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[P]
What's left of the right and what's right on the left: EPO ratings, v2.0

By zocky in Op-Ed
Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:50:21 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

We call ourselves and others "left-wing" or "right-wing" all the time. Yet these are two of the most abused terms in political speech. What do they mean, really? Are liberals left-wing, as Americans would say, or extreme right-wing as Austrians would tend to think about them?Was Stalin left-wing or right-wing? How about Tony Blair? Bill Clinton?

Left/right doesn't really make sense. Here's an attempt at an alternative way of labelling political beliefs.

[note: This is a re-write of the story by the same title. Thanks for all the comments.]


LEFT-WING/RIGHT-WING

Terms "left-wing" and "right-wing" were introduced into politics in late 18th century France. Parties who favoured radical change of the political system sat on the left side of the Assembly and came to be called progressive or left. Likewise, the parties who favored sticking with tradition, came to be called conservative or right.

This distinction served the purpose in 19th century France, but it ceased to do so since. For instance, were the parties that favored abolition of the 70-year long tradition of communism in Russia progressive or conservative, left-wing or right-wing? Even if we concede that terms should retain the centuries-old general ideological connotations (socialist = left, conservative = right), what of the liberals? Some would say they're centrist, but are they really in between socialists and conservatives? And why is every party (at least in Europe) claiming to be centrist or at least center-left or center-right? Isn't it all a bit arbitrary?


QUANTIFICATION AND CLASSIFICATION

The left-right view is clearly extremely simplistic. The other extreme would be to claim that political beliefs can't be classified and quantified, yet that would be to claim that they aren't graded. Anybody who's ever had a political discussion can certify to the opposite - when talking about an issue you can agree with one person more than with another. Quantification also facilitates statistics, which is the one major tool of social science.

So let's try to invent a system to classify political beliefs. Of course everybody has a stand on countless issues, from gun control to the exact size of police batons, but we're talking about their core beliefs here, so day-to-day issues don't really matter. What we should be looking at is what kind of society they want and try to classify their beliefs with the smallest meaningful set of variables. In my opinion people's political preferences differ in three major variables, namely:

1. Egalitarianism
Some people believe that people are born or at least raised different. They believe that some people deserve to have access to more resources and power than others. Other people think that all the differences in wealth and status are caused by long-standing injustices that should be corrected, thus making all people more or less equal.

I will call this variable E and put it on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most elitist and 5 being the most egalitarian.

2. Permissiveness
Some people believe that there is the correct way of doing things and that everybody should be doing them that way. These people also believe that some acts, even when nobody is hurt by them, are wrong and should be abhorred and punished. Other people think that everybody should be free to do whatever they want and that it's nobody's business what they do.

I will call this variable P and put it on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most authoritarian and 5 being the most permissive.

3. Organization
Some people think that in order to have a working society you must have elaborate legal, judicial, economic, healthcare, welfare and/or other systems. Others believe that no social structures are necessary and that the only social unit should be an individual - any co-operation should be entirely self-organized.

I will call this variable O and put it on a scale 1 to 5, with 1 being the most regulated and 5 being the most deregulated.


E and P tell us what kind of society somebody wants and O tells us what do they think is the correct way to run it.

Let's invent a combined variable called "EPO rating", made up of three values from 1 to 5. With this number we should be able to classify political beliefs and/or ideologies.


EXAMPLES

  • Nazism: Nazis believe that some people are clearly superior, that everybody should think and do what they think. All aspects of life should be organized by the state. EPO = 111
  • Maoism: Maoists think all people should be equal, that they should all have correct thoughts. As with nazism, all aspects of life should be organized by the state. EPO = 511
  • Anarchism: Anarchist think everybody's equal, everybody's free to think what they want and that this can come through only through abolishment of the state. EPO = 555
  • Libertarianism: Libertarians think that everybody has what they deserve, that you have the right to say and do whatever you want, and that all this will become true once government ceases to exist. EPO = 155

Other extreme EPO's would be:

  • 115: Conservative capitalism of 19th century - there's a clear elite, morality of the day is vigorously enforced, there's no social structures apart from the system of control.
  • 551: Enlightened communism - everybody's equal, they're free to think and do what they want, yet society is highly organized and provides for its citizens.
  • 151: The modern Eastern-European states, many of the Western countries - you can say and do whatever you want, there are complex social structures and loads of bureaucracy and rampant inequality.
  • 515: A system where everybody is equal, no one is allowed to dissent, yet there are no social structures apart from the coercive apparatus. Anybody have a name for this?

