Eric Raymond has written the ten reasons he isn't a conservative or a left-liberal.

I disagree with some of it (like, doesn't complaining about Clinton's sexual habits contradict his sexual freedom beliefs? Unless you want to argue that poor Monica was a victim, which contradicts his anti-sexism beliefs in making her just a poor helpless waif). But the central point is robust - that poltical debate in this country have been dominated by two camps for so long that all debate is projected along that single left-right axis. Principled and rational thinkers are left out in the cold. Den Beste has a few things to say about it as well and even coins a new political philosophy, "Engineerism" which he describes as:

Engineerists are socially liberal, economically conservative and politically libertarian. Note the use of lower case letters on all of those words; I'm "socially liberal" but damned well not "Socially Liberal".

Though he is also trying to break loose of the rigid confines of the prevailing political system, I note that he does claim his party affiliation as Republican. I personally don't understand why someone yearning to be free of the constraining liberal-conservative filter of politics would willingly embrace a party that is actively committed to propagating the dominance of that axis across the American political landscape. Personally I will never have any party affiliation, because it seems that I have lost some measure of control. WHat does it really serve?

There is a new way however to define your political beliefs outside of the one-dimensional model. Den bEste hints at it by invoking LIbertarianism, this goes a bit further: The World's Smallest Political Quiz.

Instead of a single axis of "liberal" and conservative", this political
model divides it into four areas, a "left liberal / right conservative" axis
and a perpendicular axis of "libertarian / authoritative". Of course there
is also a "centrist" region.

The brilliance of this model is that it can plots fascism at the
intersection of liberal and authoritarian, and communism at the intersection
of conservative and authoritarian. I'm not sure who came up with it but it's
a far better way of thinking about political belief because it clarifies
things instead of projecting them onto a single axis.

Your score is actually represented as coordinates, I tend to fall into the
centrist border between left liberal and libertarian, myself. The quiz that
theyt present is a very low-resolution mapping onto this political space,
but a more fine grained quiz could easily be written to help narrow it down.

I'm going to see if maybe I can write a longer quiz for this political model. The questions shoudl be statements of principle, however, like the ones I have been trying to think about on this blog. Instea of Y, M, N, the choices should be "ideal", "compromise" , and "pragmatic".

All I can say for sure is that if this model prevailed over the simplistic left-right axis, we might have a flowering of political debate quite unlike the current Us vs Them mentality.

No comments: