City Lit Blog

UK Government poised to break international law

Story added 15th Sep 2020

The UK government has been in the news a lot this week for its intention to break international law in a ‘very specific and limited way’. The Prime Minister’s Chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, was similarly in the news a lot when he broke lockdown rules in a way that was quite specific but not all that limited. When we think about these events, we might wonder what the relationship between these things, and the politics that goes on in Parliament is. We might also wonder what exactly it is we study when we study politics.


What is Politics?

Although politics is sometimes describes as a ‘social science’, we know that politics doesn’t operate in the same way as thermodynamics or molecular biology. It is not a science in quite the same sense. It was Aristotle, back in the 4th Century BC, who described man as a ‘political animal’. It was politics – the activity of social reasoning, pursuit of shared goals, and knowledge of the state, that Aristotle said made man uniquely political. The way we in Western Europe think about politics begins in ancient Greece, but has continued evolving up to the present day. As societies continue to adapt and change, with new features and events, politics studies them and seeks to understand them. It tries to give accounts of what’s happened, draw conclusions from that knowledge, and create tools for understanding future and past events.


Understanding Politics

Politics can be understood in many different ways. There are innumerable strands of political thinking, all seeking to explain and understand the political world we live in. None have a unique claim to truth, and none have answers that can explain everything. As such, studying politics is always a combination of things: knowing the material events that are going on, and using the right analytic tools to understand them.


Breaking the law

There are lots of ways that we can seek to understand the ignoring of laws and rules. Some traditions of political thinking focus on the exercise and use of raw power; others seek to explain political machinations through an understanding of the economic relations in that society; others seek to prioritise morality and view politics in this light. Whichever analytical tool we decide to use gives us a different understanding and picture of what happened, and what is at stake.


Politics at City Lit

At City Lit, we have a broad range of Politics courses, exploring a wide range of contemporary political issues and current affairs. Politics at City Lit is global, local, critical, and exciting. If you’re interested in exploring Politics in-depth, and understanding some of these approaches and subjects, our new course ‘Ways into advanced political studies’ may be the right course for you.

Please also check out our full range of Politics & Current Affairs courses here.