Some of the other EPO's:

  • Classical conservatism, EPO = 123
  • Classical European liberalism, EPO = 254
  • Classical socialism, EPO = 532
  • The "third way" (Tony Blair et al.), EPO = 243

Notice that EPO ratings have some clear resemblances to the left-right dichotomy. 11* is clearly right-wing and 55* is clearly left-wing. (the O value doesn't really tell us much about left-right in the classical sense - notice that Maoism and nazism both have O values of 1, but are diametrically opposite on the classical left to right scale.)

If we look at it that way, then, according to EPO numbers, anarchists and socialists are clearly left-wing. Conservatives and nazis are clearly right-wing. But what about liberals, libertarians, Maoist, third-wayers? Some of them would call themselves centrist, others would swear to be either left-wing or right-wing. These seem to be examples where the left-right scale just doesn't work, but EPO ratings seem to tell us where they belong.


SO, TELL ME...

What's the EPO rating of political options in your country? What's your EPO rating? Do you think other variables should be included? Which and why?

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Poll
What do you think of EPO ratings
o They rock and should be introduced to political science 14%
o An interesting subject for discussion 41%
o Interesting, but more variables should be added 12%
o The whole excercise is oversimplistic and doomed to failure 22%
o I hate the whole idea 9%

Votes: 63
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o story by the same title
o Also by zocky


Display: Sort:
What's left of the right and what's right on the left: EPO ratings, v2.0 | 106 comments (74 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
name (3.60 / 5) (#16)
by dipierro on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 07:13:51 PM EST

515: A system where everybody is equal, no one is allowed to dissent, yet there are no social structures apart from the coercive apparatus. Anybody have a name for this?

Democracy.



Mediocrity [n/t] (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by dissonant on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 10:44:25 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Mr. Jackson (4.33 / 9) (#25)
by dr k on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:07:06 PM EST

I think the noted political thinker (and game designer) Steve Jackson had it right when he identified these alignments for political affiliations:
  • Government
  • Corporate
  • Liberal
  • Conservative
  • Peaceful
  • Violent
  • Straight
  • Weird
  • Criminal
  • Fanatic
Please use these categories for all future discussion. Thanks.


Destroy all trusted users!

oops: (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by dr k on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:25:30 PM EST

Fnord.

[ Parent ]
That's About Right... (4.50 / 4) (#28)
by Dolohov on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:33:54 PM EST

You know, the sad thing is, I still think of politics in terms of Illuminati. The whole Enron thing was a pretty clear Attack to Destroy (failed) on California by Enron with the help of the Republican Party and the Deregulators.

In retaliation, an Illuminatus group (Probably the Gnomes) made a successful attack to destroy on Enron, with the help of Wall Street and the Liberal Media.

[ Parent ]

illuminati, and social/political spectrums (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by TheSkillPath on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:27:38 AM EST

I have very fond memories of this game - infact i have spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a local (london) outlet where i can get it. Can I? hell:(

The extreme cynicism, and sureal "reality" of the game made it a killer.

An indicator that no-one has mentioned, that I believe is very important, is the "Lawfullness" of the society. Not in the RPG'ing / Michael Moorcock sense, but in the sense of respect for the rule of law, wether government is bound by law, or above it, and how litiginous society is.

One extreme of this spectrum would be modern USA, and perhaps some of the old scandanavian nations. (Well worth while looking up the old Danelaw, and considering how it has shaped the modern societies of Iceland, Sweden, and Norway..)

At the other end would be any totalitarian state where citizens may well disappear in the dead of night, no questions asked.

(An aside: A definition of government i have always enjoyed: "that organisation which reserves the right to steal your goods, compel and coerce you, and take your property and life if you choose not to comply")

Nazi Germany (right wing) and Stalinist Russia (left wing) would both get a very bad rating on the "legal" indicator....

nic
-- Do unto others before they do unto you.
[ Parent ]

Local Outlet (none / 0) (#63)
by Rande on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 10:18:42 AM EST

I have very fond memories of this game - infact i have spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a local (london) outlet where i can get it. Can I? hell:(

try http://www.leisuregames.co.uk
It's where I got my copy.

