Why Politics is Such a Fraught Subject

The arena of politics is fraught for a lot of reasons.

It’s the subject of power, a subject on which humanity as a group is pretty much insane, from a historical perspective. Very few people ask themselves why they want to be in power, assuming that power is its own end and that one has “won” in life by getting to “the top.”

Because it is the subject of power, various control mechanisms (themselves mechanisms to attempt to gain power) such as manipulation (read: marketing, news, PR, agent provocateur, etc.) are used to accomplish it. This obscures the actual subject of politics (the efficient organization of large groups of people and their stuff within particular boundaries of space) and replaces it with push-button topics that are used to manipulate populaces into placing certain individuals in power, without any consideration of what power or politics actually are.

Now, having obscured the subject with emotionally-charged manipulation, a sort of definition change occurs—it makes “politics” into “emotionally-charged hot-button topics,” almost definitionally. It makes it impossible to discuss, and actually even makes the actual subject of politics (a social science which is known and does work) itself into an emotionally-charged hot-button topic.

In fact, anybody bringing up the subject of actual politics gets their position attacked more than any other supposedly “political” position, because attempting to put any sanity or actual politics into the subject goes directly counter to any attempt to manipulate populaces. That is, actual politics is not the subject of manipulation, fear, divisiveness, etc. It provides freedom to the individual and supports the group. It does not lead to autocracy, domination—these things that humanity thinks are “power.”

It’s not just autocrats that practice these attacks on people. They have educated the populace extremely thoroughly, by taking a few push-button topics and making them the basic pillars of “politics,” saying that nobody could really know anyway and it’s all just opinion, and then pushing forward from these pillars as though they were the fundamentals. The populace then accepts these new “fundamentals” as the most senior data in the subject of politics and they push these ideas themselves, because they are subjects that are emotionally important to people. It doesn’t matter whether the new “fundamentals” are right or wrong. The best ones have some truth in them–it makes them more defensible, which leads to more arguments and confusion. As long as they are not truly fundamental but you make them “fundamentals,” you can get the effect you’re going for. And that effect is to (a) make the subject impossible to resolve, leading to endless arguments, (b) make the subject so emotionally charged that nobody can think straight about it, (c) cause people to defend their positions either irrationally (since they have no basic principles to work with) or with tremendous complexity (since it’s very complex to explain a subject that has no basic principles), and (d) allow the subject to be manipulated by any person who can sufficiently establish themselves as an “authority” on the subject (something easily accomplishable with sufficient funding and marketing power).

So yes, sometimes when you talk about politics, humans react in a strange way.


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