The four types of states

The celebrated anthropologist Clifford Geertz has half-jokingly suggested that all states can be parceled into four types: pluralist, in which the state is seen by its people as having moral legitimacy; populist, in which government is viewed as an expression of the people’s will; “great beast,” in which the rulers’ power depends on using force to keep the populace cowed; and “great fraud,” in which the elite uses smoke and mirrors to convince the people of its inherent authority. Every state is a mix of all of these elements…

Charles Mann, describing the pre-Columbian states in North and South America, in his excellent book, 1491



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