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Understanding Politics

Theory, Procedures, Narratives

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Tadeusz Klementewicz

This book analyses how contemporary political science can develop as a structure of knowledge gathered by the individual sub-disciplines of political studies, as well as the remaining disciplines of social sciences. It helps to get a fuller understanding of political phenomena and to reconstruct the process of emergence of the global civilisation. The author reflects about the current state of research conducted by political scientists. The research is conducted within a few major research paradigms. This work presents a strategy of integrating knowledge about man and society.

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Chapter 5: The Procedure of Evaluating Politics and Politicians

Extract

Chapter 5

The Procedure of Evaluating Politics and Politicians

Decisions that leaders face can often cause huge losses of human life and capital. They might be made despite a deficit of input data, which makes it hard to predict the consequences of the chosen alternative course of action. The standard decision-making procedure usually fails in such situations. Moreover, leaders and politicians sometimes end up breaking the rules of individual integrity, making a ‘deal with the devil’ – as Weber famously put it. In those circumstances, the leader stands alone. He may seek various opinions and advice, but the final decision rests with him, hence he assumes great personal responsibility. Such stressful decision-making situations provoke the emergence of groupthink, as an irrational mechanism for coping with tension and fear. An additional stress and risk factor come from the eschatological dimension of politics: death. It is linked to the particular instruments of political actions. One of them is legitimised coercion connected with the state’s tasks, that is, maintaining public peace and external security. Acting efficiently in the conditions of risk is made even harder by the assessment of outcomes. This does not mean assessing the behaviour of leaders and politicians but involves, firstly, an evaluation of the practical effects of the handlings of a politician as a decision-maker and organiser of a collective action. This requires assessing such actions from the point of view of the possible alternative actions and the available knowledge. In any case, this is not...

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