From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developed but not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
Timelines [?]
Addendum [?]
Index [?]
Glossary [?]
This editable, developed Main Article is subject to a disclaimer.

Politics is a very ancient topic of interest for thousands of years, and has acquired many meanings. Most of them relate to matters of collective choice, the distributional aspects of social relations, or realms of controversy, scandal or rude and unseemly behavior. (For a fuller selection of dictionary definitions, see the Addendum page associated with this entry. Click the link in the last sentence or on the Addendum tab above). To some, politics is about the mutual partisan adjustment of living together in communities. For others, it is the art of the possible; a distinct domain of human affairs; the activities of citizens and their leaders (as opposed to subjects who merely obey their rulers) or of citizenship or public action in the public domain, public sector or public sphere. Politics can also be seen as a deeply interwoven aspect or dimension of all human behavior. Some see politics as the interaction of individuals, or groups while others see it in terms of political systems. There are many articles relating to politics in Citizendium. All of them can be reached with specific topical searches, and a selection of some of them are listed on the Related Articles page attached to this entry.

Modern political studies in history, political science, political philosophy, social philosophy, political sociology and other fields may focus on analyses of political behavior, political institutions, political systems, political development or other general topics. An American political scientist Charles E. Lindblom defined politics as mutual partisan adjustment (1965). Others, including John Dryzek, a contemporary Australian political philosopher, emphasize processes of discussion and deliberation (1994). Benjamin Barber, an American political philosopher, wrote of "the sovereignty of the political" and the distinctive ways in which virtually any issue or topic can, in short order, be politicized into a matter of controversy and contestation (1988).


Humans may always have acted politically, but explicit attention to politics has been primarily a matter of living together in larger communities that include those who are strangers, or different from ourselves. In its original meaning the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle referred to the public affairs of the Athenian community or polis, which others have identified in terms of the civic friendships of the citizen class. Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics, individually or together, are regarded as the founding documents of the study of politics by most western authorities, while others outside the West look to ancient Chinese, Indian Persian and other writings on politics as beginning points. Several important medieval European political philosophers included St. Augustine, Benedict of Nursia and others while classical Arab civilization also included a number of important political philosophers, including Ibn Khaldun. The dominant community of much political analysis today is national community, or the nation-state.

Machiavelli and Althusius are among important early modern sources for understanding politics. An American sociologist Robert Nisbet quotes Althusius saying “Politics is the art of associating men (sic) for the purpose of establishing, cultivating and conserving social life among them. Whence it is called symbiotics. The subject matter of politics is therefore association, in which the symbiotes pledge themselves each to the other, by explicit or tacit agreement, to mutual communication of whatever is useful and necessary for the harmonious exercise of social life.” (Carney, 1964, 12, quoted by Nisbet, 1973, 401) Machiavelli's name has long been associated with ruthlessness, and anything-goes interpretations of politics, on the strength of his study [[The Prince (Machiavelli)|The Prince. Machiavellian is frequently used as an adjective suggesting ruthlessness and a willingness to say or do anything to achieve one's ends. Some authorities have argued that this is a misreading and in recent decades, the major re-evaluation of the Italian renaissance thinker by the Cambridge historian J.C.A. Pocock (1975) in terms of civic republicanism and what he terms the Atlantic republican political tradition has been gaining ground.

In the Marxist-Leninist tradition of political theory and practice, politics is usually interpreted as superficial appearances representing or masking the real, underlying conflict of class interests.

The subject-matter of modern politics includes the consideration of such philosophical issues as the extent to which individual conduct should be made subordinate to the will of the community, and that of the proper rôle of the state as an expression of the will of the community. It also includes the consideration of such practical issues as the formulation and enforcement of rules governing the relations between the individual and the state. It encompasses the sociological influences upon the resolution of those issues in various communities, including the collective beliefs (or ideologies) that are held by their members. At the operational level, it includes prescriptive issues such as the conditions governing the legitimacy of government; the extent to which collective decision-making should be determined by ethical considerations rather than by its intended consequences; and the consideration that should be given to the welfare of foreign nationals. The descriptive content of politics includes the taxonomy of political systems, of institutional arrangements for the conduct of government, and of the institutions governing the conduct of international relations. It also includes accounts of the observed conduct of politicians in seeking to gain the approval of the community, and in their policy-making and executive activities when in office.

