Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 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).
And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 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. I will also suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation.
It would 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.
Now, I appreciate that there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them.
The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll try to let each one exhaust itself of useful input before starting the next. Without wanting to “hog the idea”, I would be grateful if others could refrain from starting similar threads. To date, the threads are:
Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong
#3: Pride in one’s country is foolish.
#4: Superior racial qualities.
#5: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
#6: Justifying illegal military action.
#7: “Info-tainment” is a worrying trend.
#8: Class division vs. international division. (+ SentientMeat’s economic worldview)
#9: Inflation vs. unemployment.
#10: Corporate respect of the environment.
*Proposition #11: * From each according to his ability, to each according to his need is a fundamentally good idea.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Agree.
Again, one for the strong leftists to Strongly Agree with. However, I suspect that everyone who recognises this as a core tenet of Marxism and therefore simply opposes it with Strong Disagreement might be reacting somewhat disproportionally. Taken on its face, I believe that it is a fundamentally good idea.
The caveats, of course, are that these words “ability” and “need” must be explained properly “Ability” to do useful, productive work in any capacity is straightforward enough, but my “need” to sit on my sofa playing an expensive guitar all day is rather an abuse of the word. As a negative utilitarian, I believe that “needs” are those basics which ameliorate outright suffering. After all, if a government cannot prevent its people suffering, what good is it?
An example: One person has the ability to work hard and smart in an exceptionally difficult and useful capacity, is in good health, and has simple tastes. Another is not very intellectually gifted and is prevented from performing physical work by a medical condition. Those who understand pure Marxism might interpret proposition #11 as “both of these people must work as hard as they can whilst enjoying precisely the same standard of living”, which is very difficult to ascribe to.
On its face, however, the proposition does not go so far. It merely asks us to assess the idea of somehow getting the most from people with ability while ensuring that people with needs are provided for. This is not in itself Marxist by any means; indeed it is perhaps the definition of a welfare state in a free market economy (which I consider no more a contradiction in terms than eg. universally providing for the educational “needs” of schoolchildren violates the freedom of the market).
I cannot ascribe to Marxism. However, I can ascribe to proposition #11 because I consider that it is clearly distinct from Marxism.