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You have two cows

You have two cows (or Two Cows and Political Systems of Government) is a famous example of internet humor that predates the wide availability of the internet, the first variants of which appeared no later than the early 1980s.

With a declared humorous intention, it is also a concise example (not necessarily scientific, though) of how different cultures can express different visions on the same fact or concept (by paradox, in this case, on an extremely simple concept like the property of two cows); as such, it accompanied the first popular international development of the World Wide Web and it is well known today in most countries, where it is mirrored, translated or however quoted in thousands of websites, in dozens of versions (and newer "definitions" are constantly recorded). In the evident spirit, it is often proposed as a summarized scheme of political science or as a comparing list of possible variants of legal previsions about the rights of ownership.

The following version, here reported as an hilarious yet meaningful example of the so-called Internet culture[?], was patiently assembled from over twenty different versions found on the web.
The definitions have, of course, no scientific value.

Noticeably absent: Post-Modernism and many others...


ANARCHISM:
You have two cows. You keep the cows and steal your neighbour's bull. You ignore the government. Meanwhile, your neighbours try to take the cows and kill you. The cows decide you have no right to do anything with their milk and leave to form their own society.

ARISTOCRACY:
You have two cows. You sell both and buy one really big cow - with a pedigree.

ARTIST -- VISUAL:
You have two cows. You suspend them in formaldehyde in glass display boxes. In London.

BUREAUCRACY:
You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

BUREAUCRACY -- UNITED STATES:
You have two cows. One has BSE. You don't bother to check if they have BSE, lest you find out, and then declare there is no problem from BSE in your country.

BUREAUCRACY -- BRITISH:
You have two cows. One has BSE. You get a vet to give the other one the "all clear", and then declare there is no problem from BSE in your country.

BUREAUCRACY -- EUROPEAN UNION:
You have two cows. The EU declares them to be fruit in order to conform to a rare Belgian custom of making Cow Jam (jam being required to have at least 45% fruit).

BUREAUCRACY -- INDIAN:
You have two cows. But since these cows are holy cows, you cannot tell them what to do, or milk them, or do anything useful with them. The cows however, have no such barriers. The emerging liberal democracy requires one to fill out 37 triplicate forms before killing anything, and cows cannot write. Thus the cows do not slaughter you, you do not slaughter the cows, and the pacifist monks are satisfied.

BUREAUCRACY -- UNITED STATES:
You have two cows. The government takes both, loses one while moving it to a farm in Puerto Rico and forgets to milk the other. You are then paid to not milk cows.

CAPITALISM:
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

CAPITALISM - medical costs variation:
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. But then you become ill and have no money to pay for medical care, so you sell your cow and your bull. You starve.

CAPITALISM - CANADIAN:
You have two cows. The bank takes both of them, shoots one, and throws away the milk. You shoot yourself.

CAPITALISM - HONG KONG:
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows' milk back to the listed company. The annual report says that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the feng shui is bad.

Due to recent events, the following closely related variation appeared recently...

CAPITALISM - ENRON:
You have two cows. You borrow 80% of the forward value of the two cows from your bank then buy another cow with 5% down and the rest financed by the seller on a note callable if your market cap goes below $20B at a rate 2 times prime. You now sell three cows to your publicly listed company, using Letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at a 2nd bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more and this transaction process is upheld by your independent auditor and no Balance Sheet provided with the press release that announces that Enron as a major owner of cows will begin trading cows via the Internet site COW (cows on web).

CAPITALISM -- NEW ECONOMY:
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull, which you use to breed, to the other cow. Then you create a website and start offering to export sperm from the bull to anyone and everyone, especially emerging markets, over the Internet. After a few weeks, your company completes its IPO on NASDAQ, and a few brokerage firms start coverage with a strong buy rating for this wonderful new Internet stock. Your stock zooms from the 10c per share initial offering price to $110, when you sell. The stock plummets back to 10c a few months later when the investors who bought it realise that your business has no earnings and never will, despite the Internet presence. Several law firms and the SEC bring various civil and criminal actions against the company, all of the officers and directors and (of course) you, under various fraud theories. You quickly settle the civil cases so the lawyers get paid, but you still have plenty stashed away. You plead nolo in the SEC case, and you are sentenced to ten years in prison, of which you actually serve seven weeks. When you come out, you buy two chickens.

CAPITALISM -- UNITED STATES:
You have two cows. You sell one of them, and buy a bull. The cow and bull have a great love life; you sell the movie rights to Hollywood. You go into real estate.

CARTESIAN DUALISM[?]:
You have two cows. Therefore you are.

CATHOLICISM:
You have two cows. You feel guilty for having cows and go to confession; your parish priest tells you that having cows is not in and of itself a sin in the eyes of God, but if you are feeling guilty about it, perhaps you should free the cows and say ten Hail Marys.

