There are many successful governments in the modern world, but are they necessarily good? The supposed ‘goodness’ of modern governments are debatable, but the majority of people agree that the societies depicted in dystopian novels are extremely flawed and therefore “not good,” hence the name of the genre. These books often feature a strict central government with unreasonable laws and harsh punishments or, on the other extreme, wild citizens following a government that borders anarchy. A good government is one in which law and freedom are in equilibrium, giving its citizens rights and equality with safe boundaries.

To begin, one of the main problems found in dystopian societies is the complete control possessed by the central government. An exemplary government would allow its citizens certain freedoms. The United Nations set out a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, which includes rights such as equality before the law, freedom of thought and religion, and security, among many others. The importance of these fundamental rights is magnified by the fact that global representatives came together to create this declaration. Any good government would at least abide by the rules set out by today’s United Nations, which are significant for all humans, irrelevant to setting. In Uglies, a popular dystopian novel by Scott Westerfeld, teenagers are given a plastic surgery that alters their brain as well as their appearance, unbeknownst to them. This is an example of governmental dictation over what happens to the bodies or minds of citizens, and was written in the book as a negative aspect of the government in the Uglies world. The primary conflicts in the Uglies series are rooted from this violation of one of today’s common human rights. That being said, any ethically sound government will make sure people have important rights and freedoms.

Although freedom is crucial to a just government, too much freedom without boundaries can result in anarchy. Therefore, a good government should pair freedom and rights with rules and boundaries. Each successful contemporary government follows a structure that guides how things are run. From the United State’s democracy to China’s communism, their governmental structure is present and contributes to their success. People feel safer and work well in an environment with order and structure. This idea carries on to the fictional world. The Uglies series not only features a government with too much power, but also, on the other extreme, a rebellion without any boundaries. The books do not describe a perfect government, but only ones flawed in different ways. At one stage in the story, the protagonist finds herself involved in a group where she can do anything she wants without limits. This results in careless, wild actions by the character that ultimately cost countless innocent lives. The protagonist exemplified the behavior of people without proper structure or behavioral parameters. Governments should have structure to go with freedom in order to lead its citizens well.

By contrast, it might be argued that a government does not need both freedom and firm laws. Some people say that there have been successful governments with absolute power. One of the most powerful command economies in history, the Soviet Union, ultimately fell due to their unbalanced governmental system. An absolute dictatorship often is based on citizens’ fear, rather than trust. Some examples are Hitler’s rule over Germany, which eventually ended, and Castro’s dictatorship in Cuba.  Another common argument is that rules are not needed in a society, as long as everyone is equal and free. There have been no successful anarchist societies in history; eventually a group needs structure in order to keep from crumbling. Even traditional tribes, which are often thought to have no government, follow a unique structure and have designated leaders. Governmental power and freedom are both components of a good government, but absolutes in either one result in failure.

When rights and freedoms and laws and governance are in balance, the outcome is a “good government.” A good government consists of human rights, freedom, reasonable laws, and a moderate presence of governmental power, each in moderation. None of these components need to be taken to an extreme in order for the government to work well. Although several factors might be needed to fulfill the “goodness” of a given government, ample support demonstrates that symmetry between freedoms and restrictions is critical to governmental adequacy.

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