POLITICS (from Greek: Politiká: Politika, definition "affairs of the
cities") is the process of making decisions applying to all members of
each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising
positions of governance — organized control over a human community,
particularly a state . Furthermore, politics is the study or practice
of the distribution of power and resources within a given community
(this is usually a hierarchically organized population) as well as the
interrelationship(s) between communities.
A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include
promoting or forcing one's own political views among people,
negotiation with other political subjects, making laws , and
exercising force , including warfare against adversaries.
exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of
traditional societies, through modern local governments , companies
and institutions up to sovereign states , to the international level .
It is very often said that politics is about power. A political
system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods
within a given society.
History of political thought can be traced
back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as
Plato 's Republic
Politics and the works of
* 1 Etymology
* 1.1 Classifications
History of state politics
* 2.1 The state
* 3 Themes
* 3.1 Forms of political organization
Politics as an academic discipline
* 4 Political values
* 4.1 Left–right
* 4.2 Authoritarian–libertarian
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
The word comes from the same Greek word from which the title of
Aristotle 's book
Politics (Πολιτικά, Politika) also derives;
politika means "affairs of the cities". The book title was rendered in
Early Modern English in the mid-15th century as "Polettiques"; it
became "politics" in
Modern English . The singular politic first
attested in English 1430 and comes from
Middle French politique, in
Latin politicus, which is the Latinization of the Greek
πολιτικός (politikos), meaning amongst others "of, for, or
relating to citizens", "civil", "civic", "belonging to the state", in
turn from πολίτης (polites), "citizen" and that from
πόλις (polis ), "city".
Politics refers to the operation of a constitutional system of
government and publicly defined institutions and procedures.
Political parties, public policy or discussions about war and foreign
affairs would fall under the category of Formal Politics. Many people
view formal politics as something outside of themselves, but that can
still affect their daily lives.
Politics in government associations such as
neighborhood associations, or student governments where student
government political party politics is often important.
Politics is understood as forming alliances, exercising
power and protecting and advancing particular ideas or goals.
Generally, this includes anything affecting one's daily life, such as
the way an office or household is managed, or how one person or group
exercises influence over another. Informal
Politics is typically
understood as everyday politics, hence the idea that "politics is
HISTORY OF STATE POLITICS
The history of politics is reflected in the origin, development, and
economics of the institutions of government .
The origin of the state is to be found in the development of the art
of warfare . Historically speaking, all political communities of the
modern type owe their existence to successful warfare.
Kings, emperors and other types of monarchs in many countries
including China and Japan, were considered divine. Of the institutions
that ruled states, that of kingship stood at the forefront until the
French Revolution put an end to the "divine right of kings ".
Nevertheless, the monarchy is among the longest-lasting political
institutions, dating as early as 2100 BC in Sumeria to the 21st
century AD British Monarchy.
Kingship becomes an institution through
the institution of
Hereditary monarchy .
The king often, even in absolute monarchies , ruled his kingdom with
the aid of an elite group of advisors, a council without which he
could not maintain power. As these advisors and others outside the
monarchy negotiated for power, constitutional monarchies emerged,
which may be considered the germ of constitutional government .
The greatest of the king's subordinates, the earls and dukes in
England and Scotland, the dukes and counts in the Continent, always
sat as a right on the council. A conqueror wages war upon the
vanquished for vengeance or for plunder but an established kingdom
exacts tribute . One of the functions of the council is to keep the
coffers of the king full. Another is the satisfaction of military
service and the establishment of lordships by the king to satisfy the
task of collecting taxes and soldiers.
FORMS OF POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
There are many forms of political organization, including states,
non-government organizations (NGOs) and international organizations
such as the
United Nations . States are perhaps the predominant
institutional form of political governance, where a state is
understood as an institution and a government is understood as the
regime in power.
According to Aristotle, states are classified into monarchies ,
aristocracies , timocracies , democracies , oligarchies , and
tyrannies . Due to changes across the history of politics, this
classification has been abandoned. Generally speaking, no form of
government could be considered the absolute best, as it would have to
be the perfect form under all circumstances, for all people and in all
ways. As an institution created by human nature to govern society , it
is vulnerable to abuse by people for their own gain , no matter what
form of government a state utilizes, thus suggesting there is no
'best' form of government.
All states are varieties of a single organizational form, the
sovereign state. All the great powers of the modern world rule on the
principle of sovereignty .
