Understanding Politics


Political science is where all sciences converge, which makes it a complex and messy field of knowledge where many aspects of life are interconnected, requiring great "management." To lessen political chaos, we simplify politics.

Consider the natural/historical/social/technological context. The politics of a country or the world is mostly decided by its geography and illustrated by its history (space & time), that you must know some basics of first (two essays on which are better than tens of rambling complex political analyses or news stories). Any other science/technology/field of knowledge only affects politics' speed. For example, world politics can shift by a new invention/discovery, climate change, growing social movement, etc.

Look at the larger picture then examine the details, move from the general to the specific, then vice versa, constantly, to remain "simple & motivated." This necessitates considering foreign politics before home politics; countries before regions/towns/districts; state before organizations; and groups before individuals. Treat whole "countries" just like

  • different body parts within humanity's body trying to work in harmony together;
  • different individuals living together;
  • small coexistent towns; etc.

Like physics, power is the key to politics, soft or hard power, known or hidden, that you must track well to know who is behind political changes: a military/economic/technological/cultural power, a powerful minority/ruling family, a powerful city/region, a powerful foreign country supporting/influencing another, etc.

Break it down to the individual, the smallest political unit, and his/her self-interest, the instinct deciding the behavior of every human, animal or object, from electrons to galaxies. Self-interest, of a citizen/group/party/country, precedes any other motives (emotional/social/cultural/historical) even when other motives reflect/guide/support self-interest. Thus true self-interest is "deep, long & comprehensive", focusing on "priorities": concerned with security before prosperity, future fate before past achievements, and wholes before parts, for the good of "most" if not all citizens/countries and fitting their priorities.

Because of such priorities, politics is a relative, changing and never perfect game, seeking temporary compromises, alternative plans and secondary choices, to gradually reach one's GOAL. It's why there is a gap between politicians' words and actions, and politicians' notoriety for lying, evasiveness, and unconventional or unethical practices. When ruling a large population, it's difficult to satisfy everyone. Some politicians would even "sacrifice" some citizens, which is obviously a crime, out of ignorance, negligence, or power greed that afflicts many politicians.

Since self-interest is never complete alone, we seek mutual interest with others, best achieved by the golden rule, living and letting others live. To understand them, put yourself in the shoes of other citizens/politicians/minorities/classes/countries/etc. using empathy, the glue of society, as your guide. "Imagine" being somebody else.

Some individuals/countries are better in diplomacy than others, because of necessities/circumstances, nature/location/history, accumulating ages of experience making them good mediators and advocates of their and others' causes. Conversely, the more isolated, nascent, or just self-sufficient they are, the less politically experienced. Like "sociability," diplomacy needs strong motives and experience, not just social skills, to gain credibility & others' trust. Good diplomacy requires a country/politician to do the following:

  • Learn enough about others.
  • Gain all parties whenever possible, as EVERYONE has something good to benefit from. Even those one disagrees with can be avoided partially/temporarily, and if asked for response, one should favor silence/neutrality/showing sorrow for present status, wish for future improvement, and appreciation of other/past qualities.
  • Indirectly influence a difficult second party through an easier third one, and a difficult third one through an easier fourth one, etc. Gradually prepare others for any drastic/difficult moves.
  • Always favor peace over quarrel, thoroughly exhausting all peaceful means first. Thus a good diplomat is preferably "calm" and patient. Only a last resort is confrontation, with a real unstoppable danger, in self-defense against a real unstoppable enemy. Still, this has a high cost and a lasting/irremovable effect sometimes. (It's easy to throw a stone and disturb quiet waters in a second, but it takes long to go back to normal.)
  • Favor clean politics over dirty politics, the latter used by some politicians/countries for short-term gains despite its eventual damage, knowingly or ignorantly assuming to hide it forever or while in office. Seeking order/power/interest doesn't justify dirty politics (greed/oppression/treason/etc.); rather, only in self-defense against a real imminent threat conventional ethics are left aside—again, after all peaceful means exhausted.
  • Realpolitik or practical politics is not the same as dirty politics. It has a superior/different/further goal that some, esp. outsiders, may temporarily/externally see as unethical, although it's not.

As it is a vast labyrinthine realm, politics requires many specialties and specialists. Politically "experienced" countries assign different committees, research centers, and even colleges with different political specialties: home/foreign politics schools, centers for regional/international studies, and governmental committees (of scholars & politicians), each focusing on a single country/region/purpose only.

As for politicians' work itself, it should be coordinated rather than letting each politician act alone, away from other politicians, consultants, and people affected by their decisions. For instance, all country's foreign missions abroad should be connected with the leadership at home. They should even be connected with one another, esp. those serving in foreign countries more related together (e.g. a group of countries geographically/politically close).

Politics is all about leadership, management & order. In any society, leadership is a hierarchy, where leaders are at the upper strata and subordinates below (e.g. the head of state is at the uppermost stratum). The more organized, advanced and democratic a society is, the more stable the hierarchy.

  • In undemocratic or disorganized societies, a higher stratum could be broader or heavier than the one below, which makes the hierarchy unstable and disproportionate. 
  • The more technological and less bureaucratic a society is, the less strata it needs and faster it progresses. It has more equality and a large middle class, whose members are easily integrated into the different political strata. It governs smoothly and peacefully, as its politics favors peace and diplomacy.

Technology will replace politics eventually, organizing life more justly and efficiently, because as long as every citizen is represented by someone else to defend their rights, there will always be instinctive bias. Nobody should rule anybody; law should. Also, it's impossible for politics to consider all rights for all citizens. All political systems are flawed, in different degrees.

Yet, politics is a necessity. It is the order we need to face chaos with, at least to feel secure. We need it for life, like food that symbolizes life, to get our Required Daily Intake from. Everyone is involved in politics, voluntarily or not, for there is no ruler without subjects (although not everyone needs to be a professional chef, crammed with others into stuffy political kitchen). We all indirectly shape politics, by doing much/little/nothing: studying, working, arguing ... or just living. Political or apolitical, politics is part of "you"—the basic political unit—whether you campaign for/against, participate/boycott, applaud/criticize a writer or guest on TV, etc.

Choosing to be apolitical and ignore politics is to accept being meekly led and controlled by politicians without resisting or arguing. In its essence, politics is the knowledge and practice of one's rights, which is why a totalitarian regime intentionally depoliticizes citizens, equally by oppression and diversion (by excessive/addictive religion, work, sport, art, sex, jingoism, sectarianism, reward/bribe, false/superficial politics/ethics, or any obsession).

If a country is politically advanced, then "all" other aspects of life there should be relatively advanced; but it's not the other way around: a country can be politically backward, yet advanced in "some" aspects of life. Democracy doesn't reflect good politics, except in a utopia or a future government where people "fully" rule themselves, which is impossible at present because we always need others to represent us. Rather, gradual democracy should be applied, according to the level of education, intelligence, laws and technology available, to fairly represent the people. Since people are not all intellectually mature or equal to decide for themselves, partial democracy is needed too. Elitism is good for the time being, reflecting the elitism (selection) of Nature that makes people born unequal, something we can't change much at present.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Politics

Democracy Abuse

Foreign Alliances

Patriotism Benefits

Empathy's Power