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? [size=2]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. (And for heaven’s sake, please don’t quote this entire Opening Post when replying like this sufferer of bandwidth diarrhea.)
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. Finally, I advise you to read the full proposition below, not just the thread title (which is necessarily abbreviated), and request that you debate my entire OP rather than simply respond, “IMHO”-like, to the proposition itself.
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.
#33: ‘Savage peoples’ vs. ‘different culture’
#34: Society should not support those who refuse to work.
#35: Keep cheerfully busy when troubled.
#36: First generation immigrants can never be fully integrated.
#37: What’s good for corporations is always good for everyone.
#38: No broadcasting institution should receive public funding.
#39: Our civil rights are being excessively curbed re. terrorism.
#40: One party states avoid delays to progress.
#41: Only wrongdoers need worry about official surveillance.
#42: The death penalty should be an option for serious crimes.
#43: Society must have people above to be obeyed.
**Proposition #44: Abstract art that doesn’t represent anything shouldn’t be considered art at all.
SentientMeat** (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Disagree.
I personally have little interest in galleries showing “abstract” art (I sometimes find that the fire extinguisher is the boldest and most interesting piece on offer), but I certainly appreciate the more esoteric and conceptual works in my own particular artistic fields of music and photography. Furthermore, I consider that since humans are themselves “machines” or “natural processes” to some extent, products of natural or non-human creations should be considered “art” also: A snowflake or sunset is just as much the product of an artist called “the universe” as representations of those things are the product of human artists (who are, after all, a product of the universe themselves).
Now, I realise that my own definition of what constitutes art (ie. anything that can affect a human aesthetically) is vastly broader than even most abstract of artists would put their name to. But #44 seems almost comically restrictive in its definition. Who the heck is to say what does or doesn’t “represent anything”? In order to be considered art, must you be able to see “what it is” the very instant you encounter the canvas, or sculpture, or whatever? How far “away” from an accurate representation can, say, the style of a painting get before it is “non-representative”? Van Gogh? Picasso? Klee? Warhol? Are these examples of “degenerate art”, or something?
Or, perhaps, art can be as abstract and indecipherable as it likes, so long as it is supposed to represent something (even if it is utterly unrecognisable as that something). The (human) artist must be at least trying to get some point across, even if the end result is still just a squiggly mess, a urinal or an unmade bed. It is only if it doesn’t represent anything at all that it should not be considered “art” (although of course, at the very moment you encounter the work, you could never possibly tell whether this was the case or not!). I’m afraid I do not find either of these reasons to tick Agree at all compelling. Whatever “art” is, it is certainly not simply synonymous with either “technical skill” or the illusion called “human purpose”.
Politically, I believe that this is a social proposition: authoritarian regimes have historically had a “problem” with contemporary art while enlightened democracies can clearly “handle” it. I suppose there is possibly an element of economics here also: if art is to be subsidised at all, the art should at least try to be accessible to the average taxpayer. Of course, publicly funded art often gets into the news because it is seen as biting the hand that feeds it, with crass and unimaginative stunts intended to “challenge” when the real aim is obviously just to offend the easily offended. However, this should be balanced with the genuinely uplifting works that come through such funding. A current work by Anthony Gormley called “Field for the British Isles”, comprising thousands of little terracotta figures made by schoolchildren, recently went on (free) show in a part of Gloucester Cathedral: the effect was unbelievable, as though an entire country’s population had packed into a vast hollow mountain. It was simply a “WOW!” to see, and without government help would have only have been viewable in faraway London by the few people willing to pay a necessarily expensive entrance fee; just another example of taxation bringing about a good which pure capitalism cannot.
However, I’d be surprised if there was a horizontal component in the scoring on this proposition. What is considered “abstract” or “non-representative” itself changes with the times, and one’s attitude towards “changing times” is represented solely by the vertical axis, IMO. Renoir and Monet are now considered “traditional” artists (“look, it’s obviously a girl with a watering can!”) but at the time, impressionism was a radically abstract artistic leap. So it is now with post-modernism: it might (literally!) be crap, but it’s still “art”.