Saturday, April 29, 2006

Take the Political Compass test

Tired, confused, depressed, unsure of where you stand politically in this post-ideological world? We can help you…

I have argued many times that the old left/right thing doesn’t work at all in Poland or the rest of the post-communist world. We have an economically leftwing government which is socially conservative at the same time. On the other side of parliament we have the conservatively liberal (?) Civic Platform in opposition.

But the left/right wing thing doesn’t work anymore in the West, either. All we have are political parties cut off from their social roots, like New Labour in the UK, that reach, in reflex, for the authoritarian button anytime they feel threatened (which is virtually everyday).

So to help your reorientation in this new, post-cold war situation, take the Political Compass test. It doesn’t just ask whether you are right or left wing economically, but also whether you are a libertarian or authoritarian.

For instance, the Law and Justice (PiS) led government here would get a score of ‘leftwing/authoritarian’.

I took the test and it said I was left/libertarian (close to Ghandi on the graph!).

How about you?


Eugene Markow said...

This is a practical discussion in further disecting the ambiguity of the political terms "left-right". Excellent topic to tackle Beatroot! The definition as I know it is based on the general hypothetical consensus of political analysts of East/Central Europe. Below are some of the more common characteristics associated with both sides of the political spectrum (pertaining to Poland) which I have gathered from dependable sources, however they are still debatable by even the most prominent social scientists. Several attributes have been known to overlap within categories, with many politicians exercising a 'mixed' combination of traits.

Political Left: Socialism, Liberalism, Secularism, Marxism, Anarchism, Communism, Libertarianism, Trotskyism, Neoconservatism, Athiesm

Political Right: Conservatism, Nationalism, Patriotism, Catholicism, Capitalism, Traditionalism, Fanatacism, Conventionalism, facism, Authoritarianism

It should be important to note, that an individual who identifies with either the political Left or Right doesn't necessarily harbor all components generally associated with each spectrum.

As Beatroot had mentioned, the above philosophies comprise not only of political or religious layers, but an economic one as well.

Many in and outside of Poland categorize PiS as "Conservative-Center-Right". The entire Coalition shifts this description more to the Right.

There are additional categories of Extreme Left, Far Left, Left Center, Center, Right Center, and Far Right, and Extreme Right.

Confused yet? I am now upside down!

Lynn said...

I've taken that one a couple of times. Both times I finished around Ghandi.

beatroot said...

Lynn - so me and you are like Ghandi! How do you look in a loin cloth? They don't suit me at all.

Eugene - Many in and outside of Poland categorize PiS as "Conservative-Center-Right". The entire Coalition shifts this description more to the Right.

I would say that the coalition has now gone more over to the 'left' that the economics is very characteristic of 'socialist' parties in the West at the fag-end of the cold war in the 1980's. Whereas, socially, the coalition is definatly on the conservative-authoritarian axis.

And that's a unique, Polish mixture (it's also one I find rather unattractive in this day and age.

As for me, I have been classified on many blog lists as 'libertarian', which puts me on the political right! (I get lots of email from conservatives, as a result).

But i just think these labels - which made sense for centuries after the French Revolutiuon - are now redundant. We need a new politics and a new language with which to be able to talk about it.

As for now I am on the side of the humanist-libertarians.

sonia said...

I took this test last year. I was in the lower right corner, in the Libertarian Right, well below Friedman...

Frank Partisan said...

I came out further left and libertarian than Ghandi. I was near the edge on both.

Agnes said...

Hmm. Took it again. Last time I was left libertarian, closer to Gandhi. Today I found myself closer to Mugabe, Saddam and other great favorites of mine. Odd. Probably Robespierre too, but he is not mentioned here. Unfair. Upper left edge, hmm.
What makes little Adolf right wing?

This compass is funny, populism is not an option here, damn. I adore them, really.

Agnes said...

Sorry, forgot: economically closer to the Church Mouse. Missing, again.

Eugene Markow said...

I forgot to mention my result, which is a bit surpising. Then again, it's only a single analysis of one's political view. I came out exactly near the very center, only slightly north-west of it, suggesting a minimal 'Authoritarian-Left'. I would have thought the result, if anything, would end up somewhat south-east in the "Libertarian-Right". However, the fact it was precisely near the very center does partially support my view that I tolerate all parties, and everyone should be given a fair chance.

