For example, politics of the Indian National Congress, though split into four hostile wings, differs from the politics of the Janata Dal or the Communist Party of India, itself divided into two warring camps.
It follows that a politician is a person who interests himself in the politics of his country and that of a particular party which conforms to his political views. He is not a student of Political Science. He is only concerned with the present problems that confront the country and their solution as his party suggests.
Politics is, accordingly, an art rather than a science. But Political Science is a scientific study of the State—its nature, conditions, origin and developments—and government, their functions and purposes and the institutions they foster in order to make the task of “good life” possible.
A student of Political Science will know something of society whose political system is involved, its history and traditions; its physical and human environments in order to assess to what extent the existing institutions fulfil the aspirations of the people and help in achieving the goal of “good life”. A politician may have nothing to do with all this.
But the term Politics has acquired a new meaning in the context of advancements of late made in the discipline of Political Science. It hinges upon the political activity carried on in human environment, in time and space, and thus a product of economy, the society, history and geography.
Political activity is based on agreement and whenever there is freedom a great deal of politics is likely to be found. This follows because men have diverse views, interests and characteristics. Disagreement, though a necessary condition of politics, is not enough in itself. Order is also required if politics is not to disappear into chaos or civil war.
An organised society is a restraint on disagreement, that is, the recognised limits to disagreement and the measure of agreement necessary to maintain order. That is the way of social behaviour and political life.
The extent of agreement may be much greater than the necessary minimum, but if that minimum is absent politics is no more. Conversely, if members are forced to behave as if there were virtually no disagreement then politics is seriously curtailed; if not destroyed.
Politics may be found in a variety of associations and groups, whether the group be a trade union, a country or an international organisation. At all levels the same forces and identical urges operate.
All associations or groups where men are banded together must agree to ensure order and consequent continuity, and where they have disagreements which are subsequently resolved, in policy which is applied on behalf of the group, then politics exists in that collection of men and women.
Robert Dahl is of the opinion that every human association has a political aspect and it is in this context that he defines a political system. Apolitical system, he says, “is any persistent pattern of human relationship that involves, to a significant extent, power, rule, or authority”.
He would, accordingly, include in his definition of a political system all sorts of human associations, as private clubs, business firms, religious organizations, civil groups, primitive tribes, clans, “perhaps even families”.
All these associations have to provide for their internal ‘government’, and all these ‘governments’ operate in response to forces that it seems natural to call ‘political’; the same striving for power and exercise of influence in policy-making. Politics is, thus, a struggle for power on all the three levels it can be looked at—State, intra-State and inter-State—and it is of the same species.
The role of leadership as well as the struggle for leadership is inherent in the game of politics. Bertrand de Jouvenal explains that political activity is the urge in the human person to control and dominate and direct the wills of other individuals, which may assume many forms, but is manifest, wherever men enter into group life, as they must. That it does not manifest in all persons equally, is perhaps nature’s obscure blessings.”
It follows then that every society or group requires that some people have power over other people which is recognised by a sufficiently large number of people as legitimate; acceptable to them. In the primitive society the urge to dominate was sheer naked force.
Advancement of civilisation made possible the gradual transformation of brute force exercised and today there is competition for power and for influence over the holders of power and it is duly regularised or institutionalised.
Politics, as such, is striving to share power, or to influence its distribution as well as the actual exercise of such power. Lasswell and Kaplan, accordingly, define Politics “as an empirical discipline, (as) the study of the shaping and sharing of power” and “a political act (as) one performed in power perspectives” in every phase of the society.
But this analysis does not reveal the whole content and scope of Political Science. It has preference for particular and limited scale of studies of a strictly empirical character; a zeal for precision and objectivity.
It is the study of the political systems in their relation to social structure, which altogether ignores how the State, the pivotal entity of the discipline, and its institutions did actually emerge and the process of their development.
Unless the student of Political Science knows about the origin of the State, though the term has been discarded by the modem American political scientists, yet it is the only entity still universally recognised both in national and international politics and is familiar with its institutional framework and the manner in which it has worked over the years, his study remains lop-sided, if not barren, and the search for realism and precision becomes a futile effort.
Loss of grasp of internal coherence and independent influence of political institutions do not render it a wholesome study and, accordingly, the term Politics does not explain the real significance and scope of the discipline.