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Are you a red diaper baby? A redneck?

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 contrary 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!

Also just up at The Post-Darwinist:

Darwinism and popular culture: More on Church of England’s recent bout of “false apology syndrome” <a href=”http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/2008/10/darwinism-and-popular-culture-more-on.html” target=”another”></a>

Charges against Mark Steyn dropped but <a href=”http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/2008/10/intellectual-freedom-in-canada-mark.html” target=”another”>battle</a> continues

Darwinism and popular culture: Still not clear how mind emerges from <a href=”http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/2008/10/darwinism-and-popular-culture-still-not.html” target=”another”>mud</a>

Darwinism and popular culture: Fish story <a href=”http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/2008/10/darwinism-and-popular-culture-fish.html” target=”another”>evolves</a> in pop science media

*Note: Franklin Carter has since written to say that the questions (which are really propositions) are intended to provoke a response. He is right. Come to think of it, I am making a political statement merely by assuming that government cannot change basic facts of nature or history. Does that tilt me to the right, putting me squarely in the middle?
**I bet if he took the test, we could establish that.
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28 Responses to Are you a red diaper baby? A redneck?

  1. Economic Left/Right: -0.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.41

    I pretty much got a bull’s-eye.

  2. Economic Left/Right: 5.50
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 0.15

  3. On a slightly different topic, some of you might be interested in my recent post about why conservatism is the best choice for Christian Social Justice issues.

  4. I think i’m winning so far ;)

    Your political compass
    Economic Left/Right: 8.50
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 1.23

    Although I would contend it is partially inaccurate. I’ve talked to that author about this and some of the positions weight in one direction or another when the reasons for holding them would tend to push in the opposite direction.

  5. “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.*”

    I think you need to be a little careful with questions like this. After all, what does benefit large corporations (at least in so far as they are working in a free market) usually does benefit humanity as a whole and attempts to organize economies deliberately along lines that “benefit humanity” has resulted in ReallyGoodIdeas(TM) like Communism.

  6. Well, we certainly come from disparate parts to gather at this forum!

    Economic Left/Right: -4.00
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.87

    I now feel closer to Gandhi than ever before!!! And Mandela and I aren’t too far away either!

    Hey Jason, I don’t know about ‘winning’!?! I feel we are all in a cane toad race where they are let out from the middle of the ring and jump wildly attempting to break out of the circle!

  7. I was close to Jose Zapatero and Markel. But those questions are ridiculous. My answer to just about every single one of them would depend on information that is not given, so basically my answers were close to random. Surprise, surprise, my final result was close to the origin. Those questions are designed to provoke a knee-jerk emotional response and I’m just not that kind of guy.

  8. If the grid was a target I scored inside the center ring:

    Economic Left/Right: -0.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 1.23

  9. Bullseye Dave!

    I must have sprayed my shot!

  10. Economic Left/Right: 1.00
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.18

    The questions/answers are impossible, seem to rely on cliche and allow for no nuance.
    And yet … oddly enough, this is the type of score I would have given myself going in.

  11. I couldn’t even get past the second page of this test, because most of the questions rested on faulty assumptions or offered false choices.

    For example:

    Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care.

    I don’t believe that medical care is a “right” any more than food is a right. But I do believe that if someone is willing to give me super-duper medical care at a premium price, then I should have the “right to purchase that care”. Having the right to transact with a private party is not the same as a right to have the thing that is at the center of our transaction. So the question is loaded to make the premium healthcare buyer look like he’s depriving some poor sap access to an MRI or some such thing.

    Speaking of which, Denyse, how long is the wait in Canada for an MRI or laproscopic surgery? My cousin had to come to the U.S. for the latter because the wait in Canada was months. I don’t know where her/your countryman will go if Obama trashes private medicine in the U.S.

  12. Hi Russ,
    That is the problem had with the test. Every question/answer carried in its premise too many variables. The contrary terms within the questions themselves make it hard to know whether you agree with the point or not.

  13. Left/Right: 5.50

    Lib./Auth: 0.00

    Interesting. I think that’s about right.

  14. Apollos, I see that we are ideological soul mates ;-)

  15. Quote from the survey website:
    The idea was developed by a political journalist with a university counselling background, assisted by a professor of social history. They’re indebted to people like Wilhelm Reich and Theodor Adorno for their ground-breaking work in this field.

    This psychologist thinks very little of Adorno. For instance, he writes;

    the original Adorno questionnaire that was used to characterize conservatives as anti-democrratic (the F scale) was in fact a compilation of beliefs that were common in the “Progressive”-dominated America in the first half of the 20th century. See here on the nature of the F scale questions and see here for the rather surprising details of America’s “Progressive” era. So if there were any ideas that were shown by Adorno to be anti-democratic, they were in fact “Progressive” ideas at the time!

    I remember reading something decades ago that said there is no left vs. right; there are only totalitarians vs. non-totalitarians. I don’t say libertarians because I think they’re just as nuts as the totalitarians, and more or less for the same reason. Both have the same faulty view of human nature. The totalitarians think they’re good and therefore everyone else (being bad, stupid or ignorant) needs to be ruled by them. The libertarians think everyone is good. Neither side understands that everyone, including our own self, is a selfish, greedy, sinner capable of any evil if given enough power both to do evil and to expect to be able to evade the consequences of doing evil.

