Portal:Politics

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Introduction

Politics (from Greek: πολιτικά, translit. Politiká, meaning "affairs of the cities") is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group.

It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state.

In modern nation states, people have formed political parties to represent their ideas. They agree to take the same position on many issues, and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders.

An election is usually a competition between different parties. Some examples of political parties are the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, the Tories in Great Britain and the Indian National Congress.

Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as "the art or science of government" and "political principles"), but often does carry a connotation of dishonest malpractice. The negative connotation of politics, as seen in the phrase "play politics", for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: "We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us."

A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level.

It is very often said that politics is about power. A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. History of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and the works of Confucius.

Selected article

Flag of Hungary, with the communist coat of arms cut out. The flag with a hole became the symbol of the revolution.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the Neo-Stalinist government of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. It began as a student demonstration which attracted thousands as it marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building. The revolt spread quickly across Hungary, and the government fell. Thousands organized into militias, battling the State police force and Soviet troops. The new government formally disbanded the State police force, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. On 4 November, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest using artillery and air strikes, killing thousands of civilians. Organized resistance ceased by 10 November 1956, and mass arrests began. An estimated 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. By January 1957 the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition. Soviet actions alienated many Western Marxists, yet strengthened Soviet control over Eastern Europe, cultivating the perception that communism was both irreversible and monolithic. Public discussion about this revolution was suppressed in Hungary for over 30 years, but since the thaw of the 1980s it has been a subject of intense study and debate.

Featured picture

Javier Solana (2007).jpg
Credit: א

Dr. Javier Solana was the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Secretary-General of both the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Western European Union (WEU). This photograph shows him discussing with students of RWTH Aachen University, one day before receiving the International Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen.

Selected quote

James Madison
But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other—that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights. These inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the distribution of the supreme powers of the State.

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Selected biography

Józef Klemens Piłsudski

Józef Piłsudski (1867–1935) was Chief of State (1918–22), "First Marshal", and authoritarian leader of the Second Polish Republic. From mid-World War I he was a major influence in Poland's politics, and an important figure on the European political scene. He is considered largely responsible for Poland regaining independence in 1918, after 123 years of partitions. Early in his political career, Piłsudski became a leader of the Polish Socialist Party. Concluding, however, that Poland's independence would have to be won by force of arms, he created the Polish Legions. In 1914 he anticipated the outbreak of a European war, the Russian Empire's defeat by the Central Powers, and the Central Powers' defeat by the western powers. When World War I broke out, he and his Legions fought alongside the Austro-Hungarian and German Empires to ensure Russia's defeat. In 1917, with Russia faring badly in the war, he withdrew his support from the Central Powers. From November 1918, when Poland regained independence, until 1922, Piłsudski was Poland's Chief of State. In 1919–21 he commanded Poland's forces in the Polish–Soviet War. In 1923, with the Polish government dominated by his opponents, particularly the National Democrats, he withdrew from active politics. Three years later he returned to power with the May 1926 coup d'état, and became the de facto dictator of Poland. From then until his death in 1935, he concerned himself primarily with military and foreign policy.

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