The first thing I noticed, returning from a three-month hiatus, is how bare the tabs are at the front of my website. I need more “pages”. I intend to post now regularly if not periodically, and I’ve lost the will to hold back and hide behind decorum on topics I find especially stupid (media back at it again). With those two things in mind, I think it might be sensible to codify all my political and societal beliefs down in a single document: I can easily direct people confused as to my thoughts, and the front of this blog will look a little less wonky. To do this, I have chosen politicalcompass.org.
Now, for those unfamiliar, the Political Compass is an ideological map showing the left/right divide as well as the authoritarian/libertarian one. I believe that left/right is a stupid dichotomy, totally arbitrary; there is no way you can call someone a leftist or anything like that without grossly over-generalising. Was Clement Attlee a leftist? How about Christopher Hitchens? What does Stalin have in common with Noam Chomsky? How are any of those people in any way related to the hyper-offended university students of today? Are the uni students radical leftists? How is any of what they do radical in the way Lenin’s leftism was radical? How is a lack of immigration controls evidence of a large government? Why does a large government disapprove of academic selection and interference in education? This is ridiculous and unhelpful. The vast majority of centralisation in Britain happened under proto-libertarian Margaret Thatcher, who apparently was about as right-wing as it gets. Left and Right originated in the pre-Revolution French Parliament: the monarchists sat on the right and the republicans on the left. That’s it — that’s where it came from. Why is it the primary divide in our political system?
Let me be clear: I am not an enlightened alt-centrist and I disapprove of people who are. I just like my political maps to make sense. This is why ideologies are far more important to me than silly dichotomies. An ideology is based around a certain principle; it is a collection of ideas working towards a coherent ideal society. A liberal prizes the freedom of the individual to seek his own happiness; a conservative takes a pessimistic view of man and decides a firm hand is needed to prevent chaos; a socialist thinks happiness stems from togetherness, belonging and equity; the difference between a liberal and a libertarian is that a liberal believes freedom and choice can be restricted unfairly by the environment — poverty, social pressure, the failures of capitalism — as well as by the government, while a libertarian sees the world as a level playing field already. I could do this for hours. It makes so much more sense. Political Compass improves things slightly with its division into social and economic views (left/right and up/down), but still comes across as irritatingly arbitrary, especially with the parts referring to religion. I’ve taken the test before and I know what my result will be; I’m doing this mainly to document my answers to the questions and give people an idea of my views.
I identify myself as a liberal and as a social democrat. I take the view that people should be free, and also that capitalism is an imperfect system that needs to be forced to work for the poorest. That said, there are oddities — my opposition to the European Union, for instance, and firm commitment to the idea of the nation-state, along with my pride in my country (yes, I accept its shames as well). The idea of the abolition of the pound sterling horrifies me, as does the destruction of the United Kingdom, with implies an almost conservative respect for tradition. My dislike of offence culture and trendy social justice malarkey I think is entirely in keeping with the old liberal principle of “FREEDOM, BITCH!”, sadly forgotten by most in the movement today, who really are cultural marxists. I think we have more important things to do before we debate whether to introduce a codified constitution in Britain, like breaking the power of the ruling party over Parliament and ending the tyranny of the cabinet committee, and I think proportional representation is an utterly shit electoral system. I identify with my nationality but not my race, and the rights of the consumer and employee are more important than the rights of the businessman.
Anyway. Let’s get on with it.
I’m assuming by “economic globalisation” they mean free trade and the defeat of geography by technology, and by “trans-national corporations” they’re using the usual economic definition of what are basically giant companies setting up branches and franchises all over the world, and cleverly overcharging and undercharging each other during transfers so all of their profits are made wherever they have to pay the least tax. TNCs have a tendency to suck up all of the labour and capital in a certain area and even exert influence over the government; in extreme circumstances you can even end up with banana republics, so called for the United Fruit Company and its exploits in South America. I’m rather surprised anyone could click anything other than Strongly Agree. The finance sector in Britain is actually terrifying, and I seriously believe we are close to seeing the defeat of democracy by international capitalism.
Of course not. If your country is wrong then it’s duty to point it out. That makes you more of a patriot, not less. I Strongly Disagree.
I actually Disagree with this. The nation-state is the largest unit in which it is possible to feel a connection to your fellows , through a common culture, history, geography and, most important, set of values and identity. It may be an irrational idea, but it’s an important one that gives unity. I adore my country, from its history to its stereotypes, and I refuse to concede there is anything necessarily isolationist or xenophobic about that.
The English have many superior qualities, compared with the French; alas, the French are also white.
The enemy of my enemy has been pushed back a place on death row. We may not be able to apply our principles perfectly in an imperfect world, but that is no excuse to forget we have them. I Disagree.
I don’t know enough about international law to answer this as well as I’d like, but I do know that vigilantism is bad, especially on a national level. I Strongly Disagree.
That just sounds snobbish. I Disagree.
Not so much as elsewhere, I would say. In Britain there used to be a kind of deference for the aristocracy and polity; and as it declined affluence and rising living standards helped break down class divisions, even if wealth inequality increased. There are huge numbers of poor people remaining, of course, but we’ve seen from strike action in the 1920s and 1980s that their discontent is materially motivated rather than political. There’s a reason why Arthur Scargill didn’t get his revolution. I Disagree.
