Politics is basically the set of political activities which are related with making important decisions in groups, class, or socio-economic stature, like the distribution of wealth or political status among people. Politics has been with us for as long as we’ve been inhabiting this world. It has shaped nearly every aspect of our lives, from what we call politics, national leadership, international diplomacy, and even the way we interact with each other on a daily basis. Thus, it is one of the most important philosophies, as well as one of the most perplexing.
Politics as a philosophy dates back to the earliest of times. Descartes, in his book Principles of Politics, condensed and wrote down the basic ideas of the political thought of all other philosophers. He brought to light the hidden assumptions and the biases of those who created politics as a philosophy. The most significant contribution made by Descartes to the field of politics is his claim that, in essence, politics is a war between liberal idealists.
Politics as a philosophy was further developed by Locke, from whom it inherited many of its ideas. In his Essay on Criticism and Essay on Man, Locke discussed various topics, like politics, ethics, and laws. But perhaps his most influential work, concerning politics, is his Treatise of Laws. Locke argued for a separation of political authority and political integrity, arguing that political authority can be corrupted easily. Furthermore, Locke maintained that all men have a right to be absolutely free and not be subject to any form of compulsion.
Though these were the dominant political philosophies throughout the history of the development of politics, some scholars feel that political systems are extremely diverse. This allows for the presence of various political parties. Political parties are the institutions and ideologies that support specific political organizations. They are usually based on common membership and common support among members, but do not include common citizens or even leaders of political parties. These various political parties develop and influence politics and public policy through their representation of ideas and beliefs in politics.
A major part of politics is ideas, which are translated into policies and action through party platforms and government policies. Politics and party discourses are also heavily involved in the shaping of public opinion. Political discussions, debates, and polemic are the venues for robust debates about politics. And, most importantly, politics is an active process, which requires constant feedback and adjustments on a continuously evolving basis.
Politics as a philosophy also includes different approaches to politics. Different philosophers and political scientists have offered different insights on politics. Some of these philosophers include Rawls, Plato, Machiavelli, and political theorists such as Dewey’s and Hilary Swift. These different approaches to politics emerged from different cultural, ethical, and psychological needs. These various philosophies provide an account of politics that is deeply informed by the existence and desires of people.
Politics as a philosophy has been criticized on at least two different counts. The first comes from conservative scholars who question the value of politics as a philosophical discipline. Arguing that politics is too diffuse and complex to be the primary model of social interaction, they argue that such a model leads to false assumptions and consequently to political incoherence. For these reasons, politics as a philosophy is not well-defined and can vary according to each individual’s situation and interest. Furthermore, liberal and democratic philosophers who support the existence of politics as a fundamental concept of society deny its exclusive status as a philosophy of politics.
According to some political philosophers, politics is necessary as a human need, because without politics, different types of social organization would not exist. Politics as a public project therefore has both public and private aspects. It is an interaction among groups to establish their own interests and to pursue their power and authority in the society.