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The political compass [Sep. 19th, 2008|12:26 pm]
jerith
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Recently, there has been a spate of people taking the Political Compass test. Much of this has been spawned by the Political Compass graph generated by Michael Gorven.

More recently, Jonathan mentioned that while the scores are interesting (note particularly the leftist libertarian clustering of most of CLUG) it would be far more interesting to have people display their answers along with their reasoning. Since I had a bit of time on my hands (in short bursts) I have done this.

Page 1: Just a few propositions to start with, concerning - no less - how you see the country and the world.

  • If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.
    Agree
    Humanity as a whole beats the subset of it that is corporate culture. Large corporations aren't necessarily bad, but they aren't the only part of humanity that matters.

  • I'd always support my country, whether it was right or wrong.
    Strongly disagree
    Morality trumps loyalty to whoever happens to be top dog at the time.

  • No one chooses his or her country of birth, so it's foolish to be proud of it.
    Disagree
    Pride is emotional rather than rational. I don't choose my family, but I am proud of their successes.

  • Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.
    Disagree
    The only reason this isn't a "strongly disagree" is because there are measurable physiological differences between "races". Some are advantageous (or "superior") in some areas and disavantageous (or "inferior") in others. This is meaningless when considering social issues, but makes a difference when deciding how much sunscreen or warm clothing to pack.

  • The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
    Disagree
    Very simplistic. The enemy of my enemy is sometimes also my enemy. I'd still rather be friends than enemies, though.

  • Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.
    Agree
    Not very often, though.

  • There is now a worrying fusion of information and entertainment.
    Agree
    When it becomes difficult to tell truth from fiction, there's a problem. On the other hand, we should always be thinking critically about news sources.


Page 2: Now, the economy. We're talking attitudes here, not the FTSE index.

  • People are ultimately divided more by class than by nationality.
    Disagree
    Cultural differences tend to break up more along national lines (although the causality works more in the other direction) than class lines.

  • Controlling inflation is more important than controlling unemployment.
    Agree
    The two are somewhat linked. A strong economy tends to create jobs as a byproduct, though, while make-work paid out of the public purse tends to break the economy.

  • Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation.
    Agree
    But always look out for over-regulation. "Don't dump toxic stuff in rivers" is good. "We need to spend three years evaluating this site for a factory" generally isn't.

  • "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is a fundamentally good idea.
    Strongly disagree
    It's a very easy system to game and it disincentivises work.

  • It's a sad reflection on our society that something as basic as drinking water is now a bottled, branded consumer product.
    Disagree
    If people want to buy it, why should other people not provide it? Luxuries are important.

  • Land shouldn't be a commodity to be bought and sold.
    Strongly disagree
    I don't really see a major difference between land and other assets. There are probably reasons to have public assets of various kinds, but no real reason to single out land.

  • It is regrettable that many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.
    Agree
    Regrettable, but probably necessary. They're not creating anything worthwhile, but they're usually not hurting anyone either.

  • Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
    Disagree
    Success should be based on merit rather than cronyism.

  • The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.
    Disagree
    This path leads to strip-mining. On the other hand, without profit they cannot succeed. At the very least, they should minimise harm.

  • The rich are too highly taxed.
    Disagree
    This depends on where you live, obviously. While I object to much higher taxation of the rich as a disincentive to work hard enough to get to that point, I object far more to much lower taxation of the rich.

  • Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care .
    Strongly agree
    Top-notch medical care is a scarce resource and thus an expensive one. By its very nature, it cannot be given to everyone and thus the only way to avoid making medicine a swamp of uniform mediocrity is to allow some people to have better care than others. I'm not saying that poor people should get substandard care, just that a spectacularly brilliant neurosurgeon (for example) has a right to market his skills accordingly.

  • Governments should penalise businesses that mislead the public.
    Agree
    Perhaps not government. Someone should, though, and the government really is in the best position for it.

  • A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.
    Agree
    I was torn on this one. In the end, "strong monopolies control the market" won over "regulation usually creates more problems than it solves".

  • The freer the market, the freer the people.
    Agree
    See above. "Regulation usually creates more problems than it solves."


Page 3: Now a look at some of your personal social values ...;

  • Abortion, when the woman's life is not threatened, should always be illegal.
    Strongly disagree
    See the scientific literature on this. Suffice to say that I have no religious hangups on the matter and there's a massive difference between a small bundle of undifferentiated cells and a baby.

