What is Politics?

Topics: Political philosophy, Sovereignty, Liberalism Pages: 5 (1423 words) Published: October 9, 2014

What is politics? Struggle for power and leadership that gives an individual or a group the ability to make authoritative decisions for the public as a whole, for society. The interaction of people, ideas and institutions, i.e. it provides the focus for understanding how values are allocated and resources distributed.

The State: a geographic territory with internationally recognized boundaries an identifiable population that lives within these boundaries a recognized government

many argue it is impossible to define it
Weber: state is an institution claiming ‘monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in enforcing its order within a given territorial area’

All states have sovereignty: (Jean Bodin, William Blackstone) - the highest form of authority in a particular territory
The ability to act within a territory, independently from internal or external rivals. Internal: supreme authority domestically
External: independence internationally
- de jure sovereignty: a legal right to rule supremely
- facto sovereignty: actual distribution of political power

Government: Leadership that runs the state.

States differ based on
1. Territorial organization

Unitary: Most power at the national level, little regional authority. Federal: Significant power given to regional bodies by constitution.

2. Ethnic Composition

Nation state: Correspondence between state and nation: population bound by a shared territory, history, culture, common legal rights and duties for all citizens. Often associated with ethnic groups:

1. Homogenous - state with one ethnic group
2. Heterogeneous - state with several ethnic groups

3. Strength

Size: geographic spread, population. Ex: China vs. Monaco
Strength of the economy: Germany vs. Slovenia
Military might: USA vs. Iraq
Robustness of state institutions: Extent to which they can withstand pressure from society and they can effectively implement decisions. Russia vs. USA Legitimacy: Consent to rule on the part of the people. Ex: lack of legitimacy: communist regimes in EE and USSR

Legitimacy is rooted in: Traditional authority: traditional customs and values
Charismatic authority: personality
Rational-legal authority: system of collectively agreed rules

Is the state as important today as it used to be? Globalization has rendered the world economically and politically interdependent to the point that there is little room left for nations - states. Multinational corporations and supranational institutions determine much of the economic policies of individual states. The state was always criticized by anarchists (useless and immortal limitation on individual freedom) and Marxists (Instrument of oppression)

Chapter 1
State = difficult to define
A classic example of an essentially contests concept (Gallie) Is not a suitable concept for political theory, since it’s impossible to define it (Hoffman + Graham)
An institution claiming a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in enforcing its order within a given territorial area (Weber) Inextricably linked with sovereignty

This concept developed by: Jean Bodin (FRA) political philosopher William Blackstone (UK) jurist

Highest form of authority in a particular theory

Somalia = the state is unable to perform the functions of sovereignty

1. Night-watchman State – the state concentrates on ensuring external and internal security, playing little role in civil society, economic market is...
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