Q. 1. What do you mean by Political Theory ? Discuss its nature.
Define Political Theory. Explain its characteristics and scope.
Ans. We agree with Jellinek’s statement that there is no such duality in other sciences or their terminology as such in political science. That is why it is known as political science, politics, political philosophy, etc. But now, these different terms are used for different meanings. Political theory is distinguished from political philosophy.
Meaning and Definitions of Political Theory
To understand the meaning of political theory, we must know the meaning of theory. The word ‘theory’ originates from a Greek word, ‘Theoria’, that suggests a well focused mental lock taken at something in a state of contemplation with an intent to grasp it. In simple terms, Arnold Brecht defines theory saying that, “it is always used to designate attempts to explain a phenomena especially when that is done in general and abstract terms.” In simple words, Political Theory is a theory about what is political science and the philosophy of something that is political. Political speculations of individual philosophers and some ideologies such as anarchism, communism and so on are put together in one volume which is given the title of political theory. In the entire field of political science, theory building in this scientific sense is possible. Montesquieu’s theory of Separation of Power, Michel’s Iron Law of Oligarchy and recent theories on Community Power Structure and in the field of international relations represent some of the attempts in this direction. Political theory is a part philosophy and part science. It is therefore, neither a complete political philosophy nor a full political science. Regarding the meaning and definition of political theory, critics have different opinions. Following are the various definitions of political theory.
1. Defining political theory as to “Critical study of the principles of right order in human social existence”, Germino declares that Political Theory is neither reductionist behavioral science nor opinionated ideology.”
2. According to Alan Issak, “A political theory might be defined as a set of generalisations containing concepts with which we are directly acquainted and those which are operationally defined, but in addition and more important theoretical concepts that although not directly tied to observation and logically related to those concepts that are.”
3. Sabine defines it as “Broadly it means as anything about politics or relevant to politics and narrowly as the disciplined investigation of political problems.”
4. In the words of David Held, “Political theories are complex network of concepts and generalisations about political life involving ideas, assumptions and statements about the nature, purpose and key features of government, state and society and about the political capabilities of human beings.”
5. Andrew Hacker defines political theory as it is “a combination of a disinterested search for the principles of good state and good society on the one hand and a disinterested search for knowledge of political and social reality on the other.”
6. According to Bluhm “Political Theory is an explanation of what politics is all about, a general understanding of the political world, a frame of reference. Without one we should be unable to recognise an event as political, decide anything about why it happened, judge whether it was good or bad or decide that was likely to happen next.”
7. According to Andrew Hacker, Political theory has two distinct meanings :
(i) It stands for the history of political ideas. Starting with Plato, these ideas are regarded as contribution to an intellectual tradition. They are studied with due regard for the historical circumstances which produced them, and their influence on political practice is a constant matter for speculation. This understanding of political theory is more traditional of the two and an honorable tradition of scholarship supports it.
(ii) The other conception of the theory is newer and in consequences less sure of its methods and purposes. Nevertheless, it can be said that this approach calls for the systematic study of political behaviour in the modern world.
1. State and Government are the Main Subjects of Political Theory. State is the main subject of political science and theory because the machinery of political science revolves around the State. Man is incomplete without the State.In the sphere of political theory we study the nature and size of existing state and the practicability of the fundamental principle of the present government. But the nature of state and government has changed with the time. Now their present nature is different from their past. Political theorists study the reasons for the origin of state and its process of development.The sphere of political theory is not limited to the study of State in its past and present form, but political thinkers also study how State and government fulfil the needs of people. In other words, political thinkers measure the level of success of the government policies in satisfying the needs of the residents of state. In modern times, the objective of political thinkers is to establish a welfare State. Thus, the scope of political theory is extensive and expanded from past to present and to the future of the nature and scope of state and government.
2. Study of Power. The political theory also includes the study of power. In other words, “Political theory is the study of power process.” Power has many forms—political, economic and social power, individual and public power, national and international power, etc. Political thinker studies the inter-relationship of these powers and also evaluates who gets? when? why? and how ? in the society. But political thinkers give primary preference to the study of political power.The Government uses its powers under some laws and restrictions. The Constitution restricted the powers of the government. Power has no separate existence and individuality.
3. Wider Scope of the Subject. The study of political theory consists of the study in different fields,i.e., formal, informal, economies, social, psychological,geographical, ethical, political, religious, and cultural.These factors influence political system. In political theory we study society, state and international politics. These areas widen the scope of the political theory.
