Politics are Us

POLITICS ARE US
In the pretext of Political Law

We usually encounter the notion that politics is a dirty game. More often than not, we see our elected officials as persons filthy of undue influence and are so situated to be soaked with all the grim forests of political life. This notion appears to me as a matter of worldwide superstition. On the contrary, my share of truth is that politics are us. That we are all politicians and everything is politics.

Politics is defined in so many gists which lead to varying interpretations. Like all major words of worldwide usage, politics has its etymology. It came from the Greek word polis which means city-state. The precise ancient meaning may not be rooted out, however, we may take a hint from Hesiod when he asked “How would men best dwell in cities, and with what observances?”[1] It may be interpreted as, “how would men obey and rule his fellowmen?” For the Greeks, it was the application of reason to life.[2]

Thus, whatever your definition is, the meaning of politics embraces the basic ideas of society, power, people and government. The most embracing meaning ever given to politics, in my opinion, is that it is “a process involving the exercise of control, constraint and coercion in society.”[3] I deemed it enough not to dwell much on the meaning of politics in this early stage because the better understanding of the term will naturally come after reading the whole of this work. Moreover, the idea of politics is really innate in all of us, which, without much further definition, will by itself manifest its meaning.

Aristotle once declared that man by nature is a political animal.[4] It is so because we live in a society where we opted not to live as humans without. Further, Aristotle exclaimed that we are not really “humans” if we are not within the metes and bounds of the society life. This theory remains accepted up to date.[5]

Our main document is the Constitution and our only reservations are enshrined within the limits of our precious right to privacy – which right is anyway part of the same Constitution – a right to be left alone. We existed to be bound by this document as elsewhere in the world we are. Thus, the political theorist Rousseau arrived at the idea that man is free but everywhere he is in chains.[6] These chains range from the basic rules of society life to the more complex procedures of day to day living.

Thus, to say that we are chained animals is not far from theory and practice. Animals as we are; in evolutionary and biological science, we are mammals with reason.[7] However, we cannot be just that. We cannot exist by ourselves alone; true to the trite saying that ‘no man is an island.’ Thus we have to live in a polis – a society. By that we have to conform to everything under a promulgated Constitution and all the laws of the land.

The doctrine of supremacy of the Constitution in legal science may shed some light to man’s calculated living. The doctrine emphasizes that the Constitution is deemed written in every contract or law or act for that matter.[8] This means all acts in this society that we are to do, attempting to do and actually doing must at all times be in consonance with the Constitution. Otherwise, it will be struck down as a criminal act, an illegal or impermissible act, a void contract, or gnawed by a court injunction or may even cause us to incur debts or be imprisoned. With this we can clearly see how the Constitution affects the validity and acceptability of our everyday lives from buying one stick of cigarette to finally throwing the cigarette butt somewhere else. The Constitution is the best and primary evidence that politics dwell in this country.

With the doctrine of supremacy of the Constitution, one sure correct inference is that the Constitution defies all laws under it and all acts of the government and the people. These codified laws, among others, are: Revised Penal Code, Rules of Court, Civil Code, Omnibus Election Code, Local Government Code, Labor Code, National Internal Revenue Code and Code of Commerce. I need not mention every name for what is imperative is that every law gets its breathe of life from the Constitution.

The necessity of going through these concepts of political law is brought about by Aristotle’s political animal theory and Rousseau’s social contract theory. We cannot precisely argue that we are all politicians if we do not examine first the roots of this society which is: the individual and the state. Law students may easily define what the term political law is. Political Law is a branch of public law which deals with the relationship of a government and its people. Public law is defined as a person’s rights and obligations in relation to the state.[9] Plainly we cannot see any problem with this definition. Corollary to this, we might confuse our discourse with what does constitutional law mean. Constitutional law is the study of foundational laws – Constitution – that govern the scope of powers and authority of various bodies in relation to the creation and execution of other laws by a government.[10] The use of the term political law is not internationally recognized as they rather would use the term constitutional law. The idea of political law is much broader than constitutional law; the latter is incorporated to the former. However now, it is much appropriate to say that political law is public law and that they are synonymous. This is because, going back to our meaning of politics, we see an all-encompassing nature of its idea and definition. Thus, like public law, we cannot obscure ourselves that it also encompasses almost everything pertaining to the relationship of the government and the people. It is to that extent that even private law[11] must bend to public law because the Constitution is within public law.

