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Friday, October 10, 2008

Morning coffee: Are you a redneck? A red diaper baby? And does it matter?

Surprisingly, whether you are left or right may not matter as much as you might think, according to an interesting new political litmus test.

Whether you are authoritarian vs. libertarian may predict your politics just as effectively.

Hat tip to Franklin Carter , Editor and Researcher, at the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council of Canada, for this entertaining and instructive litmus test.

I took the test and here is my score:

Economic Left/Right: -2.25

Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.13

So I tilt slightly to the left, and am a bit more on the libertarian side than the authoritarian.

Actually, the questions are a bit manipulative, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun! For example,

Question 1, If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.
If economic globalisation is "inevitable", it will "serve" nobody, it will just happen. Positioning will determine the winners and losers, just as in the Age of Exploration and the Industrial Revolution.

Forced to choose, I prefer it serve humanity, so I checked Agree. But the very idea that my opinion would change anything sounds erroneous in principle.

Don't miss the explanation for the test at the site's home page:
Welcome to The Political Compass™

There's abundant evidence for the need of it. 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. That's about as much as we should tell you for now.
These observations are especially relevant to the intellectual freedom issues we face in Canada today. For example, far leftists and Islamic activists agree on supporting and extending our illiberal "human rights" commissions.

Does that make sense, given that they disagree on so much else? Yes, if you keep one thing in mind - both groups are authoritarian. Both benefit from the growth of the authoritarian state, even though they would take it in radically different directions.

As a contary example, Calgary commentator Rob Breakenridge and I disagree strongly on the intelligent design controversy but we both oppose the "human rights" commissions. That is probably* because neither of us is authoritarian.

So kudos to Compass!

(*I bet if he took the test, we could establish that).

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