The main focus of the articles of the politics workgroup is on politics as it is currently practised. There is strong emphasis here on Pocock's "Atlantic Republican tradition" (1975). Many of these are linked on the Related Articles page attached to this article. This review and a companion article on the history of political thought are concerned with that practice and the developments that have contributed to it.


The word politics comes from the Greek word Πολιτικά (politike), which is derived from πόλις (polis), "city". The term politics was first used to mean the art of living in a city, but it subsequently acquired the broader interpretation of the art of being a citizen. That broader interpretation was implicit in the use of the word "cosmopolitan" to denote a citizen of the cosmos by the Cynics of the 4th century BCE. Later derivations included the terms "politic", "policy" and "police", and "polity" (a word used by some academics to refer to particular forms of governmental organisation or political system). The term politics itself has also been used colloquially to describe (slightly discreditable) social conduct, as in "office politics" and, when forming a verb, "politicking".

The development of political thought and action

Many existing political systems are the product of long-term piecemeal evolution, and cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of their history. Others, including nearly all modern republics, are the product of intentional breaks with the past and revolutionary and constitutional activity.

Students of history are made aware of the influence of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism on contemporary thinking about politics. However, it is the uninterrupted sequence of development that started with the philosophers of Ancient Greece that provides the evolutionary spine for most of the world's political systems. It was from the Greek word for city (polis) that the term "politics" was derived, and textbooks on political science, political philosophy and the history of political thought seldom refer to other origins. Although their prescriptions have seldom been adopted, the concepts involved and the terms in which they were put forward became the accepted currency of European political debate. There were further contributions from Ancient Rome - notably the creation of a codified corpus of public law - after the fall of which the development of politics was dominated by the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. The major contribution of the political philosophers of The Enlightenment was the proposition that the legitimacy of government is conditional upon the consent of the governed, and the Glorious Revolution in England, the French Revolution and the American Revolution can all be thought of as actions to enforce that principle. The remaining sequence of developments included the establishment of the concept of representative government and of such ideologies as Liberalism, Conservatism, Socialism and Fascism, and the tentative emergence of a "responsibility to protect" doctrine in the conduct of international relations


Freedom of choice

The fundamental political question is why an individual should submit to restraints imposed upon him by others. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin has termed such submission the relinquishment of "negative freedom" in order to achieve "positive freedom" - a submission that is analogous to the exercise of self-discipline in order to accomplish a task [1]. His answer to that question was that external restraints are accepted in order to gain the advantages of cooperation and mutual defence, and he claimed that to be the motivational basis of politics. The concept of a collective voluntary agreement for that purpose, which had been formulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau as the social contract, [2] was a fiction, but it provided the basis for an examination of ways of choosing the terms of that implicit political agreement. In the middle ages, the prevailing social ideology had precluded the possibility of any departure from existing conventions, but the philosophers of the enlightenment advocated a variety of alternative political systems, some of which have since been adopted. It is now generally accepted that the true test of any political system is whether its advantages justify the sacrifices of individual freedom that it requires.

The concept of the State

Although originally created by governments, "the state" has acquired a notional existence and authority that is independent of the government, the country, the nation and the society with which it is associated. The state was identified by the philosopher, historian and sociologist Max Weber as the only body capable of the legitimate use of force [3]. In its best-known modern form it has the legal characteristics of a corporation in its ability to enter into every form of legal and commercial transaction in the same way as an individual; and, in constitutional republics, it embodies a set of rules and conventions termed its constitution that govern the behaviour of its government and the institutions of that government; and that can be amended only by its legislature, usually only by a constitutionally-determined procedure.

