Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Political Compass

I've had conversations with several of you about the meaning of the words "liberal" and "conservative." The gist of the conversations was that the words are hard to pin down for various reasons, among them being that:
1. the meanings in changing as we speak,
2. often we envision not liberals or conservatives but rather caricatures of liberals or conservatives, and
3. the words simply often mean different things to different people.

Here is a site that plots you on a 2-dimensional graph, which (so it claims) gives a more accurate representation of your beliefs than simply the liberal/conservative axis. It has a left-right horizontal axis, which is economic (the further right you are, the less you like government/co-operative regulation of the market), and a libertarian/authoritarian political axis (the more "authoritarian," the more you support deference to tradition/the government).

I'll let you decide how accurate a portrayal it gives of people's dispositions, but mine sounds fairly close: -6.25, -4.92, which makes me a libertarian leftist (I suspect most people who identify themselves as "liberal" would fall in this category, as it appears to say you believe government has the responsibility to provide basic needs and ensure fair play, but not the right to tell you how to live your life).

Take the test, and tell me where you landed.