[ Parent ]

That was one fun game (Illuminati) (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by MickLinux on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:55:48 AM EST

I really enjoyed playing that game.  My brother, who always makes optional modifications for his games after playing them awhile, used the blank cards to add the IRS (criminal, violent, government:  picture showed a Jeep coming at you with guns pointing out everywhere) and the Vatican (player's alter ego).  

The Vatican's goal was to arrange at least 5 cards, with representation from each of the 10 groups, in the shape of a bilaterally or quadrilaterally symmetric cross.  Its advantage, if I remember, was that it could drop any card (entirely) at any time [called excommunication].  It also got a small income every turn -- something like 5 credits--and could never be destroyed.  

Both cards seemed to fit in well both with reality, and with the game.  

Just keep repeating to yourself: (... land of the free and the home of the brave...)


[ Parent ]

left/right (2.00 / 3) (#29)
by subgenius on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:35:41 PM EST

As my good friend Mr. Hightower would say, "There ain't nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead Armidillos."

Drive On!
Drive On!

Permissiveness: too broad for USA (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by cnicolai on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 10:36:16 PM EST

The highest profile politics in the US pit financial vs social permissiveness. Since oversimplification is the order of the day:

Republicans: Pf: 4, Ps: 1

Democrats: Pf: 3, Ps: 3

Not any more (4.80 / 5) (#40)
by MickLinux on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:42:35 AM EST

With Bush's 20% spending increase, that's going to necessarily drive taxes way high.  So:

Republicans:  Pf 3 (I'm assuming that's 3/10).

More than that, you have to remember the Republican Party during the impeachment proceedings, and who actually got eliminated.  You also have to remember Bush vs. cocaine -- and the total lack of response to that by the Republicans.

So: Republicans PS 2.

But the Democrats have also been jumping on the bandwagon of this post-terrorist strike.  I seem to remember that one of the leading Democrat senators was saying how Padilla didn't have rights.

So:  Democrats PS 2

For a final total score of:

Republicans PF 3 PS 2
Democrats   PF 3 PS 2

You know, when Bush was elected, I didn't see much difference between him and Gore.  I still don't.  

It's just one big party now, (party hearty with the DemPublicans.  /And don't forget what a Publican is, or what the adjective "Dem" means/.)

Just keep repeating to yourself: (... land of the free and the home of the brave...)


[ Parent ]

Party similarity (none / 0) (#105)
by Boing on Wed Jun 26, 2002 at 01:40:01 PM EST

I'm being overly cynical, I know, but it seems to me that the representatives in our (U.S.) society are more concerned with expanding their power than the ideals to which they subscribe.  Therefore, in an uncontested system, the O score of American "democracy" always increases.  The only reason it is not 5 all the time is because the competing wishes of the two major parties reduce the ability of either party to achieve that state.  This is ironic, since the wishes of the parties are fundamentally the same.

I'm not saying that the representatives are necessarily bad people, or that their conscious goal is singularly the acquisition of power.  My hunch is that they have their own, honorable beliefs about what is "right", and try to spread those beliefs in the most effective way possible.

This may solve the major problem with a system balanced solely on competition.  If society were to get to the point where either the Republicans or the Democrats were in sole control of government power, there would no longer be a present threat to their acquisition of power, and they would cease competitive strategies in favor of "spreading the word" of what they believe is right.  Then, while the behemoth slept, a competitor could rise and rebalance the system once again.

The catch is that government controls would be increasing in that interval time.  Unless the competitor rises quickly, it is possible that the ruling Party would stifle the innovation of new political speech in some way, eliminating the hope of a competitor.  The Constitution can stave off that possibility for some time with its explicit protection of free speech, but not indefinitely.

[ Parent ]

Godel Numbering for Politics? (3.66 / 3) (#36)
by joecool12321 on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 10:49:02 PM EST

All I have to say is "262,111,262".

--Joey

Oversimplification & more (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:31:15 AM EST

There seem to be two major arguments against this style of political classification. One is that political beliefs can't be quantified, and the other is that the system is to trivial to be meaningful.

