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In Defence of “Politics”

09 May

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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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Core Thought, Education, Politics

 

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