Politics and Political Science
by Jason Yonan
Politics. It is possibly the most hated word in the English language. Most people hate politics and government without really knowing what they are. Many different definitions of politics exist. One definition defines politics as the conflict between groups over something they both want. Another similar definition calls politics the "who gets what, when, and how." Government is defined as the institution that has the enforceable right to control people’s behavior. But why do people hate politics and politicians? Is it because politicians cannot be trusted, or maybe because they spend too much money? Whatever the reasons are for hating politics and government, both are needed as a mechanism for people to protect themselves. Possibly, if people developed a better understanding of politics and government, they would change their views about the subject. This could come about by looking at the various types of government and how they evolved.
Two types of governments exist. A government can either be classified as a monarchy or a republic. To be classified as a monarchy, a government must have some kind of royal family that inherits their position of power. Different types of monarchs exist. A monarchy may be a limited monarchy, a constitutional monarchy, or an absolute monarchy.
A limited monarchy is one in which the royalty have only ceremonial powers. An example of this is in the United Kingdom. While Queen Elizabeth is considered the queen, she has no authority in lawmaking and does not deal with the parliament. A limited monarchy merely has a royal family for ceremonies and in keeping with tradition.
The second type of monarchy is a constitutional monarchy. In this form of monarchy, the monarch has powers granted to him/her by the country’s constitution. An example of this form of monarchy is in Sweden. Here, the monarch can only use powers granted in the country’s constitution.
The third and final type of monarchy is an absolute monarchy. In an absolute monarchy, the monarchy has supreme and absolute authority to do what it wishes. An example of this occurs in the country of Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, the royal family can enforce any law it wishes- no matter how bad it could be for the country. Absolute monarchies are often very oppressive to its people. For example, Saudi Arabia has very strict laws that have been put in place by the royal family. The people living in the country have no voice in an absolute monarchy.
The second type of government is a republic. A republic is any government that does not have a monarch. Republics are also divided into three classes. A republic can be classified as a dictatorship, an oligarchy, or a democracy.
A dictatorship is a government ruled by one commander. An example of this is Iraq. Saddam Hussein is the dictator of Iraq. Whatever he decides becomes law. Dictatorships are similar to absolute monarchies in that they are very oppressive to the people of the country. The major difference between the two is that absolute monarchies are families inheriting their power while dictatorships often result from military takeovers or from an elected official who refuses to step down from his elected office.
The second type of republic is an oligarchy. An oligarchy is a country ruled by the few. An example of this was in South Africa during Apartheid. During Apartheid, the white population, which was about 25% of the entire country’s population, commanded the power and the majority of the wealth of South Africa. At this time, blacks were not allowed to be involved in the political process and were forced to live only in certain areas. Apartheid has now been eliminated in South Africa, and the black majority now has more control over the political process and the government.
The final type of republic is a democracy, which is what most consider the United States to be. In a democracy, it is rule by the majority. This rule by the majority takes place by voting and electing officials. The people of the country elect officials who hold similar views to their own to represent them. While most people consider the U.S. to be a democracy, an opposing argument could be made. Since such a small majority of the population vote in the U.S., could it not be called an oligarchy, or rule by the few? This leads us to the question of how governments were formed.
Many people have wondered how government came about. There are four major theories as to the origin of government. They are the Divine theory, the Natural theory, the Social Compact theory, and the Force theory.
The Divine theory is the religious theory that government was ordained from God. Moses is an example of the Divine theory. It is essentially saying that government was created to serve God. The Divine theory has been around for many years and is still embraced by people today.
The second theory regarding the origin of government is the Natural theory, developed by the likes of Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato. This theory states that people are political animals, and by our own nature, we must have government to survive. This theory believes that if some type of government were not in place, humans could not survive.
The Social Compact theory, advocated by great political thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, proposes that government is deliberately created by people. The theory states that people did not always have government and realized their was a lack of protection for their lives or security. They then formed government for this reason. According to the theory, government is to protect and serve the people of the country. While both Hobbes and Locke advocated this theory, they disagreed concerning the head of government necessary to protect the people. Hobbes argued for a King, while Locke thought a committee would be best.
The final theory of the origin of government is the Force theory. The Force theory states that government came about as a result of conquest and force. Karl Marx strongly advocated this theory. Marx believed that government is bad and that people should try to revolt against government. Marx also predicted that government would eventually be toppled, and the world would have no government. While Marx supported revolt against the government, it never happened as he expected. The great poor and middle class uprisings that Marx predicted would result from the Industrial Revolution did not occur. Instead, more jobs gave people less reason to revolt.
The types of governments and the theories on the origin of government described in this paper have hopefully given a basic understanding of what government is. People often feel that they need to hate government without even knowing what it is or the theories of its origin. Hopefully, people will begin to understand more about politics and government and realize that it is not something to hate. The more someone learns about government and political processes, the more likely someone is to take action and become involved. That is why even a basic understanding of politics and government is so important for people of this country.