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Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, 'affairs of the cities') is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The academic study of politics is referred to as political science.

Politics is a multifaceted word. It may be used positively in the context of a "political solution" which is compromising and non-violent, or descriptively as "the art or science of government", but also often carries a negative connotation. For example, abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared that "we do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us." The concept has been defined in various ways, and different approaches have fundamentally differing views on whether it should be used extensively or limitedly, empirically or normatively, and on whether conflict or co-operation is more essential to it.

A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level. In modern nation states, people often form political parties to represent their ideas. Members of a party often agree to take the same position on many issues and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders. An election is usually a competition between different parties.

A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a society. The history of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, Chanakya's Arthashastra and Chanakya Niti (3rd century BCE), as well as the works of Confucius.

Selected article

Flag of the German Empire

The unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German Empire after the French capitulation in the Franco-Prussian War. Unofficially, the transition of most of the German-speaking populations into a federated organization of states occurred over nearly a century of experimentation. Unification exposed several glaring religious, linguistic, and cultural differences between and among the inhabitants of the new nation, suggesting that 1871 really only represents one moment in a continuum of the larger unification processes. Historians debate whether or not Otto von Bismarck, the Minister President of Prussia, had a master-plan to expand the North German Confederation of 1866 to include the remaining independent German states into a single entity, or whether he simply sought to expand the power of the Kingdom of Prussia. They conclude that factors in addition to the strength of Bismarck's Realpolitik led a collection of early modern polities to reorganize political, economic, military and diplomatic relationships in the 19th century. By establishing a Germany without Austria, the political and administrative unification in 1871 at least temporarily solved the problem of German dualism.

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British Columbia Parliament Buildings - Pano - HDR.jpg
Credit: Ryan Bushby

Located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and officially opened in 1898 with a 500 feet (150 m) long facade, central dome, two end pavilions, and a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

Selected quote

Samuel Gompers
Let the inspiring watchword go forth that-

We will stand by our friends and administer a stinging rebuke to men or parties who are either indifferent, negligent, or hostile, and, wherever opportunity affords, to secure the election of intelligent, honest, earnest trade unionists, with clear, unblemished, paid-up union cards in their possession.

Samuel Gompers, The American Federationist, May 1906

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Selected biography

George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009. Before that he was the 46th Governor of Texas, serving from 1995 to 2000. In a close and controversial election, Bush was elected President in 2000 as the Republican candidate, defeating Vice President Al Gore in the Electoral College. A series of terrorist attacks occurred eight months into Bush's first term as president on September 11, 2001. In response, Bush announced a global War on Terror, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan that same year and an invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition to national security issues, Bush promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. Bush successfully ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, in another relatively close election. He was a highly controversial figure internationally, with public protests occurring even during visits to close allies, such as the United Kingdom.

Did you know...

Did you know?
  • ...that the public activist group Citizen Action shut down in 1997 due to the effects of a labor union election campaign funds scandal?




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