I think I've addressed the first argument well enough in the stoty itself, so I will address the argument of oversimplification here.

First of all, EPO ratings are HUGELY less simplified than the left/right scale that media usually talk about. Also, the scales along the three axis are much better defined than in everyday "you soft leftie/you right-wing lunatic" discussions that we tend to have. So replacing a system with at most 7 grades (extreme left, left, centre-left, centre, ditto for right) with one with 625 grades is a long stride away from oversimplification.

Important point of this argument is that no matter how many variables we include, we'll never be able to describe politics in a meaningful way. In other words, that politics are to complex to express with a finite set of values. This is (a) not true and (b) missing the point.

(a) There are, of course, a finite number of humans with a finite number of brain cells, so the number of variables needed to describe the space of any human system of beliefs, including politics, is bound to be finite.

(b) Any science works by over-simplifying things. Is F=m*a or any other Newton's formula correct? Apart from being proven wrong by Einstein it is also hugely oversimplified because it ignores loads of factors, like gravitational pull of masses near the object we are observing, not to mention quantum events. Still, no one would seriously argue to dismiss Newtonian physics as the tool of engineers.

The principle of oversimplification is especially used in social sciences and is what economists use all the time (remember the curved X shaped diagrams of supply and demand?).

So the valid question here is which variables to use for quantifying political beliefs. They should be meaningful (i.e. political beliefs of people for whom a variable varies should be fundamentally different) and orthogonal (i.e. their values should not be strongly interdependent).

I think that E, P and O are the most hotly contested points in political discussions on K5 as well as IRL. We argue all the time whether "property is a natural right or theft", whether "people should be allowed to have underage sex/perform bizarre religous rituals/use drugs" and whether our societies and economies should be "regulated/deregulated".

Try to find examples where the system doesn't work and explain why it doesn't. An example of this would be two fundamentally different sets of political beliefs with the same EPO number or a society when any of the values is meaningless.

[note: for the purposes of this discussion, fundamentally different means raging disputes between holders of the two sets of beliefs]

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?

125, not 625 (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 04:37:59 AM EST

n/t

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Anarchism (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by Rasman on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 04:39:01 AM EST

Why is anarchism 555? Why is it not 551? Does it really require that much organization to obtain anarchy??

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
O scale is reversed (4.50 / 2) (#44)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 04:41:16 AM EST

When I first posted this story, O scale worked as you yourself obviously expect. But then people wanted the O scale reversed, so I reversed it.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Then it needs a name change. (none / 0) (#80)
by static on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:04:09 PM EST

That's really my only objection to your classification system. It's called E-P-O so the maximum E is 5--, the maximum P is is -5- and the maximum O is --5, er, no it's --1!

The third should be called "De-regulation" so that it's --5, like E and P.

Wade.


[ Parent ]

Attempting to deduce the authors score. (4.20 / 5) (#45)
by snowlion on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 05:10:22 AM EST

Myself, I'm in the high 500's: one of 543, 544, 534, or 533. For regex people, I'm a 5[34][34]. I consider myself an Anarchist, which the author spelled out as a 555. (I don't think he knows too much about Anarchism, but that's not terribly uncommon.)

It's hard to say, since the opposites described are somewhat batty. However, judging by the battiness of the descriptions, I think I can estimate the authors score.

Egalitarianism

Since the author completely misunderstands the meaning of "egalitarian" and uses broad sweeping generalizations to describe it ("_all_ the differences...caused by long-standing injustices...making all people more or less equal")", and since he so favorably describes elitism and is much more gentle with its definition ("[Elitists] believe that some people deserve to have access to more resources and power than others."), I'm going to guess he's a 1 or a 2. Since he's talking about how people have gradients, I suspect that he's not an extremist, and would nudge that towards a final score of 2.

Permissiveness

I'm going to guess the author is a 3 or a 4. He clearly doesn't believe that "there is the correct way of doing things and that everybody should be doing them that way". Note that broad sweeping terminology was again used, indicating displeasure. But it also appears on the other side: "..._everybody_ should be free to do whatever they want..." So far we have a 23X, or a 24X. I nudge it towards 4 because it's a popular perspective.