4. Study of Political Ideology. Political theorists also studied political ideologies. Ideology is that system of values, beliefs and thoughts that governs people. Various ideologies have been prevalent in the society from Plato to nowadays, e.g., Idealism, Individualism, Marxism,Gandhism, Socialism, Utilitarianism, etc. Political theory expresses political values, organisation and customs in political ideologies a society adopts as ideal.
5. Study of Associations and Institutions.Another feature of political theory is that it studies the various organisations, associations and institutions established in the State. These associations and institutions fulfil the various needs of people. The importance has been given to the process of election,pressure group, system of public relations, means of communication in the sphere of political studies.
6. A Study of Rights and Duties. Political Theory is a study of rights and duties. In the democratic world,government cannot progress until and unless its citizens obey their rights and duties.
7. Study of Political Parties. In modern democratic countries, political parties influence the functions of government. With the passage of time political parties have become essential for democratic government. In fact, political parties have become the life of the democracy. Political parties select thecandidates for elections and form the government.Political theories are related with political parties.
8. Inter-disciplinary Study. Political theory studies all those subjects that affect human behaviour. These subjects are Economy, Politics, Religion,Educational, Geography and Culture, etc. These subjects influence human actions. In fact, these subjects influence the whole socio-political system. For the better study of political theory, the study of these subjects is essential.
9. Empirical and Behavioural. This is another feature of political theory. Political theorists collect facts and figures on the basis of experience. Political studies have become empirical and behavioural. Political theorists form theories on the basis of experience and it has changed the nature of political theories.
10. Nature of Micro Level Study. Another characteristic of political theories is that it concentrates on the macro level study. It divides the political organisation into small units and then analyse the structure of these small units. At macro level,theorists do effective studies.
11. Study by Scientific Methods. It is a well known fact that political science and its studies concentrate upon human behaviour. Political theoriststake recourse to scientific methods as human nature is not static. The theorists use scientific methods to evaluate political events, collect facts, classification, analyse and for drawing conclusions. So the nature of political theories has become scientific.
12. Re-entry of Values. The behaviouralistic studies had tried to make political theories free of values.Due to these political theories, failed to solve behavioural problems and the importance of values in the behavioural world perpetuated the post-Behavioural Revolution.
13. Study of Informal Elements. Another characteristic of political theories is that these theories not only study formal subjects; i.e., state, government,constitution, structure of government, etc; but also study informal subjects that influence political organisations.These are-polling, referendum legislature, pressure group,interest group, judiciary, executive and political parties.
14. A Study of Human Behaviour. Another characteristic of political theory is that it is a study of human behaviour. In the 20th century, human behaviour has become the most significant subject of political theories. Political theorists study whatever an individual does in the political field, its causes and the motivating factors for all that causes. In fact, politics is nothing buta sort of human behaviour.
15. A Study of Processes. Political theories discuss the political processes that go within a nation. Political process is always a legal process. Political theorist also studies international politics.
16. A Study of Policy Formulation. Political theory is also concerned with policy formulation.
Q. 2. Discuss the significance and utility of Political Theory.
Ans. In the modern times, Political theory has its own significance in each sphere of life. The development of present political theories and ideologies has completely shattered the traditional political views.Political theory has great significance in the present scenario of political science and political institution. It shapes the society in idealistic mould and does efforts for the welfare of society. Political theory is significant for the following reasons:
1. Helps to understand Political Reality.Political theory helps to understand political realities. It makes the study of facts and events easy asit removes the illusions and superstitions regarding some event. It helps in the systematic arrangements of facts, events, relations, for external world. Political theory helps in understanding,recognition and denomination of some events and facts.
2. Simplification of Knowledge. Political theory simplifies the knowledge. It converts facts into symbolsso as to make them easy to remember and define.
3. It legitimates the Government. Political theory legitimates the government. To maintain the supremacy,the influential classes take recourse to political theory.
4. Use of Proper Means to Fulfil the Objectives.Political theorist encourages people to use adequate means to fulfil their objectives and needs. Political theory is the only means to balance political facts and events and study pattern and human values.
5. Helps to Resolve Problems. It resolves the problems of peaceful settlement of states, its development and other problems that hinder the growth of state.Political theory is a means to control and resolve national and international problems. It can sort out the problems of war, sovereignity and nationality.
