Re: Political Compass

From: G.P. (
Date: Fri Jan 11 2002 - 00:23:06 MST

On Wed, 9 Jan 2002 17:12:05 +0100 (MET), Amara Graps
<> wrote:

>I didn't take that test, but it sounds exactly like the Nolan
>Chart. That chart shows up here periodically. It has a long history,
>my first recollections of that chart is around 1986 (Does anyone know
>the year it was created?).

>From the FAQ on
"The chart that is the centerpiece of the Quiz is based on a chart
devised in 1969 by political scientist David Nolan. Nolan, a
libertarian (he co-founded the Libertarian Party in 1971) came up with
the chart because he was frustrated by the old "left-right" line that
leaves no room for libertarians and others."

Thanks for the pointer to the chart and the self-gov web site. I have
taken the quiz, and scored "left-liberal", close to "libertarian". On
the Political Compass I score "libertarian-left", two or three clicks
away from the center. The definitions given at are:
"Libertarians are self-governors in both personal and economic
matters. They believe government's only purpose is to protect people
from coercion and violence. They value individual responsibility, and
tolerate economic and social diversity."
"Left-Liberals prefer self-government in personal matters and central
decision-making on economics. They want government to serve the
disadvantaged in the name of fairness. Leftists tolerate social
diversity, but work for economic equality."
I can recognize my own thinking in the last definition, with some
changes: "to serve ALSO the disadvantaged", "work to create safety
nets to protect the disadvantaged from the worse consequences of
economic differences".
I certainly do not want "economic equality", that has been tried and
does not work. I believe that everybody has a right to make money as a
reward for his/her initiatives, and that the free market provides a
very good mechanism for it. At the same time I also do not like to see
old people excluded from good standards of health care, or young
people excluded from good standards of education. So perhaps the best
compromise is when the government has a fundamentally lasseiz-faire
approach, but carefully analyses ongoing social and economic dynamics
and takes corrective actions in a few, exceptional cases (this is how
modern Western systems are meant to function, even if in practice it
does not always work well).
Another definition of "libertarian" given on is:
"Libertarians believe that, on every issue, you have the right to
decide for yourself what's best for you and to act on that belief so
long as you respect the right of other people to do the same and deal
with them peacefully and honestly."
Now I find this a very beautiful sentence, one that I completely agree
with. The point I wish to make is that, in a complex system like our
modern society, sometimes it may be difficult to be sure that acting
on what seems to be a right does not result in unintentionally harming
others. One may not have all the information available to make a good
decision, or not have the time to think it through, or the issue may
be too complex for an individual to analyse it carefully. Or, one may
just not care. So what is wrong with having complex issues
pre-analysed and, in exceptional cases, outlawing behaviours that with
high probability cause more harm than good?


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