond that, the only real aspects of Combine government we see relate to the military or law enforcement — it's entirely possible that they have no civilian government functions on Earth as we would understand them, since they don't see the need for them and don't really care about humans except inasmuch as they might become a threat.
  • Mass Effect:
    • We know the three (later four) people at the very top of Citadel space, law enforcement on the Citadel, a small organization of black-ops agents with extremely high authority, and beyond that... not much else. We don't see any middle management or local self-government except on two Vice City planets that aren't even part of Citadel space. We know that Earth is still fractured into nation-states, but nothing about the colonies. Still, much of that information is present in the codex (though in the secondary part). For example, you find out that the Asari are made up of a group of nation-states reminiscent of Ancient Greece, and the only official that the Asari recognize among their own people is the Asari Councilor.
    • The Systems Alliance is even more generic, they never show a civilian leader beyond the Ambassador, and we only hear vague references to some kind of parliament, and it being some kind of conglomeration of nations that still maintain individual autonomy on Earth but use the Alliance to deal with the outside galaxy.
  • The government in Mirror's Edge is vague. People are elected somehow, but the rest of it is not detailed.

    Web Comics 
  • Used in Dominic Deegan, where the government is vaguely defined. We know there's a king, and up until recently there was an order of Royal Knights, and that Dominic doesn't think much of the government as a whole (likening them to criminals) and… well, that's about it.

    Web Videos 
  • Redacted SMP: The town around spawn has a mayor and elections; it also has taxes and Povertybag is attempting to from a militia. Other then that, no information has been provided. Even the people living there don't seem to know much about its workings.