CENTRALISM[?]:
You have two cows. They are in the middle of the field with 100,000,000 other cows.

COMMUNISM:
You have two cows. Your neighbours help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

COMMUNISM--REALITY:
You have two cows. Technically, everyone owns all the cows and everyone is equal. If you happen to be in charge of everyone and their cows, you own more of the cows than everyone else because you are more equal than they are.

COMMUNISM -- AFRICAN:
You have two cows. The government takes both and gives you spoiled milk.

COMMUNISM -- CAMBODIAN:
You have two cows. The government sends a teenager in a red bandana to shoot them, then he shoots you.

COMMUNISM -- CHINESE CULTURAL REVOLUTION[?]:
You have two cows. The government declares they are "pigs". And launches a campaign to convince you to donate them "voluntarily" to provide meat for workers in the city. The government then declares that people don't need pigs to make pork. Quoting the correct phrases from your little red book, you and your neighbours try to create pork from sheer willpower. Your local party leader reports that you have exceeded all expectations. Your neighbours starve.

COMMUNISM -- CHINESE #1:
You don't have any cows. The government sets up a joint venture with McDonalds.

COMMUNISM -- CHINESE #2:
You have two cows. You take care of them. The government takes all the milk but you are encouraged to steal some of it back (before someone else does).

COMMUNISM -- CUBAN #1:
Fidel Castro has two cows. They are F1's, a cross between the Cebu cow and the Holstein cow. Only one cow, "White Udder," works. When she dies she is stuffed and placed in a museum by Castro, "The Dictator of the Cows," where "future generations could admire her magnificent udders." You have not seen milk since 1975.

COMMUNISM: -- CUBAN #2:
You have two cows. Fidel tells you some undercover CIA agents have infected all of the cows in your region with a foreign disease that kills the cows. You and your family become malnourished. It begins to occur to you that Fidel doesn't know what he is talking about.

COMMUNISM -- CUBAN #3:
You used to have two cows, but they sailed to Miami.

COMMUNISM -- SOVIET:
You have two cows. The state takes both, and gives you a small amount of milk ... once.

COMMUNISM -- STALINIST:
You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. Then the government sends you to prison.

CONSERVATIVISM:
You have two cows. You freeze the milk, embalm the cows and charge people to look at them..

CORPORATION, AMERICAN:
You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

CORPORATION, BRAZILIAN:
You have two cows. You enter into a partnership with an American corporation. Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

CORPORATION, FRENCH:
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

CORPORATION, GERMAN:
You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

CORPORATION, INDIAN:
You have two cows. You worship them.

CORPORATION, ITALIAN:
You have two cows but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

CORPORATION, JAPANESE:
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.

CORPORATION, MEXICAN:
You think you have two cows, but you don't know what a cow looks like. You take a nap.

CORPORATION, RUSSIAN:
You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

CORPORATION, SWISS:
You have 5000 cows, none of which belongs to you. You charge for storing them for others.

COUNTER CULTURE:
Wow, dude, there's like... these two cows, man. You got to have some of this milk.

DECONSTRUCTIONISM
You have two cows, or is it that two cows have you?

DEMOCRACY #1:
You have two cows. They outvote you 2-1 to ban all meat and dairy products.

DEMOCRACY #2:
You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.

DEMOCRACY -- BRITISH:
You have two cows. You feed them sheep brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

DEMOCRACY -- CANADIAN:
The government gives two cows to natives with treaty status.

DEMOCRACY -- REPUBLIC[?]:
You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

DEMOCRACY -- SINGAPOREAN:
You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.

DEMOCRACY -- SOUTH AFRICAN
You have two cows. One is hijacked and the government redistributes the other one, in pieces, to previously disadvantaged fellow citizens. You live on the milk you stashed away during the apartheid years.

DEMOCRACY -- UNITED STATES #1:
The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate".

DEMOCRACY -- UNITED STATES #2:
You have two cows that your parents gave you. Your job provides you with four cows every month, but once a year, the government takes away 24 of them. For some reason, everybody around you seems to have more cows than you. Eventually most of your cows die from old age and over-milking. Then, the government provides you with half a cow every month (just enough so you don't starve)

DEMOCRACY -- UNITED STATES #3:
You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

DEMOCRACY -- UNITED STATES #4:
You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk and then blame Japan while border guards beat up Mexicans sneaking into the country. People are outraged for a week or so and then go back to televised sports.

DESPOTISM -- MODERN:
You have two cows. The government steals your cows and shoots you, but in interests of pleasing the global community, name you as a "Militant Rebel Insurgent", call their government an "Enlightened Centralised Executive", and ask for UN peacekeeping troops to come and separate the radical seperationist cow-owners from normal people.

