Politics And Theatre

PRAGUE: Recently I read an article headlined "Politics as Theatre", a critique of all I have tried to do in politics. Its argued that in politics there is no place for a realm as superfluous as theatre. In the early months of my presidency, indeed, some of my ideas had more theatrical flair than political foresight. But the author erred in one fundamental issue; he misunderstood both the meaning of theatre and a crucial dimension of politics.

Aristotle once wrote that every drama or tragedy requires a beginning, middle, and end, with antecedent following precedent. The world as the experience of a structured environment includes Aristotle's inherent dramatic dimension, and theatre is actually an expression of our desire for a concise way of grasping this dramatic element. A play of no more than two hours always presents, or is meant to present, a picture of the world and an attempt to say something about it.

One definition of politics says that it is the conduct of public affairs, concern for them, and their administration. Obviously, concern for public affairs means concern for humanity and the world. This requires a recognition of humanity's self-awareness in the world. I do not see how a politician can achieve this without recognizing drama as an inherent aspect of the world as seen by human beings and thus as a fundamental tool of human communication.

Politics without a beginning, a middle, and end, without exposition and catharsis, without gradation and suggestiveness; politics lacking in a transcendence that develops a real drama using real people, into a testimony about the world is, in my opinion, a castrated, one-legged, toothless politics. I am not always successful in practicing what I preach, but I work for a politics that knows its matters what comes first and what follows, a politics that acknowledges that all things have a proper sequence and order, a politics that realizes that citizens -- without theorizing as I am now -- know perfectly well whether political actions have a direction, a structure, a logic in time and space, or whether they lack these qualities and are merely haphazard responses to circumstances.