Introduction to politics

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Presentation during the Politics and Development introduction session at the Global Citizens' College_ Global Platform Kenya

Introduction to politics

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION TO POLITICSCONCEPTIONS OF POLITICS GCC Spring 2 By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  2. 2. OUTLINEDEFINING POLITICS 1. Politics as the art of government 2. Politics as public affairs 3. Politics as compromise and consensus 4. Politics as power and the distribution of resources. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  3. 3. DIFFERENT CONCEPTIONS OF POLITICSPolitics As The Art Of Government• This is a state-centered view of politics. - Politics is what governments‖ or states‖ do.• It means that most people, most institutions and most social activities can be regarded as being outside politics.• Businesses, schools and other educational institutions, community groups, families and so on are in this sense nonpolitical. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  4. 4. The Cynic View of Politics• The implication of this state-centric conception of politics is that politics is thought of as a negative word.• It raises up images of trouble, disruption and even violence on the one hand, and deceit, manipulation and lies on the other. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  5. 5. The Cynic View of Politics“One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer,to be a politician, ready and willing to seepeople sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of anidea, whether a good one or a bad one”.- Henry Miller“The more you read and observe about thisPolitics thing, you got to admit that each party isworse than the other. The one thats out alwayslooks the best”. - Will Rogers By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  6. 6. Politics as Public Affairs• A second and broader conception of politics moves beyond the narrow realm of government.• Politics is thought of as public life or public affairs.• The distinction between the political and the nonpolitical corresponds with the division between an essentially public sphere of life and what can be thought of as a private sphere. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  7. 7. Aristotle • In Politics, Aristotle declared that “man is by nature a political animal” - He meant that it is only within a political community that human beings can live the good life. • From this viewpoint, then, politics is an ethical activity concerned with creating a just society.‖ By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  8. 8. One view of the public/private divide Public Private The State: Civil Society: apparatus of autonomous bodies: government Businesses, trade unions, clubs, families and so on By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  9. 9. An Alternative view of the public/private divide Public Private Public realm: Personal realm: Politics, commerce, Family and work, art, culture and domestic life son on. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  10. 10. Hannah Arendt• This conception of politics as something positive and public activity was firmly endorsed by - Hannah Arendt• She argued that politics is the most important form of human activity because it involves interaction amongst free and equal citizens.• It thus gives meaning to life and affirms the uniqueness of each individual. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  11. 11. Politics as Compromise and Consensus• The third conception of politics relates to the way in which decisions are made.• Politics is seen as a particular means of resolving conflict: that is, by compromise, conciliation and negotiation. –• Politics becomes the process of “conflict resolution.”• In this view, the key to politics is a wide dispersal of power. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  12. 12. • Accepting that conflict is inevitable and social groups possess and compete for power, they must be conciliated. James Madison “There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects….The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects” . By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  13. 13. Politics as power and the distribution of resources.Politics as Power• The fourth definition of politics is both the broadest and the most radical.• Rather than confining politics to a particular sphere; - this view sees politics at work in all social activities and in every corner of human existence.• In this sense, politics takes place at every level of social interaction. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  14. 14. • It can be found within families and amongst small groups of friends just as much as amongst nations and on the global stage.Distribution of Power and Resources• At its broadest, politics concerns the production, distribution and use of resources in the course of social existence.• At its broadest, politics concerns the production, distribution and use of resources in the course of social existence. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  15. 15. • Politics is, in essence, power: the ability to achieve a desired outcome, through whatever means.• From this perspective, politics is about diversity and conflict.• The essential ingredient is the existence of scarcity…• Politics can therefore be seen as a struggle over scarce resources, and power can be seen as the means through which this struggle is conducted By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  16. 16. CONCLUSION The inescapable presence of diversity andscarcity ensures that politics is an inevitable feature of the human condition. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  17. 17. Overview ofPolitical Ideologies By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  18. 18. OUTLINEA. Ideologies • Liberalism • Conservatism • Socialism • CommunismB. Right-wing and left-wing politics • Historical origin of the terms • Practice • Spectrum By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  19. 