6. Utility for Politicians, Citizens, Rulers,Leaders, etc. Political theory is significant for each section of the society. It provides the knowledge of the nature of political system and its various organisations.The politicians, leaders, rulers cannot do without political theories. For the efficient working of the machinery of state and political organisations, politicians and rulers adopt various political theories.
7. Robert Dahl’s views about Utility of Political Theory. According to Robert Dahl,political theory is relevant in the political, psychological and ethical sphere. From political point of view, it legitimatises government. Political theory is important for individual from psychological point of view. It gives human life humanistic, intellectual and ethical directions.
8. Extension of Intellect. Political theory develops and expands the intelligence level of an individual. Intelligence means knowledge, efficiency and awareness of values. Theory makes us efficient and capable. Ithelps in the selection of objectives and priorities.
9. Importance for Researchers. Theories are valuable for researchers. If some propounded theory is acceptable and stable then it provides ground to study public interest and share in the political system. It helps in analysis and generalisation of facts. Theories prove economical to researchers as these save their time and make research work easy to accomplish.
10. Provides Guidance to Followers. Political theory provides guidance to its followers. This suggests such a way to followers that makes their task, to resolve problems, easy. Hindu Philosophy has propounded such theories that are still valuable and relevant even after thousands of years of their creation.
11. Helps in Prediction. By keeping three things in view; i.e., past experience, existing circumstances and needs of future; the theorist tries to make predictions. Although the theorist makes prediction sand looks for ways to eliminate social problems, yet these predictions cannot be that much true as of the natural sciences.
12. Inspires Political Movements. Political theories inspire political movements. Generally, political movements get inspiration from political theories.Inspired by one or the other theory, revolutionists of the world sacrificed their lives. Lenin had said, “without arevolutionary theory there cannot be a revolutionary movement.” Many of the revolutionists of India like RajGuru, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Chandra Shekhar Azadand many more sacrificed their life for the freedom of India.
13. To Understand and Explain Social Change.Political theory helps to understand and explain the nature and causes of social change. It studies various aspects and effects of social change. Karl Marx’s view is not appropriate that theories will become insignificant after the establishment of classless and stateless society. But the fact is that with the change of society and human development, the value of political theory increases to study the changes and development of society.
14. Importance as a Framework. Political theory encourages data collection and research.In this context, Easton discussed about the importance of theory in the form of a framework. It works as a sievethat selects relevant facts and ignores irrelevant material. It directs as a compass and like a gauge,measures the level of development in a specified period.
15. Collects Past Memories. Political theory collects the facts of history. It compiles the knowledgeof past and thoughts of ancient philosophers that are forgotten by the society.
16. Presents Scientific Explanations. Political theory gives scientific explanation of political events. It scientifically discusses about the political processes and the reasons for those processes. It analyses and generalises the facts and events of state. Political theory is not only a device to evaluate what is happening but also to make political choices. Political theory is significant for political studies.
Q. 3. Define Politics. Discuss major concern of Politics.
Ans. D. G. Hitchner has rightly pointed out that“The world around us is clearly a political world. All man kind has been drawn into some political association through which men engage in cooperation and conflict.Indeed, that the world is becoming even more political seems one its most important aspects.” Like death, taxe and poverty, politics is a universal phenomena. The Universality of politics is due to the Universality of mankind. Life of every human being is affected by politics directly or indirectly. According to Marshall Bermon,“Whether we belong to a small or large country, the action of our government and the actions of the government of great power will shape our destiny.”
Definitions of Politics. It is very difficult to give precise and exact definitions of the word ‘Politics’ from different points of view.
1. According to Oxford Dictionary, “Politics is the science and art of government. The science dealing with the form organisation and administration of a State, or part of one and with the regulation of its relations with other States.”
2. According to Garner “The meaning of the term‘Politics’ is confined to that part of the business and activity which has to do with the actual conduct of the affairs of the State.”
3. According to Gilchrist, “Politics now-a-days refers to current problems of government, which as often as not are more economic in character than political in scientific sense.”
4. According to D.A. Butlar, “Politics is entire concerned with people, with the way in which they react to decisions. It cannot usefully be studied except in the light of actual behaviour.”
5. According to Harold Lasswell, “Politics is the study of influence and influential. Politics is primarily concerned with who gets, what, when and how?According to another statement of Lasswell, “Politics is the study of sharing of power.”
6. According to David Easton, “Politics is the study of authoritative allocation of values as it is influenced by the distribution and use of power.”
