We all live amidst different political ideas. Some people are simply never aware of that, some notice that from time to time, and for some that is just their natural habitat. We call such people politicians.
The first glance at this group of people suffices to make it clear that they are very different and it would be useful to learn to distinguish between politicians by their intrinsic features. Let us make it clear from the very beginning: the present article does not aim to judge “politicians” in terms of their being better or worse. We do not know who is better - a monkey or a magpie, a lion or a whale, nor do we have any intention to figure that out. We see our mission in helping people reinforce their right not to “believe their eyes” when they see “lion” written on a donkey cage. We reduce our goal to providing a classification - we will attempt to structure political space and identify those important distinctions that would enable us to subsume “politicians” under a particular class, group or kind with some degree of certainty. Importantly, we do not depart from the original meaning of the word “politics” - the art of governing a state - since it has nothing to do with our modern society.
On the surface of it, our effort may seem redundant. Once asked, a “politician” (further referred to without quotation marks) will readily perform self-identification by categorizing himself as: a conservative, a liberal democrat, a national socialist, etc. However, such a response provides little information. Firstly, such kind of self-identification seldom reflects the reality: politicians always “want to seem something” in the first place. Just think of how many communist politicians there were in our country twenty years ago and democrat politicians ten years ago. Besides, different politicians have different understanding of these words-identifiers. Therefore, objectively different politicians can assume one and the same key label, while those objectively similar - different key labels. Secondly, even those interested in the politician’s identification can hardly be certain that they have fairly similar understanding of these political terms.
In order to be able to distinguish between politicians one has to learn to define them.
A definition aims to clearly and precisely delimit a given notion vs. all other notions with regard to its content and scope.
There are several kinds of definitions: ostensive, genetic, contextual, provided through its relation to its exact opposite, comparison, description, through its next genus and species, etc.
The most common of them and suitable for logical constructs is a definition provided through the next genus and specific distinction. Aristotle considered it the only worthy way of defining things. Among all other kinds of definitions, it is this one, often referred to in literature as classical, that proves best suitable for strictly research purposes.
A definition provided through the next genus and specific distinction includes two notions: the defined and the defining, where the defined constitutes a subset of the set of the defining as well as distinction (distinctions) on the basis of which the elements of the set of the defined are singled out from the set of the defining.
The whole of the conceivable in this world constitutes the universe - the multitude of all the objects existing in real life or, at least, in imagination. Here the objects can be both specific - for example, Yegorov Sergei Nesterovitch, and abstract - for example, a man.
Any conceivable abstract object separated from any other conceivable abstract object by its distinct features will be called a notion. Thus, the universe is made up of notions.
Here I once again remind that
A definition aims to clearly and precisely delimit a given notion vs. all other notions with regard to its content and scope.
The first thing to do while creating a classical definition is to select the next genus for the defined notion. That is, such a more general notion whose boundaries inside the universe are clear to us, the inner space of which fully embraces the defined notion. For our purposes we could accept the following notion as the next genus: a man sharing some specific political ideas.
We realize that defining a politician as a man sharing some specific political ideas has very little to do with the real life. First of all, because the majority of politicians are not able to formulate the political ideas they share. Of course, if you ask a politician this question he will readily answer it. However, his answer will most likely contain minor, unimportant assertions or negations, which, to a large extent, have no systemic nature. Now we will not analyze to what extent this situation reflects the real understanding and to what the conscious avoidance of the possible self-identification.
The fact that politicians are usually grouped together to form some sub-sets, commonly known as parties, will also be of little help. The analysis of parties’ program documents reveals their shallow, chaotic and scattered nature.
Thus, once we defined a politician as a person sharing some specific political ideas it is necessary to systematize those ideas. That is to reduce them to some system. Here it will be useful to recall the definition of a system: a system is a set of elements connected with each other in a regular fashion, interrelated and linked to each other thus making a whole, a unity.
Thus, the elements of our system - political ideas - should be interrelated in a regular fashion. The currently acknowledged regularity implies a linear pattern of political ideas ranging from the extreme left to the extreme right (or vise versa). Given a closer look, such regularity does no stand up to criticism. It is evident that in this pattern both round and red can be found standing side by side in one and the same row! So, from the regularity point of view, what is it that should be perceived as more left - Christian or Democratic? In other words, what is redder - a square or a triangle? The existing political identifiers can not be presented in the form of a line where each identifier would be regularly positioned in relation to its neighbor. This fundamental statement is indirectly confirmed by the existence of a large number of parties whose names have more than one identifier: social-democratic party, national- democratic party, Christian-democratic party, etc.
In order to eliminate this contradiction we suggest giving up a linear regularity and shifting to a three-dimensional, spatial regularity, i.e., grouping all the significant political ideas around three axes thus providing a description of political space. If structured correctly, each local area of the political space should be unique.
