The relation between Political Science and History

This article provides information about the relation between Political Science and History

Every social science is directly related to every other social science. Study has become comprehensive, interlinked and complex. Any of the social sciences is neither completely independent nor completely dependent on other social sciences, but all the social sciences are interdependent to each other. In order to achieve purpose and function, there is always interconnection. Political Science is no exception. It is related to all social sciences in one way or the other, but its relationship with history is somewhat special due to certain reasons. In this regard, Prof. Seeley has cited rightly that, “History without Political Science has no fruit; Political Science without History has no roots”.

History is the living record of the past events; be it social, political or economic. Any current event cannot be completely understood without getting thoroughly through its history. Therefore, in order to study the politics of today, comprehending the politics of yesterday is quintessential.

Let us try to understand this with the help of an example. In our History textbooks today, we study about the French Revolution of 1789, which was a major social and political event of that time. What was politics in 1789 turned out to be the history of today. In a very similar fashion, the major political events of today will be studied as the history of tomorrow. As Freeman has rightly opined, “History is past Politics and Politics is present History”.

Contribution of History to Political Science:

As already mentioned, in order to go into the depth of today’s events, peeping into the past is a prerequisite. History furnishes Political Science with the facts it needs. Today we often take the ideas of liberty, fraternity and equality for granted, but in order to know how, why and from where did they emerged from, peeping into the past is quintessential. And it is History which gives us the account of such past events, for the roots of all the political institutions and ideologies are in history.

History is the laboratory of Political Science. Today’s political leaders learn a lot from the past events. This is partially because of the fact that human beings know to learn from the mistakes of others. History deals with concrete facts. It is these concrete facts which help today’s political leaders and activists learn from the experiences of the political leaders of yesteryears. They study their actions and observe carefully their outcomes, and thus take the course of action which best suits the needs of today’s time.

History is the balance sheet of the activities of man in past and it includes his political activities also. Most of the political decisions made today are on behalf of this balance sheet.

Contribution of Political Science to History:

There is no contribution of today’s Politics to the History of today; in fact, today’s politics itself depends on today’s history as we discussed above, but today’s Politics is definitely the History of tomorrow. All the political events happening today will be the History of tomorrow. Yesterday’s political leaders feared that if they did something wrong for the public today, their name will be taken with disrespect in tomorrow’s history. Today’s History obviously remembers those who devoted their lives for the public welfare.

Let us consider the case of Mahatma Gandhi. He was a political figure of the twentieth century, but is studied under the history of today. Similarly, our future generations will study the deeds of today’s political leaders and also the major political events under history. Therefore, we can say that yesterday’s politics is today’s history, while today’s politics is the history of tomorrow.

Political events change the course of history. This again is justified on the basis of the same facts as described above. How would had India been today if it was never colonized? If that would have been the case, the course of the history of India would have been much different than what it is today. Thus in this way politics contributes to tomorrow’s history.

Differences between Political Science and History:

Besides the relationship between Political Science and History as discussed above, there are also some important differences between the two which cannot be left untouched in this article. History differs with Political Science in scope, subject matter, origin, approach and method of treatment.

History is narrative with chronological orders of events, while Political Science particularizes, depicts, describes and analyzes the political events. History on one hand is comprehensive in scope, dealing with economy, military, social and many other aspects, but Political Science on the other hand deals with political institutions only like the state, government authority and political relations. History deals with concrete facts whereas Political Science is known to deal with ideal and abstract ideas. Not only this, but history deals with past only while Political Science deals with past, present and future.

Despite the differences, there were, are and always will be intimate relations between Political Science and History as we have seen in this article.

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