Small Wars Journal

Governance in the Raw

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Governance in the Raw:

A Primer on Tribal Political Systems

by Stan Wiechnik

Download the Full Article: Governance in the Raw

This paper will introduce the reader to some different types of pre-state or tribal governance systems a person is likely to find in portions of the planet where people are living at just above the subsistence level and there is limited or no state influence. While each culture may be unique, certain commonalities can be seen between tribal people living across the globe. The intended audience for this paper is the practitioner working with these people, be they military or civilian, who are trying to influence the group without necessary trying to change it. To achieve this, a better understanding than might be provided by being told you are going to be dealing with a tribal society might be helpful.

• Who are the leaders of the group?

• What authority do they have?

• Who settles disputes?

• Who doles out patronage?

• Are they the same person?

• What affect might I have on the group if I deal with this person rather than that?

While this paper cannot answer all these questions, it might provide a starting place to help you focus your search for key players.

Download the Full Article: Governance in the Raw

Major Stan Wiechnik enlisted in the Army in 1982 and received his commission in 1993. He has served in the Military Police Corp, Air Defense Artillery, and the Engineers. He deployed to Afghanistan as a company commander and Iraq as a battalion executive officer. He is a graduate of CGSC, Indiana University, and Vermont Law School. Currently, he serves in the ROTC Department at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

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