Staff essay: Apoliticism is irrational


Issac Coltman

apoliticsm (n): a state; being apathetic to matters of, and engagements with, politics. The refusal to take a side, or the refusal to explore and question one’s own positions critically.

The enemy of the modern age can not be reasoned with. It can not be stamped out with force. It can not be bribed and it can not be bargained with. The enemy? Apathy.

Apathy– to see the issues of the world; its ethos– and to shrug it all away. To be subsumed in the fact one can’t, and does not want to, change anything. It’s a problem, and I don’t like it. What can be done to counter this mindset? I think harping on the issues is missing the point.

Maybe you are apathetic– apolitical. You do not plan on voting in the next election (that you will be 18 for). You will not canvas or advocate for issues that speak to you. That’s fine, there are many people like this, and I don’t think there’s something that can convince someone out of that position.

Research from the 2013 “British Journal of Political Science” shows that children who grow up in non-political households will continue to be non-political. A 2016 paper from the journal “Political Research Quarterly ” found a child’s future voting behaviors can be accurately predicted from the voting patterns of their parents. Politics is hereditary. We aren’t all born with a fire in our hearts.

However, what I will propose is that no-one, you included, is justified not to pay attention, and that it is impossible to avoid politics, no matter how hard you try.


First understand that everything is political in one way or another. Politics, in short, is just the summation of decisions from governments, assemblies and coalitions; or in other words, any time a large group of people make a collective decision, that was a political decision.

What that means is that nearly everything we are, the words that we speak, the ideas that we carry, the media that we watch, the food we eat– everything, was at one point or is continually determined from politics.

It’s hard, describing this in objective terms is like describing water to a fish. Many things may seem non-political,  innocuous, simple– or my least favorite, “natural.” However, understanding their origin, and continued presence, requires a political lens. It is impossible to analyze our world without touching on a political issue. 

It’s impossible to hold a solid understanding of the world without taking politics into account– by that metric, apoliticsm is irrational. It is as if the world is a painting, and those who claim to “not see politics” or to “not want to get involved” claim to be color-blind. 

So the next time you or a friend claim to be “not political,” understand that’s a factually untrue statement. Then, possibly, reconsider.

Possibly, once one starts to see the ways politics influences the world around them, they’ll see how it can change for the better. Possibly.

But like… whatever.