Originally printed in The Daily Targum, September 30, 1993

A Look at the World's Governments: Sign Up for the Magical Mystery Tour

Welcome back to the U.S.S.R.

We begin in a medium sized house in Russia, where Boris is napping. Then he awakes, and we hear him sing his favorite tunes.

'I got up, got out of bed, and dragged a comb across my head. Found my way downstairs and drank a cup, and looking up, I noticed that the Russian Parliament had thrown me the hell out of office. Grabbed my coat, grabbed my hat, threw the bums out in seconds flat.' That's right, the moment you've all been waiting for; another semi-coup in a country with nuclear weapons and a bad attitude.

Luckily, the Red Army's usual tune of 'Happiness is a Warm Gun' seems more like 'I'm So Tired.' Their pledge of neutrality has kept the whole acid tripping-government from killing themselves (and each other). Instead of singing 'Revolution,' Russia, a nation that can't deal with the changes that its aging is bringing about, is merely singing 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction.'

The trouble is, all nations, and all types of governments, experience these growing pains, although each type of government handles it differently. Since I'm not an expert on Russian politics, I'm going to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on something on which I am an authority: making broad generalizations that have little to do with the topic.

Russia is no longer a communist country. Communist countries can usually be recognized by all the people with guns pointed at you. The people with guns wear red. Since Russia's collapse, many people have said that Communism is dead. There are approximately one billion Chinese that would agree with you, except they're afraid they'll get shot if they do. The International Olympic Committee was discussing Beijing as a possible site for the 2000 Olympics, but they were a bit wary of the fact that China wanted a new event--the 100-Meter Dash From the Tank That's Trying to Run You Down. This event is a generally good symbol of Communism. The official 1960's song of a Communist country is 'Helter Skelter' by the Beatles ('I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you'). Since this is the 90's, and the face of Communism is rapidly changing, the kinder, gentler U2 version is also acceptable.

Communism handles its changes by tossing out the old government and starting a new one, like what everybody is trying to do in Russia. This only happens in Russia, though, as any loyal and life-fearing denizen of Cambodia, Vietnam, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Afghanistan, Angola, or South Africa will tell you. (South Africa really isn't Communist, but might as well be--although they don't actually offer equal shares for all, they do a better job of denying the equality than any other Communist country in the world. I understand they're up for an award of some kind; the 1994 Kill Your Country's Unimportant People Award, being presented by China, Iraq, and Jack-in-the-Box, Inc.)

Then, we have socialism, a form of government that countries resort to when they run out of power. England and France are fairly socialist countries. They have a President and a Prime Minister, one of which runs the country, and the other of which pretends to. Nobody is quite sure which is which. Socialist countries are typified by national health care plans, high taxes, and baseless arrogance. Although this typifies most countries, it especially typifies Socialist countries. The official 1960's song of a Socialist country is 'Nowhere to Run' by Martha and the Van Dellas.

Socialist countries develop, but they handle these developments by pretending they (the developments) don't exist. For example, England doesn't like the idea that they've developed into a third-rate 'power' that no longer controls the world, but every now and then, a good war in the Falklands cheers them right up. Blimey.

Then, of course, we have True Democracies, governments that stand for the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all of the country's citizens. These kinds of governments are about as common as a seat on a Rutgers bus between fourth and fifth periods. We in America would like to think we're a True Democracy, but we're really a Representative Democracy run by special interests, big business, the CIA, and occasionally, Congress. These kinds of governments are about as common as air molecules. The official 1960's song of a representative democracy is 'Respect' by Aretha, because if America doesn't get any, it invades your country. Ask Saddam. Other countries can feel free to use 'Mr. Pitiful' as their song, but only at their own risk. We might invade them too, just for the hell of it.

Representative democracies develop, too, but we're too busy laughing at other countries to notice. Unfortunately, they're laughing at us, too, because while they have real entertainment and suspense in their own governments, we have Beverly Hills, 90210.

The obvious moral to be drawn, of course, from the current events in Russia, is that no matter how well you think you know your government, don't say anything about it. Don't ever try to change anything that you think is wrong. You may end up getting thrown out of power like Yeltsin, thrown under a tank like the Chinese students, or worst of all, throw up being forced to listen to Shannon Doherty remakes of old Beatles songs, like the author. Don't ask.

Jason Gottlieb is a Rutgers College senior majoring in sarcasm and inanity. He would like to thank the Academy, and his mom.

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