Beyond those bare essentials there have been many interpretations of the term and many different attitudes toward the concept. For Thomas Hobbes in the 17th century and for many since then it has been seen solely as a means of avoiding the chaos of a "war of all against all"[4]. In France after the French revolution, and in some other European countries, the means which it serves came to include the protection of citizens against oppression and, according to the Israeli historian, Martin Van Creveld, it became, for a time, a prized possession "for which they were often prepared to make every sacrifice" including the "rivers of blood" of two world wars[5]. At the other extreme are those who regard the state as the perpetrator of mass murder that it calls war, enslavement that it calls conscription, and robbery that it calls taxation[6].

The best-known category of the state is the stable form that first emerged in modern Europe, but Charles Tilly has described how states have come into existence in a variety of forms and in a variety of circumstances [7], and has shown that stability is not their universal characteristic. The article on failed states contains many examples of former states that have ceased to operate as such, usually following a major erosion of social capital.


Since the peaceful settlement of disputes is an essential function of politics, a mechanism for deciding and enforcing settlements is a necessary feature of a political system. There must also be a set of rules of conduct determined by a legislature, interpreted by a judiciary, and enforced by a police force. Some rules of conduct are determined by deontic principles derived from the moral or religious beliefs of the legislature and some are determined by the consequentialist objective of avoiding harm to others. Within the latter are rules intended to prevent actions that may be expected to result in harm to the community as a whole. The deontic Sharia laws usually figure in the legal systems of countries with predominantly Islamic populations, and deontist laws concerning sexual conduct are to be found in many other countries.


The functions of ideology

A widely accepted set of beliefs about social and political behaviour may be termed an ideology if its rationale is known, or a myth if it is not. The term ideology is often associated in people’s minds with dogmatism and intolerance, but in fact, every society has need of a set of shared assumptions to provide it with a settled view about living together. That settled view has typically included both conscious beliefs that are topics of everyday discussion, and unconscious attitudes that are seldom examined. It has enabled generally acceptable outcomes to be achieved without debating their underlying rationale. But what group members have considered to be a prized tradition, may have appeared to outsiders to be an irrational ideology. Both general social attitudes and specific political beliefs are important in understanding the role of ideology in politics.

Social ideologies

Myths about personal status and the nature of authority are part of the foundation of every political ideology. For example, the medieval myth of the chain of being [8] which defined the hierarchical status of every living thing, was the foundation of feudalism, and its subconscious influence is believed to underlie more recent attitudes toward race and gender. In the nineteenth century, the myth of "the ladder of life" [9] which envisaged evolution as a process in which each emerging type of human being is an improvement on its predecessor, was the rationale for a political ideology of the survival of the fittest known as "Social Darwinism" [10]. The formation of groups has led to "we/they" myths about the superiority of members over non-members [11] and the creation of ethnic and nationalist ideologies.

Political ideologies

Several political ideologies have made repeated appearances over the course of history. aristocracy, in the form of government by a trained elite, was advocated in the 4th century BCE by Plato [12], and it has since taken a variety of different forms. Although the literal meaning of the term theocracy is the rule of God, its adoption as a political ideology usually means the rule of priestly experts in the interpretation of the God's instructions, such as those of the Islamic Sharia - thus amounting to a particular form of Platonic aristocracy. Democracy, in the form that gave every citizen a right to participate in every communal decision, made a brief appearance in Pericles’ Athens in the 6th century BCE [13], but was rejected in that form for centuries thereafter. In particular, the founders of the United States constitution rejected it in favour of "representation ingrafted upon democracy" as advocated in Thomas Paine’s rights of man [14]. The concept of representative government, in which the people delegate decision-making powers to an authority on condition that it acts in their interest, had been put forward in the 17th century in the second of John Locke’s treatises On Civil Government [15] and was further developed in the 19th century in John Stuart Mill’s Representative Government [16]. The ideologies of various forms of socialism, as the belief that all property should be communally owned, was put forward in the 16th century in Thomas More’s Utopia [17] ; publicised in the early 19th century by Henri de Saint-Simon [18] and developed into an influential creed in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. [19]. The ideologies of Liberalism and Libertarianism are concerned to preserve individual freedom from state interference. Classical liberals, such as Friedrich von Hayek [20] , acknowledge the need to impose charges for public goods, whereas some Libertarians such as Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard question the need to do so. In opposition to those beliefs, the ideology of communitarianism that was put forward by Amitai Etzioni [21], lays greater emphasis upon the contribution of community activity to individual welfare.

