“The purpose of this Article is to provide a platform for exchange of views. Please Register with Blog to post a comment and avoid abuse and getting into personal arguments”.
According to Mahatma Gandhi – To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means. I could not be leading a religious life unless I identified myself with the whole of mankind, and that I could not do unless I took part in politics. The whole scale of man’s activities today constitutes an indivisible whole. You cannot divide social, economic, political and purely religious work into watertight compartments. I do not know any religion apart from human activity. It provides a moral basis to all other activities which they would otherwise lack, reducing life to a maze of ‘sound and fury signifying nothing’. On hearing the word politics, what usually springs to mind are images of government, politicians and their policies or more negatively the idea of corruption and dirty tricks. The actual definition seems to have been obscured and almost lost by such representations and cliches that tend not to pinpoint the true essence, which defines this thing, called politics.
In order to make an attempt at a definition of politics a systematic approach is required. To begin with, a brief historical overview will be considered, to understand the origins of politics. A long time ago, in Ancient Greece, around 2300 years ago, a guy called Plato wrote one the greatest works of political philosophy called Politeia. The word politeia means “the business of the polis (the state)”, the things that concern all of us as a society. His student, Aristotle, wrote another great work, which shamefully was mostly lost, called Politika. Parliament is where politicians meet to decide laws and make decisions for the country. Politics, in its broadest sense, is the activity through which people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live. As such, politics is inextricably linked to the phenomena of conflict and cooperation. On the one hand, the existence of rival opinions, different wants, competing needs or opposing interests guarantees disagreement about the rules under which people live. On the other hand, people recognize that in order to influence these rules or ensure that they are upheld, they must work with others. This is why the heart of the politics is often portrayed as a process of conflict-resolution, in which rival views or competing interests are reconciled with one another.
However, politics in this broad sense is better thought of as a search for conflict-resolution than as its achievement, since not all conflicts are – or can be – resolved. Politics is what takes place within a ‘polity’, a system of social organization centered upon the machinery of government. Politics can therefore be found in cabinet rooms, legislative chambers, government departments and the like, and it is engaged in by a limited and specific group of people, notably politicians, civil servants and lobbyists. This means that most people, most institutions and most social activities are ‘outside’ politics. Businesses, schools and other educational institutions, community groups, families and so on, are in this sense ‘non-political’, because they are not engaged in ‘running the country’.’Politics is at the heart of all collective social activity, formal and informal, public and private, in all human groups, institutions and societies’ . In this sense, politics takes place at every level of social interaction; it can be found within families and amongst small groups of friends just as much as within nations and on the global stage. Specifically, politics is seen as a particular means of resolving conflict, namely by compromise, conciliation and negotiation, rather than through a resort to force and naked power. This is what is implied when politics is portrayed as ‘the art of the possible’. Such a definition is evident in the everyday use of the term. For instance, a ‘political’ solution to a problem implies peaceful debate and arbitration, by contrast with what is often called a ‘military’ solution. Politics tells you how a society must be set up and how one should act within a society.
Except for hermits, this comes up a lot.The Society will take a different view however, of any political action which threatens the survival of our species. Then the Society must not withdraw its opposition even at the risk of a forceful reaction by its opponents. It is difficult to imagine circumstances that might give rise to this possibility, but it is at least conceivable that a political, or perhaps some other, movement may arise that is dedicated to the destruction of humanity, or any extinction level proportion of it, or which adopts a course of action that must necessarily have that effect. If such a suicidal movement emerges then the Society will have no choice other than to embark on whatever course of action is necessary to frustrate it in its purpose. Consistent that is, with the ultimate survival of our species, which must always remain the overriding objective of any action taken by the Society.The advice and prescriptions here set out contain much that can be read as requiring the Society to monitor and to judge our politicians and the structures and systems they create. The reader will, recognize however, that in all the effort to clarify the view of the Society on the proper relationship between politicians and the Society, this Essay contains no element of moral judgement on politics in any of its many manifestations.