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2 February, 2004

Political Compass

This might be superior to the usual 'what bra are you?' type of blog 'tests', or it might just be a more elaborate version of the same.  You decide.

The Political Compass test asks whether one agrees/disagrees with a series of propositions about the nation and the world, the economy, personal social values, wider society, religion, and sex.

On a graph of 'Economic Left/Right' (Communism at one extreme, Neo-Liberalism at the other, or collective management versus free market) on the x-axis against Social Libertarian/Authoritarian (aka Anarchism/Fascism) on the y-axis, I score -2.50, -4.87 which makes me comparable to the Dalai Lama, as a libertarian on the economic left. Apparently. However, the missing z-axis is more important in my case: degree to which the individual cares about wider society i.e. degree to which the x and y- axes are even relevant. I'd achieve a negative position on that one, too.

Incidentally, as the site's FAQ takes care to mention, the term 'Liberal' does not refer to the commonly-understood US political definition:

"In the United States, 'liberals' are understood to believe in leftish economic programmes such as welfare and publicly funded medical care, while also holding liberal social views on matters such as law and order, peace, sexuality, women's rights etc. The two don't necessarily go together."

This is important for anyone judging me by my scores, as my views on, say, gender politics bear no relation to my views on, say, social provision.

Likewise, the terms 'left' and 'right' could be misunderstood:

"Once you accept that left and right are merely measures of economic position, the 'extreme right' refers to extremely liberal economics that may be practised by social authoritarians or social libertarians. Similarly, the 'extreme left' identifies a strong degree of state economic control, which may also be accompanied by liberal or authoritarian social policies."

That could be phrased better, but essentially means that views on economic matters are independent of social values. The same economic solution might be achived by either extreme of social dogma, and two people sharing the same social ideals might feel very differently about the role of economics in achieving those ideals. A blanket definition of 'left' or 'right' is inadequate.

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