As a result, politics emphasises disagreement and here is the rub. Disagreement, which is so prominent in party politics, correctly identifies a basic quality of politics in its wider sense.
It, then, follows that men have diverse views, interests and characteristics, they differ in their views on the nature of man and his role in the world, have conflicting interests as young and old, employer and employee, rich and poor, and also differ psychologically being cautious; or impetuous, timid and brave and so on. This variety of human kind, in so far as it is reflected in disagreement, provides the basis for politics.
Disagreement, though a necessary condition for politics is not a sufficient condition, order is also required. If politics is not to disappear into chaos or civil war, there needs to be both recognised limits to disagreement and the measure of agreement necessary to maintain order. The existence of this order is reflected in that collection of institutions and behaviour patterns which together make up the political community.
Political situations arise out of disagreement within an ordered community. The resolution of the conflicts which emerge will depend upon the distribution of influence within the community and the efficiency with which those with influence use their resources. Time and again the advocates of incompatible policies will confront each other. There will be influence clashes.
The influence employed may involve the use of rewards or punishments. But whatever form it takes, the relative influence of the groups and the response to the conflict by other groups, including the government, will decide the outcome—will decide Who gets What, When and How.
The passage from disagreement to policy is determined by the influence exerted. The importance of influence in the policy-making process accounts for descriptions of politics as the shaping and sharing of such influence.
Political activity, then, is the activity which occurs in an ordered community and by which disagreements are resolved and translated into policy. Such authoritative decisions reflect divergences of beliefs, interests and influence within the community.
The student of politics is concerned with the activity which leads to those decisions; with the institutions within which the activity is carried on and the goals towards the attainment of which the decisions are directed.
Politics may be found in a variety of associations or groups. Where men are banded together because there is agreement and, therefore, order and consequent continuity, and where they have disagreements which are subsequently resolved into policy which is applied on behalf of the group, then, politics exists in that collection of men and women.
This is so whether the group is a club, a trades union, a country or an international organization. To express it in proper terminology, politics can be looked at as on three levels—State, intra-State and inter-State. We are all to some extent involved at some level, many of us at more than one, and the importance of the levels varies for the individual.
The State level of politics has traditionally been given pride of place, as it has the monopoly of regulating the use of legitimate force within the territory, and some students of Political Science consider it as the only level.
State politics includes the activities of general and local State organisations so that State politics in India includes what is called national and regional governments including local governments in their respective territorial limits.