The State of the World: Types of Nations

Grant PetersonStarred Page By Grant Peterson, 13th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

This is the fifth part of a series about capitalism, democracy, and the rights of the individual, which covers the types of nations that we have around the world in the modern era. This definition should be understood as a crucial part of this series, as is the next part, the types of political groups and needs to be understood in the context of this series of articles.

Contemporary Categorization

In looking at democracy it is of course necessary to understand the types of states that exist in this world today and to be clear this must be a contemporary categorization, not one based on history or how the country may have been some time in the past and in the future this categorization must change because relationships will of course change. Because something like this is fluid this can at best only be a rough guide, but it is an important part of understanding how the world functions today and is included here in order to provide a deeper understanding and reference point for this series of articles. Of course while writing this something will have changed in the world.

If this is the first article you have read in this series then you are encouraged to go back to the first article of this series and follow the whole series through, which will help you understand the ideas being portrayed and their impact on the modern world.


The majority of the world's nations are capitalist in nature, it is the prevailing form of society, yet at the same time there are major differences between nations, yet in part 2 "Capitalism and the Chance for Real Democracy" it was stated that:

"Many capitalist countries maintain democratic regimes as an expedient facade..."

Here are some facts to consider:

  • It is cheaper to run a democratic state than a dictatorship.
  • Most people are satisfied with the facade of democracy and the facade of. personal rights.
  • Rights can be taken away in the name of national security at any time."

The truth is the majority of capitalist nations are not democratic in nature so it is necessary to break down this categorization further and in part 3 "Has Global Capitalism gone One Step Too Far?" it was concluded that global capitalism is responsible for the majority of world trade today so therefore it is essential to include that as a specific category to begin we should separate each type of capitalist regime.

Imperialist Capitalism

Most people would agree that countries like the USA, Britain, Germany, indeed most of the other Western European countries are part of this category. Here the needs of global capitalism govern society and democracy bends to the needs of global capitalism both global corporations and government work together with this in mind and whilst both have similar goals in terms of assuring their businesses make money and advance with mutual interests they also accommodate radical interests to some extent such as the "green revolution" because they had the support of a wide range of people.

Britain is in this list despite the state being bankrupt because many of its major corporations are global in nature and they exert enormous power.

Imperialist capitalist countries do not have to be democratic in nature, we can look in the direction of Russia and China for evidence of this, that they are imperialist in nature cannot be denied, China for example dominates world manufacturing and Russia dominates the energy sector it is true the majority of people don't recognize the names of Chinese brands or corporations because they have taken on the role of manufacturing for other corporations yet you will purchase their products every day from stores such as Walmart, Walworths, Sears, Debenhams and other Western stores every personal computer is manufactured in huge plants that select components for Apple, Toshiba, Dell, HP or any other brand you care to mention. Few western economists would agree that China is capitalist in nature yet it is clear to see that normal everyday people do not control corporations, the state does, thus it will also appear in another category, state capitalism. It could be argued that Russia is democratic with the changes that have occurred since the collapse of the Berlin wall yet its democracy remains a pale comparison to the west and remains corrupt to the core, and the interests of the capitalist class are evident in the system.

We must also add India to this list of imperialist nations, this former colony is now fast becoming a world super power, since independence its economy has grown in leaps and bounds and now competes effectively in technology and industrial sectors and is now the home base for many of the world's largest corporations in some respects it is more acceptable to the west because of its past relationship with the UK. It has a warped sense of democracy with party caucuses being bribed to change allegiances but it cannot be denied this country has developed greatly over the last half century and is not standing still.

Capitalist Democracy

There are many non imperialist nations that operate as a capitalist democracy today, indeed it remains one of the smoothest forms of capitalist government. European countries, like Belgium and Portugal are prime examples as are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and arguably South Africa.

They may have less power than imperialist nations, based on fiscal criteria and their largest corporations tend to be well known nationally and not global corporations but they tend to follow the same path and tend to be proud of their democratic traditions and the rule of law.

State Capitalist

This is a country where the state controls the means of production. China is the primary example of such a state with the misnamed Communist Party controlling the means of production and the elite in that party being the ones who grow rich at the expense of the people. This was the resulting regime in the former Soviet block of nations in Eastern Europe although many of these have taken other paths since 1989 with a return capitalism becoming the predominant path.

Although state control may exist in many former colonial countries, such as Zimbabwe which is effectively a one party state and democracy is a farce, it is one of several such countries which have also developed into a state capitalist model albeit from different origins than China.

Another example is Cuba, also a former Soviet ally.

Former Colonial Countries

These countries were at one time controlled by a colonial power and possibly today enjoy a special type financial relationship with that nation, many could also be described as being a client state. Many have tried democracy, or a thin veneer of it, every few years they hold elections in which the ruling party retains control the worst example of which is perhaps Zimbabwe where ZANU PF has maintained control despite opposition, which had been quashed as necessary to maintain control. Greed and the need to build great personal wealth is very much the driver here for those in power, should any opposition party gain popular support then these leaders are normally clear headed enough to negotiate a way to transfer power then retire without repercussions. This has been the case in many former colonial countries and it has also been true that many have removed any veneer of democracy and transitioned to dictatorships.

