Monday, November 06, 2006


You may have come across the political compass? Everyone I know who took the test found themselves strangely close to Ghandi.

There are plenty of other political orientation projects around, and most of them appear to be fairly ham-fisted taken on their own. Ages ago, there was the 'who you should vote for' website. I was sceptical about that one at the time as well as I was about the Political survey 2005.

In an interesting twist, an organisation called 'the Democratic Society'* are doing some calibration of a set of indices before they start asking you where you stand. They want you to go to their website and answer some questions.**

They aren't asking you for your opinion on some subjects. But, they do want you to express an opinion about where someone who makes a statement would sit on a particular axis.
So, is someone who believes that flogging will reduce crime a believer in small or large government?

Go and have a look, and then - if you want to - come back here and discuss it.

In nearly every case, when answering the questions, I had to suspend some part of my judgment. I decided to think of the people that I've encountered recently holding the views outlined - and then placed them on the required axis. Really,'neutral' is the most defensible answer to many - if not most - of these questions.

It does raise a few issues. For instance, in the past, I used to conflate 'internationalist' with 'left wing', but I'm increasingly conscious that large slice of the left are anything but. So when asked ...

Think about someone who might strongly agree with the following statement:

"Trade unions are essential to protect workers' rights."

(and then being asked to place a person expressing that view on a scale between
nationalist at one end and 'internationalist' at the other...)

.... in the recent past, (say, pre-9/11), I would have made the connection:

Internationalist = Socialist = Trade Unionist.
I would have been prepared to defend this view on the basis that the anti-European left had largely been defeated and sidelined, and with it, the Bennite link between Socialism and protectionism.

But, again, I'd now say that a very large proportion of the most active advocates of Trade Unionism are definitely not Internationalist.

*As it happens, I know one or two of the people involved in this project, and as far as I know, they don't have any particular political agenda. It seems a respectable and objective project as far as I can see.

**The site could do with a few usability improvements. For instance, it doesn't tell you how many questions you have to answer - I've now answered dozens and the end it not in sight. I'm beginning to think that they just want you to keep answering as long as you like.


Fancyclown said...

I was Gandhi as well.

John said...

They must have left it near a magnet or something - it's stuck. ;) I thought I'd have a go at proving you wrong, but I ended up exactly on the Gandhi-spot too. Cue Twilight Zone themetune.

Then spent a couple of minutes scratching head as to whether someone who believed in unregulated air travel was a traditionalist or not. Curse you for making me think too much in my lunchbreak!

Anthony Zacharzewski said...

Thanks for the link to our site, Paul - and sorry for the eternal-reloads thing. It's not a sinister attempt to get people to work their mouse fingers to the bone (honest) - it's more that my PHP-fu can keep the questions random, but can't seem to make it prompt you to stop after a certain number of answers.

Paulie said...


That's what I thought had happened.