Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.

Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 60 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).
Whenever such a reference is made, there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment it provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” or because some questions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory.

Now, the site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and I think that even the most poorly conceived questions give some insight into one’s true position, but I think that it is such a useful site that it might be worth exploring the entire thing here in detail.

And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 60 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were.

It might also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked.

(The above will be footnoted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly.)

So, let us have at it.

*Proposition 1: * If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.

SentientMeat ticks Agree.

There is scope here for objecting that the two are not mutually exclusive (see later question 47; one can contend that what’s good for those corporations is good for all of us), which is perhaps why I do not Strongly Agree.

However, I contend that declaring on the side of “humanity” clearly sets out my stand as regards where I believe real power should ultimately reside; ie. with democratically elected governments rather than corporate entities. Globalisation must work both ways; if it means rich countries’ people can buy cheap goods by opening up Third World markets, it must also mean that Third World people can offer their services more cheaply than rich countries’ workers. Furthermore, the benefits of such increased economic freedom should, by the power vested in said governments (eg. taxation, anti-exploitation laws etc.), fall primarily on those rich consumers/poor workers rather than on the shareholders of those corporations.

I contend that a tick for Agree (whether Strongly or not) is ultimately a tick for some vestige of democratic control over “OmniCorps” and a tick against protectionism.

(-4.88, -5.33).


However, I think the question is largely meaningless. You either agree with the statement (as I do), or think that the question is invalid (because the two possibilities aren’t exclusive and may even be connected). Very few people would admit to thinking that, as the statement suggests, trans-national corporations should be supported even to the detriment of humanity. Of course people are more important, ultimately, than corporations, everyone agrees with that. Only the most extreme economic rightists would argue that they shouldn’t be regulated at all.

Now, for those that question the validity of the question, they’re put in a pickle. They’ve either got to tacitly admit that corporate interests are the opposite of human interests, or else disagree, and come across as if they didn’t care about human interests. For this position, it’s a false dilemma.

FWIW, I don’t like this test very much. I think it relies on stereotypes (astrology, abstract art) and such false dilemmas as above to generate its answers. I can’t say if it’s left-biased overall, but I think you have to actively try, and disagree with questions you find invalid, to get a right-wing answer.

I just took it again, but this tme on all questions I thought were about economics, I answered as I thought a right-winger would. Other questions were answered as before.

(7.88, -4.10)

The FAQ has a[ur=http://www.digitalronin.f2s.com/politicalcompass/faq.html#glob]specific answer to your point, Menocchio. Why can’t someone who believes the two aren’t exclusive simply tick Strongly disagree? Indeed, why cannot a right-winger simply tick Strongly disagree to all left-wing propositions, just as I do to all the right-wing propositions?

Sorry, specific answer.

Does your “false test” not reinforce their point, that left-right should be solely economic in nature?

Because it’s not so much a matter of disagreeing with the statement so much as finding the entire dichotomy invalid. A thoughtful right-winger may throw it out, and disagree but others may not know what to do in that situation, and agree with the given truism. I didn’t notice any such problems with some obviously left-wing statements (although I may be wrong on that point). To be significantly right on that test, you have to be wise to it.

I’m not arguing against a 2-D political spectrum, I think it’s a better measure than left-r-ght, at least, just the specifics of this test.

Well, OK, but there quite obviously are questionable dichotomies in the leftist proposistions (*eg. “People are ultimately more divided by class than by nationality”). I still hold that the test provides a useful orientation if you tick your “gut instinct” and not simply refuse to answer any question you can find a problem with.

0.75, -4.7.

I agree, and yes, I do object that the two are not mutually exclusive. What benefits corporations will generally benefit humanity, though not always. Like a lot of the questions on the test, it’s very poorly worded and comes from a fairly specific (and obviously anti-free-trade) perspective.

I agree a hundred percent.

