The Three Theoretical Principles of Politics
Politics is basically the process by which public policies are established through a system of political institutions or groups, and their effects on the citizens who make up those institutions or groups. Politics has a wide range of important influences, which include social class, ethnicity, national identity, race, gender, and a host of others. Politics has been one of the largest and most influential fields in the world since the advent of modernity. Modern political systems have been developed through various historical periods in history, and politics has been a major influence on every area of human thought, culture, and society.
Politics is a very broad field, and there are many different political theories and arguments out there to explain how things get done in the political sphere. The most commonly used definition of politics is “Government by the people and for the people”, but some political scientists argue that this definition does not adequately describe politics. In other words, politics is the complex set of interactions between people, including the distribution of power and status, or the allocation of public resources.
Unfortunately, the subject of politics is too vast to be covered in any short, one-size-fits-all definition. However, it’s helpful to be able to quickly look at some of the more popular definitions of politics. For the purposes of this article, political debate can be broken down into three main categories: majoritarianism, liberalism, and conservatism. Each of these categories has its own political ideas and practices, and each has been shaped by centuries of conflict and change. The first two categories are the most related, and this article will focus on explaining the characteristics of each.
Majoritarianism is a rather broad definition, because it describes any form of political organization that believes itself to be representative and democratic. For our purposes here, we’ll stick to describing single-party government as well as a rather narrow list of representative institutions. Still, even this broader definition can be narrowed down. A democratic government, for example, would include governments that exist in Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and Switzerland. A liberal government is a form of government where there are widespread liberal democratic freedoms, and the basic precepts of liberalism include respect for individual rights and freedom of association.
Conservatism, on the other hand, tends to be associated more with traditional forms of politics, and tends to be a reaction against modernity. The basic precepts of conservatism include protection of individual rights, a strong national defense, and a restrained state. These, of course, overlap significantly with many of the other definitions of politics, except for the notion that conservatism is inherently against progress. There also overlap with definitions of liberalism, which tend to be nationalistic and focused on social welfare programs as well as economic growth and prosperity. National socialism, as defined by Adolph Hitler, is a variation on conservative thought and practice, though the movement did not achieve the sweeping victory that it eventually did.
All three theories of politics all support a particular definition of what politics is. No one definition is necessarily right or wrong, though each one offers a different interpretation of what sorts of behavior are considered acceptable. Each has particular examples of societal behavior that it supports, and can point to certain social phenomena that are worth examining and measuring. The idea that politics is simply a social activity, one that deals with the public good and the common good of the citizens, is central to political theory.