Kind of nasty of them to put such a complex question in a political test for the layman. We’ve seen the damage inflation can wreck time and time again, from Britain in the 1970s to Germany in the 1920s. Losing control of the money supply is a sure-fire way to decimate your economy. On the other hand, hyperinflation rarely happens without some kind of provocation — in Germany it was the political turmoil, while in Britain it was firstly the Oil Crisis and then the mass strikes. Sure, it had crept up to worrying levels before hand in the late 1960s, but it could have been beaten back. I think the emphasis Western governments today put on inflation control is ridiculous and damaging; a rise to 3% is thought to be the end of the world, while millions are out of work. I Disagree.
Of course they do. Strongly Agree. In case anyone was wondering, the failure of businesses to take larger factors into account is called “negative externalities” in economics. “Positive externalities” also exist, like inventing new technology.
It’s fundamentally communist idea, with which I Disagree.
If strange people want to buy strange bottled water they’re quite entitled to. I Disagree.
Of course it should. I Strongly Disagree. Abolition of private property is quite literally the technical definition of communism.
Again that thing with the finance sector. It’s regrettable and it’s dangerous. Strongly Agree.
It’s actually a complete fiction that Britain and then America were made rich by free trade. They most certainly weren’t. The British were enormously protectionist right up until the turn of the nineteenth century, by which time their industry had already developed to the point it was superior to most other people’s. It was only after that they began to open up and expand into new markets with free trade deals. A similar story runs in America; in fact the industrious North found its industry it had spent eighty years building up very useful in the US Civil War. Modern economists tell us that we should specialise in the areas where we have “comparative advantage”, so that we can really efficient; and this logic is perfect, so long as its underlying assumptions are true. They are not. For one thing “comparative advantages” like technology, the educated workforce and to an extent even cultural attitudes can be influenced by the state. For another, who’s to say that you even can specialise? Miners cannot suddenly become financiers and blast furnaces cannot be turned into computer chip manufacturers. If you give up protectionism on a failing industry, it might be that that industry gets decimated by foreign competition — and nothing else happens. You’ve just reduced the productive capabilities of your nation. Congrats, I guess. I Strongly Disagree.
The only purpose of a company is to deliver profit, yes. It wouldn’t work otherwise. So I Agree. That is not to say they should not be subject to government regulation.
The problem here is with calling it a right. What you run the risk of doing is creating a bipartite system, where all of the best gadgets, techniques and staff flow into a separate, exclusive health institution or group of institutions for the wealthy, leaving the plebs with plasters and teenage nurses on work experience. It isn’t right to tell people they can’t buy better healthcare, but we should really throw everything we have into a standard system and make life uncomfortable to say the least for private companies. I Agree, but barely.
Of course they should. I Strongly Agree.
I Strongly Agree. Monopolies are dangerous. They have market power to raise and lower prices as they please, causing havoc and extorting the public. When they go bust they take a hell of a lot of other companies with them. Where they have to exist, they should be owned or at least largely managed by the government.
Stupid myth with which I Disagree.
I’ll keep an eye on my follower count.
This is an essay by Richard Dawkins which finally settled the abortion issue for me, after much tossing and turning over many moons in my head. I think it’s excellent and suggest you all read it; in short, though, I Disagree.
Of course it should. I Strongly Agree.
Accomplishes nothing. Justice and revenge are not the same thing. I Disagree.
I’m actually going to go ahead and Disagree with this. If you’re going to have a government, I think maintaining heritage and history is an important thing for it to do, financially successful or not. Governments are not just tax-funded businesses, and should not be treated the same way.
Only up to sixteen, I would say. There are certainly things we keep the youth from doing that we probably shouldn’t, but leaving school is not among them. If you are a guardian keeping the rights of a child, you should be treating them like hot potatoes to unload at the earliest opportunity, but a mistake made by many of a more libertarian disposition is thinking they can just be given away. So I Disagree grudgingly.
I Disagree. Children sometimes have to be spanked, but not by good parents. I don’t think it’s going to cause massive emotional harm — it’s just unnecessary violence.
Natural and important. I Agree. Of course, it is natural for the parents to try to find them out.
Marijuana — indeed, cannabis generally — is not so safe as some would like us to believe. It is hardly a harmless drug, especially on developing minds. That said, I’ve yet to see anyone declare it any more dangerous that tobacco, and it isn’t the right of the government to dictate what you can put into your body anyway — not unless it genuinely becomes a national concern, which it likely won’t. I Strongly Agree.
Wouldn’t that be a Brave New World? Disagree.
Strongly Disagree. Doesn’t this directly contradict a previous question?
No. I Strongly Disagree. Call me an imperialist, but some cultures are just more civilised than others.
I wouldn’t mind if more experiments were done with a universal basic income. But, failing that, I think genuine benefits scroungers should just be made to live off rations. You don’t get to abuse the system. We’ll call it the Bread and Sherry Line. Every week you get a bottle of cheap wine and a shopping trolly of own-brand food from the supermarket, and maybe a wooden horse for the boy. I Disagree, of course — no one dies in a civilised society.