  • All authority should be questioned.
    Disagree
    There are some cases where authority is important and desirable. This is not always the case, but it's important enough that I didn't agree.

  • An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
    Disagree
    Do you want to live in a world of blind soup-eaters? My ideas on crime and punishment are too big to fit in here, however.

  • Taxpayers should not be expected to prop up any theatres or museums that cannot survive on a commercial basis.
    Disagree
    Culture is important and should (within reason) be supported by everyone.

  • Schools should not make classroom attendance compulsory.
    Agree
    Rather make qualifications mandatory for certain activities (like a driver's license) and let people acquire the skills as they like. School is a good way, but it doesn't work for everyone.

  • All people have their rights, but it is better for all of us that different sorts of people should keep to their own kind.
    Disagree
    Diversity is critical for survival.

  • Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
    Agree
    Another difficult one. Pain is a very strong motivator and judicious use of minor violence can work very well as a behaviour modifier. There is a fuzzy line between spanking and abuse, however, and abuse is decidedly bad.

  • It's natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.
    Agree
    Did you tell your mother about your masturbation habits, for example?

  • Possessing marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offence.
    Agree
    Same as alcohol, the important thing is not to endanger others by performing dangerous activities with impaired judgement.

  • The prime function of schooling should be to equip the future generation to find jobs.
    Disagree
    The prime function of schooling should be to equip the future generation with the knowledge and skills to make the world a better place. Finding jobs is just a subset of that.

  • People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.
    Strongly disagree
    Eugenics doesn't work.

  • The most important thing for children to learn is to accept discipline.
    Disagree
    There are many important things a child must learn. Self-discipline works far better than externally imposed discipline.

  • There are no savage and civilised peoples; there are only different cultures.
    Disagree
    Some cultures are self-destructive and oppressive.

  • Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society's support.
    Agree *
    Why should I work to support freeloaders? It's different if they are not able to work.

  • When you are troubled, it's better not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things.
    Disagree
    Burying your head in the sand is seldom a good way to solve problems.

  • First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country.
    Disagree
    That depends far more on the cultural differences and the individuals involved than anything else.

  • What's good for the most successful corporations is always, ultimately, good for all of us.
    Disagree
    There are some evil corporations out there.

  • No broadcasting institution, however independent its content, should receive public funding.
    Disagree
    As long as there are controls in place to prevent abuse, I see no reason to prohibit this. See comments above about regulation.


Page 4: ... and how you see the wider society.

  • Our civil liberties are being excessively curbed in the name of counter-terrorism.
    Agree
    Not in this country, but certainly in some other places. Terrorism is being used as an excuse to extend governmental power, and this power is open to massive abuse even if the government has the best of intentions.

  • A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.
    Agree
    This is offset by the significant disadvantage that it's rather difficult to change government or disagree with the rulers. I won't quote Winston Churchill here.

  • Although the electronic age makes official surveillance easier, only wrongdoers need to be worried.
    Disagree
    "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." -- Cardinal Richelieu

  • The death penalty should be an option for the most serious crimes.
    Agree
    Mostly as a means of permanently removing a demonstrably unrehabilitatable criminal from society so that he cannot harm anyone else.

  • In a civilised society, one must always have people above to be obeyed and people below to be commanded.
    Disagree
    This is phrased in a manner that is just too authoritarian for me to agree with.

  • Abstract art that doesn't represent anything shouldn't be considered art at all.
    Disagree
    Sometimes things are just pretty to look at. Or listen to.

  • In criminal justice, punishment should be more important than rehabilitation.
    Disagree
    Rehabilitation takes a negative contribution and turns it into a positive contribution. Punishment may be part of the process. What is important is that bad guys are not free to harm others.

  • It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals.
    Agree
    Emphasis on "some". When it becomes obvious that rehabilitation attempts are futile, other things need to be resorted to.

  • The businessperson and the manufacturer are more important than the writer and the artist.
    Disagree
    The former allow us to survive. The latter allow us to live.

  • Mothers may have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers.
    Disagree
    As long as the children are cared for, it doesn't really matter which parent does it or how.

  • Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries.
    Disagree
    Those resources are available and renewable. Exploitation results in a win for everyone, eventually.

  • Making peace with the establishment is an important aspect of maturity.
    Agree
    Fighting futilely against something that isn't really doing you any harm is silly. This assumes that the establishment isn't actually repressive.


Page 5: If you got through that okay, you'll find these propositions on religion a breeze.

  • Astrology accurately explains many things.
    Strongly disagree
    I don't think I really need to explain this.