Organization

I'm going to guess the authors somewhere in 3-4, because the author used the word "collectivist" VERY incorrectly, and to establish a necessary linkage between collectivist and extreme organization is a sign of over-exposure to Libertarianism. The proof is even deeper, when a lack of organization is called "Individualist"..! Do to the complete lack of reality here, I'm going to guess that the author is a 3 or 4, tending towards 4.

An aside on the absurdity of the "Organization" perspective: Individual needs vs. Communal needs should be a completely different axis than the principle of how much organization is present..! Many anarcho-capitalists (extreme Libertarians) have a vision of a highly organized individualist future, such as in Snow Crash. Is that a 1 (collectivist?!), or a 5 (highly disorganized?). Some Anarchist communities are _extremely) informal, which would put them at a 5 (highly disorganized), but are completely collectivist (which would put them at a 1). What??! Cut it apart- Make it "Communal vs. Individual Determination of Property," and then "Highly vs. Loosly Organized."

Adding a new topic: You haven't addressed the topic of Technology, which is a big issue. Does your society adopt new technology very slowly, such as the Amish, or as quickly as possible, such as in the developer communities and in colleges..? Or do you mediate it, such as in various communities that float around 2, or in the case of the US government, around 3 or 4..? Add that to your categories. Personally, I hang around 3 or 4. I think societies should be able to say, "We don't like that technology, and we aren't going to use it." At the same time, I'm very pro-tech, being a software developer and hobby electronics guy and all. (Basically, I'm in love with Tech.)

Back to the author. So, he's around 2[34][34]. What profiles did he put in that region?

 * Classical European liberalism, EPO = 254
 * The "third way" (Tony Blair et al.), EPO = 243

So my guess is that he's a "Tony Blair" fan, whoever he is (I don't know), and has some sympathy with Classical European liberalism, especially considering that he used that name for it. (It's an in-thing in the academic crowds... You can read about the boring dispute if you like...) Ah, here we are- Wikipedia has an entry on "Tony Blair".

So, am I right? Are you a Tony Blair man?

Myself, you'll find me in the Egalitarian 5, Permissiveness 4, Organization 3 (medium level of organization), Collectivist 5, Technology 4- a #54354, placing me squarely in Anarchism: [45][45][12345][45][12345], or [45][45].[45]. for those comfortable with the dot notation.

--
Map Your Thoughts

Not at all :) (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 05:43:28 AM EST

No, I would rate myself 442 or even 542 - leaning towards enlightened communism.

I tried to present both sides of each point in the words their proponents use. Maybe you're just overly sensitive to the other side of the argument being presented in postiive terms?

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

The Goal is to be Fair to All Sides. (none / 0) (#51)
by snowlion on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:43:41 AM EST

Maybe you're just overly sensitive to the other side of the argument being presented in postiive terms?

Nah, I'm just overly sensitive to my own side being presented completely inaccurately.

Showing the strengths of opposing perspectives demonstrates integrity and fairness, but those merits are revoked when you grossly depreciate your own perspective.

It is humble to be self-depriciating, but it is unjust when performed in excess. When your own position isn't clear, it can convey the notion that you are a self-aggrandizing proponent of the opposite perspective, and you run the danger of being confused for a troll.

Show the strengths of all perspectives. Not just for the sake of the other readers, but for your own sake as well.

Consider the following paragraph:


Some people believe that people are born or at least raised different. They believe that some people deserve to have access to more resources and power than others. Other people think that all the differences in wealth and status are caused by long-standing injustices that should be corrected, thus making all people more or less equal.

This is just begging for an argument that has nothing to do with your central thesis.

I would replace it with:


Elitists believe that an elite should have more power than others. Egalitarians believe that people should have equal power.

While there is still room for argument that is irrelevant to your central thesis (no sentance that is unequivocal), there is far less.

People can fill in the details, and the axis has been clearly established (which was the goal of the paragraph).

--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]

Trying not to be dry (none / 0) (#53)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:10:13 AM EST

There is currently and has probably always been inequality all over the world. So saying that egalitarians think that this is injustice is equivalent to saying that they think that it is wrong and unnatural, which is precisely what they (and to a great extent, me) think.

I just tried to put it into a not-totally-dry sentence. But point taken.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

How can communism be enlightened? (none / 0) (#54)
by MickLinux on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:37:19 AM EST

Sorry for the trollish headline -- but I really am not able to imagine this [could be a failure of the imagination...]

