Political Compass

Brian Leiter (who has an excellent post on the US Philosophy hierachy) wants more blogistan philosophers to take the political compass test. Like many young philosophers, I do whatever Brian Leiter says I should, so I took the test. My results are:

Economic Left/Right: -0.75
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.64

For some reason negative means left/libertarian. I think this reveals a deep, possibly Freudian, bias on the part of the testmakers.

I’m not very sure about the utility of these markers. This is a point Matthew Yglesias has made several times, but itís worth making again. If you thought a 1D graph obscured things, youíll probably think the 2D graph isnít much better.

I tend to have fairly extreme economic views, for instance. I tend to favour what are (at least by American standards) extremely pro-union, pro-worker positions. I think the minimum wage should be $8 to $10, for example, and I think it should be much easier to unionise than it currently is. Iím happier than most to resort to regulation at the first sign of market failure. So I favour pretty tough labelling laws, smoking bans in workplaces, etc. But Iím also strongly free-trade, especially when it comes to being opposed to tariffs. (I’m more willing to go along with political boycotts, e.g. of South Africa during apartheid.) I donít think a tax that discriminates between people who buy goods from other countries and people who donít is morally defensible, whether or not itís economically useful. (It isnít, but thatís somewhat beside the point if its immoral.)

But do I come out as an extremist here? No, my extreme views Ďbalance outí by their lights. Itís not as if this is a particularly original position – in many respects my views are just those Bertrand Russell had at a similar age – but it doesn’t fit naturally on their graph. So I turn out to be a Ďmoderateí. Cíest la vie.

5 Replies to “Political Compass”

  1. i first took this test three or four years
    ago, & i still come out the same: -8.00 on
    economic L/R & -6.00 on Lib/Auth. but to
    tell the truth, a test which puts me in
    the same place as Gandhi is surely missing
    something important—like commitment to
    activism, maybe?!


    PS i always find myself 100% in agreement
    with Tom Tomorrow—this is where i properly
    belong, i think.

  2. This defines “off-topic,” Prof Wetherson, but I am intrigued. If (as many economists claim) a higher minimum wage yields higer unemployment, are you willing to bite that bullet?

    And if, as I expect, you would prefer as an Ideal system a social welfare net which took care of those who are unemployed, why not keep the net, apply it to those who fall below some earning line (in an EITC type scenario) and let wage rates go where they will?

  3. Equally absurd is the characterization of Bush as an economic libertarian. Given his tremendous pork-barrelling for his friends and supporters, it would be more accurate to characterize his economic outlook in Chomsky’s apt terms, “Free markets for you, not for us’‘.

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