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Gianina P.

Papa AB-1PHL1 03/17/15

Irrational animals as political beings

Politics, according to Harold Lasswell, is who gets what, when, and how. It is the

allocation of resources and/or power at least between two beings (whether they are competing for

it or not); Politics also tackles the formation of coalitions with a common purpose and/or goal.

Despite this, why confine ourselves into thinking that only humans can be political when it can

be defended that also irrational animals are too?

Majority of people think that only humans can be political because they are rational. They

also think that politics only apply to humans because many of them say that politics mainly

concerns about the government or rather having a definite governing body, which is something

that only humans can achieve. Another reason as to why people think that only humans are

political is that Aristotle said so. Aristotle however had a different conception to what it means to

be political; To him, Political animal refers to an animal living within the polis (or commonly

called city-state) and inside a internally governed unit; Which is quite limited compared to

Laswells definition of politics. Although Political Science covers the exercise of power within a

state and its theories; Politics (going back to Lasswells definition) covers a wider scale of study

and activities, and is not limited to a state. According to Merriam-Websters Dictionary, the term

political means of relating to politics or government. And thus, can be concluded that

something political does not necessarily need to be in a direct involvement to the government

but, at least something which involves (or in this paper, involved in) an allocation of resources

and/or power at least between two beings (either taken from the positive or negative

perspective).
Gianina P. Papa AB-1PHL1 03/17/15

Majority of people think that Chimpanzees are considered to belong under the category

of irrational animals and thus, not political. However according to the book entitled

Chimpanzee Politics by Fraans de Waal, a primatologist, even Chimpanzees have their own

political societies. Same with humans they had power struggles in a group; Taken for example,

one was dethroned from his position thus, attempts to weaken the influence of the current leader;

Others who seek power would also try to gain support from those who had a powerful influence

upon the results of the elections.

Also, Justin E. H. Smith cites some works in his article We Are Not the Only Political

Animals which justified that irrational animals are political; Some works were Chimpanzee

Politics, History of Animals by Aristotle and Georgics by Virgil which state examples of

presence of political activities within certain groups of animals such as chimpanzees, elephants

and bees. Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights by Sue Donaldson and Will

Kymlicka, and The Lives of Animals by J. M. Coetzee state of events wherein humans have

deprived the rights of irrational animals and excluded them from being considered as political.

Same with Chimpanzees, its fellow irrational animals are also considered as not political.

Seeing that wild animals compete for food and territory; Is it not a clear example of allocation of

resources? Another example of their allocation of resources is the gathering of food before their

period of dormancy. They also give protection to their families from other predators; Is this not

also an exercise of power over the other members of the family? Also, is it not the primary

objective of animals of the same species sticking together is that so they would survive?
Gianina P. Papa AB-1PHL1 03/17/15

Politics is basically the allocation of resources and/or power at least between two beings.

Not only humans are considered political but, also irrational animals for that they perform

political activities. They may be irrational but, they are political.

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