The concept we need to retrieve is politics: actual politics, the activity of rule, structure, continuity, and collaboration that can’t be reduced to culture or economics or anything else. Politics is seen today as trying to get power, getting power, and “getting to” wield it. Left unanswered is exactly what this “power” is. “Power” abstracted from our anthropology, from an understanding of who and what we are, destroys politics. It takes shape in our inner and outer world as something inhuman, more akin to the properties of a subhuman or superhuman being. As Aristotle reminds us, the man without a city is either a beast or a god…

Retrieving politics returns us to the understanding that many things can supplement the political but none can supplant it. There is no “escape” from politics, no more than there is an escape from “the world” or from our humanity. Given that so much of technology is wrapped around a devotion to building such escapes, teaching politics provides special access to the awareness that technology, even if it can counteract or even ward off “power” games, can never replace politics. The truth that technology can degenerate into “power” covers over the more fundamental reality that technology can never save us from “power.” Neither, ultimately, can politics… but while it’s bad news that we’ll never escape from “power,” just as we’ll never escape from evil, that we’re stuck with politics is ultimately good news… if we accept, as we must, that being stuck with our own humanity, warts and all, is good news too.