Sunday, March 15, 2009

Three kinds of politics

There are three layers of politics, from the top:

  1. Theoretical political philosophy: the teachings of Plato, Locke, Mill, Hayek, Smith, Berlin, Marx, and the rest occupy this topmost and most ideological stratum of political discourse.
  2. Administrative political reality: this layer contains politics as it is instantiated in the real world, and is often at odds with the ivory-tower teachings of the upper layer. It is studied by sociologists and political scientists.
  3. The office politics of the powerful: this is the layer most often discussed by journalists who are too close to the game to realise that inasmuch as the personalities involved are of any relevance to what actually goes on (see above) it is almost impossible to predict what effect they will have. Nick Robinson is particularly guilty of believing that this is the only layer of politics that matters.

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