Politics: A Very Short Introduction – Kenneth Minogue

I am quite a fan of the OUP very short introduction format. Its satisfying to pick up a book which both assumes no prior knowledge but also intelligence. This combines nicely with a low page limit and pocket-sized form so that you are only committing an hour or two’s worth of reading to a subject for which you might not necessarily want begin reading about at length.

My reading has however been tracking my rising increase in politics for some time. It is after all field which has so much influence on our lives, security and choices, but also one where individuals making decisions today can shape the world we live in. This is true both of the politicians and the aggregate data of voting decisions of every franchised person combined.

I like that Minogue acknowledges current issues on welfare and Europe, in both a current and historical sense.

Power has always found its balance, but the costs have been great. That is why so many Europeans have favoured transposing this whole endeavour into a new key, and creating a unified Europe by agreement rather than conquest.

Minogue was a well-respected academic, known for his conservative views. These do come across in places, and he both acknowledges that every generation has thought it has the best system and morals so far, whilst placing an argument that the current Western two-party system is the best available.

The historical position of much of politics is considered, and one part in particular caused me to think of “In the game of thrones you win or you die.”

Staking one’s life in the game of politics remained a deadly option until the middle of the eighteenth centenary… In the modern world it is only despotisms which have recourse to the firing squad or the noose.


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