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 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.
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.)
Proposition #5: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Disagree.
Like #2, I believe this comes down to putting national or self interest before moral principle.
I feel this is another strongly authoritarian proposition, which I react to by Strong Disagreement; another -0.25 on the social scale, say.
Of course, it is naive to think that realpolitik has no place in the world. One might be joined in the course one has concluded to be “right and just” by utter monsters whose ends merely happen to be served by the same action. However, I believe it is important to consider them just as inimical for the duration (while accepting the convenience of the alliance) or, better still, seeking the glimmer of friendship where others might simply stamp “enemy” without a second thought. Indeed, one might even wonder whether your enemy would be your enemy if you hadn’t befriended his enemy in the first place!
The proposition as stated is simply a thug’s propaganda, and taking it to heart will ultimately lead one to be morally compromised just around the corner. I feel the proposition speaks the language of fear, used by authoritarians throughout history to focus attention on the “bad guy” while ignoring the evils of one’s own side, all in the name of temporary political expediency. It is a wrecking ball designed to knock down the foundations of co-operation and good will to replace them with the quicksand of Machiavellian mistrust, as demonstrated by the swiftness and ease with which the “friend”* becomes the enemy himself.
The proposition is not realism, it is misanthropic and pessimistic cynicism, which I would wish to see far less of in politics as humanity progresses.
*This photo is used solely to illustrate my distaste for the proposition, not to instigate the infantile partisan squabbling I started these threads in order to avoid; if a current politician of another stripe has provided an even more illustrative photo, I would gladly have used it had I known.