Lynn said...


I'm farther to the left and below Ghandi too. All I can tell you is that it better be a big loin clothe until I make progress on my summer diet.

beatroot said...

Maybe you could use a bed sheet?:-/

I would call Ghandi lots of things, but 'libertarian left'? Ghandi was a pacifist nationalist with a minimalist line in leisure wear.

Redwine: you old cryptic, you. Anyway, you mention 'populist' there. What do you actually mean by populist and where would you put 'them' on the graph?

Bill said...

I've taken many tests of this kind in the past few years - there are several on the internet. I come out in the Libertarian-Right quadrant, but rather nearer the bottom right cormer than Friedman - very close to Ayn Rand, who usually appears in such things ;) .

beatroot said...

Hi Bill.

I just looked at your last name. You are know... related to...Him, are you?

roman said...

Economic Left(?) -2
Social Authoritarian 1
Left ?!? Where is Roman and what have you done with him?

Agnes said...

Heh, no traps and tricks, please. My lovely populists ARE on the graph, have a look again.

As for a definition, a populist, hmm, is like a postmodern...whose mother was a populist or is thought to be a populist, or converted to populism?

beatroot said...

No, a populist is someone whose mother was a popist and father who was a eulogist.

Thing is: I think that the term is meaningless. It's just a term of abuse from the mainstream at 'fringe' parties.

Agnes said...

I can't agree here, sorry. It would be too easy. And the last thing I had in mind were the fringe parties.

michael farris said...

Nothing surprising here -3.38 for both which puts me about one tick to the right of Gandhi I think.

On Polish politics. People forget that Solidarity's original goal wasn't Thatcher style economics at all. There was a putsch by fans of Reaganomics around 1990 but that wasn't the roots at all. What they wanted was a Scandinavian-style welfare state.

That is, they had no problems with the idea of social safety nets or government owned industry, they just didn't like the political repression, the dead weight of the Soviet alliacne and the non-meritocratic aspects of party power, where too often competence and ethics took a back seat to party loyalty.

A lot of the worst economic problems of the 1970's was caused by the government giving in to social protests the government was trying to slowly introduce market concepts (like letting prices rise naturally) and the populace was having none of it (forcing the government into deeper and deeper debt).

The fact that they were politically alligned with the church and against the Soviet allied governmnet led many in the west to mistakenly think they were Reaganomicists but they really never were and Kaczynski's economic model (to the small extent he thinks about economics) is still 1970's Sweden just as his social model is a largely mythological Poland that never existed (what he imagines an independent Poland in the 19th century would be like).

The party, for their part, were never ideologues. The defining feature of party membership was not ideology but ambition. You wanted to get ahead in certain fields you joined. Only the most superficial meaningless kind of lipservice to socialism and Marx were required. Once you were in, you either learned how to swim with the sharks or you were cast out/ignored. That's one reason that they've survived as well as they have. Ex-commie Aleksander Kwasniewski was better able to adapt to the new Poland than was Lech Walesa. Kwasniewski certainly seemed to understand the principles of modern democracy a lot better than either his predecessor or successor.

And, being alligned with the RC Church, the old solidarity crowd has no problems with the idea of hierarchical structures in which dissent and disobedience are not tolerated.

Like so much of Poland, the left/right thing is a big muddle that makes no sense until you get a feel for the whole system and how it interacts at which it starts to makes perfect sense (sort of like the language).

beatroot said...

Redwine: the fringe parties are the ones being called populist. But the government and the opposition are also populist. Meaningless term. All parties these days are populist.

Mike: I agree with most of that. Looking at solidarity is very useful. In that union there was not just a right/left continium or a libertarian/authoritarian continium but many more, Andrzej Gwiazda (on the TV last night actually) was a 'fundementalist' in terms of pure democracy within the union, but he was a moderate as far as demands went. Welesa on the other hand was a 'pragmatist' as far as union democracy went (meaning he was a bit of a dictator) but again, moderate on demands. Kuron was leftwing, pragmatist, secular and moderate on demands. Olszewski was leftwing, fundementalist, social catholic....And so it went on.

What we have in parliament now is a mixture of all those influences...and more.

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