Politics

PoliticsPolitics (from Greek politikos “of, for, or relating to citizens”) as a term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behaviour within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the corporate, academic, and religious segments of society. It consists of “social relations involving authority or power” and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.

Modern political discourse focuses on democracy and the relationship between people and politics. It is thought of as the way we “choose government officials and make decisions about public policy”

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.

Left-right politics

Main article: Left–right politics

Recently in history, 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 Aristotle or 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 Frederick 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.

According to 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 divide include Fascist Terza Posizione economic politics in Italy, Gaullism in France, Peronism in Argentina, and National Action Politics in Mexico.

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