Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What is politics?

A huge, ages-old question, of course, and one I'm not trying to answer thoroughly here.  But I do want to share an interesting article by Aaron Ross Powell, a research fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of the Libertarian.org website.  Here's part of his tentative answer:
...politics is what you get when you modify public discourse and group decision making by adding “and the winners get to use violence to enforce their will.” When the decision makers conclude, for instance, that raw milk is harmful, and then use violence to prevent people from drinking it, that’s politics. When businesses, threatened by competition, convince politicians to enact laws against their competitors—laws back by violence—that’s politics.
It’s violence–or, more often, the threat of violence–that sets politics apart, making it fundamentally different from other modes of social interaction. So when I say we should limit or abandon politics, I mean we should limit the presence of violence in our interactions with others.
His is a thoughtful and well-reasoned article, and certainly worth your time. Also, in the above article, Powell links to two other articles of his examining the nature of politics; those two are also well worth reading.