Seeking all politically savvy people
Sooo I’m good at a lot of things but one thing I am completely lost in is politics and world affairs. My political intelligence definitely needs some work so I was hoping maybe you guys could share your knowledge with me a little bit…give me some suggestions for books to read…websites to go on..etc. (I read the paper and watch the news but thats about it.)
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As someone who is into politics and history very much I can share what I have come to understand of politics. I had an intro class a couple semesters back and the professor asks the class to define politics and so we split into a few groups and defined it. Our group like many of the others came to the conclusion that politics was a struggle for power or authority over anything, in any situation, for any substance or resource. Now I know that politics has to do with a nation’s government and how it is set up and run. Then again take into consideration, that many forms of government have existed and exist today with some kind of politics- whether it be corrupt, or flawed, or perfect. Politics is defined in wiki as a process in which groups of people make “collective decisions”. So I assume that these groups of people, if we are explaining a modern democratic government, can be considered as the people elected by the voting population of the nation. Also their “collective decisions” should result as solutions to the issues the voters want gone because basically they put that person there and the government revenue (for income and infrastructure) comes from the voters through some kind of taxation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way because in many governments with two or more political parties there has to be a process for policy making and passing laws. This has its pros and cons but it is usually a product of politics, often between political parties due in part to conflicting ideologies (conservative or liberal) or some kind of hidden agenda (money or influence).
All right so what does this have to with power and authority? And what about corrupt politics and how does that effect the people who vote? And what about the politics in foreign relations between nations?
The important thing to understand is that politics is not only present in government and among elected officials but in many different institutions like corporate and academic. For example a boss has a certain power over his employees because he/she writes the checks or has the power to get rid of someone. In school the professor has some kind of power over the students because he/she makes the grades or writes recommendation letters. This presence of power or authority creates politics. When the exercise of power becomes unfair or one sided it is noticed but not immediately understood why it is occurring (politics is more than likely present).
As far as foreign relations, very few countries do not have a national military. In order to be heard and/or considered on the international level you have to be able to protect your borders and resources. For example, after World War II there were only two nations that remained significantly on top of the rest (USA and USSR). Their race to create as many nuclear weapons as possible and competition to one up each other in the space race was known as the cold war. They both knew that the only threat was each other and because of such different ideologies (communism vs. capitalism) it was important to be ahead. Today it is much like that cold war but not as intense because now capitalism is prevalent and there are a lot more nations playing the game. From the geopolitics that involves control of resources to cultural politics between races and ethnicities. There is politics everywhere in everything between everyone.
Watch the Daily with Jon Stewart or BBC news I think is a good start. Wow I didn’t think I was going to get into this as much as I did if anyone does read this ridiculously long post I hope it makes sense.
hm, it seems like an easy question, but then i’m really having trouble answering. so i guess, as a mind game, dedicate your shower or dish-washing time to imagining you being president/mayor/parliament member/ground worker for a different country/city/NGO/etc. every time and think about what law you’d pass/propose/lobby for. If you had power, were a politician in Israel/Kashmir/Belarus/US/Spain — what would do/change/initiate? I have found those power-dreams quite inspiring… Of course, talk, talk, talk, and ask, ask, ask everyone you meet about such things, because honestly, newspapers are nice and all, but we have pretty bad journalism these days and it’s lagging way behind what you can get from sampling even from a medium-educated social circle IMO. Or, let me rephrase that: dare to read newspapers _together_ with some friends and family and discuss some articles, that’s best probably. You can also get an almanac like the CIA world factbook (also online: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/) and have it lying around on a shelf that’s reachable from your toilet, haha. Also, you don’t always need an *opinion* (that’s a stance much underrated unfortunately). It can be enough just to know about where what kind of conflicts or problems are.. so, you’ve heard of maoist insurgencies in rural india? of the main routes that natural gas pipelines will want to take and who will have which interests in what? how tomorrow south sudan is scheduled for becoming a nation state? –> great, no immediate need for an opinion on all of this! opinions are overrated and mostly used for power games nowadays. so, if you are among folks dwelling on having the *right* political opinion, move elsewhere, cause that alone discredits their capability for good political opinions. on the practical side, read wikipedia, subscribe to newsletters of international or local civil rights organizations, listen to bbc world service: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/ , and practice to find more good sources of information by yourself. have fun, i like the question :)
make that three of us X D
I actually usually read bbc though
think it’s more like what articles you choose to read
you could read an article about the development of pancakes or the new revolt in where ever , but you’ll get more worldly knowledge by reading about the revolt
I also try try cnn.com to get more info about american politics but I know tv news websites can be really biased…
Hey there McKenzie!
