18 July 2013

The circular political spectrum

John Harrison at the journalism blog JMACED adds a smart little wrinkle to a commonplace observation.

There are many people who construct politics and its underlying ideologies as a spectrum that runs from left to right. This is a misconception.

Politics and ideology are a broken circle in which anarchy is the only thing that separates left wing totalitarianism from right wing totalitarianism.

Indeed totalitarianism itself is a form of anarchy; it is arbitrary and without respect for the rules and rights at the centre of our political life and which centre left and centre right subscribe to: the sovereignty of the people, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and all the other forms and practices of the liberal democratic state.

The adherence of both the right and the left to these values diminishes the closer they move to totalitarianism.

Given its popularity, some may ask, “where does libertarianism fit in?” Libertarianism is a form of anarchism; an untrammeled, unregulated free market.

This makes the vertical axis of his diagram map to respect for institutions, which is nifty.


Rhett Aultman said...

So, basically, this is another way to draw that four-quadrant chart dealie that Libertarians use in their recruitment "political survey."

Jonathan Korman said...

There's a meaningful similarity, yes; I almost marked the point in my original post.

But I also think that there's significant difference. The vertical axis in the circle chart represents something like “respect for institutions”.

Jeff Pollet said...

I'd love to see another diagram that includes economic and social "right" and "left", just to capture a bit more of the complexity...

Jonathan Korman said...

Jeff, that's been done, and it's the libertarian propaganda device which Rhett was alluding to.

Unknown said...

Jonathan Korman. You're comment is funny. Libertarianism is a sub-philosophy. You can be right wing or left wing. Example: Since Libertarians believe in as little government as possible, a right wing would prefer a return to private property ownership. While a left wing won't necessarily believe in private property, but still want personal property, individual freedom and social equality. In fact, libertarians are just that. Upholders of liberty.