Politics in Minutes (2016)

The evolution of politics

‘Man’, the philosopher Aristotle asserted, ‘is a political animal.’ What he meant is that humans are by nature social, and tend to live and work together in groups, and in order to function properly, these groups need to have an underlying political system. Family groups have, over time, developed into tribal communities, villages, towns and eventually cities and states. In order for the members of these societies to function as a unit, there had to be some organization, and an authority to ensure the well-being of the group.

In primitive family groups – as with pack animals – the ruler was often the patriarch, the alpha male. As these groups became larger and more sophisticated, so too did the systems used to organize and regulate them; in addition to the single leader there developed ruling families and councils of elders. Some rulers inherited their position; others were appointed for their leadership qualities. Even before the founding of the first great civilizations, the elements of politics had begun to evolve.