• wax
    301
    Apart from the political spectrum from left to right being one dimensional, it is often defined in the end, by the people various points on it are associated with.

    A lot of people self identify with where they are on the political spectrum, and to the extent that it is defined by self-identification, it is prey worthless.
  • CaZaNOx
    61
    Just to clarify are you talking about the european left-right spectrum (big governement vs small governement)
    Or the US left-right spectrum (societal liberal vs societal conservative)
  • ssu
    3.8k
    Is the political spectrum a myth?

    No.
  • wax
    301
    Is the political spectrum a myth?

    No.
    ssu

    well that it is an important way to view political things? Is that a myth?

    do you agree that to the extent that the political spectrum is defined by the people who self identify with locations on it, that it is much less useful a way to view political thinking?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    First, the "political compass" is a bit better to use:

    1200px-Political_chart.svg.png

    It's not that it's a myth, but it's a bit oversimplistic, and people can tend to pigeonhole themselves to fit into a spectrum or compass, which isn't a good idea.
  • hachit
    237
    I think there are several Political stance and everyone is placed on a spectrum of all of them. (The middle being ether uncaring or thing both extremesides have good Ideas)


    The political left just stands for radicals and right for keeping with the current traditional Ideological thought.

    The idea of political right and left came from how France setup one of there government closer to the end of the revolution. Left being the people against monarchy, the right being those for monarchy.
  • wax
    301


    yes, I remember on another forum a thread had a questionnaire that put one on that compass. There was one person who seemed very proud as to how far left, and libertarian he was, and I do really think he may have been answering some of the questions just to put him further on the chart in that way....not just for the questionnaire, but for his general view of himself..

    To the extent that such people's views are fed back into the definition of 'left' and 'libertarian' to redefine those scales, the system is flawed.

    I would say this person was perhaps a bit more authoritarian in reality, but there he was defining himself, and so the authoritarian scale system to some extent, as libertarian...

    I think he was smart enough to realise this might be the case, and tailored his actions to be more libertarian due to this....rather than be the storming norman of the left. :D
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    It's not a myth, but like all such diagrams/maps/symbolic representations, it's a crass over-simplification. It helps you orient yourself and others, but it shouldn't be taken as an exact science or representation.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    To me, the individual/society spectrum is the defining one in politics. But I don't argue with what else has been posted here. This could turn into a thoroughly worthwhile thread....
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    people can tend to pigeonhole themselves to fit into a spectrum or compass, which isn't a good idea.Terrapin Station

    Yeah, even with the compass "people can tend to pigeonhole themselves to fit into a spectrum or compass, which isn't a good idea," as I noted.

    But the compass is a bit better than a simple left/right line. Not much better, maybe, but there's at least an additional metric to it. It would be nice if we could just give our views on various things without needing to categorize them, organize per the categories, etc.
  • ssu
    3.8k
    do you agree that to the extent that the political spectrum is defined by the people who self identify with locations on it, that it is much less useful a way to view political thinking?wax
    That's a different question than is the spectrum a myth. I would put it this way: is the current political spectrum an useful tool to describe current politcal environment?

    I'd say largely yes. Not at all times though. There can be issues that divide people in other ways just than the left and right. I think Terrapin Station's picture of more/less authoritarianism on the y-axis shows this quite well: are you authoritarian or not doesn't depend on the left/right divide.

    Another thing is when some political agenda or objective is accepted universally, then the old way of dividing left and right doesn't work anymore… on that specific issue. This has to be remembered. From the origins of the term left and right (from the French revolution, if I remember correctly) many issues have been at least on some level universally been agreed to. Or a consensus has been reached and all sides have accepted the issue. For example, the agenda of classic liberalism in the 19th Century, eradication of the feudal remnants of the society of the ancien regime aristocracy with democratic systems. Then the success of the labour movement on legislation that is universally accepted labour laws in the West and third example is the success of suffragettes. These kind of advances have changed the current political spectrum from what earlier existed.

    Hence let's say in one or two hundred years the current hot potatoes of politics might be quite different, yet I assume that the divide between left and right will remain. After all, the issue of wealth distribution has been there from the Ancient times. Just remember the Gracchi brothers from ancient Rome.
  • Son of a Bitch
    2.6k
    I believe there is a spectrum from libertarianism to authoritarianism. There is also a spectrum from anarchism to communism for economics.
  • Son of a Bitch
    2.6k
    But that would put communism on the far right where some put laissez faire capitalism on the far right. I think there is a spectrum for capitalism all its own.
  • Valentinus
    928
    It is interesting to me to consider a gap between self-identification and the desire to know how one's opinions relate to others. On the face of it, people who seriously identify themselves with one program or another don't care where they fall in any measure of comparison.

    So is that the compass? People unconcerned with the measurement as opposed to those who are curious?
  • Son of a Bitch
    2.6k
    It is interesting to me to consider a gap between self-identification and the desire to know how one's opinions relate to others.Valentinus

    This assumes thinking in terms of an abstract relation, and there are billions of people who have difficulty thinking in the abstract.
  • Valentinus
    928

    Does the thought require so many people?
    The self identified are invested in certainty.
    The curious don't know what is happening.
  • Son of a Bitch
    2.6k
    The curious don't know what is happening.Valentinus

    I don’t know what is happening right now.
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