  • You cannot be moral without being religious.
    Strongly disagree
    There is a lot of literature out there that deals with the basis of morality. Personally, I try to live by the rule "don't hurt others" but this is not the place for a long discussion.

  • Charity is better than social security as a means of helping the genuinely disadvantaged.
    Agree
    Social security disincentivises people helping themselves.

  • Some people are naturally unlucky.
    Disagree
    "Luck" is a function of way too many variables for such a simplistic view.

  • It is important that my child's school instills religious values.
    Disagree
    I have no objection to a school that teaches religion, as long as it does not interfere with other classes (specifically science) and doesn't try to disguise the religion as something else.


Page 6: Finally, a look at sex.

  • Sex outside marriage is usually immoral.
    Strongly disagree
    I'm assuming it means "between the unmarried" rather than "between people who are married, but not to each other". The latter *is* usually immoral since marriage implies a social contract that adultery breaks.

  • A same sex couple in a stable, loving relationship, should not be excluded from the possibility of child adoption.
    Strongly agree
    I know several same-sex couples in stable, loving relationships who would make far better parents than I would.

  • Pornography, depicting consenting adults, should be legal for the adult population.
    Strongly agree
    This is a question of censorship.

  • What goes on in a private bedroom between consenting adults is no business of the state.
    Strongly agree
    Unless they're trading state secrets or something, of course.

  • No one can feel naturally homosexual.
    Disagree
    I don't really know what this question is asking, but agreement would seem homophobic.

  • These days openness about sex has gone too far.
    Disagree
    It's not appropriate to engage in fellatio in public, but there's certainly no need for sexual matters to be taboo.



* I had misread the question and originally flipped my answer. Thanks to Colin for pointing it out.
And now the result:
Economic Left/Right: 0.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.38

Over the last year and a half or so, I have wandered around the graph about a third of the way down the Libertarian axis and partly into the Right. This is the most Liberal I have ever been, though. I blame those hippies I associate with every Tuesday night and often in between. Seriously, I suspect a lot of it depends on my mood at the time and I'm vacillating between normal and strong responses on a couple of issues, mostly around regulation.

Feel free to comment on my answers. I'd also like to see other people do the same thing, so drop me a note if you do.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: kazriko
2008-10-01 03:22 pm (UTC)
I agree largely with many of your answers, with some caveats. :)
I'll have to go through and answer those differences in detail sometime.


# There is now a worrying fusion of information and entertainment.
Agree
When it becomes difficult to tell truth from fiction, there's a problem. On the other hand, we should always be thinking critically about news sources.

This one though really bugs me about this quiz. Why would it be worrying? I think that the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment is a great thing so long as you pay attention and are willing to research things before you take them as gospel. For the most part the shows that I've seen are very easy to tell the bits apart from the facts.


# If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.
Agree
Humanity as a whole beats the subset of it that is corporate culture. Large corporations aren't necessarily bad, but they aren't the only part of humanity that matters.


As written, this question is hard to argue with. The problem is that there's subtext here. What should be done to this end? By answering that one would agree with this, a pollster would then try to imply that you agree with regulating business in ways that could very well hurt humanity in the long run.

The rich are too highly taxed.
Disagree
This depends on where you live, obviously. While I object to much higher taxation of the rich as a disincentive to work hard enough to get to that point, I object far more to much lower taxation of the rich.


I think that EVERYONE is too highly taxed, in this country at least. Except, of course, for those who pay no taxes at all and often get money from the government without paying any in. The problem with taxes as they sit now is that they unfairly punish the people who actually contribute something to society while letting those who did nothing their whole life except live off their uber-wealthy parents and their inheritance off the taxation hook for the most part. Unfortunately these are the people running a large chunk of the government. They're the ones that are "for the little guy" in the senate, when ultimately their plans to take money from the mildly rich and give it to the poor serves no purpose other than to prevent the mildly rich from joining their elite ranks, and to keep the poor from seeking their own fortunes. Somehow in the early 1900's the US imported the same old money vs. new money crap that the rest of the world had been following for years.

Hopefully I didn't get too ranty there. :) I'll come up with responses for the rest when I have time.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: xanayalupu
2010-09-29 01:51 pm (UTC)
* Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.
Agree
Not very often, though.

The statement is ambiguous since it uses an ambiguous term: "sometimes". When you say "sometimes justified" it could also means "sometimes unjustified". Looking at your answer I'd say you rather don't agree with the international law.

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