Theories of government


The general sources of government legitimacy according to the German sociologist Max Weber [22] are charisma, tradition and legality [23] . At a more fundamental level, a government's legitimacy depends upon its continuing ability to perform its side of what is perceived to be the "social contract". Legitimacy once conferred, can be withdrawn for inadequate performance, loss of trust or a change in the public’s interpretation of the contract. In chaotic situations, such as that of Germany at the end of the first world war, legitimacy can be conferred by a successful undertaking to restore order, but can subsequently be withdrawn if the restoration of order ceases to be considered an adequate recompense for hardship or loss of freedom. Trust can be lost because of what is seen to be misrepresentation, or because of the perceived misappropriation of the community resources by what is termed rent-seeking[24]. Legitimacy is lost by action that is contrary to domestic or international law (although some legal theorists consider international law to be no more than a non-binding system of settling disputes [25]).


A focus on collective decision-making in the governing of the nation-state, sometimes also referred to as collective choice, has been one of the hallmarks of interest in modern politics.

Domestic decision-making

Government conduct has been influenced as much by decision-making rationales as by ideologies - there have been tyrannical democracies and benevolent despotisms. It might appear rational for every government decision to be based upon an evaluation of its expected consequences or outcomes - a rationale that is termed consequentialism - but that rationale is far from being the general rule. Governments have, to varying extents, been influenced by deontism, that is to say by what they perceive to be principles specifying actions that must always be done or must always be avoided. Some such principles originate from religious codes such as the Ten Commandments or the Muslim Sharia, and some are socially-determined concepts of rights, obligations and duties, such as equity, fair dealing and family responsibilities. Consequentialist acceptance of such principles is conditional upon the absence of significantly harmful consequences, but deontic acceptance is absolute and without exception. The governing principle known as paternalism substitutes the government’s perception of desirable outcomes for that of the governed, either for deontic reasons, or on the ground that the government has the better understanding of the true interests of the governed. At the other extreme is governing behaviour known as populism, under which decisions are influenced by transitory or ill-informed surges of public opinion. Utilitarianism [26] as put forward by John Stuart Mill, treats all of those influences as aberrations, and advocates decision-making that is directed solely at the improvement of the welfare of those affected as they themselves see it. Under that theory, individuals are deemed to delegate to government the responsibility for determining the material consequences of alternative actions, but are themselves deemed to be the sole judge of the resulting social consequences. That theory is in turn rejected in John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice [27] according to which decisions should conform to the "difference principle" which permits only those inequalities of welfare that benefit the least well-off in the community. Dissenting also from that theory, the philosopher Robert Nozick has argued [28] that each individual has an inalienable right to his own abilities and creations, making it ethically unacceptable for a government to seek to re-allocate the resulting benefits. The assumption that governments govern on behalf of the governed, is in any case challenged by the theory of public choice [29], which assumes that the actions of politicians and civil servants are directed by economic motives, and that they are thus influenced more by self-interest than by a wish to serve the public.

