The Intro

This is not a place for experts. In the fields of both history and politics I am a willing amateur, but I have come to know some fascinating things on the subject of political history. If you know virtually or actually nothing about this subject and would like to know the basics in the shortest possible time, then you’re at the right place.

I should explain what this blog is and why I’m writing it. In short, it is a summary of western political ideas starting at the birth of politics with the ancient Greeks and ending at the present day. It is almost entirely based on Alan Ryan’s book ‘On Politics, A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present’, but is aimed at anyone just looking for an introductory summary (if you want to know more about any of the topics the book is well worth getting – rightly called ‘magisterial and powerful’ by critics). Why am I writing it? Political thinkers have a habit of building on the work of previous theorists, and so to get a good understanding of any particular theory, you really need to have some understanding of what came before. I found that as the political theories piled up in my head I began to run out of space (this started to happen sometime in the medieval period). The more information went in, the more would simply fall out again. I started writing this summary to help myself remember and understand what I’d read. The stuff that I’ve read has been genuinely mind expanding, so I’ve turned it into this blog in case there are other people out there (like you) who find some of this interesting as well.

A note on the blog structure and other practicalities; I plan to split this blog into about 25 posts, each covering its own topic. Each post will range from around 500-1500 words, and I plan to post them once a week (give or take). It’s important to stress that the political views described in this blog are not my own. Indeed, some of them I find outrageous, but they are generally the most interesting. I have tried to avoid affecting this blog with my own views and bias, but the occasional contamination has probably occurred sub-consciously, so I apologise in advance. I’d also like to reiterate that I am not an expert, and urge you not to hold this blog to any high academic standards. If you find anything that contradicts what you’ve read elsewhere I would be interested to know, but do be gentle in your criticism.

Finally, I would like to share a thought that has occurred to me many times while reading on the subject of political history. It is that there are generally far more ideas out there than we realise unless we look for them, and each new idea has something useful to teach us, as long as we look hard enough. Often debate is limited to a narrow space within a subject. I think of a game of football played entirely within the centre circle of the pitch. In my opinion at least, it is always worth keeping your mind open to new ideas beyond your experience.

That just leaves me to say thank you for reading this blog, and I hope you find some interesting ideas within it.

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