Sovereign power may be vested on an
individual as in an autocratic government or it may be vested on a
group as in a constitutional government.
Constitutions are written
documents that specify and limit the powers of the different branches
of government. Although a constitution is a written document, there is
also an unwritten constitution. The unwritten constitution is
continually being written by the legislative branch of government;
this is just one of those cases in which the nature of the
circumstances determines the form of government that is most
appropriate. England did set the fashion of written constitutions
during the Civil War but after the Restoration abandoned them to be
taken up later by the
American Colonies after their emancipation and
France after the Revolution and the rest of Europe including the
There are many forms of government. One form is a strong central
government as in
France and China. Another form is local government,
such as the ancient divisions in England that are comparatively weaker
but less bureaucratic. These two forms helped to shape the practice of
federal government , first in Switzerland, then in the United States
in 1776, in Canada in 1867 and in Germany in 1871 and in 1901,
Australia . Federal states introduced the new principle of agreement
or contract . Compared to a federation , a confederation has a more
dispersed system of judicial power . In the
American Civil War
American Civil War , the
contention of the Confederate States that a State could secede from
the Union was untenable because of the power enjoyed by the Federal
government in the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.
According to professor
A. V. Dicey in An Introduction to the Study of
Law of the Constitution, the essential features of a federal
constitution are: a) A written supreme constitution in order to
prevent disputes between the jurisdictions of the Federal and State
authorities; b) A distribution of power between the Federal and State
governments and c) A Supreme Court vested with the power to interpret
the Constitution and enforce the law of the land remaining independent
of both the executive and legislative branches.
GLOBAL POLITICS include different PRACTICES of political
globalization in relation to questions of social power: from global
patterns of governance to issues of globalizing conflict. The 20th
century witnessed the outcome of two world wars and not only the rise
and fall of the
Third Reich but also the rise and fall of communism .
The development of the atomic bomb gave the United States a more rapid
end to its conflict in Japan in
World War II
World War II . Later, the development
of the hydrogen bomb became the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
Global politics also concerns the rise of global and international
United Nations has served as a forum for peace in a
world threatened by nuclear war, "The invention of nuclear and space
weapons has made war unacceptable as an instrument for achieving
political ends." Although an all-out final nuclear holocaust is out
of the question for man, "nuclear blackmail " comes into question not
only on the issue of world peace but also on the issue of national
sovereignty. On a Sunday in 1962, the world stood still at the brink
of nuclear war during the October
Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis from the
implementation of U.S. vs
U.S.S.R. nuclear blackmail policy.
According to political science professor Paul James , global politics
is affected by values: norms of human rights , ideas of human
development , and beliefs such as cosmopolitanism about how we should
relate to each:
Cosmopolitanism can be defined as a global politics that, firstly,
projects a sociality of common political engagement among all human
beings across the globe, and, secondly, suggests that this sociality
should be either ethically or organizationally privileged over other
forms of sociality.
William Pitt the Elder , speaking before the British
House of Lords
House of Lords ,
9 January 1770, observed: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds
of those who possess it." This was echoed more famously by John
Dalberg-Acton over a century later: "Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts absolutely."
POLITICAL CORRUPTION is the use of legislated powers by government
officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power
for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and
general police brutality , is not considered political corruption.
Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not
directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an
officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is
directly related to their official duties and/or power.
Forms of corruption vary, but include corruption , extortion ,
cronyism , nepotism , patronage , graft , and embezzlement . While
corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking
, money laundering , and trafficking , it is not restricted to these
activities. The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ
depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance, certain
political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal
in another. In some cases, government officials have broad or poorly
defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal
and illegal actions. Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to involve
over 1 trillion US dollars annually. A state of unrestrained
political corruption is known as a kleptocracy , literally meaning
"rule by thieves".
Main article: political party
A POLITICAL PARTY is a political organization that typically seeks to
attain and maintain political power within government , usually by
participating in electoral campaigns , educational outreach or protest
actions. Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision
bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a
coalition among disparate interests.
POLITICS AS AN ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE
Political science , the study of politics, examines the acquisition
and application of power . Political scientist Harold Lasswell
defined politics as "who gets what, when, and how". Related areas of
study include political philosophy , which seeks a rationale for
politics and an ethic of public behaviour, political economy , which
attempts to develop understandings of the relationships between
politics and the economy and the governance of the two, and public
administration , which examines the practices of governance. The
philosopher Charles Blattberg , who has defined politics as
"responding to conflict with dialogue," offers an account which
distinguishes political philosophies from political ideologies.