I’m a young peaceful anarchist. I believe that man can govern himself, and work as a community. I acknowledge, however, that we’ve got a way to go to get there!
I would begin your political understanding by first developing the ability to see the politically influenced pieces of your life. A thought experiment that changed my life was this:
“Is this nature-made, or man-made?”
Asking yourself this question will allow you to quickly use a humanist perspective to things. In short, it’ll give you the glasses to see what mankind is creating, and what was already created for us.
I enjoy thinking of better ways things could work. When I use money, drive down the street, read the newspaper, sign on to the internet, use electricity, or my car, I know that it is manmade. And for me to use it, some political ripple had to take place, namely the marketplace used to attain goods and services.
That’s my gist. I have studied politics both academically and personally for about 6 years now, and am only starting to feel confident in my arguments and positions.
Some eye opening books for me were:
The Vocation of Man (Fichte)
Atlas Shrugged (Rand)
White Man’s Burden (Easterly)
Some great websites are:
and of course deoxy.org/rst.htm
Remember, as The Beatles said:
“You say it’s the institutions, well you know – you better free your mind instead!”
If that all sounded too heady for you, I would recommend reading NPR, Fox News, and at least one “alternative” news source, like thinkprogress.org. Take in all the viewpoints and try to understand politicians arguments. Remember that most of the time they’re just blah blahing – don’t get caught in the rhetoric. It’s just two guys fencing with words. Only the votes (both in the Chambers of Congress and at the voting booths) have strong impact. And watch the President. With the nature of Executive Orders (the power of a King, basically) lately, the President can do whatever he wants outside of legislation.
Let me know what you think :)
I have a few links and suggestions to my favorite spots. Having studied journalism and MIS in my college days I’m kind of a news whore.
http://www.npr.org/ – National Public Radio
http://www.worldpress.org/ – World news site
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/ – click “Listen Now” to the right to stream the news. It’s really good stuff. Extremely objective, top notch reporting from around the world. Great interviews and stories. I can’t live without it. I literally spend about 7 hours a day listening to it while working and driving.
http://www.avaaz.org/en/ – not only is it a place where you can take action by signing petitions, but you can learn a lot about different issues that are happening all over the world.
http://english.aljazeera.net/ – Aljazeera is a great source for Middle Eastern news as well as other countries.
http://www.reuters.com/news – Reuters is kind of like the Associated Press of Europe. It’s huge, and has reporters all over the world.
Lastly, watch Fox news for entertainment purposes. After you get familiar with real journalism, real news and not sensationalism, you’ll get a kick out of the bullshit and yellow journalism Fox news spews. I watch it every so often just to see what kind of hate, fear mongering and propaganda the conservative right is perpetuating.
Hope this helps!
You don’t have to know politics. Just act like you’re angry at everybody and call them all the same politically insulting names. That and say something about budgeting every so often.
@Max – I won’t start a new Anarchy debate, but suffice it to say I’m a fellow Passive Anarchist.
@Michael and Em:
Thanks! For me, anarchy is a broad concept. I use it politically as I would use agnosticism in a spiritual sense.
There are certain ethics, norms, economies, and routines that suit community.
I find the unknown possibilities of interaction are much larger than what we’ve come up with thus far (laws and social norms).