The first and the most important axis of such a political space is the axis of absolute values: man - society - state.
At one end of this axis there lies political idea No. 1 according to which every man is an ultimate value - the center of the universe, for whose sake everything exists and functions. Society represents the totality of individuals that should have no rights over any individual and no interests that are at odds with the interests of any individual. A state is an instrument meant for organizing co-existence of people and, as well as society, it has no rights over any individual, no interests that contradict interests of any individual. An individual has only three obligations to meet: not to violate the rights of other people, to fulfill the obligations that he voluntarily assumed and to pay taxes to sustain the state. The State ensures the fulfillment of these obligations by every individual.
This political idea implies the maximum possible scope of freedom available to each individual, hence the most suitable name for this political idea is Liberalism (“liberalis” - free).
At the other end of this axis there lies political idea No. 2 , according to which the State is everything. An individual is a mere cog whose role and function is determined by the state. Any prescription made by the State is lawful and should be strictly implemented. An individual should have no independent goals of his own. Society is the instrument of the State, which helps - through methods of collective responsibility (one for all and all for one) - make an individual implement any prescriptions of the State.
The name of this political idea - Communism - was invented over 2000 years ago by Plato, who was its apologist.
Somewhere in the middle of the given axis there resides political idea No.3, according to which the ultimate value is society. It is society that sets the goals pertaining to life and development for its individual members. It is society that evaluates human activity from the point of view of its contribution to the societal goals - its preservation and development. An individual has the right to pursue any goals which are not in conflict with the interests of the society as a whole, he is obliged to observe the rights of other people, fulfill his voluntarily assumed obligations and all the prescriptions of the society aimed at achieving the goals of the society. The State ensures the implementation of these obligations by every individual.
The most suitable name for this political idea is Socialism (“socialis” - public).
Throughout the whole first axis we find one element - the State as a totality of entities and mechanisms of governance, the scope and functions of which are subject to change depending on its position along the axis. But how is the State formed, what constitutes the source of its power? Providing answers to these questions are political ideas lying along the second axis of our political space - the axis of the sources of rights.
At one end of the second axis lies political idea No.4, according to which all citizens of a given country constitute the source of the State power and, therefore, all have the right to govern. Such governance can be performed by citizens either directly or through their representatives.
The most suitable name for this political idea is Democracy.
At the opposite end of this axis we find political idea No.5, according to which the state power, under this or that (sometimes, specious) pretext can be usurped. Depending on the pretext or the way of obtaining power it can be called either monarchy, or dictatorship, or tyranny, etc. The most suitable name for this political idea is Despotism. The history gives us many different intermediate examples of it - Triumvirate, Directoire, Semiboyarschina and other kinds of usurpation.
When we refer to democracy implying equal rights to govern the State, we say that such equality of rights concerns only citizens. At the same time, there exist some political ideas according to which not all people deserve to be called this noble word - a citizen. Besides, alongside with the right to govern the State every individual can, in theory, enjoy (or not enjoy) different other rights. These facts were not reflected in the first two axes, thus necessitating the introduction of the third axis of our political space - the axis of rights’ implementation.
At one end of the third axis there is political idea No.6, according to which there are people (an individual) of the first and other “sorts”. “The first-sort” people enjoy all the rights resulting from their position on the first and second axes, and all the other people have no rights at all. Here, belonging to the first-sort can be determined by a number of different factors such as nationality, religion, background, etc.
The most suitable name for this idea is Exclusiveness.
At the other end of this axis we find the exact opposite - political idea No.7 which suggests that politically all people are of one and the same sort and no exclusiveness should be permitted. Every individual enjoys absolutely the same scope of rights as any other.
The most suitable name for this political idea is Equal rights.
Now that we have described the three-dimensional political space, it becomes evident that in order to describe the “political face” of a concrete politician (and a concrete political regime) it is necessary to determine his position on the axes Liberalism - Communism - Democracy - Despotism - Equal rights - Exclusiveness. By positioning politicians in space one can clearly identify who of them are comrades-in-arms, who are allies and who are political opponents. Having identified the current position of our political regime within the political space, we can determine the direction in which these or those politicians propose moving. Incidentally, this is the only way to clarify which politicians are really conservative - those whose today’s position in the political space coincides with the position of the political regime, and therefore, they will objectively seek to preserve it. In order to compare the allies, i.e., such politicians whose position in the political space is very close, another parameter can be introduced - the extent of radicalism, i.e., the pace with which the given politician proposes to carry out transition from the existing political regime to a new and, in his opinion, a better one.
However, all of this is the subject for further studies. The present article proposes a new research instrument, a kind of “Leeuwenhoek’s microscope”. We always have a supply of “infusoria” in stock for it. So let us do our best to master the new instrument together, perhaps with time it will enable us to effectively combat the “plague” and “cholera” always lying in wait for their chance to attack any society.