Thursday, August 9, 2012

Political Ideology

UPDATE:  Link fixed, sorry!

Chatting (via text message) with Mrs. Drang about the previous post, about the "Which candidate?" quiz, prompted me to look up Jerry Pournelle's essay about the "Pournelle Chart", which Dr. Pournelle calls The Pournelle Political Axes.

Here's the chart as it appears in the essay linked to above:
Wikipedia has a slightly cleaned up, slightly prettier version, at the second link above:
Note that it does not directly address the questions of economic freedom versus control/regulation.  Not sure that's important--what good is economic freedom if you have none, otherwise?

Do read that article.  Dr. Pournell not only discusses the issues with the traditional Left/Right line, but he goes into a bit of the history behind it.

Wikipedia discusses a similar chart at Political compass, which, it cautions, uses European/Commonwealth terminology, which can be different than US terminology.  (I.e., "conservative" in the UK means something different than it means here.)  This chart also has two axes, "Economic" and "Authoritarian."  (The left end of the economic scale calls for collectivization, the right end for a free market, laissez faire approach.  I assume the "authoritarian" axis is self-explanatory.) 

Another chart is the Nolan Chart, which the Libertarian Party displays in it's booth at the State Fair when it is not behind the cow barn smokin' a doobie.*
(It's usually rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, putting "Libertarian" at the top.  Go figure...)

This model, of course, does emphasize economic freedom.

Keep in mind that "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" was originally "Life, Liberty, and Property", based on the writings of John Locke.  As explained in an article at Yahoo!,
By "property," Locke meant MORE than land and goods that could be sold, given away, or even confiscated by the government under certain circumstances. Property also referred to ownership of one's self, which included A RIGHT TO PERSONAL WELL BEING. Jefferson, however, substituted the phrase, "pursuit of happiness," which Locke and others had used to describe FREEDOM OF OPPORTUNITY as well as the duty to help those in want.
As George Mason put it in the Virginia Declaration of Rights
That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
No surprise, really, that Mason and Jefferson (and Adams, Franklin, et. al.) were reading the same philosophers...)

(See also the Wikipedia article on Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

As I told Mrs. Drang, Joe Waldron (of the GOAL Alerts I post here) once observed that "a libertarian is a guy who can argue esoteric points of political philosophy all day, but needs velcro to fasten his shoes."  That may have been true at the time, but I suspect the tide is changing.  More and more people are getting fed up with an overly intrusive nosy nanny state.

I can always tell people who get their opinions of the Tea Party issues to them whole by HuffPo, MSNBC, Kos, and/or the DNC--as if there were a difference--by how far off-base their assumptions are.  Middle-aged white guys like me are definitely outnumbered by a younger demographic, which seems to have a higher proportion of X chromosomes than that of us more seasoned types, among other differences.

*OK, a cheap shot, but, really, guys, while I agree about the futility of the War on Some Drugs, in the public mind, assyoumeing they've even heard of you, to most people you're the Party of Decriminalizing Pot, and little more. 


Richard Blaine said...

Pournelle essay link not working

NotClauswitz said...

Jerry Pournell essay very interesting, thanks!