In Defence of Politics.

A guest post from Chris Snuggs.

Regular readers of Learning from Dogs will know that Chris often pops up on these pages. Most recently with Now this is a dog! and before that with Reflections on pain and peace.

I first met Chris many years ago when he was working for a French educational college with the name of ISUGA, based in Quimper, France. As a result of being introduced to Chris, I had the very good fortune of becoming a guest teacher at ISUGA.

Classroom picture taken at ISUGA.
Classroom picture taken at ISUGA.

Anyway, Chris has his own blog Nemo Insular Est. If the title doesn’t immediately say very much to you, try Chris’ sub-title: Truth, Justice, Sanity & Brotherhood.

Thus it is with great pleasure I offer this guest post from Chris.

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In Defence of “Politics”

by Chris Snuggs.

The most depressing thing I ever heard at school was: “I’m not interested in politics.” Even at the age of 10, this seemed to me bizarre, for politics is at the heart of everything. It decides what we can eat, how much money we have, what sort of shelter we have, health, education, defence, what it takes to get locked up, EVERYTHING – including in the USA of course gun control …….

“Politics” completely arranges the environment of our existence, within which we can be individuals and lead some kind of “private life”, but nothing can function in a civilised manner without politics.

There is only one circumstance I can imagine when the statement: “I’m not interested in politics.” might possibly be justified, and that is if you lived in a society where everything was perfect: no injustice, hunger, or discomfort; excellent health, education, shelter and sustenance in a peaceful environment with nothing to worry about ….

There remains a niggling doubt about whether such a society would be just a teensy bit boring. However, the point is, has there ever been one? Does anyone KNOW one? Are they accepting immigrants?

If we accept that politics decides everything, then there are certain conclusions to be drawn. If it is so fundamentally important, is it not then legitimate to oblige everyone to vote, as they do in Australia for example? Then again, is it acceptable that we so easily tolerate as “democracy” elections where only 30% of eligible voters actually vote? And is it acceptable that the teaching of “politics” and all it involves holds such little place in our schools?

I would say “NO!!” And in fact, the study of politics involves so many branches of knowledge. You can’t (or shouldn’t) be taught “politics” without teaching psychology. Why is X saying that? What are his motivations? What is the psychology of voting groups. Or without studying logic, so as to recognize false arguments, of which there is no lack. You need to study what evidence is, since a political policy should be based on evidence, not fantasy or demagoguery.

In fact, just as politics decides everything then a study of politics involves just about every branch of knowledge, too. You cannot vote sensibly for party X which wants to build zillions of windfarms or go full-steam ahead on shale-fracking if you don’t have a reasonable understanding of the science, and of course environmental consequences. You can’t sensibly vote for or against grammar schools without a sound knowledge of the social and psychological rationale behind them or indeed of their history. The same applies to religion of course, and almost any other area you care to mention.

No, politics as a subject of study, discussion and involvement is vastly undervalued in our society. And the fact that politicians are often venal and incompetent liars is not a reason to be LESS interested in politics but a compelling reason to be MORE involved!! If you don’t get informed and involved, the politicians will do it THEIR way, and you have to ask yourself one final question: Do you REALLY trust them to do it in YOUR interests?

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(Sorry about the late delivery!)

11 thoughts on “In Defence of Politics.

  1. I looked at the definitions of politics which roughly is:

    “theory and practice of influencing people on a civic or individual level.”

    Which might be alike to how to be a good salesperson of ideas. Added to this is the common practice of being a good salesperson of ideas for personal gain. Thus there is a good reason for contempt of politics and politicians as they are akin to a used car salesperson.

    Democracy has been reduced to the level of sales pitches, all which are as authentic as a commercial that promises you every person will find you sexy if you buy a certain brand of ice cream. I reject any argument for politicians and politics, they are held in contempt for good reason.

    What people want are stewards not political salespeople. If the purpose of the State is for the benefit of the people then it needs only Stewards to run effective processes of good government. Processes can be created that work, which then become tradition, with only minor changes to keep them effective with changes in circumstances such as climate, there is no need to sell an idea, rather run a good process. The effective steward is a boring steward, they are invisible, you however know they are doing a good job because everything works.

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    1. Well as a business-to-business salesman for the majority of my working life, I sense me wanting to distance myself from your view of ‘sales pitches’! 😉 A professional salesman can’t achieve anything without taking time and effort to understand the ‘needs’ of the client.

      But putting that to one side, I hear in your reply a rejection of politics when you say “What people want are stewards not political salespeople.” While that might be the ideal, it stands little chance of ever being a reality and for the foreseeable future we are going to live and grow up in some variety of a ‘democratic’ system. (See Chris’ third paragraph.)

      I profess to not knowing the answers although my instinct is that steadily moving towards much greater transparency of who ‘owns’ whom would be a good step forwards.

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      1. There is a saying I like to sometimes quote “let them who be chief be a bridge to their people.” The State is not a business, it is a social contract between a group of individuals run for the benefit of the group. The Stewards are the administrators of the social contract running it for the benefit of the people. The Steward is a servant rather than a self serving merchant.

        There is nothing wrong with being a salesperson, it is a role I undertake daily in running my business. In the matter of the State it is not the role of either merchants or salespeople to be involved, this is why the people suffer.

        I dislike politics and politicians because they are acting against the purpose of what the State is and of Stewardship. For this reason other than voting and assisting in certain situations locally in Colchester I will have nothing to do with politics.

        You are right that this political system will prevail… for now, but it sows the seeds of poverty and ruin which will bring the whole world to war in the coming years.

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  2. Yes, voting in Australia is mandatory. However, as Australia will probably demonstrate later this year, compelling people to vote achieves little unless they can tell the difference between a modern day scientific consensus and a business-led campaign to obfuscate the nature of reality.

    Much of the climate change scepticism in Australia can be traced back to the free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a prominent news source and intellectual role model for conservative politicians, industry magnates, religious leaders and opinion makers in the media.
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/think-tank-a-false-climate-prophet-20130616-2oc48.html

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  3. In reply to your paragraph.. “”There is only one circumstance I can imagine when the statement: “I’m not interested in politics.” might possibly be justified, and that is if you lived in a society where everything was perfect: no injustice, hunger, or discomfort; excellent health, education, shelter and sustenance in a peaceful environment with nothing to worry about ….””

    Everyone should be interested in politics.. and I get so annoyed with people who moan about particular parties and conditions we are in and then say they never vote.. Voting is the opportunity to voice your choices .. Now whether those choices are represented once in power is another matter.. as often the lure to get votes often is then forgotten once in power!.. That annoys even more LOL>.

    But I think of those places around the world who have no choice. would they prefer dictators in power? I think not..

    just kicked my soapbox.. 🙂

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      1. LOL…. sorry about the Mess I leave behind Paul…but Being as My visits are sporadic.. I like to see where I’ve been! LOL… Hope you and Jean are having a good morning.. And we HAVE SUN!.. and a new Wimbledon Champion! to Boot… 🙂
        happy days ~Sue

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