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To Participate in Politics or Not

7 arenas of political commitment where people can and must recognize their responsibility.

Political Participation is Unavoidable

Even if we dislike politics and would like to wash our hands of any responsibility for what our governments do, it seems that the social responsibility is rather natural for us. It then forms the basis for more intense political participation. In any case «not participating» is a form of participation, so there is no escape. Disengagement = silently assenting to political choices that you may abhor—as Plato [428–348 BCE] noted: Closed "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."

Because we naturally hold values and pursue purposes, certain «primal roles» automatically come into existence with social life and bind us tightly with responsibility. Here are some: Closed We are certainly held responsible for adhering to our value systems (sPH6G16). We are invariably members in a community (sPH6G15) for which we have some minimal shared responsibility. We act as a leader (sPH6G12) at times and become responsible for our followers, or serve as a follower (sPH6G12) and become responsible to and for our leader. As individuals (sPH6G14), we are expected to be responsible for ourselves and to others in dealings with them. As agents or employees (sPH6G11), we are responsible to those who engage us.

Still, you may argue: politics is entirely different and can be avoided.
Not so!
Many of us, or most in some countries, are part of a membership organization, industry association, professional body or labour union (G11) and live in a local government territory that has been deliberately and specifically created to look after our interests i.e. interests that are naturally about access to social goods and unambiguously political interests.

Conclusion: Political (social) responsibility is natural—just as ethical obligation is natural. Both are intrinsic to our social existence.

So politics and ethics are a manifestation of personal freedom,
we are free to refuse to be bound by any ethical obligation, and we are free to ignore our political responsibility. This freedom is perhaps life’s biggest challenge.

Being a Political Player is a Choice

Society absolutely requires certain people to be more than socially concerned: they must be politically active and capable of working to benefit the whole of society. I term these: «political players»—and there are many more of them than just politicians.

To be a player and participate actively asks a lot of someone—it is another dimension of life found at the next level up (G2). Its chief characteristic is a readiness to apply personal power to affect large numbers of unknown others.

Making political work a way of life may be hard to comprehend or accept. Yet everyone should benefit from the responsible and positive political work of others.

In the absence of a sharp focus on responsibility by the general public, politics will attract those with a lust for power, and a willingness to be a cog in a power-fuelled machine.

If this happens and…Closed the political arena becomes filled with such power-centred people, their mentality will generate the results that give politics a bad name; the sort of results we see playing out in our societies every day.

Originally posted: August-2009; Last updated: 2-July-2014.

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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