Monday, August 29, 2011

3D Politics - 'Political Compass' and Beyond

Dear Green Friends,

Scott McLarty, Green Party U.S. Media Coordinator, posted a Facebook link to an interactive web site known as Political Compass. According to Scott, the site returned these scores based on his reply to a battery of multiple choice questions: "Economic Left/Right: -7.12; Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.05, which places me in the lower left corner of the chart (slightly more libertarian than left)."

I was not surprised Scott's results were similar to mine. People at Political Compass strongly believe the old one-dimensional "Left vs Right" model for describing political parties is obsolete. They believe the model should include a "Libertarian vs. Authoritarian" dimension with four quarants for "Libertarian Left", "Libertarian Right", "Authoritarian Left", and "Authoritarian Right." Hence, the depiction of the 2008 presidential candidates posted on the Tr├ĘsSugar Web Site.


I agree. Indeed, I'd go further for two reasons.

First, the conflict between so-called conservative Republicans and so-called liberal Democrats in the U.S. doesn't even make sense along the old "Left-Right" dimension, since both are clustered in the "Authoritarian Right" quadrant. The only difference is demagoguery. Republicans use Big Government authoritarianism supposedly to serve hard-working, taxpaying, Christian "Whites" in "middle-class" neighborhoods. Democrats use Big Government authoritarianism supposedly to serve that 70% of Californians labeled "minorities" including, allegedly lazy, welfare-dependent, savage "Blacks" like my family and me in the "ghetto."

Second, I am convinced the growing conflict between stand patters for "Gray" industry and innovators for "Green" industry constitutes a third dimension. And it's along this third dimension where the great 21st Century political struggles are forming.


Read more to see the Political Compass test prologue. Check it out, then post a comment.

The irrelevance and divisiveness of the phony debate between so-called conservative Republicans and so-called liberal Democrats is why I plead for Greens, Libertarians, and all other serious independents to quit propping up the One-Party-With-2-Names by framing our dissent with old clich├ęs, slogans, and stereotypes.
Posted on The Political Compass
Welcome to the Political Compass

There's abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left', established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape. For example, who are the 'conservatives' in today's Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can't explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as 'right-wingers', yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.

That's about as much as we should tell you for now. After you've responded to the following propositions during the next 3-5 minutes, all will be explained. In each instance, you're asked to choose the response that best describes your feeling: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree or Strongly Agree. At the end of the test, you'll be given the compass, with your own special position on it.

. . .

Click here to start.

Check it out, dear friends. Then post a comment here.


bill kreml said...

One of the problems with the scale that we are talking about is that it itself is quite simplistic. Specifically, there is no differentiation between economic and social issues on the authoritarian to libertarian part of the scale. I am libertarian on social issues: abortion, homosexuality, etc. but am not libertarian on the need for a stronger response to the banks, oil companies, etc. This won't happen with a weak, overly decentralized government.

Alex Walker said...

Dear Bill,

Thanks for your comment. I share your concern, but I am not so sure we can expect a "stronger response to the banks, oil companies, etc." from a strong centralized government. There are countries around the world where big banks and oil companies have been nationalized by strong central governments with track records almost as bad as our "private" firms in the U.S.

I would argue that such is the inevitable result of a political elite committed to "Gray" industrial "progress." The world is in a grave financial crisis because of the insistence that national debts be paid down on the backs of working people. And this insistence is coming even from big national banks in social democratic (old "Left") countries in Europe.

MartinZehr said...

People obscure that the classical Right-Left configuration was labeled based on the seating arrangement in the French National Assembly. In the U.S. it is not only inaccurate in what sectors are aligned with the faux-left and the conservative right, but it fails to define either the agendas or the ideology of the parties so designated. Greens should focus on the pragmatic center which is absent as a source for political solutions.

Structural reforms need to be prioritized because they lie at the foundation of politics. Instead, we have two parties that agree fundamentally with the structure of government because it benefits them to do so. For example, does the Right favor the Executive Branch over the Congress more than the Left in the U.S. NO. Does the Right favor regional authority in resource and urban planning more than the Left? NO. Does the Left oppose wars of intervention absent Congressional approval more than the Right? NO. (see Ron Paul and Pat Buchannan if you don't believe this.)

Structural reforms have been taken out of the political arena and subjected to administrative control. Parties are geopolitically configured. Dems-urban; Pugs-rural and suburbs the great battle ground. No one is presenting the case for governmental entities that represent real constituencies with distinct interests. I would present the case that this is because the status quo entities are configured based on the duopoly paradigm.

I would add that Greens stumble around the issue with the constant mixing of Federal (centralized) programs like healthcare, being advocated while decentralization remains a Key Value. Greens want it both ways. Yet, few are engaged in regional processes to implement decentralized programs, such as the Healthy San Francisco healthcare program.

Mike X said...

That's the problem with political classifications. I got
Economic Left/Right: -9.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.18 -- which puts me in the top left of the light green section -- and people call me a "Nazi".

Of course, my politics are "Green". You'd have to be crazy to embrace a system that is destroying the planet... but still....

Jim Doyle said...

What good does it do me to be assigned a numerical value?

How does that help me deal with the issues embedded in the questions of the test?

Jim Doyle

Anonymous said...

My results:

Economic Left/Right: 8.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.10

I'm not certain if I would measure gray or green. I support free market environmentalism, and I personally think that more CO2 (within some limits) is beneficial for the planet.

I've seen many political tests, but I think it would be interesting to see one with a gray/green axis, if it is done right.