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.
#11: From each according to his ability, to each according to need.
*Proposition #12: * It’s a sad reflection on our society that something as basic as drinking water is now a bottled, branded consumer product.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Agree.
I agreed for perhaps slightly different reasons than others who might do the same. I think it “sad” merely because I think people who pay for branded drinking water over the superior stuff that comes from a tap are idiots, and in those mainly urban cases where the tap water is inferior, I think it sad because a so-called civilisation cannot even supply decent quality drinking water to its citizens. (Luckily, my tap water beats any bottled stuff I have ever tasted, but that’s Wales for you!)
In terms of political sentiment, this proposition is asking us how we feel about anything being considered a “consumer product”, with all the flashy advertising and psychological manipulation such status entails. The proposition could have used other such necessities to make its point; that something so “natural” as water is still subject to the sleazy business of buying and selling.
Now, there is a world of difference between thinking something is “sad” and actively advocating intervention to prevent it - seeing a family torn apart by alcoholism does not for one moment have me calling for Prohibition. One can wish with all one’s heart that people were more responsible with all this freedom that they’ve gained in the last few centuries, but in the end a certain level of irresponsibility seems to be an inescapable human trait. All we can do as a society is ameliorate its harmful effects (and in the case of bottled water there really aren’t any of consequence).
I think it’s a shame when large groups of people indulge in consumer behaviour which I find utterly moronic, after some kind of “brand hypnosis”. However, I appreciate that the right to act like a harmless dickhead is a central feature of the Open Society and therefore would not dream of regulating such nonsense (unless there was clearly some exploitation going on). All I can do is use my free speech to opine that I think the bottled water industry is a sad reflection on our society’s gullibility, and laugh at the dental problems of those who deny themselves enough fluoride in the name of “cool”.