A government is a body that has the people to make, and the rulers to enforce rules and laws within a civil, corporate, religious, academic, or other organization or group. In its broadest sense, "to govern" means to rule over or supervise, whether over a state, a set group of people, or a collection of people. 
The government consists of different levels: local government, regional governments and national governments, depending on closeness to those who are governed and their responsibilities. The governments can be classified in various ways: The classical way of classification is according to the number of people who hold the power (one, a few, or a majority). The more recent classification bases itself on the institutional organization (parliamentary or presidential systems) or the distribution and the degree of control exercised over the society.
 Ideas about the origin of government
There are a wide range of theories about the reasons for establishing governments. The four major ones are briefly described below. Note that they do not always fully oppose each other - it is possible for a person to subscribe to a combination of ideas from two or more of these theories.
 Force theory
Many political philosophies that are opposed to the existence of a government (such as anarchism, nihilism, and to a lesser extent Marxism), as well as others, emphasize the historical roots of governments - the fact that governments, along with private property, originated from the authority of warlords and despots who took, by force land as their own (and began exercising authority over the people living on that land). Thus, it is sometimes argued that governments exist to enforce the will of the strong and oppress the weak, maintaining and protecting the privilege of a ruling class. It states that the government emerged when all the people of an area were brought under the authority of one person or group.
 Natural rights
Natural rights are the basis for the theory of government shared by most branches of liberalism (including libertarianism). In this view, human beings are born with certain natural rights, and governments are established strictly for the purpose of protecting those rights. What the natural rights actually are is a matter of dispute among liberals; indeed, each branch of liberalism has its own set of rights that it considers to be natural, and these rights are sometimes mutually exclusive with the rights supported by other liberals. As a result, there is some debate between natural rights theorists, ranging from modern writers such as Tibor Machan to Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Kant, or Jefferson.
 Social contract
One of the most influential theories of government in the past two hundred years has been the social contract, on which modern democracy and most forms of socialism are founded. Contemporary liberalism such as in the United States, also tends to work under a social contract theory. The social contract theory holds that governments are created by the people in order to provide for collective needs (such as safety from crime, poverty, illiteracy) that cannot be properly satisfied using purely individual means. Governments thus exist for the purpose of serving the needs and wishes of the people, and their relationship with the people is clearly stipulated in a "social contract" (a constitution and a set of laws) which both the government and the people must abide by. If a majority is unhappy, it may change the social contract. If a minority is unhappy, it may persuade the majority to change the contract, or it may opt out of it by emigration or secession.
This theory is based on the idea that all men live in a state of nature which is not ideal to perfect harmony. It is also an agreement among the members of an organized society or between the governed and the government defining and limiting the rights and duties of each. Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are three of the most famous philosophers of contractarianism. Today, natural rights are the basis for many issues involving the scope of governmental powers.
 Governmental operations
Governments concern themselves with regulating and administering many areas of human activity, such as trade, education, or medicine. Governments also employ different methods to maintain the established order, such as secrecy, censorship, police and military forces (particularly under despotism, see also police state), making agreements with other states, and maintaining support within the state. Typical methods of maintaining support and legitimacy include providing the infrastructure for administration, justice, transport, communication, social welfare, etc.; claiming support from deities; providing benefits to elites; providing shops for important posts within the state; limiting the power of the state through laws and constitutions; and appealing to nationalism. The modern standard unit of territory is a country. In addition to the meaning used above, the word state can refer either to a government or to its territory. Within a territory, subnational entities may have local governments which do not have the full power of a national government (for example, they will generally lack the authority to declare war or carry out diplomacy).
Different political ideologies hold different ideas on what the government should or should not do. One political spectrum related to the role of government is that of personal freedom, from authoritarianism to liberalism to libertarianism. Economic policy can range from a command economy to laissez-faire, with most countries using some form of mixed economy with various degrees of government involvement.
 History of government
Government arose with the increasing complexity of human society during the history of recorded civilization - the promulgation of the Code of Hammurabi and Athenian democracy, along with the Roman Republic and Empire, and the formation of states in medieval Europe, are signal events from which understanding of government and politics arose. The early modern era in the West saw the rise of monarchy, revolutions, democracy, and nationalism. Ideologies such as fascism and later Communism during the Cold War in the 20th century influenced government operations. For other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East and Africa, tribal and clan-based governments interacted with religious and colonial forces.
 World government
A world government is the concept of a political body that would make, interpret and enforce international law. Its ambition has existed in human history since the ancient times among various kings but it has been never realized. 
Inherent to the concept of a world government is the idea that nations would be required to pool or surrender (depending on point of view) sovereignty over some areas. In effect, a world government would add another level of administration above the existing national governments or provide coordination over areas national governments are not capable of adequately addressing as independent polities.
Currently, there has not been a nation to officially put forward plans for a world government, although some people do see international institutions (such as the International Criminal Court, United Nations, and International Monetary Fund) as the beginning elements of a world government system. An organization comprised of legislators from various nations known as Parliamentarians for Global Action have promoted ideas of democratic global governance, though such promotion has varied in its scope and intensity during the organization's history.
Some see the creation of a world government as a negative, dystopic development, often out of concern over totalitarianism or other kind of world domination.
 Notes and references
- ^ a b Columbia Encyclopedia, Government, Columbia University Press
- ^ See for example, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, entry "Govern"
- ^ Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, Government
- ^ a b Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, world government
 See also
has a collection of quotations related to:
 Related concepts
 Relevant lists