Frankly, one of the major problems facing the world today in terms of the economic straits of the Third World is not that there is too much globalization, but that there isn’t enough of it. Despite the free trade blather the First World spews, they are in fact remarkably protectionist, especially with regard to agricultural products and raw materials - the sort of thing the Third World can make money off of. True free trade would be an enormous boon to the world’s underdeveloped countries.

How can someone disagree?

Perhaps a better question is “In the long run, is it better for humanity if global companies are more or less regulated?”?

If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.

erl chooses “disagree.”

Reasoning: the question, to me, is asking the following: “Since globalization is inevitable, and since we will try to control inevitable things in our own favor, should we choose to engineer it in such a way as to benefit corporations rather than humanity in general where those two differ?”

Strongly agree? No way. Corporations are amoral, abstract entities incapable of emotion, feeling, and decision-making. As such, when it comes down to it, there is no reason to strongly promote corporations over humans when such opposition exists.

Agree? No, as above, only by suggesting that we should tend towards benefitting humanity over abstractions.

Disagree? Yes, where they differ, humanity should benefit.

Strongly disagree? No, because of the inexorable link between corporations and humanity’s own prosperity forbids such an absolute position.

What Menocchio said.

First of all I disagree that economic globalisation is inevitable, so the whole premise of the question is invalid for me.

Most importantly, though, is the biased wording of the next phrase. Who would pick “trans-national corporations” over “humanity”? The question is clearly worded to get an “agree” response.

Readers of this question will either agree or find the whole thing invalid.

Anyone who felt that the most efficient way to help humanity is to help corporations should at least disagree.

I selected Strongly Disagree. But not because of political ideology. My ideology is neutral on this. The economy should “serve” whoever partakes of it, so long as they conduct their affairs peacefully and honestly. But I strongly disagree for purely logical reasons. Humanity is an abstraction (a reification, really), and corporations need not even exist.

I selected agree. Humanity (People) should be more important than corporations, but left to their own devices, the people in charge of corporations will make decisions which benefit specific people rather than the mass of humanity. This is inevitable and not particularily desirable. However, I’m not sure what can be done about it without more government interference with the marketplace than I find appealing. Therefore I cynically assume that globalization will continue to benefit the rich more than the poor and will continue to feel vaguely guilty for benefitting as a rich, even though it is mostly not through my own efforts.

I think the notion of independently wealthy stockholders might be an anachronism these days, a vestigial stereotype. What with 401Ks and mutual funds, a lot of low to middle income people are shareholders.

I’m a right-winger and I’ve taken this political quiz before. I don’t remember my exact results, I’ll probably end up doing it again later just so I can more adequately participate in these discussions.

However, anytime I came upon a question that I felt was deliberately trying to “skew” or “misrepresent” something in order to cause a leaning to the left I inherently chose the most far right response available. My reasoning behind this is I strongly disagree with false presentations with leftist leanings.

I think that globalisation should serve humanity, but I think if you focus on serving humanity you will hurt globalisation and economics. So trans national corporations should be favored, because they ARE globalisation.

That’s fine for you good people who lean left or right. You can choose to deskew what you believe to be biased. But what about us folks who not only do not lean but could not care less about left or right?

Perfectly valid answer. Why is this question skewed to the left, then?

Only if, globalisation, by definition, serves humanity.

(-3.75, -4.97) FWIW, this is a little north-west of where I consider myself to be)

This is a terrific idea for a series of threads, SentientMeat. It’s already interesting.

I strongly agree with the proposition, but the way I read it I could hardly do otherwise. If corporations benefit from globalisation, in the background their owners benefit. And they’re human. The question as to how (or if) you should aggregate the various benefits is left hanging.

This is what is missing from item 16 of the FAQ: to some readers the choice is not there at all, it’s merely obscured by the corporate veil (and my answer has nothing whatsoever to do with my views about trickle down, power, transparency or corporate governance). So I agree with Shade. But I also agree with what Lib said in his first post, but our answers were quite different.

The authors of the test seem to know what they are doing, saying that

But in this instance they go beyond vague for me. But that’s not too surprising, because my job involves unpacking policy prejudices.