[extropy-chat] Re: A view of what politics is

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Sun Oct 16 01:56:24 UTC 2005

Jack Parkinson wrote:

>> On 10/14/05, Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
>> >
>> > Jeff Allbright wrote:
>> >
>> >    I suggested that we think of politics as "social decision-making
>> > > applied to groups, expecially with respect to methods of influence
> within
>> > > those processes."
>> > > I'm getting stuck with phrase "social decision-making".
>> > > I'm wondering if it is an oxymoron.
> I posted this before - I still think the best definition of politics is: 
> The
> relationships between groups! At any level - from office factions to
> negotiations between superpowers. Politics is only incidentally social
> decision making. it is wholly about interacting communities.

I had meant to leave this topic and list alone for a bit but I'm weak.

For definitions dictionarys aren't bad places to start. But if we want
to understand politics better we need more than dictionary definitions
we need to start to develop our own political theory.

I think what I have been doing is expound, in a sort of half arse
way that I should have more sense about, a political theory.

Might be worth bearing in mind a theory and a definition are
a bit different.

With respect to your offered best definition that politics is
"The relationships between groups" I'm left with the sense
that what I want to know is what you mean by "relationships".

I wonder what you'd think a politician was, as a politician
is normally an individual not a group.

I wonder whether you think a person approaching others
to persuade them to some cause is a politician.

Perhaps this is the problem with trying to use definitions as
theories. One ends up not having enough explanatory power
in the theory and a lot of other people have their own theories
and will see problems with a definition that seems to omit the
part of their political theory that seems good to them.

Here's my last tip on this topic for a bit. Work out whether
what one wants is merely a definition. Something to start
to have a discussion with. Or a theory.

I initially baulked at a post Natasha posted because she
seemed to me to be using a word, politics, in a way that
clashed with my theory of politics and that was why I
wanted to get her to define it.

Later offlist, quite reasonably, she asked me for my
definition and I responded with a sort of half baked
theory not a definition.

Brett Paatsch 

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