Politics: the secret application of vices in preserving group cohesion; in professional circles, politics features the art of telling noble lies to convince people, in effect, that Sartre was wrong when he said that hell is other people.
When many people choose to live together in cities and nations, a dominance hierarchy emerges as the most stable social structure, as it does in most social animal species. However, most people are too vain to consider themselves animals whose lives are governed largely by power relations. From a genetic viewpoint, our great intelligence is a byproduct that leads us astray, filling our heads with diversions and delusions of grandeur. Whereas many kings, emperors, tsars, and dictators have foregone the political enterprise, preferring to rule as unashamed beasts with displays of absolute power, modern rulers are forced to resort to Machiavellian maneuvers. This is because modernists preach secular humanism, which inspires people to think of themselves as heroes, boldly confronting the forces that hinder our progress. Spreading that myth and then undermining it with brutal oppression of the masses would obviously be counterproductive, and yet modern myths hardly prevent the emergence of dominance hierarchies. Thus, modern politicians apologize for and exploit power imbalances with covert rather than with open forms of corruption.
Politics is a charade in which leaders and followers pretend to be rational and virtuous while demonstrating the opposite at every opportunity. After all, politics isn’t just for professional politicians; no, whenever people interact socially in a group of whatever size, we resort to political maneuvers to maintain the power dynamic while distracting ourselves with our group’s loftier stated purpose--lest we break our social bonds, since we’re too vain and clever to sustain transparently-degrading group dynamics. With political posturing, spin-doctoring, white lying, backstabbing, double dealing, flip-flopping, gossip, and brinksmanship, we concede that we’re animals vying for power while maintaining the legend of our nobility.