19. What is a political ideology?• A coherent set of ideas of on how people should live together• A plan of action for applying these ideasHow it is applicable in four key functions; • Explanatory • Evaluative • Orientation • Programmatic By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  20. 20. Four key functions 1. Explanatory: How the world Works - Empirical 2. Evaluative: Deciding whether things are good or bad – Normative 3. Orientation: Supplies the holder with a sense of identity 4. Programmatic: What to do and how to do it By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  21. 21. Foundational DisputesHuman Nature• ‘Naturally’ good, cooperative, even perfectible• Inherently flawed, evil, dangerousIndividual versus Collective• A normative choice with empirical implications Conception of Freedom• Freedom as an ‘essentially contested concept’• ‘Freedom from…’ versus ‘Freedom to…’ By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  22. 22. I. Liberalism • Desire for a free, open, tolerant society • Humans as rational and able to recognize and promote self-interest • Liberty and equality of opportunity • Classical Liberalism versus Modern (Welfare) Liberalism By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  23. 23. Liberalism’s ‘Four Functions’Explanatory:• Social conditions are the result of individual choices and actionsEvaluative:• Societies work best when individuals are free to do as they wish without harming or violating rights of othersOrientation:• Rational, self-interested individualsProgrammatic:• programs for promoting individual liberty and opportunity By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  24. 24. II. Conservatism • Human imperfection • Focused on conserving existing social order • Custom and tradition as ‘latent wisdom’ • Organic view of society • Acceptance of inequality • Freedom and order By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  25. 25. Conservatism’s ‘Four Functions’Explanatory:• Social conditions are the result of human imperfections (intellectual and moral)Evaluative:• Success is a question of social order and harmonyOrientation:• Each of us is part of a greater whole, and we should act with interest of society (not just self) in mindProgrammatic:• Slow and cautious change By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  26. 26. III. SocialismFlaws of Liberalism• Individualism and Social Class• Economics and Political PowerEconomic Equality as ‘True Equality’Economic Planning and the Welfare State By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  27. 27. Socialism’s ‘Four Functions’Explanatory:• Social conditions can only be understood by reference to economic and class relationsEvaluative:• Sharpness of economic divisions (exploitive?) determines health of societyOrientation:• People should think of themselves in terms of their economic (class) positionProgrammatic:• Policies must be put into place to advance economic equality By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  28. 28. IV. CommunismHistorical Materialism• Economic (material) foundation of social change• Class conflict as engine of historyHistorical progression• Primitive Communism Slave-based Empires• Feudalism Capitalism CommunismInherent contradictions• Capitalism, profit and exploitation• Revolution By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  29. 29. Communism’s ‘Four Functions’Explanatory:• Social conditions determined by economic and class relationsEvaluative:• Sharpness of class divisions determines ‘stage of development’Orientation:• People should think of themselves in terms of their class positionProgrammatic:• Policies must be put into place to advance movement toward communist revolution and ‘classless society’ By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  30. 30. Right – Wing vs Left – Wing Politics Spectrum By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  31. 31. Historical origin of the terms• The terms Right and Left refer to political affiliation which originated early in the French Revolutionary era of 1789 – 1896• The seating arrangement in the French parliament – 18th century Socio-political system which existed in most of Europe during the 18th century Countries were ruled by absolutism – the monarch had absolute control over the government Classes of people – privileged and unprivileged Unprivileged people – paid taxes and treated badly Privileged people – did not pay taxes and treated well By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  32. 32. • The meaning of left-wing and right-wing varies considerably between different countries and at different times• Generally, the right wing often values tradition while the left wing often values reform and classlessness,• with the center seeking a balance between the two such as with social democracy or regulated capitalism. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  33. 33. Radical Liberal Moderate Conservative ReactionaryLeft Right By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  34. 34. Left of ModerateLiberal• Believe that the government should actively promote social reform to increase individuals’ well being.• Favor change but work peacefully within the existing political system. (Democrats, Green Party - US) By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  35. 35. Right Side of ModerateConservative• Government should stay out of the lives of citizens and businesses, except on moral issues.• Favor the status quo, (the way things are). Hesitant to change.• Will work peacefully within the existing political system. By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College
  36. 36. Liberals Change Conservatives Tradition Problems are circumstantial Problems are individual Gov’t is responsible for social reform Gov’t needs to be less involved Freedom – personal choices Equality–fairness–level the playing field Human rights Property rights Moral Principles Relative Values By Joseph Ochieng Okumu: Global Citizens’ College

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