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.
#29: Marijuana should be legalised.
#30: School’s prime function is equipping kids to find jobs.
#31: Seriously disabled people should not reproduce.
#32: Learning discipline is the most important thing.
*Proposition #33: * There are no savage and civilised peoples; there are only different cultures.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks…errr… Agree.
Gaahh, this gave me a headache. I wanted to express this opinion: The ability or predisposition of a human being to do algebra, survive in the jungle, participate in a democratic election or stone women to death is not governed by ethnicity. I am saying that there are savage and civilised cultures. Peoples (plural) cannot be said to be savage or civilised, since one could raise the jungle-born to eg. attain a degree in computer science just as readily as the wealthy suburb-born.
Where does the above leave me in terms of agreement or disagreement to #33? I bit the bullet and ticked Agree by tacking on “ie. savage or civilised ones!” in my head.
The proposition appears to enjoin people to argue that eg. the jungle tribes of Papua New Guinea are no more “savage” or “civilised” than, say, computer workers a few hundred miles away in Darwin, Australia. I’m afraid I could not argue this. I accept that technology and medical advancement do not engender civilisation in and of themselves. But those computer workers in Darwin do not, as a rule, kill each other out-of-hand over minor territorial squabbles. One would be hard pressed to find a Darwin woman who had been widowed four times by each successive husband murdering the previous one, nor one who had been raped by upwards of ten different men on different occasions (see Jared Diamond’s excellent “Guns, Germs & Steel” for source material.)
We might idealise jungle-dwelling communities as peaceful, egalitarian havens living harmoniously, or places like Yemen as alien oases of Eastern mystery, and castigate lazy and arrogant westerners for using the word “savage” at all. But the reality is that violence, atrocity and subjugation of the weak is what “law of the jungle” means. I could not in good conscience witness a woman being summarily stoned to death and simply label such a culture “different”. Arbitrary murder, rape and executions are not civilised. They are savage violations of the victim, and any culture which engenders a vastly higher rate of such violations is a more savage one.
But the “peoples” themselves? Raise a New Guinean in a wealthy Darwin suburb and she’ll be no less likely to become a computer worker (prejudice permitting) - after all, living in the jungle requires just as much ingenuity as installing a database. No, the “peoples” are merely the humans who were born at that time and place, like the white-skinned folks who were born into the savage cultures of neolithic (or, for that matter, medieval) Europe. For various reasons (again Jared Diamond explains them carefully), those pale pink people achieved the heights of “civilisation” first. The effects of that progress have, like an unstirred drink, yet to osmose throughout the globe, such that other regions and ethnicities have yet to reduce their instances of savage brutality to the same extent.
A tricky, ambiguous proposition this. I suspect I’ve got a southwards nudge even though some of the sentiments above might be considered authoritarian (northerly) by nature since I am ‘judging’ cultures different to my own.