Some people think that politics is a “dirty thing” and that by avoiding it they remain clean. But it is only an illusion. Politics indeed influences everybody. The German chancellor Otto von Bismarck was right when he said that “if a person is not interested in politics it doesn’t free him from its consequences.” A similar idea was expressed by the noted Danish philosopher S. Kierkegaard, “People choose even when they avoid choosing.” All people, irrespective of their participation in politics or abstention from it, are affected in many ways by what governments do or choose not to do. Political indifference often comes from a lack of knowledge about how your interests are affected by politics and from a sense that you can do nothing to affect politics. People’s indifference to politics is a dangerous thing because it reduces the accountability of the rulers to the ruled.
One of the aims of political science in a democratic society is to teach a citizen to orient oneself in political environment, to defend his rights and interests, and to respect other people’s rights, interests, and freedoms. Knowledge of political science helps people to realize that they themselves are responsible for their lives.
Political science helps us understand what lies behind the public speeches of politicians. Politically educated people better know whom to choose to parliament, and how to exert pressure on politicians to act in the interests of the people. A passive and politically uneducated person is an easy prey for political manipulations. He is going with the stream and is often a puppet (without realizing it) in somebody’s hands. The ignorant could easily be swayed by demagogues to support foolish or even evil causes. Such a person is easily influenced through radio, TV, magazines, and newspapers. He is not aware of being manipulated by somebody. Thus, the citizen’s role in political life begins with information and knowledge. Knowledge, indeed, seems to be power.
Knowledgeable citizens in democratic countries participate in the political process more than do less-knowledgeable citizens because the former have a better understanding of why politics is relevant to their lives. Political knowledge is also important because it promotes a broader acceptance of democratic values. Thus, political knowledge serves the interests of both the individual and the nation as a whole.
The famous ancient philosopher Aristotle considered political science the most important of all sciences (‘the queen of sciences’) as it deals with well-being of society in general. The study of political science is motivated by the need to understand the sources and consequences of political stability and revolution, of repression and liberty, of quality and inequality, of war and peace, of democracy and dictatorship. Political science explains how governments use politics, how politics affects the economy, and how politics influences organizations outside of government and human behavior in particular.
And last but not least, studying political science stimulates students to think critically. Critical thinking is one of the most important skills that a student can acquire from analyzing politics.
HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT
Studying any science envisages first of all mastering a history of its development. Knowledge of history of political thought helps one better understand contemporary political ideas and theories, which determine the activity of various political forces.
Political Teachings of Ancient East
In the third and second millenniums BC first civilizations developed along such great rivers as the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Indus, Huang He, and Yangtze. The need for creating and maintaining complicated irrigation systems led to the formation of highly centralized and even despotic states with very strong leaders and developed bureaucracy. The figure of the ruler was sacred. He was considered...