The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

No one in this election is a true “leftist”

with 3 comments

UPDATE:  With election hoopla at full frenzy, I hear scare-words (like “socialist”) being thrown around.  Truth is, almost no one in American politics is genuinely left of center; nearly all fall into the center-right regions, including both of the remaining presidential candidates.

It seemed like a good idea to re-post this graph from the primary days. As you’ll see, this being America, we’re pretty much all capitalists.  Our “left” and “right” are merely debates about how much leash we give our capitalism.

Meanwhile, pooh-pooh the idea that Obama’s palling around over there next to Karl Marx. That’s a long, long ways from true. -M

Notice the old labels don’t work any more? Political Compass politicians Used to be that a fire-breathing politician could cry “LIBBRAL!” and everyone in the room would look shocked as linebackers near a penalty flag. Nowadays, no one looks up. Must be disappointing.

As The Political Compass points out, the old terms don’t express much helpful information:

The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.
So, Political Compass stirred in a couple more ingredients, then made a test to sample views. Try it—it only takes a few minutes, and I’ll guarantee it will give you something to think about—at their web page.
And, if you’re curious, my results are after the break: Political Compass me

How’d you come out?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

October 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Politics

3 Responses

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  1. Well I come out more or less where you are and close to Mike Gravel and Dennis Cucinich. I think my exact result is over on Facebook somewhere.

    But I see all the other US presidential candidates belong to the authoritarian right — not much of a choice, is there?

    Monte says: Yes, that authoritarian bent was one of the helpful illustrations of the chart for me; I hadn’t quite thought in those terms. And even the libertarian candidate is on the authoritarian side of the mid-line! Wonder why that is.


    January 30, 2008 at 5:58 am

  2. My point exactly, and the reason for expanding our definitions away from the old terms alone. I would hope to see them as a starting point, rather than an end in themselves.


    January 28, 2008 at 9:56 pm

  3. I really don’t like these kind of labels much, cause as soon as you say “I’m a liberal,” or “I’m a conservative,” people have their concept of what that means, and it may be far from what you actually are. I think we try to label people to make them into neat categories, but people are far too complicated to be categorized.

    Labels also tend to smother conversation. Labels allow us to think we don’t need to think about anything anymore becuase we know what we think about liberals or conservatives, etc.


    January 27, 2008 at 11:37 pm

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