I came upon this interesting site the other day http://www.politicalcompass.org/ and, of course, couldn't resist the temptation of taking the test. Go ahead, check it out, get yourself assessed and come back here - this post won't go away. It's anonymous too, and the secret service agents who have you under observation will never find out your political inclinations unless you choose to make them public. Which I am about to do in this blog post, with mine.
I got a -2.50 on the economic left/right scale and a -3.33 on the social libertarian/authoritarian scale. Let me tell you what that means (if you haven't already gone there and figured out how it works). It means I am a bit to the left of centre in my economic ideology and a bit anti-authoritarian with regard to the philosophy of social organisation. It puts me in the same quadrant as Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Mohandas Gandhi; diametrically opposite to Adolf Hitler, George Bush and Tony Blair. Now - I didn't need to take this test to tell me that. At 45 I know who and what I am and am happy with that, as I usually say. However, it did bring a smile to my face - I enjoy the company in this quadrant, though I may not be as far left (communist) as, nor as much of a libertarian (anarchist) as some of my other quadrant-mates. I'm happy to be bracketed with some of the great peace-loving, enlightened and spiritually evolved revolutionaries that have walked this earth. The fact that I am closer to the centre also tells me that I may even be a bit more balanced than some of them. Hurray!
I was, however, a bit surprised to find that I was more libertarian (3.33) than I was left of centre (2.50). Even though I thought I'd made my peace with the establishment! If I'd taken this test a couple of decades ago ... well lemme not go there (too much detail - you don't need to know). Maybe as I grow, I will evolve closer to the centre and perhaps one day be a perfect 0. Standing erect like a spinning top - a perfectly balanced revolutionary ...
After spending adequate time gloating over my results and feeling smugly satisfied about my evolutionary path, my attention turned towards the framework itself (I love pondering). It would be natural to put left on the left and right on the right, which would appear like giving minus marks to the economic left and plus marks to the economic right, much to my chagrin (it's the connotation of - and + as a value judgement that I am commenting on here, not the academic semantics, which of course is value neutral on either side). However, why put authoritarian above and libertarian below? That has its connotation too. Both axes seemed to have been calibrated by right-wing capitalists (mild ones perhaps, to give them the benefit of my jumping to conclusions) who would want themselves and others of their ilk to score a + on the x axis (think of all the meanings of the word 'right') and a + on the y axis (think of all the meanings of the word 'above'). Hmm ... like it or not, the academics could not get away from leaving behind a trace of their own political sensibilities in the design of their framework, like some kind of watermark. Of course it would be too much to expect them to put left on the right and right on the left. That would be counter-intuitive if not downright confusing. But ... could they have avoided this by putting the economic left/right on the y axis? Still, one of them would be 'above' the other. Well, too bad for those who think that the top right quadrant is the 'correct' place to be. The way this has been designed right now, they'd have to share their political space with the great leaders of the free world. Some people may actually like that. Good for them!
The other thought I had was ... they should have had a z axis too. Something to characterise, let's say, attitudes towards change i.e., liberal (not to be confused with libertarian) / progressive vs. conservative / traditionalist. I wonder where I would have scored on that axis. I have enough going on both sides. Perhaps I would have been a -2 or -3 there as well i.e., leaning towards liberal / progressive evolving towards 0. I have assumed that conservative traditionalism would be a plus, and liberal progressive would be a negative, going by the spirit of the design.
There were some interesting moments as I took the test. I read "It's natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents" and thought of myself and smiled as I answered. Then I read "Marijuana should be legalised", smiled some more and answered. Then I read "The most important thing for children to learn is to accept discipline" and remembered my answer to "Good parents sometimes have to spank their children". And then I went back and changed a few answers. I would definitely want to spank my kids if I catch them secretly smoking a joint, and they better accept the discipline meted out to them. With me it was different ... (sigh) ... in the good old days. And no, Dad, I never inhaled.