DICTATORSHIP:
You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

ENVIROMENTALISM #1:
You have two cows. Government regulations require your cows to wear protective headgear so they do not allow bacteria to die and illegalise the killing of parasites by aggravated cows.

ENVIROMENTALISM #2:
You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

EXISTENTIALISM:
You have two cows. You declare "Hell is the cows". (Go read up on Jean Paul Sartre if this makes no sense to you.)

FASCISM #1:
You have two cows. The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

FASCISM #2:
You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

FEMINISM:
You have two cows. They get married and adopt a veal calf.

FEUDALISM:
You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

FRISBEETARIANISM:
You have two cows. One of them flies up on the roof and gets stuck. You smoke a joint and hope the government provides cow ladders.

FUNDAMENTALISM #1:
You have two cows. The government kills you for owning cows, confiscates your cows, and then kills everyone who suggests that the government should be killed for owning cows.

FUNDAMENTALISM #2:
You have two cows. The Bible does not mention cows, and the government confiscates them because they do not exist.

IDEALISM:
You have two cows. You get married and your partner milks them.

INDUSTRIALISM:
You have two cows. You dissect them both, and figure out how to build a milk-factory instead.

LABOR UNIONISIM:
You have two cows. They band together with everyone else's cows to form the Cow People's Union, or CPU. They demand higher wages and shorter working hours. You respond by increasing wages and working hours. As your house burns and your windows are smashed in, you realise that your life depends on these cows, and their happiness is part of your survival. You decide to tell that to God.

LIBERALISM #1:
You have two cows. You give away one cow and get the government to give you a new cow. Then you give them both away.

LIBERALISM #2:
You have two cows. You sell both to the rich. The government then taxes the rich one cow and gives it to the poor.

LIBERTARIANISM #1:
Go away. What I do with my cows is none of your business.

LIBERTARIANISM #2:
You have two cows. One has actually read the constitution, believes in it, and has some really good ideas about government. The cow runs for office, and while most people agree that the cow is the best candidate, nobody except the other cow votes for her because they think it would be "throwing their vote away."

LIBERTARIANISM #3:
You have two cows. You let them do what they want.

MARXISM/LENINISM:
The proletarian cows unite and overthrow the bourgeoisie cow-herds. The egalitarian democratic cow revolutionary state with the cow party as vanguard disintegrates over time. Marx choked on a veggie-burger before he could explain what happens to the use-value, exchange-value and sign-value of bovine leather.

MILITARISM:
You have two cows. The government takes both cows and presses you into military service.

NAZISM:
(See Dictatorship.)

NEW DEALISM:
You have two cows. The government takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and pours the milk down the sink. The government insists there is a giant storage tank where all the milk goes.

NIHILISM:
There are no cows. There never were. You have a cigarette and a cup of black coffee to ponder the cow-shaped hole in the universe.

PACIFISM:
You have two cows. They stampede you.

PEROTISM:
You have two cows. You aren't allowed to sell the milk to Mexico.

PLATONISM:
You have a reflection of two perfect cows. Their milk tastes like water. You look for two real cows to milk.

PLUTOCRACISM:
You have two cows. Your richer neighbours get to take one of them and the other's milk because they are richer. In rebellion, you become richer and take three of their cows and the fourth's milk. This continues until the cows decide to invent the concept of "Cow-munism", band together, become richer than everyone, and take everything and its milk.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS:
You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallocentric, war-mongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.

PROTECTIONISM:
You have two cows. You can't buy a bull from another country.

PROTESTANTISM:
You have two cows. Your neighbour has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbour. You feel righteous.

REDISTRIBUTIONISM[?]:
You have two cows. Everyone should have the same amount of cow. The government takes both cows, cuts them up, and spends more than the cows are worth giving everyone a little piece of cow.

REPUBLICANISM:
You have two cows. Your neighbour has none. So what?

SIMPSONISM:
You have two cows. Mmmm... Cows.

SOCIALISM:
You have two cows. The government takes one of them and gives it to your neighbour.

SOCIALISM -- BUREAUCRATIC:
You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs as the regulations say you should need.

SOCRATIC METHODISM:
How many cows do I have? Why?

SURREALISM:
You have two cows. The government paints one green and requires you to take harmonica lessons.

SURVIVORISM:
You have two cows. They get taken to a remote farm and go through different challenges to win the "immunity idol". Then they vote each other off and a "jury" of other cows pick one to win a million dollars. The winner eats the money and dies from internal paper cuts and the loser goes on to make millions from sponsors and ads.

THE TALIBAN:
You have two cows. You turn them loose in the Afghan countryside and they both die. You blame the godless American infidels.

TOTALITARIANISM:
You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

UNITED NATIONISM:
You have two cows. France and Russia veto you from milking them. The United States and Britain veto the cows from milking you. China abstains. (see UN Security Council)

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