A doctrine is a relatively rigid mindset that guides actions in high-stress situations. It restricts or limits options and actions, especially by those in positions of power, to a predictable set that can be easily understood by observers and actors.

The most overt and obvious and direct effect of doctrine on politics itself is religious doctrines that dictate certain set limits or moral values to be upheld in social behaviour. And, thus, in public policy. For example the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XIV was as of 2005-09 considering whether it should deny communion to leaders advocating policies that are against the Church's doctrine. While this may seem to be confined to long settled social issues like abortion and more contentious and symbolic ones like same-sex marriage, the implications might some include excommunication of Catholic leaders such as Anthony Blair for waging pre-emptive war which many consider to have been an aggressive move. The political impact of this would likely be very significant. See Roman Catholic doctrine for more.

Because it implies a form of obedience, the term is not often heard aloud in politics where it is unfashionable to admit that one might not be creative but be instead more imitative and curtailing "ideas" deliberately. This is of course considered highly desirable in military and state diplomacy, so the term is in wide use especially to describe doctrines promulgated by the POTUS or a US Secretary of State, including:

As this suggests, prominent doctrines have been named for globally prominent persons who promulgated them and put the force of their office behind them. These are not necessarily the persons who originate them. As the power to implement and enforce is everything, and the power to define is not much, it's those who put the power and the dignity of the office they hold behind a doctrine that makes it real.

limits of action

A doctrine tends to establish the right to intervene, and may be thought of as a "test balloon" to see if such action will be resisted by other players.

Examples of doctrines in open politics itself, and the limits they impose on action, include:

twelve levers analysis

In terms of the twelve levers, a doctrine implies too many rules to be codified simply as a ruleset. It is not general enough to be understood as a true mindset since it only applies in a narrow range of situations, e.g. a doctrine might apply only to nuclear diplomacy or urban warfare or federal election campaigns.

A doctrine assumes a set of constraints and then defines how one may adapt: to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure. It sets up terms in which to state the goal of the system. It does not define that goal but limits how it can be understood and relayed to others.

Military vs. political doctrine

Military doctrines must begin with all human command verbs that will be issued in the problem domain, e.g. in nuclear diplomacy, when to escalate conflicts to include nuclear weapons, or "go nuclear". Some term associated only with that critical choice is decided, such as "go codes", or "the football", or "the button", that won't be used for any other purpose, is defined, to avoid confusion about the level one is considering escalating to or falling back from. Doctrines such as People's Net War establish a number of levels of escalation which are thought to be stable insofar as an action within one level will not trigger one at a higher level by one's opponent.

Political doctrines are much less honest and often rely on frequent restatement of the same doctrine in many different terms for many different audiences. However, the deep framing tends to be consistent across many such presentations or restatements, and if pressed, it is quite possible to discover the model of power that underlies all of the various speeches, policy choices, etc..

For instance, the most frequently advanced but least commonly advocated doctrine in politics itself is the simple single command hierarchy in which authority is with "the top" and obedience is required of those "below". It has technically been illegal to apply this doctrine strictly since the Nuremburg Principles were put into international law, but in petty or provincial politics it is still quite common to see them advanced.

declare doctrine?

In open politics itself, doctrines should be explicitly declared and promoted, as with tendency and factions. The rationale is simple: people will find out how to do things and will train others how. It's better to know where these methods apply and where not, and it's better not to be spending all your time obsessing about methods and not about results. Accordingly sharing methods works very well as a way to minimize the time that is spent in competing on method, and helps people to focus on the result. The open source doctrine for technology is one good example of this.

Within open politics itself there are some overt doctrines, such as the open party structure and troll-friendly administrator guidelines that put open politics in force, but these are required to deal with rigid law, media and technology structures that simply cannot be adapted to humans and so must be limited in their application to politics itself to keep it "more open".

Elaborating and debating these doctrines is a major function of openpolitics.ca itself.