What is politics?

The word Politics is derived from Greek word ‘polis’ which means city-states. So in ancient Greece whatever concern city states (polis) was Politics and in modern time whatever concern modern state is Politics. Most established definition of Politics is “the activity through which people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live.”

Diversity and scarcity are the twin facts of the society. In such society people have different opinions, different needs, different preferences, different wants, different choices, different interests, etc. Hence conflicts are inevitable. On the other hand people are also aware about importance of cooperation. (As noted by Hannah Arendt’s political power is ‘acting in concert.’). By this view, Politics in a broader sense is ‘conflict resolution’. But all conflicts can not be resolved. Hence we can define Politics as being ‘in the search of conflict resolution’.

While understanding the concept of Politics we have to understand following aspects:

1) Some scholar present politics as an ‘art of government’. Like, David Eston called politics as ‘authoritative allocation of values’, by which he means binding decision made by government. This view includes Politics as the study of structures, institutions and government apparatus only. Here politics is essentially state bound activity.

2) Other chunk of scholars present Politics as specifically public activity where it is associated with conduct and management of community affairs. They are concern with mainly with political community where ‘the good life’ can be achieved rather than private or individual concerns.

3) Some people separates military solutions from that of political solutions. Military solutions include use of naked power and arbitration. While political power is highly prescribing deliberations and discussions. So, according to this view Politics is seen as a mean of resolving conflict by compromise, conciliation and negotiation. Thats why they called Politics as ‘art of possible’.

4) According to fourth aspect, Politics is associated with production, distribution and use of resources. In this view ‘Politics is about Power’. As Herold Lasswell correctly pointed out ‘Politics is who gets What, When and How?’ Feminists and Marxists prescribe to this view.

*Many people consider Politics as a negatively loaded and manipulative term. But with this malign opinion we can not understand true nature of Politics.