Politics – What Are They? Why Do We Need Them?
The word politics comes from the Greek Politiká, meaning affairs of the cities. The term refers to any type of organized control over a human community. Politics are hierarchical, and they are responsible for the distribution of resources and power in the community. They also deal with the relationships between communities.
In today’s blog post, we are going to use some great political quotes to talk about the pros and cons of city affairs. We’re most likely not going to find the perfect governance system in the process but we’re sure gonna try.
While my personal political views aren’t particularly mainstream, I was surprised by how few positive quotes about politics I’ve managed to find. It’s true that the current system is highly damaged and corrupted but politics are, at least in our society’s current state, much needed.
Until we find a way to properly govern ourselves, to put aside personal gain at the expense of others, and to trust each other’s judgment, we will require representatives and governance.
Politicians, despite having plenty of corrupt representatives, are, at least, somewhat knowledgeable in their field. They know or they have people who know how to get things done. Moreover, they have the necessary resources to actually make a difference.
Our biggest issue lies in electing the right people. But that is a societal issue more than it is a political one. If the majority of citizens were to get fed up with their current situation, intellectuals could very well come up with a new form of governance which would lack the flaws of democracy.
JFK, idolized by some and vilified by others, was but a man. And a politician, nonetheless. However, even if it was just for the sake of his term, he once said something which should be taken to heart by everyone living under a state power these days.
According to America’s last gunslinger, this is the best attitude for any voter to have: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
Ultimately, politics are a necessary evil. Until we reach, as a society, a different psychological and emotional level, until we, at least partly, move on from selfishness and ignorance, we are going to need elected officials to govern us. And remember what Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
Regardless of the system of governance, corruption, with our current general mentality, is unavoidable. The society in which we live breeds a form of selfishness. So, most people in power tend to do things beneficial for them and their own.
Moreover, when you are in a position of power, you tend to stop thinking of those under you as individuals. Instead, you start thinking of them as masses. It’s not something done out of malice; instead, it’s how our brains are built. And considering the confirmation bias, people in power tend to have some pretty good reasons for getting corrupted.
Still, as long as the people suffer, no government is 100% effective. After all, the government is there to serve the people, and not the other way around. As Cal Thomas put it: “One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are.”
The main issue with our current politics is the people who are interested in them. They draw a certain type of crowd, which is more interested in power and wealth than in the well-being of their compatriots. Even Machiavelli said that “Politics have no relation to morals.”
Perhaps worst of all, politics frequently tend to keep us tame. Politicians are a symbol of authority, at least to most people. They are supposed to be viewed as pillars of the community, as the best people for the job. But coming up with rule after rule, while at the same time claiming authority and proving themselves to be above the law, they send the wrong message to the people. They build up feelings of frustration, revolt, and inequality, some of the worst enemies of society.
Democracy, the current leading system of politics, was developed in Ancient Greece. However, some of the smartest people in history, meaning most Greek philosophers, had issues with the system. Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, and many others considered democracy to be the stepping stone towards despotism.
Socrates compared a democracy to a ship sailing in a storm. Would you rather the captain be chosen by people with enough seafaring knowledge, or by any passenger on board the ship?
He claims that democracy should work, but only if the leaders are chosen by people who know what they’re doing. He says that voting is a skill, not an intuition, and that it needs to be taught to people. It is irresponsible to have just anyone have a say in the future of your country. That is the difference between an intellectual democracy and a democracy by birthright.
A democracy is no more and no less effective than the education system surrounding it. If our leaders keep getting chosen by every average Joe instead by intellectuals who are trained for this particular thing, democracy will always lead to demagoguery, according to Socrates and Plato.
In fact, Socrates himself was killed because of a general consensus. Accused to defy the gods and to be corrupting the youth of the time, he was tried, and his verdict was subjected to a vote. He was found guilty by a narrow margin, and sentenced to death by hemlock. This proves that when it comes to important matters, those with the right to vote should only be those who have studied the matter.
In the end, politics are currently a necessary evil. With time, we, along with our society, will develop enough to be able to govern ourselves. We’ll most likely pass through a number of other governing systems by then but in the end, we’ll get there. Our duty is to make sure that we put the right people in charge, and that we have the correct information before making an important decision. I’ll leave you with this final great political quote by Plato: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”