Major Concern of Politics
There are two views regarding the concern of politics :
(I) Traditional and (II) Modern.
(I) Concern of Traditional Politics
1. Concerned with the State. Politics is the science of State. The main object of politics and sphere of its activity is the State. According to Gettell,“Political Science is the historical investigation of what the state has been, an analytical study of what the state is and politico—ethical discussion of what the state ought to be.”
2. Study of Government. Government is an essential attribute of the state. How the government is formed, what are it various forms, what are the merits and demerits of the various forms of government, what are the various organs of government and what are their relations to one another? Political Science studies all these things.
3. Concerned with Political Thought. Political thinkers of different ages have always been trying to answer some fundamental questions about the state.These answers have come to us in the form of — ism,like Idealism, Individualism, Utilitarianism,Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, Fascism,Gandhism, etc. The study of all these theories is an important scope of Political Science.
4. Study of Man. Without human beings there can be no State. Aim of the State is public welfare.The State today follows the individual from the cradle to the grave. In politics, we study not only the political aspect of man but also include social, economic,religions, moral and psychological aspects. In other words, in politics, we study man as a whole.
5. Study of Associations and Institutions.Within a State, there are various associations and institutions which fulfill various needs of man. There are pressure groups and interest groups. Politics studies all these groups and associations. Politics also studies the electoral system, organisation of public opinions, public relationship and the means of propaganda in the State.
6. Study of International Problems. Modern age is an age of internationalism. No State is self-sufficient. Hence, all states are closely related to each other. According to Beni Prasad, “Politics started as the science of the affairs of the city. Later it broadened to comprise the large country state. It has now to take the final step and stand forth as the science of world organisation.”
(II) Concern of Modern Politics Modern Politics include all those things which are concerned with the political system of a country.According to modern view, politics is concerned with the following:
1. Politics is concerned with Power. In the modern age, many political scholars have considered power as a central point of politics and according to them, politics is a struggle for power. According to Von Dybe, “Power is obviously a salient feature of politics.” Max Weber has regarded the use of power or threat of use of power as the basic elements of power. Lasswell has also accepted Power as the major concern of politics. According to Hans Morganthau, “Politics is a struggle for power; a game played to attain and maintain power.”
2. Politics is the Study of Influence. According to some political scholars along with power, influence is also a central subject of politics. According to Lasswell,“The study of politics is the study of influence and influential.”
3. Study of Leadership. Another important subject of politics is leadership. Leadership means to have the capacity of organising human means for the achievement of particular goals. Some person are called leaders on the basis of their influence and power and others are called their followers. Leadership is important in politics and plays an important role in taking decisions.
4. Politics is concerned with Authoritative Allocation of Valuer for the Society. According to David Easton, “Politics is the study of the authoritative allocation of values for society.” In his analysis of politics,David Easton has emphasised on three things: (a) Policy or Value (b) Authority and (c) Society.
5. Politics is concerned with Problems and Conflicts. Another element in Politics is controversy.According to Was by, “Where there is politics, it is said,there is controversy where there are issues, there is Politics. Where no controversy exists, where no issuer are being debated, Politics does not exist.”
6. Politics is concerned with Consensus and Cooperation. Some political scientists are of the opinion that many problems are solved without any struggle,by discussion and negotiation.
7. Politics is concerned with man. Many political scientists have described politics as the studyof man. According to them, politics is concerned with the relation and patterns of interactions between men.Man is the main actor in politics. His actions and activities in a particular environment, produce politics.Thus, when we study politics, we also study human actions and interactions.
8. Politics is concerned with Inter-nationalism. Politics is also concerned with international politics. In fact, international politics has its roots in national politics.
9. Study of Group Involvement. Politics is a collective process or activity. In this we study the activities of various groups organised on the basis of different interests and different principles. Politics is such a process by which people determine their destiny.
10. Study of Political Parties. Political parties are inevitable in a democratic systems. In politics, we study origin, nature and role of political parties.
11. Study of Comparative Government and Politics. In politics, we study comparative government and politics also. Traditional thinkers only study comparative government and politics of European countries whereas modern scholars also study political system of developing countries of the Third World.
Conclusion. In short, the scope of politics is increasing day by day. Politics is an unavoidable fact of modern life. According to Steindhal, ‘‘Politics in a work of literautre is like a pistol shot in the middle of a concert, something loud and vulgar and yet a thing to which it is not possible to refuse one’s attention.’’