I Strongly Disagree, because this is just factually untrue. It’s actually second-generation immigrants who are more likely to explode in subways.
Ha ha! Who the hell would answer this with anything but a Strongly Disagree? I’d heard the test was biased but this is insane.
I Disagree with this. See, the difference between private and public broadcasters — business and government — is that the employees in the latter are there to do a job, and the people pushing the agenda are separate. There’s an institutional difference between the people running state broadcasters and the people who want to interfere with them. Fox and CNN are laughably biased, and clearly at an executive level, while all you get with the BBC is individual reporters cocking up, either acting incompetently or letting through their own thoughts with a turn of phrase (we’ve seen this with all the “despite Brexit” shit going around). I don’t think the Beeb is a government mouthpiece, even if it is often stupid. That might be the most controversial opinion I’ve posted so far.
Oh yes. Strongly Agree.
I Disagree with this. I mean, sure, it’s an advantage, but it can hardly be called an advantage. Not that it makes too much difference in the British political system given the level of executive control.
I Strongly Disagree. No it should not, for the simple reason that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of the state having the power to kill people. It isn’t right. Only in times of war or if their survival is just practically impossible given the circumstances, like in a firefight, should we allow our leaders to dish out death.
No. That’s probably what you’ll end up with in reality, but at the end of the day we are all fundamentally the people, one and the same. I don’t want to bring back the aristocracy. I Disagree.
Strongly Agree. What does this have to do with my political views though?
I Disagree. What would that accomplish. Let’s not purge the idea of punitiveness from our prisons — for the sake of justice and closure if nothing else — but if you can’t whip the criminality out of people; you can only scare it underground.
We say we live an a progressive, civilised society. Rehabilitating some criminals may be a non-starter, but that doesn’t make it a waste of time. I Disagree.
Disagree. Both are paramount.
I hate the way this statement is phrased, but I feel I have to Agree with it. The first duty of parents is to be parents. For mothers it is a simple reality that this usually means giving up full-time work; I’m not a sociologist so I can’t explain why. It applies to fathers too, however they can best go about their new task Maybe they could give up work and be stay-at-home dads and the mum is the breadwinner. But once you’ve taken on that duty of care it becomes the most important thing in your existence. And in my experience you can juggle them anyway: my mother never stopped working.
What? I have no idea what this is but I guess I’ll have to Agree to it because it doesn’t sound outrageous given what I know about TNCs.
Living under the establishment peacefully is an important part of maturity, yes, but that does not mean you have to make peace with it. I Strongly Disagree.
Given the declining interest in religion on the Internet, I think I’ll have to answer them in a breeze.
No it doesn’t.
Of course you can.
Factually untrue and nothing to do with religion anyway.
Surprisingly, I’m going to Agree with this. Life is many lotteries. To start with, only 0.75% of people win the first round to be born English, and after that there’s many more to do with wealth, family, the condition of your mind and body, and even your traits and faculties. Bad things also seem to hunt in packs; it might just be me, but all of the unlucky people I know personally are really unlucky. How much more likely are you to live in a single-parent household if you were born into poverty? How much more likely are you to be abused in whatever way if you were a disturbed child? These things play off each other. I guess I do have a kind of privilege in that I was raised in a nuclear family in a middle-class suburb — in England.
No it isn’t.
I Strongly Disagree. My parents never married and are still together. Admit it — this was just a dirty trick to keep pretending homosexual couples were evil, wasn’t it? Kinda backfired :^). I don’t understand the point of marriage at all.
Of course they shouldn’t. It may be that heterosex couples are better at parenting, slightly, though I don’t know, but I think as long as you actually have two parents who care about you and each other you’ll be fine. The real issue is single parenting. I Strongly Agree.
I can’t see any non-religious reason to ban porn from anyone old enough to understand and enjoy it. I Strongly Agree.
I Strongly Agree — unless of course they’re waking up the neighbours.
Why does it matter? The preponderance of my adult thoughts and actions are taken up by the fairer sex, but that hasn’t stopped me from admiring guys here and there. I certainly didn’t command myself to, and I think the way we look at human sexuality is generally deeply flawed. But really, what is the point of this question? What does answering it change? I guess based on myself I’ll have to Disagree.
Well, there you have it. I must say I’m surprised at how centrist I am — I think I’m in reality far more left-wing than that economically — but my dislike of state repression seems about right.
I really don’t think much of the Left/Right dichotomy, or of this graph, and I don’t think you should. I just did this for the questions. The test has been said to have a gigantic liberal left bias anyway, which I think I detected in the phrasing of the questions. If you’re interested, there it is; but if you want something of value, I suggest you scroll up.
PS. It transpires that there is another compass website called “Spekr“. It is a one-man development that pledges to be as unambigous and obvious as possible in its answers. I cannot judge its veracity, but it certainly looks slick, so I have attached my results (there’s 100 questions — I’m not going through them one by one):
PPS. 8Values, is a thing, too: