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What Is Politics?

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What Is Politics

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 clichés 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.

Following this, different core concepts, which are imperative to a

definition of politics, will be discussed, in the hope to discover a

true and fair interpretation of the word politics.

The word politics comes from the Greek word "polis", meaning the state

or community as a whole. The concept of the "polis" was an ideal state

and came from the writings of great political thinkers such as Plato and

Aristotle. In his novel "The Republic", Plato describes the ideal state

and the means to achieve it. Hence, the word politics originally has

connotations in the ways in which to create the ideal society. An ideal

society is in practice a rather difficult aim and even an impossible aim

to achieve. Politics implies measures which could and should, in the

views of their devisor, be implemented in the hope to create a better

society, than that which is already present. The very fact that Plato

and Aristotle saw imperfections in the societies in which they lived,

prompted them to write their political philosophies. These philosophies

provided the first written recognition of politics. In his writings his

"The Politics", Aristotle states that "Man is by nature a political

animal"(The Politics, 1) in another words, it lies deep within the

instinct of man. It is almost primal. Due to his nature man should

consider and realise his role within the "polis". So according to

Aristotle Politics is not a dreamt up concept, but rather an inherent

feature of mankind.

To begin with, the basest premise that underpins the notion of politics

should be considered in order to arrive at a fair definition. Man is

self-preserving by nature. He thinks and acts, whether that is as an

individual or as a group who share interests, with foremost regard to

his own interests. Self-perpetuation is the number one rule. He

therefore possesses his own interests, ideas and preferences, which may