Thursday, August 9, 2007

now, if only i could find my moral compass!

the folks at have designed a handly little quiz that is good for hours (depending on how obsessive you are) or at least minutes of fun.

i think this type of thing should largely be taken as a bit of whimsy, though i don't really dispute its conclusion. nonetheless how closely should one really align the politics of mandela and ghandi (and LoA)?

in any case, one should understand that the model is meant to describe the contemporary political climate and, using the insight that left/right is not adequate it attempts to add another dimension (authoritarian/anarchist) that judges how much one values order and security as opposed to freedom (understood in this model as negative freedom: the freedom from obstructions to one's will). as one can see in the first graph

this divides politics into four broad fields. the extremes of the axes represent "pure" forms of 4 major political ideologies in the 20th-21st centuries. along the left/right axis one finds communism and (economic-)liberalism. meanwhile along the authoritarian/libertarian axis one finds fascism and anarchism. i will point out that here one sees what i take to be the most glaring problem with this metric insofar as the creators use it to dispute the claim that communism and fascism were diametrically opposed to one another. whatever "diametrically" might mean in that sentence one needs some way of grasping the manner in which liberalism appeared as a progressive position to communists and a vapid and deathly system to fascist thinkers such as heidegger (who had no problem comparing it to communism in this regard). the problem here lies in the difficultly this metric has portraying the manner in which marxism and liberalism were united very strongly (in their respective theories) in their support of internationalism and universal freedom against the parochialism of the fascist movements which they found repugnant (and in marxist terms, decidely regressive). one can imagine a very different graphing for instance if the horizontal axis was internationalism v. nationalism with the individualist-liberalism marking the center of the axis. this graphing more accurately portrays the conflicts of the 20th c. in my opinion.

this is not meant to disparage the metric which definitely has its value in complicating our usual vision. here one sees its placement of some of the most significant figures of the 20th c.

or, again, here one sees the placement of recent world leaders. (i suggest another problematic placement for this metric might be musharraf, among others).

finally, i find their analysis of the american political scene interesting and largely correct insofar as they find almost the whole range of american political figures to be operating within a common field. that said, i think when one looks closely there is a clear axis along which the typical american language of "conservative" and "liberal" work. that axis seems to run diagonally from the top right corner down towards the center (and even kucinich falls along this axis). the only notable outlier is ron paul and let's face it he sounds like a non-sense voice in american politics. i would also say that this explains some of the difficulty and discomfort many catholics feel in the realm of american politics. when one looks at the previous graph at the placement of the supposedly conservative Benny16, one finds that the pope bears no relation to the axis of american political discourse and i would suggest that it is precisely for this reason that catholics find themselves, when they vote, at a severe impasse. likewise i would suggest that this impasse largely centers around the church's (often muted) skepticism towards capitalism.

and finally there is LoA. how exactly does one describe a right-marxist (a tongue in cheek reference to the 19th c. category of the right-hegelians), otherwise known as a catholic, with authority issues?

i will let She do it, since she does it so well?

Sister: Do you know where LoA is?
She: Go 'til you see Lenin, and then keep going Left.
Sister stares with very puzzled look.

LoA:Left of Lenin

best wishes,


koonj said...

God, She is a hoot!

vassilip said...

dear friend

all these cartesian topography (as usual) is so far from man's contigency (=a poor word for the mystery of the image of god in us).
eg., if i wanted to put my wretched self in that graph, i sould need at least a 3D one (:a point at the very end of "libertarian" (...?) axis, and very far from any "left-right" sociological logic). but even then, somebody without a face to face relation with me would have nothing to know but an idol (an idea).
i think you will agree that mathematics, as a purely abstract-human artifice, dim truth. and whenever it is applied on politics, it produces pure violence.

my best wishes

Patrik said...

Patrik: Left of LoA

Alaleh said...

well, if anything it's surreal.

Steve Hayes said...

I found myself somewhere down in the libertarian left. I've always had some sympathies with anarcho-syndicalism, though I recard myself more as a liberal.

The Arcadian said...

can I be pretentious and say I'm smack bang in the centre? (I always knew the Dalai Lama and george bush were diametric opposites)

The Arcadian said...

No, but really, I'm definately left of centre, to what extent- I don't know, and whether I believe in it or not, I've harboured an anti-establishment ethos throughout my life.

Can I be pretensious and say I'm somewhere close to Gandhi? (as long as I'm diametrically opposed to Tony Blair, I'm happy)

koonj said...

When a person has blog readers, a person should like, update occasionally, right?

Lawrence of Arabia said...

i know, i know. i have been horrible this month.

sorry Koonj and everyone.


thabet said...

"how exactly does one describe a right-marxist..."

Alasdair Macintyre has started blogging too?

Lawrence of Arabia said...

*falls out of chair from laughing*

yes, that might be a very apt description!

i have to say i am also glad that someone besides me still sees elements of marxism in macintyre. i have found that most of the people who are his biggest fans tend to see his marxism as simply a youthful fancy from which he has since recovered.

best wishes,