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Strange thing...

(14/5/1999)

Politics can mean on the one hand an awakening into the world - the politicisation of the individual. The world of politics is where the individual makes a stand for what he or she believes in - comes out into the world and off the fence. On the other hand the word politics is used to describe a weasely world of favour currying - a world of Machiavellian power-brokering - where politics comes to mean a kind of lying and manipulation. These two senses of the word politics are almost opposites.

It's a problem, isn't it? You get involved in politics because of your ideals, and end up lying and cheating - or worse, killing and torturing - to achieve your 'political objectives'.

It's a question of means and ends. It is perhaps over-optimistic to suppose that the end justifies the means, when it's other people who have to suffer the means. Other people probably don't share your enthusiasm for that particular end anyway. If they did, you wouldn't need to lie and cheat and manipulate to achieve it.

The problem is we're monkeys, and we like to hit each other over the head with sticks while screaming abuse. If we can't get hold of any big sticks, then a fine ideal, a religious belief, a moral standard or a democratic institution will do. (See chimp story)



Copyright 1999 Paul Mackilligin