Introduction to politics

by Admin
Updated: July 4, 2018

A brief introduction to politics and how it compares to normal business administration

Politics matters because it can dramatically affect the society in which we live. While much of it is concerned with everyday admin, changes in government policy can quickly work against your wealth and even take away your freedom.

Politics provides the framework within which businesses - and personal wealth development systems - operate. Ignoring it can turn out to be very expensive.

The word “politics” comes from the Greek politika (πολιτικά) and means, literally, the “affairs of cities.” It originates from the Greek polis, meaning city and was derived from the title of Aristotle’s treatise on government, “ta Politika.”

Political success vs Business success

Businesses measure their success primarily in terms of financial return on investment.

Political administrations measure their success primarily in terms of popular approval.

A business will collapse if it fails financially, no matter how much everyone approves of it. A political administration will not survive if it becomes sufficiently unpopular, no matter its numbers.

Policies vs strategies

Even though the relative importance of approval and profit are different, the methods that can be used to achieve success in politics and business overlap considerably.

The greatest difference is the extent to which relevant information can be obtained:

A small business operating in a small community is likely to have full access to internal and external data. The owner/manager can know the business in complete detail and maintain open communication with the community.

As the business & community get larger, it becomes more difficult for the business to identify & satisfy its customers. It also becomes more difficult to collect and accurately interpret its internal data: Departments & individuals may have their own agendas which are not fully aligned with corporate goals.

Strategies should, ideally, be continuously adjusted in reaction to new information. But when the information is lacking (or deliberately falsified) the consequences can be disastrous.

Policies provide constraints that serve to protect against wildly deviating strategies.

It is normal for policies to be justified on the basis of taking a long-term view. However, the time-frame is often more closely related to career cycles of the policy makers...

Political power corrupts?

Lord Acton’s remark, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” has been repeated so often that for some it has become an unquestionable truth - an axiom.

I disagree.

Government done right rarely makes the news, but liberated societies benefit from a lot of it. And we have it because the vast majority of politicians and civil servants fulfill their roles properly.

The real problem is that, because political influence is a matter of negotiation, it attracts the kind of people who would abuse it.

Political decisions are more complicated

Political decisions typically concern multiple parties with diverse - and often conflicting - interests who do not share the details of their interests.

Politics is concerned with cities

Technically, politics is concerned with issues affecting cities and this can sometimes be at odds with the perspectives of the individuals making up those cities.

More info

“Aristotelous ta Politika. The politics of Aristotle. With English notes by Richard Congreve” at archive.org.

Lord Acton - Letter to Archbishop Mandell Creighton, 1887 (“power corrupts”) at history.hanover.edu and “... power doesn’t corrupt; it heightens pre-existing ethical tendencies” from smithsonianmag.com.

“The Huge Difference Between Business And Political Strategies” at fastcompany.com

“The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few” at theobjectivestandard.com.

Internal links

Defining goals as Utopian ideals You are making a difference Compromise Go to Articles
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