International decision-making

The concept of a sovereign state, free from outside intervention in its domestic affairs, was established in the 17th century by the Treaty of Westphalia[30] , and was endorsed in 1918 by the Covenant of the League of Nations[31] and in 1945 by Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations[32] with the phrase:

"Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state...".

In both of these latter cases the implied prohibition against intervention was qualified by the approval of collective action to deter aggression. There have since been scores of interventions in the domestic affairs in sovereign states, and the question of when to intervene has become a major issue in the conduct of international relations. At one extreme is the ideology of isolationism, which has been Swiss policy for nearly 500 years[33] and was a feature of United States foreign policy[34] in the 19th century and early 20th century. (In neither case was their abstention absolute, however. Switzerland, for example, is a party to the NATO "Partnership for Peace programme"[35] and has taken part in peacekeeping in Kosovo). The term liberal internationalism has been applied to an idealistically motivated policy of intervention, and at the opposite extreme is the policy of self-serving intervention known as "realpolitik" involving the pursuit of the national interest without regard to ethical or humanitarian considerations. A passive and benign variant of realpolitik that has been adopted by successive United States administrations, has been termed "realism in international relations", which is a policy of cooperation with other countries on matters of common concern, without attempting to alter their domestic policies. Another essentially defensive variant is the United States military doctrine for assisting other countries with their counterinsurgency programmes, known as "Foreign Internal Defense", (FID).

A more controversial issue concerns the justification of intervention in one sovereign state by another for humanitarian purposes. There is general agreement on the justification for such intervention in two circumstances. A United Nations General Assembly resolution places a duty on member states to "prevent and to punish" the crime of genocide, whether committed in time of peace or war[36] and a Convention against Torture, to which 146 countries are party, requires members to arrest and extradite its perpetrators. There is less agreement concerning the treatment of "Crimes Against Humanity" as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court[37], the jurisdiction of which is not accepted by China, India, Israel and the United States, and a number of other states have not fully accepted the Rome Statute. Even more controversial were the conclusions of an international commission that was set up by the Secretary General of the United Nations following the Rwanda genocide and the Srebenica massacre:

"State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself. Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect."[38]

There is widespread disagreement concerning the existence of such a duty to protect, and concerning the circumstances under which humanitarian intervention is appropriate.

Current forms of government

The various modern forms of government of nation states have been categorised in a variety of ways [39] but their most important characteristics concern the accountability of their decision-makers. Accountability is what distinguishes personal and party autocracies such as Saudi Arabia and China from representative democracies such as the United States and most countries of Europe. While it is not impossible for autocracies to perform the functions of representative government, they have little incentive to do so. Whereas the citizens of autocracies can do little to influence the conduct of government, the citizens of democracies can exert a degree of influence through their electoral systems and public opinion.

The existence of constitutional arrangements for the election of representatives does not, however, guarantee accountability. Such arrangements exist formally in Cuba, for example. The reality depends upon the powers and duties of the elected representatives. Parliamentary democracies whose constitutions follow the example of the Westminster system [40] such as Canada and India give elected representatives both legislative powers and the ultimate sanction of their collective ability to dismiss the government. This often leaves a government that has a large parliamentary majority with a substantial degree of autonomy [41].

Countries whose constitutions follow the example of the U.S. Constitution [42] give executive responsibilities to an elected president, and give an elected congress powers to pass laws, and limited powers of oversight but not dismissal over the president, except for impeachment in the case of serious wrongdoing.

A number of countries (including France and Italy) have constitutions that combine the parliamentary characteristics of the Westminster model with the presidential features of the United States model. Most countries have written constitutions that can be amended by their electorates and are subject to interpretation by courts such as the Supreme Court of the United States. Such courts are usually appointed rather than elected, but are constitutionally independent of government control. The provision for the democratic participation of the electorate in decision-making is a prominent feature of the constitution of the Swiss cantons, but in most democracies it takes the form of referendums undertaken at the discretion of governments.

