The essential tradeoffs of politics include:
- degree of respect for authority: to defer to leadership or management which is seldom perfect but usually better than no authority at all; or the turbulence of transition from one authority to another in which there is a risk of having no authority at all: anarchy rarely works out well for the weak.
- depth of respect for authority: when to curtail obedience and pursue disobedience, then nonviolent protest, and then violent resistance (in that order). See Mohandas Gandhi and peacemaking theory.
- centralization and secession: permit authority to be vested in a small number of more carefully selected and watched people, or require it be distributed to many people who may become corrupt or be incompetent due to lack of much choice in who to appoint. First noted by Benjamin Franklin in the context of the ideal state size.
- political satire versus critique: whether to mock something by carrying it to its absurd conclusion using the logic one protests, or to criticize it in an attempt to educate, rather than embarass, the offender
- political virtues versus intellectual integrity: whether to tolerate low-integrity and integrity-lowering actions and practice tolerant training behaviour in response, or to insist that one's opponents adhere to high-integrity methods or else be excluded
- political virtues that permit situational ethics to be invoked, versus a grounded ethic with priorities that do not change based on situation.
- left versus right: whether to trust some forward-looking collective intelligence with the disposition of capital assets, or a backward-looking historical record of who has been entrusted with these assets in the past and retained control of them by making them productive in society or by seizing them successfully using violence and trickery, which suggests they can and will subvert any attempt by the collective in future.
- anonymous trolls versus experts: challenge stupidity anonymously and widely without gaining repute, or narrowly as an authority so seeking repute but exposing oneself to counter-attack. See Tom Paine and Federalist Papers for two good examples of the differential strategies employed in the American Revolutionary War.