|The political compass
||[Sep. 19th, 2008|12:26 pm]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not very often, though.
- There is now a worrying fusion of information and entertainment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Regrettable, but probably necessary. They're not creating anything worthwhile, but they're usually not hurting anyone either.
- Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Culture is important and should (within reason) be supported by everyone.
- Schools should not make classroom attendance compulsory.
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.
Diversity is critical for survival.
- Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
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.
Did you tell your mother about your masturbation habits, for example?
- Possessing marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offence.
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.
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.
Eugenics doesn't work.
- The most important thing for children to learn is to accept discipline.
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.
Some cultures are self-destructive and oppressive.
- Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society's support.
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.
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.
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.
There are some evil corporations out there.
- No broadcasting institution, however independent its content, should receive public funding.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Sometimes things are just pretty to look at. Or listen to.
- In criminal justice, punishment should be more important than rehabilitation.
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.
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.
The former allow us to survive. The latter allow us to live.
- Mothers may have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers.
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.
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.
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.
I don't think I really need to explain this.
- You cannot be moral without being religious.
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.
Social security disincentivises people helping themselves.
- Some people are naturally unlucky.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a question of censorship.
- What goes on in a private bedroom between consenting adults is no business of the state.
Unless they're trading state secrets or something, of course.
- No one can feel naturally homosexual.
I don't really know what this question is asking, but agreement would seem homophobic.
- These days openness about sex has gone too far.
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.