It is also true that many try to be democratic, but have been corrupted by bribery that happens at every level in government where it has been known for police officers, even high ranking ones, to take money to stop a murder investigation. Of course where there is corruption there is rarely any controls to reign back the worst excesses of corporations.

Capitalist Dictatorship

Truth is that 99 percent of human history humans have been subjected to dictatorial governments whether a monarchy, where power vests in a single individual, or an oligarchy where power is the subject of a small elite group.

The elements they have in common is the fact that they govern without the consent of the people. They tend to be totalitarian in nature, yet not all dictatorships are totalitarian. A totalitarian state is one where people have no authority and the state wields total control, Nazi Germany, Idi Amin in Uganda, and Pohl Pot in Cambodia may have been the rawest and most striking examples of totalitarian regimes in recent history, yet we should be clear that there are many dictatorships and totalitarian dictators in the world today from Belarus to Saudi Arabia.

Look at the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia they have been very clever by adding an extra layer between the monarchy and the people, a layer of princes that have ministerial responsibility for each of the branches of government, which gives an impression that they care about the people, yet it ensures someone's head is on the chopping block when mistakes are made and the king is therefore never at fault. This country is also a strict Islamic monarchy and the Saud family was involved in some fundamentalist deals and supported a particularly vicious sect of Wahhabists within the Muslim faith in order to consolidate power 150 years ago and remains faithful to that deal today supporting a religious thought police, the Mutaween. It remains a capitalist dictatorship nonetheless.


The European Union is one example of a federation of independent states that have joined together in pursuit of common goals. The EU has gone further than most by setting up a common currency and allowing free movement of people and produce across member states, this federation has been developing for more than 60 years yet at the heart of this group are trade treaties that operate to support European capitalism.

There is an argument that multi-state federalism or the type that the EU represents could be one of the future courses for humanity, ultimately with the formation of a world federation of like-minded states.


Today there are no socialist states in existence. For a short period after the success of the Russian revolution a fledgling socialist state existed, but this had transitioned to a state capitalist dictatorship by 1925 and with the death of Lenin and Trotsky being exiled there were no leaders that understood the transitioning to socialism left, this so called communist regime was public enemy number one for the West the irony being that it wasn't even a socialist state, let alone a communist one.

To be clear also countries like the UK that operate a welfare system and national health service cannot be considered socialist because the fundamental control of the means of production remains in the hands of private enterprise. This is very much a case of important reforms being won over the years but it is not a socialist state.


It is necessary to include this categorization even though the last such state died with the death of General Franco in the 1970s. Germany, Italy and Spain were examples of such states and they represent the extreme of capitalist dictatorships with the people having almost zero freedom and being encouraged to inform on their neighbors in the name of patriotism. No such states exist today.

Political Groups

Political groups seem to come in all shapes and sizes and the political parties and their allegiances is the theme of the next article in this series.

GP - Toronto 2014

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
14th Mar 2014 (#)

fascinating again Grant...thank you

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
14th Mar 2014 (#)

Good evening, Grant, thank you for your definitions of categories. From your article, "Greed and the need to build great personal wealth is very much the driver here for those in power" is probably a descriptor of many of the categories today. Living in the US feels very different today from when I was in my 20's. I worked on "the hill" as a lobbyist in the late 1970's, so in an indirect way, I am reaping what I sowed. Again, thanks for the education on a global scale. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Grant Peterson
14th Mar 2014 (#)

I have found that if you are going to talk about something then it is important to define it so that others know how you view things. It brings clarity even if that person may disagree with the definition.

By the way you should not live to regret your past you did what you believed in at the time and you are allowed to change how you feel over time.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
14th Mar 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Grant. You are correct, I did what I believed was right, proper and justifiable at the time. It seemed like we had a sound rationale for the actions. However, with more awareness and understanding, I am not inclined to think that those actions were in the best interest of others. Was not being maudlin merely reflecting that sometimes well-intentioned actions can have unforeseen outcomes. ~Marilyn

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author avatar joyalariwo
14th Mar 2014 (#)

Very interesting article Grant, a lot of research must have made this possible.
The photo of that burmese dictator Thein Sein bears a striking resemblance to a world leader of today.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
15th Mar 2014 (#)

Interesting post!

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author avatar sukkran
16th Mar 2014 (#)

well written informative article. very much enjoyed my visit. thanks grant.

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author avatar Ptrikha
6th Apr 2014 (#)

India as an imperialist nation! No way! If it were like that it would have conquered at least a few neighbouring states. But yes, you are right about the state of Politics and governance in India.

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author avatar Grant Peterson
6th Apr 2014 (#)

&Ptrikha you have to realize that the reason for classifying India as an imperialist state has nothing to do the conquering any other countries these days it is about the economic power of its corporations and India has many that have a global presence.

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author avatar Ptrikha
14th Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks for clarifying Grant. Yes such Corporates are on rise, and I do agree that some of these are not exactly following ethical means.

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