Political institutions

The establishment, design and consequences of political institutions have been subject to considerable interest in the study of modern politics. Using the concept of the nation-state as a guide, a distinction can be drawn between domestic and international institutions.

Domestic institutions

A categorisation by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson[43], distinguishes between "inclusive" and "extractive" national institutions. Power in what they term inclusive political institutions is widely distributed and is regulated by democratic elections. They find that such political institutions have often been associated with economic institutions that embody property rights, contract enforcement, ease of starting new companies, competitive markets, and freedom to take up new occupations. Political power in what they term extractive political institutions is concentrated upon an elite groupings whose decisions tend to be self-serving and not open to challenge, and they have often been associated with economic institutions that "are structured to extract resources from the many by the few and that fail to protect property rights or provide incentives for economic activity." Acemoglu and Robinson find that the existence of extractive institutions has usually been an obstacle to sustained economic growth.

It has been established from research in the United States that policy outcomes are also influenced by institutional arrangements such as electoral procedures and conditions of tenure [44], but the major policy impact has everywhere been achieved by the multitude of organisations devoted to influencing government policy by collective action. Groups of people who have beliefs, ideologies or financial interests in common have exerted influence that has often been out of proportion to their numerical strength. In 1965 the economist Mancur Olson stimulated interest in such organisations by a book [45] in which he stressed the limited incentive for a member to pull his weight in a large group, and concluded that small groups are easier to organise. The subject has since been extensively explored by sociologists and others. [46] ). Interest groups representing specific interests can contribute to the effectiveness of government by supplying it with specialised knowledge, but their main purpose is what has been termed rent-seeking [47], or seeking a sectional advantage at the expense of the rest of the community. The success in that respect of any particular pressure group has been shown to depend upon the activities of competing groups [48]. Farming lobbies have been the most successful of the industrial pressure groups in most developed countries and, probably next in importance have been the environmental pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth [49]. The major political pressure groups have of course been the political parties [50] and different party systems have emerged in different countries [51]. The influence of their electoral systems upon the political parties was explored in the 1960s by the French political scientist Maurice Duverger [52] whose major finding, known as Duverger’s Law[53], was that a first-past-the-post or "plurality electoral system" tends to favour two-party political systems, whereas proportional representation systems tend to favour multi-party politics. Differing forms of proportional representation have been adopted by the major European countries except France and Britain and have normally given rise to multi-party systems and coalition governments, whereas pluralist voting and two-party systems have been the general rule in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia.

With the standardization of survey research techniques following World War II, the measurement of public attitudes and beliefs has made public opinion polling a major factor in the politics of many nation-states, both at the national level and in sub-national local and regional issues and decisions. More recently, the development of the internet and social media are also beginning to bring major changes to the ways in which politics is conducted in both democratic and autocratic political systems.

International Institutions

Changes to international relations during the twentieth century have embodied a recognition of the growing interdependence of nation states. Clusters of local alliances have given way to the concept of extensive mutual defence, there has been a gradual erosion of the concept of the sovereignty of nation states, and there has been increased global concern about humanitarian issues. Those trends were both reflected in and advanced by the 1945 charter of the United Nations [54] which proposed world-wide mutual defence, an international court for settling disputes, the protection of refugees, and the prevention and punishment of genocide. Member states have only implemented the original intention to create a military back up for those measures on a selective ad hoc basis, and in other respects the intentions behind the charter have been only partially realised. The constitution of the International Court of Justice [55] does not make it compulsory to accede to a request for the submission of disputes, and the rulings of the court are not binding. The United Nations has had limited success in attempts to prevent any of the 17 subsequent genocides [56] and it was not until 2002 that a court [57] was set up to prosecute those charged with genocide. The constitution of the United Nations initially prohibited all intervention in states' domestic affairs, but a commission set up by its Secretary General has since recommended that where a population is suffering serious harm, the principle of non-intervention should give way to "the responsibility to protect" [58] The principle international economic institutions are the World Trade Organisation [59] which develops and regulates agreements concerning trade barriers, the International Monetary Fund [60] which is concerned to maintain exchange stability, and provides temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment, and the World Bank[61] which provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)[62] is a mutual defence institution involving 26 countries in North America and Europe. There are also a number of regional institutions that promote various forms of cooperation, including Free Trade Area of the Americas [63], the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) [64], the Organisation of African Unity [65], and the European Union [66] , part of which is also a common currency area.