The first academic chair devoted to politics in the United States was
the chair of history and political science at
Columbia University ,
first occupied by Prussian émigré
Francis Lieber in 1857.
Political views differ on average across nations. A recreation
of the Inglehart –Welzel Cultural Map of the World based on the
World Values Survey
World Values Survey . Main article:
Several different political spectra have been proposed.
Political analysts and politicians divide politics into left wing and
right wing politics, often also using the idea of center politics as a
middle path of policy between the right and left. This classification
is comparatively recent (it was not used by
Hobbes , for
instance), and dates from the
French Revolution era, when those
members of the
National Assembly who supported the republic , the
common people and a secular society sat on the left and supporters of
the monarchy , aristocratic privilege and the Church sat on the right.
The meanings behind the labels have become more complicated over the
years. A particularly influential event was the publication of the
Communist Manifesto by
Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels in 1848. The
Manifesto suggested a course of action for a proletarian revolution to
overthrow the bourgeois society and abolish private property, in the
belief that this would lead to a classless and stateless society.
The meaning of left-wing and right-wing varies considerably between
different countries and at different times, but generally speaking, it
can be said that the right wing often values tradition and social
stratification while the left wing often values reform and
egalitarianism , with the center seeking a balance between the two
such as with social democracy or regulated capitalism .
Norberto Bobbio , one of the major exponents of this
distinction, the Left believes in attempting to eradicate social
inequality, while the Right regards most social inequality as the
result of ineradicable natural inequalities, and sees attempts to
enforce social equality as utopian or authoritarian.
Some ideologies, notably Christian
Democracy , claim to combine left
and right wing politics; according to Geoffrey K. Roberts and Patricia
Hogwood, "In terms of ideology, Christian
Democracy has incorporated
many of the views held by liberals, conservatives and socialists
within a wider framework of moral and Christian principles."
Movements which claim or formerly claimed to be above the left-right
Terza Posizione economic politics in Italy,
Peronism in Argentina, and National Action Party in Mexico.
Authoritarianism and libertarianism refer to the amount of individual
freedom each person possesses in that society relative to the state.
One author describes authoritarian political systems as those where
"individual rights and goals are subjugated to group goals,
expectations and conformities", while libertarians generally oppose
the state and hold the individual as sovereign . In their purest form,
libertarians are anarchists , who argue for the total abolition of the
state, of political parties and of other political entities , while
the purest authoritarians are, theoretically, totalitarians who
support state control over all aspects of society .
For instance, classical liberalism (also known as laissez-faire
liberalism, ) is a doctrine stressing individual freedom and limited
government . This includes the importance of human rationality,
individual property rights , free markets , natural rights , the
protection of civil liberties , constitutional limitation of
government, and individual freedom from restraint as exemplified in
the writings of
John Locke ,
Adam Smith ,
David Hume ,
David Ricardo ,
Montesquieu and others. According to the libertarian
Institute for Humane Studies , "the libertarian, or 'classical
liberal,' perspective is that individual well-being, prosperity, and
social harmony are fostered by 'as much liberty as possible' and 'as
little government as necessary.'" For anarchist political philosopher
L. Susan Brown "Liberalism and anarchism are two political
philosophies that are fundamentally concerned with individual freedom
yet differ from one another in very distinct ways.
with liberalism a radical commitment to individual freedom while
rejecting liberalism's competitive property relations."
Index of law articles
Index of politics articles - alphabetical list of political
List of years in politics
Outline of law
Outline of political science - structured list of political
topics, arranged by subject area
Political lists - lists of political topics
Politics of present-day states
List of political ideologies
* ^ A B C D E F Painter, Joe; Jeffrey, Alex. "Political Geography".
* ^ The Diets and Sayings of the Philosophers (Early English Text
Society, Original Series No. 211, 1941; reprinted 1961), p. 154: "the
book of Etiques and of Polettiques".
* ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short. "A
Latin Dictionary". Perseus
Digital Library. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
* ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott. πολιτικός "A
Greek-English Lexicon" Check url= value (help ). Perseus Digital
Library. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
* ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott. πολίτης "A
Greek-English Lexicon" Check url= value (help ). Perseus Digital
Library. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
* ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott. πόλις "A Greek-English
Lexicon" Check url= value (help ). Perseus Digital Library. Retrieved
* ^ Carneiro, Robert L. (21 August 1970). "A Theory of the Origin
of the State". Science. 169 (3947): 733–8. Bibcode
:1970Sci...169..733C. PMID 17820299 . doi
* ^ "Sumerian King List" (PDF). Retrieved 7 April 2012.
* ^ "European Absolutism And Power Politics", International World
History Project, 1998, retrieved 22 April 2017
* ^ Constitutional Monarchy, British Monarchist League Ltd,
retrieved 22 April 2017
* ^ Jenks, Edward. A history of politics. pp. 73–96. The origin
of the State, or Political Society, is to be found in the development
of the art of military warfare.
* ^ Jenks, Edward (1900). A history of politics. J. M. Dent & Co.
pp. 1–164. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
* ^ Rabinowitch, Eugene (June 1973). Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists. Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc. p. 13.
ISSN 0096-3402 . ...the rationale of traditional patterns of world
* ^ Dulles, Allen (2006). The Craft of Intelligence. Globe Pequot.
p. 224. ISBN 1599215772 . ...using 'nuclear blackmail' as a threat to
intimidate other countries.
* ^ James, Paul (2014).
Globalization and Politics, Vol. 4:
Political Philosophies of the Global. London: Sage Publications. pp.
x. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
* ^ Safire, William, ed. (2008). Safire's Political Dictionary.
Oxford University Press. p. 566.
* ^ Dalberg-Acton, John (Lord Acton). Letter to Bishop Mandell
Creighton, April 5, 1887. Published in Historical Essays and Studies,
edited by J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907)
* ^ "Political Coruption
Law & Definition". USLegal. Retrieved
* ^ "BBC NEWS - Business - African corruption \'on the wane\'".
* ^ Safire, William (2008). Safire\'s Political Dictionary. Oxford
University Press US. p. 566. ISBN 0-19-534334-4 . Power tends to
corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
* ^ Schmidt, Barbara A.; Bardes, Mack C.; Shelley, Steffen W.
Politics Today: The Essentials
(2011–2012 Student ed.). Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. p. 5.
ISBN 978-0-538-49719-0 .
* ^ Blattberg, Charles (July 2001). "Political Philosophies and
Political Ideologies". Public Affairs Quarterly. 15 (3): 193–217.
ISSN 0887-0373 . SSRN 1755117 .
* ^ Farr, James; Seidelman, Raymond (1993). Discipline and history.
University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-06512-2 . ...a chair at
Columbia in 1857 as professor of history and political science, the
very first of its kind in America.
* ^ Andrew Knapp and Vincent Wright (2006). The
Politics of France. Routledge.
* ^ Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich (2002-01-01). The Communist
Manifesto. Penguin. ISBN 9780140447576 .
* ^ Daniel J. Levinson. "CONSERVATISM AND RADICALISM".
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Retrieved
* ^ Bobbio , Norberto, Left and Right: The Significance of a
Political Distinction (translated by Allan Cameron), 1997, University
of Chicago Press . ISBN 0-226-06246-5
* ^ Roberts and Hogwood, European
Politics Today, Manchester
University Press , 1997
* ^ Markus Kemmelmeier; et al. (2003). "Individualism,
Authoritarianism in Seven Societies". Journal of
Cross-Cultural Psychology. 34 (3): 304–322. doi
* ^ Politics. PediaPress.
* ^ Ian Adams, Political
Ideology Today (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 2001), 20.
* ^ What Is Libertarian?,
Institute for Humane Studies Archived 24
March 2007 at the
Wayback Machine .
L. Susan Brown . The
Politics of Individualism: Liberalism,
Liberal Feminism, and
Anarchism . BLACK ROSE BOOKS LID. 1993
* Connolly, William (1981). Appearance and Reality in Politics.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
* James, Paul ; Soguk, Nevzat (2014).
Globalization and Politics,
Vol. 1: Global Political and Legal Governance. London: Sage
Publications. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
* Ryan, Alan: On Politics: A
History of Political Thought from
Herodotus to the Present. London: Allen Lane, 2012. ISBN
Find out more on's
* News stories
* Source texts
* Learning resources
* GND : 4046514-7
* NDL : 00570482