Thursday, September 02, 2004

On 'Political' and 'Partisan'

People often use 'political' when they should use 'partisan.' A man appeared on C-Span some weeks ago whose name and the name of whose organization I have forgotten. The man headed an organization promoting a strict interpretation of the U.S. constitution. Throughout his talk he repeated the remark that his organization was not political, not political, not political!

Nonsense, I say. What could be more political than questions about constitutions and their interpretation, and organizations that promote a particular style of constitutional interpretation? What the man wanted to say was that his outfit was not partisan, not affiliated with any particular political party such as the Republican Party, or the Democrat Party.

'Political' is not a dirty word. How could it be when the human being, by nature, is zoon politikon, a political animal? Aristotle, who appreciated the latter point, also appreciated that the political life cannot be the highest life. That honor goes to the theoretical life. The vita activa subserves the vita contemplativa.