Another of the interesting developments in international political institutions in recent decades has been the emergence of a wide variety of international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs) as international political actors, including humanitarian organisations like Amnesty International, health care organisations like the International Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières, and environmental organisations like Greenpeace.

Political Conduct

There are several important aspects of politics that are not determined by ideology or institutions. These include campaigning techniques and legislative conduct.


The subject of political tactics was extensively examined by Jeremy Bentham in the nineteenth century [67] and the subject was systematically developed by Anthony Downs in his 1957 book An Economic Theory of Democracy. [68]. The best-known of Downs' conclusions was his "median voter theory" which claimed that the winning party in a two-party election would be the party that positioned itself the closer to the views of the median voter. The subject has since been widely explored, and the political analyst Jennifer Lees-Marchment has used marketing theory to identify three generic campaigning strategies: [69]

  • product-oriented strategy concentrating on devising effective policies,
  • sales-oriented strategy focused on publicising the merits of existing policies
  • market-oriented strategy seeking to find out what the public wants and to adjust policies accordingly

The use of marketing professionals for political purposes, which is believed to have originated in the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Presidential contest, had spread to Britain and elsewhere by the 1970s [70] [71]. Much use was made of focus groups to assess popular reactions to policy proposals, but mainly among uncommitted groups and in marginal constituencies. Considerable efforts were put into influencing public opinion by speeches, and television appearances and mainly by news management or "spin". News management techniques described by Professor Ivor Gabor [72] include rebuttal of opponents’ criticisms, building-up and undermining personalities, kite-flying to gauge public reactions to rumoured proposals, and the timing of announcements to divert attention from bad news. However, adverse public reactions to spin may have since placed some constraint upon the use of such techniques.

Legislative conduct

Legislative conduct has been shown to be strongly influenced by institutional arrangements [73]. Party unity is more important in parliamentary systems, which give parliaments the power to dismiss governments, than in presidential systems in which the president retains office for a fixed term. Where party unity is important, party members are often put under pressure by party whips to support declared policies, and party attitudes to new proposals are commonly settled behind closed doors in meetings of the party caucus. Where party unity is less strong, legislative debating is more open, but logrolling [74] conspiracies to gain local advantages are more common. Debates are conducted in accordance with procedural codes such as Robert's Rules of Order[75] or Erskine May[76] that are designed to preserve order, and the conduct of legislators is regulated by codes of legislative ethics [77] that are designed to curb corruption.


