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.
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. I might suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation, but seeing for yourself what kind of answers are given by those with a certain score might be more useful than second-guessing the test’s scoring system.
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.
#11: From each according to his ability, to each according to need.
#12: Sad reflections in branded drinking water.
#13: Land should not be bought and sold.
#14: Many personal fortunes contribute nothing to society.
#15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
#16: Shareholder profit is a company’s only responsibility.
#17: The rich are too highly taxed.
#18: Better healthcare for those who can pay for it.
#19: Penalising businesses which mislead the public.
#20: The freer the market, the freer the people.
#21: Abortion should be illegal.
#22: All authority must be questioned.
#23: An eye for an eye.
#24: Taxpayers should not prop up theatres or museums.
#25: Schools shouldn’t make attendance compulsory.
#26: Different kinds of people should keep to their own.
#27: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
#28: It’s natural for children to keep secrets.
*Proposition #29: * Marijuana should be legalised.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Agree.
Like the late Bill Hicks, I agree so strongly that I believe it should be not only legal but mandatory - one ought to be able to say to the impatient, complaining dickhead: “Shut up and smoke that. It’s the law.” I’d also love to see every 30 year-old in the midst of developing an unhealthy authoritarian and monetaristic outlook forced to sit in a sunny field for an afternoon, eat a couple of spacecakes (“brownies” in the US I believe?), and smile at the wonder of the universe while their inflated sense of their place in it dissipates like a puff of smoke, giggling at the absurdity of worrying about property prices. These kinds of substances have the opposite effect in the brain to anaesthetic: you’re more conscious! Why go through life half asleep?
Well, OK, I’m joking about the mandatory part. But the Prohibition of cannabinoids is also a joke considering the physical and social damage caused by its altogether less cordial brother, alcohol. There is to my mind no consistent argument for the prohibition of marijuana which cannot be applied to alcohol: Door to “harder” drugs? So is alcohol. Physically harmful and addictive? Alcohol is far more so. Not as “traditional” or “socially acceptable”? Yes it is, and yes it is, depending where you are. Only the true, universal Prohibitionist can make such arguments with a straight face, and they must face some difficult questions concerning what a shambles it was last time. The only word I can think of for non-Prohibitionists who disagree with #29 is “hypocrite”.
Here in the UK it has recently become effectively legal (ie. “decriminalised”) to use cannabis in one’s own house, for which I am very grateful. However, it can still be somewhat inconvenient to buy, and so a full-blown Amsterdam of a scenario would be more welcome still (with a few restrictions on partaking in public if necessary, rather like no smoking or anti-social drinking laws).
So, for the purposes of Proposition #29, I believe I’ve said all I need to. However, to proceed to the obvious next step, yes, I do believe that LSD, speed, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin etc. ought also to be legally available, given that they could be mass produced in pure doses which are as “safe” as other pharmaceuticals and sold for often less than 5% of the current street price. The vast sums saved on enforcement/incarceration and generated from tax revenues should be ploughed into intensive education at school level about the honest effects and consequences of their use: Drugs can ruin your life, just as alcohol can. Some drugs are so addictive that they will ruin your life, just as alcoholism will. But I and many other recreational drug users have non-ruined lives; indeed I claim that drugs have enriched and enhanced my life, and I would challenge anyone who has enjoyed a spacecake on a sunny day to deny their positive effect (on my life, at least). I do not need drugs any more than I “need” live symphonies, Welsh mountains or beautifully written literature.
If there is a “War on Drugs”, then a useful first rule of war is to do that which your enemy least wants you to do. Let us put all the drug dealers out of business permanently, not just the ones which caught and immediately replaced due to the market demand and the opportunity for profit.