Sunday, March 14, 2010

A General Model for the Political Spectrum

I posted this a while back, but it never made it to Blogging Tories. Glenn Beck had something very similar on his show recently.  Its always encouraging when others arrive at the same conclusions.  I got there first that I know of, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find it expressed elsewhere.

I thought I would put it up again since there has been a lot of back and forth about ideologies lately and this model should help focus our understanding a bit.  Always remember the mistake of climate scientists and do not refuse to perceive aspects of reality which have not been captured in my model.


Everyone knows the Conventional Political Model.  Fascists on the far right, Communists on the far left, and in the middle is everyone else.  When you look at the two extremes, its easy to see how similar Fascists and Communists really are.  They hate each other, and justify their own evil historically by the crimes of the other.

What I have done in the New Political Model is to attach the extreme ends of the left and right wings to make a circle.  Totalitarianism is at the bottom where Communism and Fascism meet, and Freedom is at the opposite end where Libertarians and Anarchists meet.

The Center Line is where Left and Right meet in the Conventional Model.  In the New Model the Center Line represents the maximum level of Freedom and Liberty without really ceding the government to Al Capone or the Taliban.  The Center Line is not static. 

Its interesting to note that while in Canada the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are relatively close together in the center, they are worlds apart in my model.  This is closer to the reality.  While their level of freedom is similar, their style and approach could not be more different.

Outside the circle or political continuum, are the ideological pressures that drive a party up or down towards freedom or totalitarianism. 

Libertarians believe in smaller government.  They believe that individuals and institutions alike can decide what is best for them.  In short Libertarians believe that more Liberty is the ultimate goal.

Social Conservatives in the west are like libertarians with a moral compass.  I included them here in this model because there exists a route to right wing totalitarianism that is not expressed in the west.  Saudi Arabia, Iran, the Taliban and Dark Age Europe took this route to tyranny.  Religion can never be used to fix social problems through law and the power of the state.  The state must be secular in order to treat all faiths of all peoples equally.  Any believer will tell you that God has granted us with free will that cannot be taken away by the state.  Through history Social Conservatives have learned that their faith is much safer in a free society at peace with other faiths than to dominate by force.  If you are unlucky enough to be of a different belief than the state, or your faith loses control of the state, you will be oppressed.  A conservative path to tyranny is clearly impossible due to current and historical examples of this folly.  Our Social Conservatives are an indispensable moral conscience to Conservatism as a whole.

On the left or red side we have the Anarchists.  These people are largely ignored by everyone.  This is because people with a passion for freedom but who still believe in civilization drift towards libertarianism.  All that is left over are the people who want to hunt and gather in an empty world.  There is no draw towards freedom on the left.

The answer to everything on the left is Socialism.  In some cases Socialism is the goal unto itself.  Socialists believe that its the right of government to intervene in everything.  Every last little part of a citizens life is regulated and controlled the deeper into socialism one goes.  Taxes are a favorite tool of the Socialist.  They use taxes to further whatever goal is in vogue and have little regard for property or wealth.  Once Socialism descends into Communism it has no freedom at all.  The evil brother of fascism, it commands the economy and its people are slaves to the collective.

The large orange arrow represents Government Scope Creep.  Its like gravity in that it pushes all parties and governments towards totalitarianism.  Scope Creep is a systems analysis term to describe the tendency of system planners to take on more and more responsibility and functions in their system.  Lawmakers make laws.  All of them.  Every government, no matter what its philosophy, tends to make more and more rules.  These rules accumulate over time and drag us all down in red tape.
This is where I find Progressives.  They are neither left nor right but will use government or business to further their chosen agenda.  Progressives can be thought of as post-Socialists since they simply outsource social goals to large corporations.  Large corporations are only too happy to become extensions of government.

There are so many pressures towards totalitarianism its a wonder we have any freedom at all.  Only Democracy ensures that governments stay towards the center line.  Conservatives are deeply committed to freedom and free markets.  Some regulation is always necessary along with adequate enforcement.  The key advantage that Conservatives have over Liberals is the Libertarian element.  Conservatives should not only move closer to the center but find innovative ways to move the center line upwards.  In the conventional model this would appear as though new territory was being created on the right.  The people don't change easily, but more people would find themselves amicable to Conservative ideals if we could only move that center line.   

