“Government or Politics?”, you will say, “But, aren't government and politics the same thing?”
Alas, this is what most people think. Political government has been with us for so long that most people don't know the difference.
And yet there is a difference. For one thing, while most governments today consist of politicians (or militaries indulging in politics), not all politicians are in government. But, to understand the real issue, one has to ask the questions: “What is Government?” and “What is Politics?”.
Government is one or more people whose responsibility is to protect people within the area of governance from injustice, to resolve disputes between people within the area of governance, and to ensure general public safety and well'being.
To perform its duties government has powers to interfere with the person, freedom or property of people within its governance without their consent, such as, preventing and punishing criminal activities, providing a workable legal system for resolution of disputes between people, and raising taxes to finance the legitimate activities of government. Such interference is strictly limited to the minimum necessary for the performance of the duties of government. Use of these powers beyond the necessary minimum or for any other purpose than performance of the duties of government is injustice. And any form of injustice is crime or civil wrong, whether it is committed by private individuals, groups of individuals or governments.
Politics, in the context of government, is abuse of government powers to promote a particular interest. For example, to promote the personal career of a politician, or to favour a group of people on whose votes or financial support a particular government depends.
A government could be elected, because it promises to pass laws favouring a particular group, or it can yield to pressures by a group when already in power.
At the international level, a government could use wars, economic blockades, or restrictive trading practices to obtain a dishonest advantage or influence over another country.
In all the cases a government indulging in politics, rather than performing honest administration over its area of governance, is abusing its powers.
Because government powers are rights to commit acts, which, if committed by persons not having these rights would have constituted crimes or civil wrongs, it is necessary to ensure that these powers are not abused, that is, that governments do not indulge in politics.
To achieve that purpose it is necessary to define strictly and clearly the duties of government in each sphere of the government activity.
Without such definition, there is no way of determining, whether the government is performing its duties correctly or not.
If houses were built with the same degree of understanding what the resulting house should be, as politicians have of the result and purpose of their activities, no house would ever be finished, and whatever parts of houses happened to be built would be either collapsing or dismantled and rebuilt, as the understanding of the builders what they are doing would be constantly changing (with the changes in the ‘political’ climate).
Not many builders build houses that way, but this is how most of the government activities are performed: education, healthcare, policing, railways, the Dome … , in fact, anything politicians do.
While there are cases when private people engage in business activities without understanding what they are doing, if they fail, it is themselves who sustain the loss.
Government activities are not financed by politicians out of their own private funds, they are financed from taxes taken from private people.
Like driving a car, government is a dangerous activity. But while the danger that can result from driving a car is usually restricted to damage to a few people (seldom more than 10, and very rarely more than 100), misuse of government powers can result in damage affecting millions of people, and billions worth of damage to property. In the course of the 20th century alone, crimes committed by various governments around the world have caused more deaths and destruction of property, than crimes committed by private criminals throughout all the history of mankind.
But while to drive a car one is required a third party insurance and passing a driving test, the only requirement for being in government is membership of a political party, of a group of arrogant, ignorant, vain and ambitious individuals, craving for power to impose their will on others. It is obvious that belonging to an organisation is no substitute for a third party insurance or a driving test, but on the basis of membership of a party alone, politicians obtain access to practically unlimited powers to cause practically unlimited damage.
So while politicians do not want to limit their ‘powers’ or accept any responsibility for the results of their own actions, it is necessary for the purpose of honest government that the duties of government be strictly limited and clearly defined, and that those in government be made responsible for the results of their actions.
Honest people in government will understand the need for such limitations, in the same way as honest traders understand the need for the Weights and Measures Act. It is time that an equivalent of the Weights and Measures Act be enacted to help those in government to perform their duties with the same level of honesty, competence and responsibility as we expect from a girl at a supermarket checkout. Politics, that is, any abuse of government powers, has to become a crime punishable by 5 years imprisonment and disqualification from holding a public office for life.