Therefore, the definition given by scholars to public law or political law becomes incomplete because it merely sets the scope between government and the people, or the ruler and the governed. We should not forget that even the basic idea of politics, where public law and political law were derived, cannot be defined with any precise definition. Thus, care should be given in the definition of public law or political law because doing otherwise absolutely puts arbitrary limitations and incorrect notions to public law or political law. What then is the safe definition? The safe definition is that public law or political law is that binding force which governs the state and its inhabitants. The word state connotes the very society where the inhabitants dwell and exist and not its government.

We have discussed how the Constitution embraces everything within the state. Biological science may lead us to say that everything is molecular because everything is composed of molecules. This may sound true also to our idea of politics and existence in a society. That we are all politicians and everything is political is not anymore far fetched from our theories now as we will be enlightened more in the later discussions.[12]

The last argument that may be expected is that, why not just call every individual as citizens and do away with the idea of them being politicians? The answer is easy. Even foreigners obey and rule the citizens. Thus, this foreigner by entering a certain society in which he is not a citizen becomes a politician of that society too.

On recapitulation:

A) Man is a political animal.
B) Everything is a matter between an individual and his society.
C) Politics cannot be well limitedly defined.
D) Everything one may do should fore mostly conform with the Constitution.
E) Constitutional law is within Political Law. Political law is public law.
F) Public law governs everything in a given state.

CONCLUSION

If man is a political animal, and if his every act must conform to the Constitution and observe public laws, then man is in essence a politician and everything under the aegis of this society or state is politics because he practices all things allowable only before public law. Doing otherwise will mean disassociation with the society and thus brings about the cessation of one’s effective politicizing. I will reserve the discussion with the idea of effective politics.

The current meaning of the word politician is just a corruption of this thought. It is thus inappropriate to say that we are not politicians because we are not elected to government office. That’s being ignorant to the matter presented at hand.

Politics may be dirty. But we should realize that politics is what we make it. Politics is what we, politicians, make it. We should not “accuse” our elected government officers as “politicians” and that they brought upon this society an unruly mess to the very ideas and wishes we have made in our Constitution’s Preamble because we, the people, are the greater politicians in number. One may argue about a powerless people. We should not, then, forget that sovereignty resides in the collective inhabitants bearing the collective power and thus we are never powerless. No one can take it away.

It is high time to review our understanding about politics and political matters. We are politicians and politics are us!


FOOTNOTES

[1] Works and Days by Hesiod

[2] http://www.politicsdefined.com

[3] http://www.sociology.org.uk

[4] Book I, Politics by Aristotle. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. [Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one, whom Homer denounces- the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts.]

[5] Aristotlean argument of man in a society is largely applicable and uncontested except with the concept of dystopia where society is dysfunctional. For further readings see: Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial by Erika Gottlieb’s; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; or The Problems of a Political Animal by Prof. Bernard Yack.

[6] The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762.

[7] Reason is defined as the faculty of capacity of the human mind by which it is distinguished from the intelligence of the inferior animals. – http://www.biology-online.org

[8] Manila Prince Hotel vs. GSIS, etc., G.R. No. 122156. February 3, 1997.

Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.
[9] Republicans and Imperialists by Murray J. Leaf, 2003.

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_law

[11] Republicans and Imperialists, ibid. Private law defined the relationships between one private person and another. e.g. Family Code, Civil Code, Negotiable Instrument Law, etc.

[12] This comparison is of course not absolute. Ideas may not be proven to be composed of molecules. There are a lot of advances in technology that have no initial account of molecular existence. The parallelism is only made to better illustrate the basic theory that individuals in a society, irrespective of personal conditions, is a politician because he/she lives in a polis and is a political animal.

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