  16. The totalitarians think they’re good and therefore everyone else (being bad, stupid or ignorant) needs to be ruled by them. The libertarians think everyone is good. Neither side understands that everyone, including our own self, is a selfish, greedy, sinner capable of any evil if given enough power both to do evil and to expect to be able to evade the consequences of doing evil.

    Great post, Janice. I am a political conservative, some 60% of Americans identify themselves ( http://www.americanthinker.com.....ugh_e.html ). I once had a conversation with the head of the Libertarian party of a southern state. He happened to be a pilot for a major U.S. airline, and I was riding in the cockpit to get to work. He was arguing that neighbors should be completely free to work out all government regulatory functions privately and independently. He seemed stumped, however, when I asked if the very FAA regulations that prevented us from bumping into other jets should be abandoned and some kind of air traffic control system left to develop on its own (or not develop at all).

  17. After all, what does benefit large corporations (at least in so far as they are working in a free market) usually does benefit humanity as a whole and attempts to organize economies deliberately along lines that “benefit humanity” has resulted in ReallyGoodIdeas(TM) like Communism.

    Conversely, “serve humanity” in this context quite often means “serve politicians” or serve the political interests of some pressure group. Is the refusal of U.S. politicians to allow “transnational corporations” to drill for oil on American soil instead of in South American rainforests “serving humanity”?

  18. Economic Left/Right: 6.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 0.87
    This test pretty much pegged me correctly: a borderline Libertarian who leans to the right.

    But every election I am faced with the same dilemma: should I vote Libertarian thus squandering my vote or go ahead and vote against the Democrat?

    I had trouble understanding this question:

    All people have their rights, but it is better for all of us that different sorts of people should keep to their own kind.

    I wasn’t sure if it meant some people shouldn’t have certain rights or that some sorts of people shouldn’t have more rights than others. It was kind of a vague question or could have been worded better.

  19. beancan: You have to view the questions through an American Liberal lens.

    All people have their rights, but it is better for all of us that different sorts of people should keep to their own kind.

    It means “separate but equal” or “I think [insert racial/ethnic minority here] people should have equal rights, but I don’t want them living next to me.” It is a statement, that if agreed to, is supposed to reveal one’s racism or bigotry.

    I am white, my wife is black, and our kids are Obama-looking. But there are lots of things I hate about “black culture”. That’s why I don’t necessarily want to live next store to most of the baggy-pants, nowhere-to-go young black men that drag themselves past my house, but my wife and I get along fine and I get along with others in the black church of which I’m a member.

    Of course, as a Christian I’m called to love those “raggedy folk”, but I understand why someone wouldn’t want their home value (i.e. their largest source of wealth) destroyed by the importation of a dysfunctional culture into their neighborhood.

  20. P.S. by “raggedy folk” I was referring not to my family or black friends, but to those young black men who seem to have nothing productive to do and are certainly in no hurry to do it.

  21. 21

    Economic Left/Right: -5.12
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.97

    Take that AussieID!

  22. russ: I guess my liberal lenses are broken. The question was not clear at all.

    Liberal lenses tend to be funky kaleidoscopic making them look pretty but, like their policies, functionally useless and impractical.

  23. I surprised myself.

    Economic Left/Right: 0.25
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 1.28

  24. Economic Left/Right: -1.00
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 1.18

  25. 25

    Economic Left/Right: -3.0
    Social Lib/Auth: -0.31

  26. BarryA wrote:

    Apollos, I see that we are ideological soul mates ;-)

    Howdy neighbor. If the grid represented the real estate of the entire U.S., then at the very least, we shop at the same market. :P

    I was wondering if anyone would get closer to the center on the lib/auth thing than 0.15. You nailed it with 0.0.

    I had some of the same problems with the questions that Russ had. Many seemed to be liberally framed. The health care question is the perfect example.

    Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care.

    This is to some degree a politically loaded question. You would need to consider health care a right, and you would also need to believe that the ability to pay for superior service would be an application of differing standards, in order to answer without reservation.

    I would consider a more objective approach to the question:

    Those with the ability to pay should be allowed to purchase superior goods and services as they relate to health care.

    For all the questions I tried to answer honestly according to my belief (with no protest-oriented, reverse answers) but usually chose agree/disagree as opposed to the more radical versions of those. All told, I probably chose the less extreme answers 80-90% of the time.

  27. Of course the questions are loaded. I would not have expected otherwise. Still, I think the test gives a fair assessment of where I am on the scales used. I would suggest that the really unfair part of the test is not the scale but the label of each axis. Note that George Bush is close to Hitler. No one in their right mind believes that.

  28. Winston Macchi … you and Gandhi must have shopped at the same sandal emporium.

    Yep, Barry, I concur with your assessment. An interesting thought-provoking tool, but with a fair few loose ends …

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