Politics explained through its twelve most important texts:
The Republic by Plato (circa 360 BCE)
Politics is shaped by the people themselves on rational principles, and not by some super deity. Government should consist of a benevolent cadre of governing elites, rather than let democracy cause the state to flounder like a directionless ship of fools.
The Politics by Aristotle (circa 350 BCE)
Politics is shaped by people's own perceptions and desires, or human nature. Government should obtain the consent of the governed, and rule in harmony with the citizens' values.
Summa Theologica by St Thomas Aquinas (1266-1273)
Politics is shaped by people choosing to adhere to relevant natural laws, such as not hurting other people. Government should make and enforce secular laws based on these natural laws.
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (1513)
Politics is shaped by the behaviour of rational, calculating politicians who seek to hold and retain power. Government should be amoral and durable enough to withstand the duplicity of its actors.
Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (1651)
Politics is shaped by how a government seeks to suppress the innate tendency people have aggressively and selfishly compete for wealth, relationships and power. Government should be limited to a single monarch who can apply law universally and impartially.
Patriarcha by John Locke (1680)
Politics is shaped by citizens tacitly choosing to belong to society in order to protect their property. Government should be small, non-interventionist, impermanent, subject to checks and balances and answerable to the ruled.
Second Discourse by Jean Jacques Rousseau (1753)
Politics is shaped by the unnatural development of contracts between property owners and others, all who chose to corrupt themselves for the sake of safety and expediency. Government should only exist as the will of the people, that encourages people to support the common good, even at the cost of individual rights.
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)
Politics is shaped by unrelentless market forces. Government should not try to intervene, even to mitigate inequality.
An Introduction to the Principles and Morals of Legislation by Jeremy Bentham (1789)
Politics is shaped by the innate selfishness of people, rather than any ideological forces or natural law. Government should rule on utilitarian principles - maximising happiness to the greatest number of people - through a regulated free market.
The Philosophy of Right by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1806)
Politics is shaped by a progressive narrative of collective human consciousness, consisting of a complex set of relationships between individuals and society, which have metamorphised as competing dialectic ideas. Government should be strong yet subject to codified laws, in order to protect rights.
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)
Politics is shaped by the innate selfishness of people, rather than any ideological forces or natural law (like Bentham). Government should be democratic, but mindful of minority interests.
Das Kapital by Karl Marx (1867)
Politics is shaped by the dialectic ideas themselves, which were created by people of different classes doomed to compete for economic imperatives . Government should expect to be inevitably overthrown by a proletarian-led vanguard, who will then enforce a classless state.