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Politics is the process and conduct of decision-making for groups. Although it is usually applied to governments, political behavior is also observed in corporate, academic, religious, and other institutions.

Political science is the study of political behavior and examines the acquisition and application of power, i.e. the ability to impose one's will on another.

Table of contents
1 History of politics
2 Political writings
3 References
4 Political science
5 Political systems and ideologies
6 Political entities
7 Major topics in political philosophy
8 Classical political theorists
9 Modern political theorists
10 Contemporary political theorists
11 Miscellaneous
12 See also

History of politics

The biological genesis of politics

Politics predates human society.

Most primates live in groups and form "dominance hierarchies". Individuals with greater hierarchical status tend to displace those ranked lower from space, from food, and from mating opportunities. Thus higher status individuals tend to have greater reproductive success by mating more often and having more resources to invest in the survival of offspring.

These hierarchies are not fixed and depend on any number of changing factors, among them are age, gender, intelligence, and aggressiveness. Status may also be affected by the ability to marshal the support of others. Indeed, the need to maintain social position and social knowledge may be an impetus for the evolution of larger brains in humans.

Early human polities organized groups include families, clans, and tribes.

Urban revolution

V.G. Childe describes the transformation of human society that took place around 6000 BCE as an Urban Revolution. Among the features of this new type of civilization are: institutional social stratification(dominance hierarchy), non-agricultural specialised crafts (including priests and lawyers), taxation, and writing. All of which require densely populated settlements - cities.

While the word, "Politics" is derived from the Greek word for city, "Polis", it should be remembered that politics happens in every group undertaking. Corporate, religious, academic and every other polity, especially those constrained by limited resources, contain dominance hierarchies and therefore politics.Politics is most often studied in the public administrative context.

Political writings

"Politics" may have a pejorative sense, particularly when applied to the internal workings of institutions. Saying that a decision was reached for "political" reasons may hint that those reasons were more motivated by petty interests or influence peddling than by objective reasons or the common good.

At whatever scale, politics is the rather imperfect way that people coordinate individual actions for mutual (or strictly personal) gain. What distinguishes the political from the ethical or merely social is a much-debated question. Most theorists would acknowledge that to be political, a process has to involve at least some potential for use of force or violence - politics is about conflict that is about much more than theory and fashion. To win a political conflict always implies that one has taken power away from one group or faction to give it to another. Most would also acknowledge that political conflict can easily degrade to zero-sum games, with little learned or settled by conflict other than "who won and who lost":

Lenin said politics was about "who could do what to whom" (Russian "Kto-Kogo" for "Who-Whom"). As political scientist Harold Lasswell said, politics is "who gets what, when and how." It also concerns how we resolve moral conflicts that are sufficiently serious that they constitute a risk of social disruption - in which case commitment to a common process of arbitration or diplomacy tends to reduce violence - usually viewed as a key goal of civilization. Bernard Crick is a major theorist of this view and also of the idea that politics is itself simply "ethics done in public", where public institutions can agree, disagree, or intervene to achieve a desirable culmination or comprehensive (process) result.

In addition to government, journalists, religious groups, special interest groups, and economic systems and conditions may all have influence on decisions. Therefore, politics touches on all these subjects.

The word itself is coined from the Greek word for city, "Polis", hence the term 'Politics'. The first expression of what Politics means is found in Hesoid where it is quoted, "How would men best dwell in cities, and with what observances?". (1) Paraphrased, it would read, "How shall man order his ways?". For the Greeks, it was the application of reason to life. Politics is an ordering of society by reason of attainment to some goal; such as harmony among the social classes as in Athens under Solon, or business and commerce, or for war such as the Doric Communities of Crete and Sparta.

Authors of studies of politics have both reflected and influenced the political systems of the world. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince, an analysis of politics in a monarchy, in 1513, while living in a monarchy. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published "The Communist Manifesto" in 1848, a widely-read and highly influential pamphlet that formed the basis for Socialism and Communism throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Today, much study of politics focuses on democracies, and how their form affects the decisions they make.

Other lines of political inquiry attempt to answer philosophical questions such as;

These are ongoing debates that are millennia old.

As well as being influenced by these weighty matters, politics is also a social activity, and as such it is subject to the whims of fashion as any other.


(1) Hesoid, Loeb Classical Library, pg 581

Political science

Political scientists are academics who research the conduct of politics. They look at elections, public opinion, institutional activities (how legislatures act, the relative importance of various sources of political power etc), the ideologies behind various politicians and political organisations, how politicians achieve and wield their influence, and so on.

In American universities, the field of Political Science is divided into several subfields, typically American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Public Law, and Political Theory. Each subfield tends to overlap with other academic disciplines, such as philosophy, law, sociology, anthropology, and especially history.

Political systems and ideologies

Anarchism -- Anarcho-capitalism -- Anarcho-communism -- Anti-communism -- Authoritarianism -- Capitalism -- Classical definition of republic -- Classical liberalism -- Communism -- Conservatism -- Corporatocracy -- Democracy -- Democratic socialism -- Green -- Fascism -- Federalism -- Leftism -- Liberalism -- Libertarianism -- Libertarian socialism -- Marxism -- Meritocracy -- Minarchism -- Monarchy -- Nationalism -- National Socialism -- Oligarchy -- Post-Communism -- Radical centrism -- Republicanism -- Socialism -- Stalinism -- Totalitarianism -- Theocracy

Political entities

City -- City-state -- Confederation -- Country -- Empire -- Federation -- Government -- Nation state -- police state -- Prefecture -- Principality -- Province -- Republic -- State -- World Government

Major topics in political philosophy

Classical political theorists

Plato -- Aristotle -- Thucydides -- Cicero -- Saint Augustine -- Thomas Aquinas

Modern political theorists

Nicolo Machiavelli -- John Calvin -- Martin Luther -- Baruch Spinoza -- Jean Bodin -- Thomas Hobbes -- John Locke -- David Hume -- Adam Smith -- Jeremy Bentham -- the Federalist Papers -- Jean-Jacques Rousseau -- Immanuel Kant -- G.W.F. Hegel -- Johann Gottfried von Herder -- Alexis deTocqueville -- John Stuart Mill -- Karl Marx -- Friedrich Engels -- Max Weber -- Lenin

Contemporary political theorists

David Friedman -- Noam Chomsky -- John Rawls -- Jan Narveson -- David Gauthier -- Amartya Sen -- Jürgen Habermas -- James M. Buchanan -- Bernard Crick -- Michel Foucault -- Jane Jacobs -- Carol Moore -- Antonio Negri -- Robert Nozick -- Hannah Arendt -- Mohandas Gandhi -- Ayn Rand


International organization -- Corporate police state -- Crony capitalism -- European Union -- Police -- Propaganda -- U.S. Politics -- Political spectrum -- Political party-- Political economy -- Political parties of the world -- E-democracy -- Terrorism -- Political Compass -- Divide and conquer -- Political sociology -- Political education -- Civic education -- List of years in politics

See also

- For politics of a particular country, visit List of politics by country articles

- apolitical