Many people hold contrasting views on the nature of politics. Politics can exist on many different levels. It can concern disputes within the workplace and home, to the way in which a state is run. Politics refers to the power struggles in government down to the small influences among peers. The Oxford Concise Dictionary states that politics is ‘The art and science of government, a particular set of ideas, principles or commitments.’ This is a sweeping definition that covers two key strands of thought as identified by Oakeshott and Crick.
Michael Oakeshott, who is a modern philosopher, believes that politics is merely the organisation of the running of the state, which implies doing whatever is necessary to promote the wellbeing of the people. This leaves room for all types of rule such as totalitarian, democratic or theocratic. Oakeshott believes that the process and structure of politics is more important than the ideas behind it.
Professor Bernard Crick believes that politics is a peaceful resolution of conflict.
Disputes in ideas and Interests are solved through organised and legal methods that have been agreed beforehand. This then suggests that the opposite is some form of violence. This may be civil war, a form of armed conflict or Revolution. He believes the process by which politics is ruled cannot exist without the ideas and values behind it. These are ideas such as capitalism, socialism and fascism.
The famous leader Mao Tse-tung has ideas on politics which coincide with both these views.
He once said that ‘Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.’ Mao Tse-tung is saying that war and politics are the same thing, however politics can be without fighting. He is saying that there are two approaches to politics one is with blood being shed and the other is through peaceful means, which will solve the dispute fairly and democratically. War is a battle of ideas between different parties. An example of this is the English civil war, which was between parliamentarians and monarchists. Mao Tse-tung feels you should do whatever it takes to secure political power as this quote shows ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’ Mao Tse-tung believes that violence should be used when it comes to securing power.
I think that politics is a fact of life. Some people will see a positive side to it and believe it is about building a better society, this may mean making it safer for the next generation, more equalitarian and a richer country and economy. It concerns the maintenance of law and order and the process that allocates scare resources, such as money, between different groups. Others may see the cynical side of politics the corruption and dirty tricks. Politicians may only get into politics to further there own wealth and success rather than the success of the country. These conflicting views demonstrate that there is not one simple answer to the nature of politics. You can look at it broadly as the manner in which a state is run, or as conflicts in interests. The disputes politics encounters can be resolved peacefully or by using violence. Politics is about Power and who has it.