Student Simulation: “Why is government necessary?”
by Theresa Flanagan
12th Grade A.P. Government teacher
With a looming budget crisis and possible government shutdown being discussed in the news, some are left to wonder why we even need a government. Enlightenment philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, two men whose philosophies greatly influenced the U.S. Constitution, explored this very issue in their work. According to Hobbes and Locke, while government may not always work the way people want it to, it is better than the alternative- anarchy. Is it, though?
The A.P. U.S. Government and Politics students at Roberto Clemente Community Academy decided to see what would happen in the absence of government. Within the classroom, students created a simulated society in which there were no laws, rules, or person(s) to enforce order. Students were divided into groups based on their imaginary ability and imaginary education levels and tried to not only survive but to also make money in a world with no government.
At the end of the simulation, some students had achieved a great deal of economic success. The majority, however, did not fare so well. Those who were successful were forced to resort to lies and manipulation in order to thrive. Some banded together and created alliances so they could take advantage of the other participants, while others just outright stole from each other. What students found interesting was that most alliances were among individuals with similar traits; however, there was one alliance in which people with opposite characteristics used one another’s strengths to help each other survive and build wealth. Without laws to prevent this from happening, or person(s) keeping order, the people of this society could lie and steal with no repercussions. Overall, life without government was deemed frightening and far from ideal.
Like Hobbes and Locke, students came to the conclusion that despite the flaws of government systems, individuals are better off trading some of their freedom for the protection of their rights.