Sunday, June 26, 2011

Having fun with politics

Dear friends,

We would like to share with you a pretty decent test of political orientation which I recently took. Of course, the categories used are necessarily an over-simplification, yet this test is interesting, at least as a basis for discussion with friend. Anyway, you can check out the test for yourself and take it here:

FYI - here is my score:

Economic Left/Right: -7.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.56

Of course, the test is culturally biased, leaning as it does towards US political definitions.  I consider myself more of a "religious traditionalist and political progressive" than a "left libertarian", but that's fine - I can live with the latter too (the big advantage of using vague terms is that they do easily overlap).

A definitve weakness of this test is that it is still very US-centric, and that necessarily pushes the rest of the planet out towards the extremes: most "liberal" or "progressive" US politicians are far, far to the right of most European right-wingers.  Let's take the example of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the (now ex-) leader of the French National Front.  I happen to know his politics quite well and it always amazed me that by US political standards Le Pen would be far closer to, say, Ralph Nader than to any "conservative" politicians.  You doubt that?  Then try this though experiment:

Le Pen takes the podium at a meeting of the Front National, he begins his speech by suggesting that unions should be almost totally disbanded, that the 35 week hours should be abandoned, that the French social security should be abolished, that healthcare should be privatized, that the death penalty should be re-introduced, that the French President should be allowed to order the kidnapping or murder of any person on the planet, that Supermax prisons should be built all over France and that the amount of incarcerated people per capita should dramatically increase.  He would then proceed to reduce the minimal legal holidays from 4 weeks down to zero (to be negotiated with your boss), he would allow torture of "enemy combatants", he would declare the right to fight preventive wars without UNSC approval, he would declare that climate change is a myth, that France should pull out of the Kyoto protocol, that abortions should be made illegal, that France should build 700+ military bases on the planet, etc. etc. etc. (can can continue that list ad nauseam)

Anybody who knows anything about France will tell you that Le Pen would be dragged off the podium, sedated and shipped of to a mental clinic long before getting to the end of his speech.  And that is true for any other West European politician who would try to openly defend such crazy stuff.

Thus, this test shows a typically US political grid, in particular in its "right libertarian" quadrant which arguably has no equivalent in European political culture ("Austrian School" notwithstanding, being against the state per se and being pro capitalist is, I submit, a uniquely US psychiatric disorder).

Anyway, the point of this post it not to peach "Science Po 101" but to share with you an entertaining test.

I would be grateful if you shared your scores with me and the rest of us.  Let us compare notes and have a good laugh, ok?


The Saker