  1. Isaiah Berlin Liberty, Incorporating Four Essays on Liberty Oxford University Press, 2002
  2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract
  3. Max Weber: Politics as a Vocation, in The Vocation Lectures, Hackett, 2004
  4. Thomas Hobbes: The Leviathan, (first published 1660), Oregon State University Library, 2009
  5. Martin Van Creveld: The Rise and Decline of the State, page 334, Cambridge University Press, 2004[1](Questia subscribers)
  6. Murray N. Rothbard: For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, page 23, Collier Books and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2002
  7. Charles Tilly: Coercion, Capital, and European States: AD 990-1990, Blackwell, 1992 {reviewed by Christopher Johnson in Journal of Social History, Fall 1995[2]
  8. Alexander Pope Essay on Man
  9. see Evolution of Species by Michael Lahanas
  10. Social Darwinism
  11. see The Robbers Cave Experiment
  12. Plato The Republic
  13. Thucidides: Pericles’ Funeral Oration
  14. Thomas Paine The Rights of Man
  15. John Locke On Civil Government
  16. John Stuart Mill Representative Government
  17. Thomas More Utopia
  18. Henri de Saint-Simon
  19. Karl Marx Das Kapital
  20. Friedrich August Hayek
  21. Amitai Etzioni's website
  22. Max Weber
  23. Max Weber Economy and Society Bedminster Press, 1968,
  24. Gordon Tullock The Fundamentals of Rent Seeking
  25. Goldsmith and Posner The Limits of International Law Oxford University Press 2005
  26. John Stuart Mill Utilitarianism
  27. John Rawls A Theory of Justice Harvard University Press 1971
  28. Robert Nozick Anarchy, State and Utopia Basic Books 1974
  29. James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock The Calculus of Consent. University of Michigan Press 1962
  30. Cleophas Tsokodayi: Sovereignty - the legacy of the Treaty of Westphalia to international relations, Examiner.cm August 16th, 2010
  31. The Covenant of the League of Nations, Yale Law School
  32. Charter of the United Nations
  33. Neutrality and isolationism, swissworld.org
  34. Isolationism, US history website
  35. Partnership for Peace programme, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
  36. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, (General Assembly resolution of 9 December 1948)
  37. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
  38. The Responsibility to Protect, Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, the International Development Research Centre of Canada, December 2001
  39. Systems of Government (Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century)
  40. Walter Bagehot The English Constitution Kegan Paul 1904
  41. WT Stanbury Accountability to Citizens in the Westminster Model of Government Fraser Institute 2003
  42. The Constitution of the United States of America
  43. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty”, Crown Business. March 2012
  44. Timothy Besley and Anne Case Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States Institute of Fiscal Studies 1962
  45. Mancur Olson The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups Harvard University Press 1965
  46. Pamela E. Oliver Formal Models of Collective Action Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 19, 1993
  47. EC Pasour Rent Seeking; Some Conceptual Problems and Implications
  48. Gary S. Becker A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence The Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 1983
  49. Organisations Concerned with Environmental Issues
  50. Alan Ware Political Parties and Party Systems Oxford University Press 1996
  51. Parties around the world
  52. Maurice Duverger Political Parties , Their Organisation and Activity in the Modern State Wiley 1965
  53. Maurice Duverger: Factors in a Two-Party and Multi-party System in Party Politics and Pressure Groups Thomas Y. Crowell, 1972
  54. The United Nations Charter
  55. International Court of Justice
  56. see Jared Diamond The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee (p258) Vintage 1991
  57. The International Criminal Court
  58. Responsibility to Protect Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty
  59. World Trade Organisation
  60. International Monetary Fund
  61. World Bank
  62. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
  63. Free Trade Area of the Americas
  64. Association of South East Asian Nations
  65. Organisation of African Unity
  66. European Union
  67. Jeremy Bentham An Essay on Political Tactics in The Works of Jeremy Bentham Bowring 1838
  68. Anthony Downs An Economic Theory of Democracy Harper 1957
  69. Jennifer Lees-Marchment The Marriage of Politics and Marketing Political Studies vol 49 p692 2001
  70. Margaret Scammell Political Marketing: lessons for Political Science Political Studies 1999 p718
  71. Jennifer Lees-Marchment Political Marketing as Party Management National Europe Centre Paper No 110 Australia National University 2003
  72. Ivor Gabor Government by Spin Policy Studies Association Conference Papers 1999
  73. John M Carey Political Institutions, Competing Principals and Party Unity in Legislative Voting Institute of Government Studies Working Paper 2005/8 University of California, Berkely 2005
  74. Logrolling (definition)
  75. Robert's Rules of Order, 11th edition, Da Capo Press, 2011
  76. Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice 24th edition, LexisNexis, 2011
  77. Rick Stapenhurst and Riccardo Pelizzo: Legislative Ethics and Codes of Conduct, The World Bank, 2004