Friday, September 30, 2005

What is your Political Compass?

Today's fluff with a message is this website I stumbled upon after seeing a whole bunch of bloggers with numbers in their signatures. Since I'm nothing if not a curious cat, I went to the underlying site, Political Compass, and took the test.

The point of the exercise seems to be to highlight and combat an issue that I've discussed more and more over the years: the fracturing of national unity, and hardening of political positions to the point where there is only black-white, left-right, liberal-conservative, and no shades of grey anymore. According to the creators of the Political Compass, despite all the hard and fast dichotomies we use to discuss political viewpoints (left-right, liberal-conservative, red-blue) the truth is that most people's political views are far more complex. We are all points on a grid, unique in our beliefs in the aggregate. At the site, one takes a short survey of political views, then one is "plotted" on a grid created by two axes: The Left-Right (subtitled Communism-Neoliberalism) axis, which is the X axis, and the Authoritarian-Libertarian (subtitled Fascism-Anarchism) scale as the Y Axis.

The site's authors also attempt to discuss/debunk some assumptions about historical leaders and where, based on their stated policies and conduct, their views truly lie on the grid (as opposed to where we are told they lie.)

Of particular interest: Although this is totally non-scientific, and therefore of no real value in assessing his character, according to the site based on his publicly-stated views John Kerry lies in the exact same quadrant as George W. Bush (the Right-Authoritarian quadrant), although a little closer to the midpoint of the axes than Dubbya. In contrast Ralph Nader is in the Left-Libertarian Quadrant. This result makes perfect sense to those of us who actually were paying attention to what John Kerry said last year, instead of trying to make him out to be the progressive he clearly was not (although, increasingly, just about anyone looks progressive compared to George W. Bush).

All in all, an interesting exercise. My own personal political compass is pointing steadily is -7.38, - 5.23. This puts me in the "left libertarian" quadrant, where Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama rest according to the creators of this little toy.

That's not too a bad place to sit, not at all.


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