On the Relation between Politics and Time
Version of Record online: 1 SEP 2011
© 2011 The Author. Australian Journal of Politics and History © 2011 School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
Australian Journal of Politics & History
Special Issue: Politics and Time
Volume 57, Issue 3, pages 366–376, September 2011
How to Cite
Tregenza, I. (2011), On the Relation between Politics and Time. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 57: 366–376. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2011.01602.x
- Issue online: 1 SEP 2011
- Version of Record online: 1 SEP 2011
This article makes the case that politics, understood as a particular kind of public action, presupposes a notion of time marked by the three temporal states of past, present, and future. Political deliberation and judgment are future-oriented activities that, more or less explicitly, draw on the past for guidance. Aristotle's discussion of deliberative rhetoric in the Art of Rhetoric, which recognizes the inherent contingency of political decision making, is the classic treatment of the topic and is given some attention. Throughout western political theory this view of politics has been contested, most notably by figures such as Plato and Marx, whose respective attempts to transcend the contingency and unpredictability of politics, it will be argued, is connected to the endeavour to overcome the imperfections and conflicts bound up with the temporal order itself. Finally, the article examines two modern expressions of the desire to transcend politics in a timeless world of pure model building or universal morality. The first of these can be found in much contemporary neo-classical economic theory, and the second in the a-political politics of the international human rights movement.