A Classification of Political Thought
Politics is one of those subjects that most people know nothing about. Fewer people have even heard of “leadership” and even fewer still know what “policy” means. Worse still, there are those who dismiss politics as a possible source of conflict resolution. Politics has long been the arena of strong forces battling for power and control. The political systems of numerous civilizations throughout history all indicate that politics was a major part of their society and often led to intense conflicts.
For those interested in politics as a subject, the best resource is usually the main article; for other uses, read Politics (again, disambiguation). Politics (in Greek: ‘kosmopolia’) is the field of human action in which the social organization of a society is shaped by the forces of individual agents acting on behalf of their own interests. Politics may be defined as a manner of arranging people in various domains (e.g., political institutions), where different groups have conflicting aims or desires, guided by considerations of right and wrong, and motivated to effect changes in the circumstances that they face. The term ‘policarchy’ is derived from Greek plays, “the rule.”
The study of politics is divided into three branches: government at the national level, government at the regional level, and private organizations at the social level. At the national level, we find the process by which politics influences the decisions of individuals within a democratic polity. In other words, politics is defined as the social arrangements at the political level, which can have significant effects on the individuals who make those arrangements. A good example is how a candidate running for office may get support from political parties and organizations, based on his ability to “sell” the party line to the voters. Then Duke University political scientist Edward C. Marshall explained the “checks and balances” theory of government by referring to it as a system of checks and balances, whereby one major political actor is balanced by a major actor exercising independent power, and in order for that system to work, the balance must be neither liberal nor conservative.
On the other hand, in the study of politics at the regional level, one finds how the political institutions in a region affect the lives of ordinary citizens living in that area. For example, in the United States, state intervention has been a significant force shaping the variety of cultural institutions and behaviors. A centrally directed educational system, for example, could have a significantly negative impact on the diversity of sexual identity and preferences. Similarly, in a country like Canada, the government has often taken steps to limit freedom of speech and other types of censorship.
Finally, we come to the last segment of our study of human political systems: the personal sphere. Here, we find that political systems exert strong influences on individuals in their private lives. For example, the existence of a powerful public policy can motivate citizens to be politically active in the ways that they live their private lives. Conversely, a lack of political influence can make individuals more conservative in their social attitudes. The existence of numerous private arenas in which individuals can choose to exercise their private right to freedom of speech, for example, also makes them more conservative.
We have made an attempt here to categorize the different dimensions of political thought. Our hope is that this categorization can help future scholarship on political science topics. Finally, we encourage students to take these discussions further and bring them to their personal lives. After all, if they are familiar with the different kinds of political systems existing in the world today, it will be easier for them to understand why they feel the way they do about particular issues. This understanding may not just help them form opinions about politics; it may also help them think about important life choices.