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Friday, August 17, 2007

Political Compass Graph

There is a very interesting little test that defines the subjects' political and social views. One axis defines the spectrum of left to right economic views (left meaning socialistic/communistic, right meaning free market/capitalistic). The other axis defines social authoritarianism (what they call fascism, which is questionable) to libertarianism (or anarchism at the extreme). I thought readers might be interested to take the test themselves, and I also thought it might be nice to document where I fall here on my blog.

If you would like to take the test, you can visit and click the 'take the test' option in the upper left of the screen.

I would advise doing so before reading the rest of this blog post, as reading some of my comments on the test questions may taint your results...

As for my results, you can click on the image here to see a larger version of it. I have combined my results with those of famous people as provided on the website, and have combined labels from several of the graphs they provided, into one for ease of use.

It did seem to me the test had several shortcomings. Too often the questions seemed to use inexact terms, sloppy phrasing, and assume that we would think along conventional lines. It says things like "x is natural". It's obvious the statement is implying that x is ok. What if we think its natural but not acceptable or proper? One could easily give an opposite impression of what they really think by answering accurately.

Another example would be the question as to whether violating 'international law' is sometimes necessary. What if you don't believe such a thing as 'international law' actually exists, because no political legislative body has ever been created on an international level that has the legitimate popular mandate to create 'laws'? It becomes somewhat of a 'did you stop beating your wife' question.

One other question was "A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system." Now, what if I believe that is a significant advantage of a one-party state in many cases, but I believe that other advantages of democratic multi-party states far outweigh that advantage? If I answer honestly, the test program will likely think I view one-party states as favorable in some way.

Another problem with the test is that one can easily see the political liberal mindset in the phrasing of the questions. Perhaps due to a lack of imagination or role-playing ability, what is assumed and what is taken for granted gives the neutrality away. For example, no one who thought that the interests of trans-national corporations was beneficial to humanity would have stated it as, "If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations." This either/or leaves such people with truly no representative answer to give. And people who have agreed with "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" in some cases of international politics of late, would never state that as an absolute. They would say, rather, something like, "In some cases it is useful to make cooperative deals with the enemy of my enemy, even if we normally would not approve of such people."

Having said that, the test probably measures what it sets out to in fairly close-enough terms. I say that judging by my own results and the results of many people I know well who have taken it. Perhaps those difficulties with the questions are some advanced psychological technique to make us answer without being able to 'figure out' the test. That may well be the case :)

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