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I'm having a conversation with a friend about what society might look like after a collapse of some kind - catastrophic war, zombies, global warming, what have you - not important which one really, but rather assuming one does happen. We're discussion how people would group together and what kinds of systems would form in the aftermath.

My opinion is that people would kind of default to some primitive form of feudalism - there'd be the vast majority of people who are basically subsistence farmers, probably some form of nobility, maybe a warrior class depending on the culture. My friend thinks it would be much more egalitarian and democratic - we're specifically talking about the United States as we're both from there if that helps - and he thinks that people would largely reform what we have today - representative democracies with bills of rights, checks and balances, etc.

I made the assertion that the vast majority of history is more like what I was talking about - lower classes, absolute monarchs, 'might makes right' etc - and he challenged me on that, which got me thinking. I haven't really done much research on the matter.

Putting aside our friendly disagreement, what is the default or average political system for humanity? Meaning, if you took a random sampling of every human who ever lived after we left the hunter-gatherer stage, meaning people who live in societies, what would their political position be like? How many freedoms or rights would they have?

I apologize if my question doesn't make much sense, I'm having trouble finding the right words to explain. I'd appreciate any sources you have on the matter as it's something I'd be interested in reading more about as well.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Pieter Geerkens, justCal, Lars Bosteen, Spencer, Giter Jun 26 at 0:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    1) We don't do hypotheticals. 2) What research have you done? 3)the "average" varies by social size and technological complexity, 3) Fukuyama's origins of political order addresses this - I'm sure there is a better source, but that's the one that comes to mind, 4) your friend is wrong. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 25 at 21:46
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    Averages or other similar mathematical tools that remove all context can be very misleading. Remember that the average wealth of Bill Gates and 100 homeless people is over a billion dollars. – T.E.D. Jun 25 at 21:56
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Depends of the size of the population and their memory of their previous life.

Small groups usually are democratic or they have a weak leader, while bigger groups might be more like a chiefdom, which is a basic form of goverment in primitive human societies.
While bigger the population is in a reduced space, more complex the goverment will be.

But, in other side, these people will have memory of their former goverments. Hence, if there are enough survivors, they could restore their former kind of goverment. That's what usually happens after a band of nomads attacks a sedentary population, a plague reduces drastically the population or a war kills most part of population, after the shock, the sedentary population restores their former organization if possible (sometimes some reforms appear later).

Hence, probably both you and your friend are correct, it's just an issue of population and territorial size what kind of goverment will develop, probably passing through many stages:
band of hunter-gatherers -> chiefdom -> feudalism, kingdom or theocracy -> etc

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