by Abdel Irada,
republished from a review of a political-alignment test from politicalcompass.org, originally written on 11 May 2011
According to the description offered by the authors of this test, I am an “anarcho-syndicalist.”
I’m not sure I’d ever accept that label — I tend to reject labels — but my position on this chart is essentially exactly where I thought it would be: “Economic Left/Right: -9.88, Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -9.54.” That, however, is probably also no surprise to you if you’ve read any of my writings.
By way of contrast, below is a diagram depicting the inferred positions of some of our “world leaders”; here, too, it is hardly startling to find most of them clustered toward the “authoritarian” pole. After all, those who love power, and would exercise it over others, must first believe in it.
This test is imperfect, as any test must be that attempts, on the strength of a few multiple-choice questions, to assess something as complex as individual political philosophy. But it does well to incorporate the social as well as the economic aspects of what is ultimately a polydimensional matrix of limited infinities; it comes nearer a useful metric than the traditional one-dimensional measure.
Just imagine a society in which we apply reason and goodwill to our shared problems as a species; reject forever all deference to a self-anointed aristocracy; dismiss as inconsequential the artificial divisions of race, nationality and creed; act with foresight, that we preserve what is vital to us and our sustaining ecosystem; and honor the creativity of the artist, the poet and the musician as much as we do the wealth of the businessman and the speed and strength of the athlete. You now see a part of my vision for the future.
I am as much realist as idealist. I know how the entrenched aristocracies of business and government will resist ceding an iota of authority over us. And I know the weaknesses of my species: We tend toward greed, violence, narcissism and chaos; we are apt, when living in a corrupt society, to behave corruptly. But we need not always live according to our worst impulses — and increasingly, we are learning to do better.
Seventeenth-century political scientist Thomas Hobbes once railed against the chaos of republicanism in favor of a strong monarchy that recognized no right save life. The alternative, he felt, was a “State of Nature” in which life was “nasty, brutish and short.” But I’m with John Locke, who later replied to Hobbes that life without such constraints need not be a Hobbesian nightmare after all, for man was equipped with reason and could use it cooperatively to form a more egalitarian and democratic society, in which all citizens could expect equal justice among their many inalienable rights.
My daughter, two years ago at age nine, found an elegant simile to describe the human moral experience: “Your soul,” she said, “is like a garden containing a flower and a weed. The flower represents the good in you; the weed represents evil. You can’t uproot the weed. You can only keep pulling it out whenever it appears.”