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Politics is the study of decision-making power (who's got it, and who doesn't) at the inter-social and societal levels. When considered at smaller scales, e.g. within a profession, it is indistinguishable from applied ethics or specialist ethical codes - for these issues see the list of ethics articles.

At whatever scale, politics is the rather imperfect way that we actually do coordinate individual actions for mutual (or strictly personal) gain. As political scientist Harold Lasswell said, politics is "who gets what, when and how." It also concerns how we resolve moral conflicts that are sufficiently serious that they constitute a risk of social disruption - in which case commitment to a common process of arbitration or diplomacy tends to reduce violence - usually viewed as a key goal of civilization. Bernard Crick[?] is a major theorist of this view and also of the idea that politics is itself simply "ethics done in public", where public institutions can agree, disagree, or intervene to achieve a desirable culmination or comprehensive (process) result.

In addition to government, journalists, religious groups, special interest groups, and economic systems and conditions may all have influence on decisions. Therefore, politics touches on all these subjects.

Authors of studies of politics have both reflected and influenced the political systems of the world. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince, an analysis of politics in a monarchy, in 1513, while living in a monarchy. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The Communist Manifesto" in 1848 and it went on to be one of the most influential works of the twentieth century. Today, much study of politics focuses on democracies, and how their form affects the decisions they make.

Other lines of political inquiry attempt to answer philosophical questions: is there a moral justification for government? What is the purpose of government?

As well being influenced by these weighty matters, politics is also a social activity, and as such it is subject to the whims of fashion as any other.

Table of contents

Political science

Political scientists are academics who research the conduct of politics. They look at elections, public opinion, institutional activities (how legislatures act, the relative importance of various sources of political power etc), the ideologies behind various politicans and political organisations, how politicians achieve and wield their influence, and so on.

Ethical view of politics

To those who view politics as a branch of ethics, indistinguishable from it, or inalterably opposed to it, the concepts of aesthetics, culture, moral codes, ethical codes, legal codes, legal rights[?], individual capital and the moral core of an individual, and more abstract ideas of safety and fairness are fundamental to understanding politics and why it is or is not ethical.

Political Systems and Ideologies

Anarchism -- Anarcho-capitalism -- anarcho-communism -- anti-communism -- authoritarianism -- Capitalism -- classical liberalism -- Communism -- Conservatism -- Corporatocracy -- Democracy -- democratic socialism -- Green -- Fascism -- leftism -- Liberalism -- Libertarianism -- Libertarian socialism --Marxism -- Meritocracy -- Minarchism -- Nationalism -- National Socialism -- Oligarchy -- post-communism[?] -- Republicanism -- Socialism -- stalinism -- totalitarianism -- Theocracy

Sector-Based Ideologies

Feminism -- Masculism -- Primitivism -- Islamism -- Scientism

Political Entities

City -- City-state -- Country -- Federal -- Government -- Nation-state -- police state -- Province -- Republic -- State

Political philosophy

The justification of the state -- Anarchism and natural law theory -- Social contract theories -- Raw is moral philosophy[?] -- Consequentialist justifications of the state[?] -- The purpose of government

Classical and modern political theorists

Plato -- Aristotle -- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk -- John Locke -- Karl Marx -- John Stuart Mill -- Jean-Jacques Rousseau -- Johann Gottfried von Herder -- Lysander Spooner -- Henry David Thoreau -- Ludwig von Mises

Contemporary Political Theorists

David Friedman -- Noam Chomsky -- John Rawls -- Jan Narveson -- David Gauthier -- Amartya Sen -- Jürgen Habermas -- James Buchanan -- Bernard Crick[?] -- Michael Foucault[?] -- Jane Jacobs -- Carol Moore

Social institutions with major political implications

Voting systems, Market systems, Moral purchasing, Measuring well-being, Tax, Tariff and Trade[?], Law, Religion


International organization -- Corporate police state -- Crony capitalism -- European Union -- Police -- Propaganda -- U.S. Politics -- Political spectrum -- Political party-- Political economy -- Political parties of the world -- Techno-democracy -- Techno-oligarchy -- Terrorism -- Political Compass -- Divide and conquer

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