The trick is getting as close to freedom as possible without letting the crooks out there win.  We need to be smart with our taxes, our laws, our policies.  Government should strive towards minimalism.  Only Conservatives have the ability to counter all the pressures incrementally pushing us into totalitarianism.

The more I look at this the more it makes me think.  This is why I have shared this model with you.  You should think.  There is no Utopia here, only compromises between opposing forces that allow us to live together.   Perhaps a new model is just what we need?

Note: I've inverted left and right for aesthetic reasons and labeled them according to the conventional model.  Remember that the model is just a metaphor and that left and right, blue and red, are arbitrary.

8 comments: said...

I like the ideas this model brings up, but do you think a ring is best suited to represent political reality? Do you think nothing can be inside the ring?

The_Iceman said...

You would be better to use a 2 dimensional vector space like a standard cartesian plane. That would allow for a more efficient placement of multi-dimensional political opinions. to the radio said...

Iceman, that is a two dimensional vector space.
And it's not cartesian.
It's polar, where vectors naturally live.
And in this case it's a better model than what we've been using.
I've taken the quizzes and score consistently in the upper left quadrant which is labelled Right and Libertarian.
I live in an apartment complex because I will not buy a house before the coming Canadian Mortgage Meltdown that is going to happen after the Imminent Interest Rate Tsunami.
The REIT that owns the place where I live has taken to trucking in the excess snow from it's other properties around town and depositing it in the space between the rear parking lot and the train tracks creating an instant Kid Magnet.
My kids have come in after playing outside completely covered in muck.

My question's are:
A) What would you do?
B) What would a Liberal/New Democrat do?

You would probably do as I did.
I told my kids that if they came back dirty then I was going to forbid them from playing outside at all because I gave them the chance to go outside in clothes that I just washed. And then I followed up by making them rinse their dirty clothes out in the tub after they blew it.

A Liberal/NDP hack would go down to the government and lobby them to outlaw dirt. to the radio said...

Hey Spin Assassin!

Scope Creep was something that we were warned about in school.
First as a theoretical concept by our Project Management prof.
And then as an admonition by our Final Project prof.
Luckily we were able to downplay the capabilities of our initially optimistic final project to something that we could produce in three months.
In the end it didn't completely work, either.
I think our A+ was based on the amount of time that he saw us there working on it.
And if he didn't always see us there he could always read the room logs on the door.
There's nothing like knowing that your students are drinking and sniffing solder flux in the lab on a Saturday night to make a professor's heart warm.

Spin Assassin said...

@ Scott Ross: Thank you. I have no idea what can go in the middle. Dogs and cats maybe? I don't know really. Oh wait, you're suggesting a new party. I should have known. Been there, done that, it hurt, but we are all better for it. When the left finally coalesces, you'll see some real interesting politics. I'm confident Canadians will decide that they are on the right.

@Iceman: will there be a test? I think I left that part of my education on an exam somewhere and haven't seen it since.

@ Dance Dance: I'm with you of course. Kids will find dirt. They have to be taught responsibility and you did the right thing. The government has no business in that matter.

So you got an A+ for a project that didn't quite get finished? I've seen that happen to other groups in our final project year, lucky not ours. Its an excellent experience though. A lot of work and planning and then the final race to just get past the finish line. In the real world your A+ is a paycheck the client only gives you when you're done and they are happy. Hard work makes a clients heart warm too.

Thucydides said...

My one BIG quibble with the model is you fell for the lie of the 20th century and placed Fascism on the "right" side of the spectrum, even though it is a variation of Socialism. Otherwise another interesting attempt to move beyond the overly simplistic Left/Right model.

For other interesting discussion about modeling politics try here:,23744.0.html

Spin Assassin said...

I agree with you completely, but I need to be able to bring people from what they think is true in the conventional model to the reality of fascism and communism.

Anarchy is not necessarily left wing either but they find a home with the people who want to bring down society all together. The anarchists will separate from the left in what replaces society after its downfall.

Hopefully we can communicate this message far and wide and it will never come to pass. Anarchists and socialists alike should not exist in a free thinking people.

Spin Assassin said...

I liked your post there too Thucydides. Nolan really paved the way. People don't really follow it though. As easy as the Nolan chart is to follow once you understand the new labels, its still hard to introduce it to the regular Joe who only knows left and right.

This way you can put fascism in your right hand and communism in your left hand. Now join them together and everybody understands that your person is the farthest thing from those extremes. Most people are natural libertarians. A concept only embraced by the traditional right.

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