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What is politics?

We explain what politics is, its conceptions and how this form of power emerged. Also, what is a political system and some examples.

  1. What is politics?

Politics, from ancient civilizations to modernity, is that main axis where government decisions are articulated . The definition of what politics is has been the subject of debate for countless intellectuals and political theorists, and yet there is no total agreement on what politics is.

As for the etymological origin of the word, the political word comes from the Latin politicus  and the Greek  politiká . From this we can deduce its relationship with the term «Polis», related to citizen life .

The policy itself is an activity of a limited group that makes the decisions to conclude with a series of objectives . Likewise, we can define politics as one of the many possible ways to exercise power in order to mediate the differences between peers in terms of interests in a particular society. It is in the fifth century BC that Aristotle popularized the term by developing a work called ” Politics .”

The term political is a very broad term, since we can talk about politics in a strict sense (that is, applied to governments and nations) or we can even talk about business, institutional policies, etc.

In its strict sense, we can say that politics is the set of decisions and measures taken by certain groups that hold power in order to organize a particular society or group. Many authors define politics as the “exercise of power.”

There are different branches that derive from politics as such, be it political science, political philosophy, political economy, among many others. A distinction is made between the people who exercise the policy (political officials) and those who are responsible for its study, its implications and consequences.

  1. Other conceptions of politics

Max Weber - Politics
Max Weber defined politics as a struggle to stop the exercise of power.
  • Max Weber :  One of the best-known and blunt definitions of the political term was given by the German sociologist Max Weber, defining it as one that is characterized by a struggle between people or groups to hold the exercise of power. If the State is one that holds the use of legitimate violence, politics is the struggle for power as such.
  • Antonio Gramsci :  Another author who is in a line similar to Weber is Antonio Gramsci (although with profound ideological differences, since the former defined himself as liberal while Gramsci was one of the most brilliant intellectuals who contributed Marxism ), understanding politics like that decision making by the government and parliamentary groupings dedicated to politics, and ultimately dedicated to coercion. Therefore, politics is outside the masses, limited to the bureaucratic and partisan sphere.
  1. How does politics come about?

When we talk about the beginning of what we know today as politics, we must go back to the Neolithic period , in which society began to organize in a hierarchical way and some individuals obtained a power over the rest.

At the beginning of the story , the power was in the hands of those who possessed greater physical strength or those considered the wise of the group.

Various positions are raised with respect to the origin of this term but it is possible to affirm that many theorists argue that the type of organization detailed above is a clear example of a form of policy, which is why, in this case it is argued that politics It is as old as humanity itself .

Currently, the specialized discipline in the study of political activities is called political science and the professionals of this science are called political scientists and people who hold positions in the State or aspire to one of them are defined as politicians.

Political science deals with how a government acts in pursuit of social or economic issues , such as education policy, security policy, salary policy, housing policy or why not environmental policy and endless examples.

  1. Political systems

A political system is a set of institutions, usually under the command of one or more political parties , which are responsible for the direction of a government. Political systems can be of many types.

One of the oldest political systems is the monarchical systems, where the entire system is monopolized by a monarch who usually exercises power in the name of some superior god or entity. This was the hegemonic system during the Middle Ages and much of Antiquity.

With the fall of feudalism and the explanation of God as the center of all things, the society of the time faced a crossroads. The discoveries of physics achieved by Isaac Newton and Copernicus, and even the advances made by Descartes in philosophy , showed the world the possibility of putting man in the center of the world , as the only entity to be legitimized. Therefore, a political system was necessary where authority was found in men and not in God.

Given this, a generation of philosophers and intellectuals who today are known as naturalists, emphasized the need to build states based on the pact of free men . Authors such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Rousseau are clear exponents of this tradition.

It was Rousseau who fulfilled a more prominent role in the formation of democratic and republican thought due to his influence on the French Revolution of the year 1789, with his ideas of republic and citizen participation. This French author saw the importance of politics, and how it should not be subject to the authority of the king, but that politics had to be a matter of the people and for the people . Going through a representative system, these ideas found their maximum expression in the French Revolution and in the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

This was undoubtedly a decisive step in politics, as the Greek democratic system deepened, laying the foundations for the development of the nation states we know today.

  1. Some examples of political systems

Politics - Communism
Today, Cuba is the country that has a communist system.

We can group political systems based on their position with respect to their representative system, their position vis-à-vis the economy , among many others.

The most widespread political system on the world, especially in the western hemisphere, the democratic – republican system (with all its variants, whether parliamentary, representative, etc.). The democracies fall within liberal models , as opposed to other systems such as Autocracies, the anarchies , among many others.

A clear example of the non-democratic and liberal political system that we find today is Cuba, which has a communist system , applied at an economic, political and social level. This type of political systems is known as socialism .

Authoritarian governments are political systems that are characterized by the suppression of individual freedoms, mainly that of expression and representation. All political activity is concentrated in the hands of a single party , characterized mainly by a despotic dye. This type of political system is known as the authoritarian system, typical of the twentieth century, such as the Nazi regime, or the Spain of Franco.

  1. Political ideologies

When referring to political ideologies it is possible to make a division into two groups that will be detailed below:

  • Left politics :  Such as socialism or communism that primarily seek social equality.
  • Right-wing policies :  As is liberalism and conservatism, which respect the right to private property and the free market.
  1. Business policies

Business policies refer to the set of guidelines that a company or an institution takes , which are generally under the same line of thinking. An example of a business policy can be the care of the environment , or the satisfaction and care of the consumer.

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