CHENNAI: Politics is a word that certainly doesn’t mean, what Aristotle meant a couple of thousand years ago. Its etymology has changed over the course of the last sprout of human evolution. When he initially coined the term, he was referring to a collective term that would describe the ‘affairs of the cities’.
Like most popular words, the original Greek word, Politika, was adapted into the then English of the world, Latin, and the word became Politicus, which meant, ‘relating to the citizens’.
It is true that one can track the history of politics by tracking the history of how governments have been evolving on the planet since the inception of the idea, but, one can also track how politics has been consumed by generations by tracking what the word popularly meant in that country in that decade or century. Historically speaking, however, the formation of “states” and most modern state politics owe their origins to successful warfare. It’s ironical how the foundation of one of the most “brain oriented” practices in the world was laid on the basis of being successfully brawny.
Politics as an umbrella for choosing a ruler had been comparatively simple until a few centuries ago. In a nutshell, it was about choosing the right ruler. The process was in equal parts democratic and aristocratic, as the Greeks had introduced thousands of years ago. Citizens of the various countries that had adapted to an administrative government were directly involved in the state’s affair because their livelihood depended on it. This resulted in cordial voting in some cases, a revolution in others.
Politics, a fairly direct term, started evolving into an innuendo of sorts, after the emergence of left-right politics. Meanings behind the labels left and right have become more complex over the years, but the foundations on which they were formed haven’t changed. And that has been a concern to politics. With the renaissance, industrial revolution, World Wars, and technological renaissance, new ideas have emerged; ideas that have shaped how politics has been viewed today. Millennials or Generation Y has compartmentalized politics and distanced themselves from it because of the popular definitions that the word radiates these days. Given how anarchy is an option the generation would hardly resort to, what if being political wasn’t an option? It is a common misconception among millennials that mainstream state politics only affects the working class. The pre-conceived notions that the generation comes with have a lot to do with what politics has become over the last few decades or so. The true origins of the term and the power of administration are hardly ever considered. Well, distancing oneself from politics of the state you belong to, irrespective of the class you belong to, is ignorant; not the kind of ignorance that results in bliss, but the kind that will have repercussions in the near future.
This is the kind of hypothetical that treads the line between the “what if” and the “it is”. The state’s population being political, even mildly political, is probably an ideal world scenario; if utopia is where we are heading, the “civic” in the extrapolation of the Latin word needs to be justified.
(When he isn’t writing, the creative producer with The Rascalas watches a lot of ‘cat videos’ on YouTube)