Name of Course Essay Example

  • Category:
    Performing Arts
  • Document type:
    Essay
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
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2Politics

WHAT IS POLITICS?

WHAT IS POLITICS?

We all agree that politics is an important pillar of human life and that perhaps, without politics, we would not have a functioning society (Hay, 2007). It is normal for individuals to subscribe to certain ideologies that they believe are fundamental for their survival and thus, they ought to apply them when they want to be heard or get what they want in the backdrop of scarcities (Kelley & Simmons 2015). But do we really know what politics is? Do we simply know politics as a means that certain individuals in the society use to ascend to power and then forget about our problems? The definitions of politics are endless but they are founded on certain commonalities.

The word politics has its roots in the ancient Greek and is derived from the word polis which refers to a state/city that reflects the highest unit of social organization. As such, politics is often associated with order (Leftwich, 2015). Politics exhibits various definitions but perhaps the most common one depicts politics as a form of competition between different individuals or groups that want to achieve certain interests within the same society. As such, politics is seen to aggravate in a society where resources are scarce resulting in the emergence of various groups who aim to outplay one another and ascend to power so that they can have an upper hand in accessing the resources. Politics in this paradigm is associated with power, consensus, resources, competition and conflict( Alberto Abadie, Diamond & Hainmueller 2014).

In the scope of political science, politics is a way of life and doctrine embedded in the psychology of man. Aristotle once remarked that man is either a political animal or an outcast-like a bird that flies alone. According to Aristotle, we were born political creatures and we cannot even for a moment escape from that reality (Latour, 2009). How then are we political in nature? Critics argue that Aristotle’s school of thought was a deliberate criticism of Plato but looking closer, we realize that his sentiments hold some substantive truth .On a daily basis we are tempted to think that we are better than others and that we deserve more space and say in the society. This is politics. Aristotle summed up politics as the only parameter that contributes to a good life in the community (Kelley & Simmons 2015.

Another famous political scientist, Harold Laswell (2013) defines politics as a means of building consensus on who gets what, when and how. Laswell is highly regarded for his originality and contribution to the political science in his era. According to him, politics is means to the end and it is out of political engagements that we get to agree on how to share the scarce resources that sustain life (Lasswell, 2013). Politics is a bargaining tool for all members of the society and through it; we get to satisfy our needs. However, Laswell affirms that it is not automatic that politics can always work for us and as a result, we ought to be flexible enough to cope with the setbacks occasioned by politics.

American political scientist Robert Dahl states that politics is a phenomenon that only exists in a defined system and is founded on the need to achieve authority, rule or power (Dahl, 2006). According to Dahl, politics is the differentiating factor between lawlessness and order and the existence of politics cannot be claimed by a society that has no well-defined structures that facilitate social cohesion. His definition is considered a direct contradiction of Aristotle who beliefs that it is politics that give rise to the ideal social structures in the society (Leftwich, 2015). Additionally, Dahl terms politics as the most persistent language that human beings can use to make their life better by achieving their wants through systematic and persistent interaction and deliberation.

Canadian-born American political scientist, David Easton added another definition of politics. He termed politics as “the authoritative allocation of value”. According to him, politics is based on absolute authority that is often found in the hands of a few elite groups and individuals within the larger society (Easton, 2010). He demystifies the notion that man, by nature has the capacity to politic and subscribe to the same ideals he is advocating for unless there is a stringent authoritative mechanism which induces adherence. Easton, argues that politics is a means of gaining the value that discerns one person from another. As a result, it is only through politics that man is able to have and exercise the value of being a sound and superior creature in the universe.

Evidently, Max Webber, through his essay titled “Politics as a vocation” defines politics as a favor granted by the state which is the sole legitimate custodian of authority/force. By saying this, Webber implied that politics is more than what we do every day, it is more than just sticking to the social organization and harmony in the society-politics is the process of claiming a piece of the power owned by the state and then sharing the portion between individuals or states (Habermas, 2015). He further refutes the notion that politics is a game for all; arguing that too many people contemplate politics yet very few have the charisma to become politicians.

References

Alberto Abadie, Diamond & Hainmueller, 2014. Comparative Politics and the Synthetic Control Method. American Journal of Political Science.

Dahl, R.A., 2006. On political equality. Yale University Press.

Easton, D., 2010. The political system: an inquiry into the state of political science. Knopf.

Habermas, J., 2015. Inclusion of the other: Studies in political theory. John Wiley & Sons.

Hay, C., 2007. Why we hate politics (Vol. 5). Polity.

Kelley Judith & Beth A. Simmons, 2015. Politics by Number: Indicators as Social Pressure in International Relations . American Journal of Political Science , vol. 59, p. 55

Lasswell, H.D., 2013. The analysis of political behaviour (Vol. 2). Routledge.

Latour, B., 2009. Politics of nature. Harvard University Press.

Leftwich, A., 2015. What is politics: The Activity and its study. John Wiley & Sons.