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Re: What is Politics, anyway?

Poster: Lance Harrop <lharrop@mrj.com>

Lord Jonathan replies lengthily:

> Which raises the interesting question, is any issue inherently political?

>      [Show me two people or more and I'll show you politics.  Simply put,
>      even if everybody agrees on a question, there's a reason they agree;
>      it's highly unlikely that three or more people can agree on
>      *everything* *all the time*.]

Unless I'm mistaken, you've just defined "political question" as an issue
where people hold opposing views.  Or should I say, that politics cuts 
away the agreement and consensus on an issue until only the difference
of viewpoints remain.

> Perhaps questions only become political when they ONE: cause the
> fractionalization of a social entity, and TWO: are decided by institutions
> which govern some activity of that entity, and THREE: hide within the
> question some motivation, or suspicion of motivation, not directly
> applicable to the question.

>      [By that definition, the only questions that aren't political are
>      those asked by a single person to himself.  Because when you ask a
>      question, well, it's like the old joke that says it takes two of
>      anything before you need names.  If there were no doubt about an
>      issue, the question would never be raised.]

I disagree.  Everyone in a group can answer the question the same way.
That is what is meant by consensus.  The group may not need to appeal to 
higher authority; that is often a method chosen to settle political 
questions.  As for the third point, it makes one definition of bad, 
versus good politics.

> When we settle issues with consensus, without reference to governing
> authority, and solely on their own merit, do we often regard the question
> as simply not being political?
>      [Too nebulous.  Give me an example of an issue that was settled with
>      consensus without reference to governing authority on its own merit.
>      Go ahead. Try.  I think you'll find that what I said above is the
>      case; if there were universal agreement about something, then there
>      would never be a question about it.]
>      [HOWEVER:  to answer your question in the broader sense, that of
>      whether an issue that is overwhelmingly accepted by the majority can
>      become political...
>      I rolled up into a little ball and thought about this one for awhile.
>      After I unrolled, I still didn't have a good answer.  The best one I
>      can come up with is, unfortunately, what I said previously, which is
>      that an issue that is settled by consensus really wasn't ever an issue
>      to begin with.
>      I would challenge anyone to come up with an issue that was settled by
>      consensus that didn't have SOME discussion involved.  I'd be
>      interested in the results.]
I can't much agree with your point.  Does a question only become an issue 
if there is disagreement?  When the shire choses the next meeting site, 
it is a question usually settled by consensus, but it was still a question.

> Is all politics bad politics because we only think of bad politics as
> politics at all ;-) ????????

>      [It would seem so.  If you have an issue, it automatically has two
>      sides; and those two sides aren't necessarily going to disagree
>      politely, which leads to "bad" politics.
Well, that I think is not a universal belief.  I know those who believe
all politics, no matter how well conducted, are bad.  Bad politics I 
think are either badly conducted, or leave a bad taste in one's mouth.

>      Hmm...maybe there's an answer.  POLITICS isn't necessarily the
>      discussion itself, but rather the BS surrounding the discussion.  IMO,
>      if an issue is handled properly in a political sense, that's good
>      politics.  If it enters into backbiting, etc., that's bad politics.]

Actually, it is the BS brought into the discussion.  Or it is the 
mechanism misused to solve one problem by disquising it as another.  
That, from my reading, is one of the nails in the Northern Principality 


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