What exactly is enlightened communism?

Is that like the Russian mafia -- working to bring back the old order, but now using the tools of capitalism that they can find (in their case, drugs, weapons, and prostitutes)?

Or is that like the feminist commune down south of Charlottesville?  Everybody shares everything as much as they can bring themselves to do so, up to and including mates and children?  

Or is it more like the Amish style -- everybody owns their own things, but shares and helps each other at the request of the respected leadership?

What exactly does "enlightened" mean, and what exactly does "communism mean" as you intend it?

And is there a way that the enlightened communism will work any better than what China or Russia did?  
Or does enlightened communism, like Maoism, require imprisoning, killing, and possibly cannibalizing the dissenters [N. Korea:  food; China:  body parts for transplant, also food during revolution]?

My words mean exactly what I intend them to mean, nothing more, and nothing less.  It is only a question of who is to be master. - Lewis Carroll

Just keep repeating to yourself: (... land of the free and the home of the brave...)


[ Parent ]

I see your experience is limited (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:10:49 AM EST

I have lived in enlightened communism.

Yugoslavia after WW2 could be classified as 431.  

Differences in access to resources were minimal - very few people were rich, nobody was poor. E=4.

Dissent was partly tolerated - except for a few points in time (1948-56, 1972-75) you could more or less speak freely, you could print critical views of the government, you could buy foreign newspapers at newsstands, you could watch foreign TV and last, but not least, you could freely leave the country. P=3.

The state was highly structured. There was welfare, healthcare, full employment, all kinds of state-sponsored culture (even dissenting). O=1.

Then, after 1980, dissenting views came to be more and more tolerated, especially in Slovenia, where I live, while the economy and social structures remained unchanged.

In the period of 1989-1991 there was complete freedom of dissention combined with equality and highly regulated society. EPO=451. Very close to enlightened communism.

Of course, after that Slovenia became an independent country and we moved into Real Liberal Democracy. Equality went away and though most social structures were replaced, there is still huge bureaucracy. I'd say our EPO now is 252.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

My experience *is* limited (none / 0) (#92)
by MickLinux on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 06:02:04 AM EST

Actually, so is my history...

Tell me, was Yugoslavia the nation under Tito?  And didn't he make heavy use of torture to maintain political repression, and then upon his death, didn't Yugoslavia balkanize?  Or am I in an entirely different time-zone?

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Yugoslavia and Tito (none / 0) (#94)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 06:42:34 AM EST

Yes, Yugoslavia was the nation "under" Tito. As said in the above post, there were a couple of times in Yugoslavia's postwar history when the government was heavy-handed. The first was in 1948 and following years after Yugoslavia refused to become a part of the eastern block. There was a strong Stalinist faction in the ruling communist party, which was subsequently purged. In that time, the prison at Goli Otok was a pretty bad place to be, yes. Later, in the early 1970's there was a resurgence of right-wing nationalism (including terrorist attacks), which was also suppressed, but in a much milder manner.

Also, Yugoslavia was always a very diverse country, and after the constitution of 1947 it was almost a confederation. All of the above varied hugely between constituent republics. But it was way way more permissive than any of the Eastern block countries. There were no soldiers and blockades in the streets, there was no police watching your every step.

And no, Yugoslavia didn't fall apart when Tito died. It fell apart 11 years later after years of deep economic crisis which was ate least made worse by first the oil-crisis and later the reforms imposed by the IMF.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Correction (none / 0) (#101)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 08:37:47 AM EST

...after the constitution of 1947 it was almost a confederation.

It should read "constitution of 1974", not 1947

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Clarification (none / 0) (#48)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:00:03 AM EST

Labelling the O scale from collectivist to individualist was an error. I planned to edit the story more but somehow managed to move it to the unintentionally move it into the voting queue. (I wrote a <a href="http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/6/23/202521/396">diary entry</a> about my ordeal with posting this story and some ideas for improvements.
<p>
I have asked the editors to change the wording to regulated/deregulated and am happy to say they did it. Much obliged. I'm glad we cleared that up.
<p>
As for individualist/collectivist being a separate variable, I think it's to interdependent with elitist/egalitarian to be considered orthogonal to EPO.
<p>
OTOH, openness to new technologies is an interesting suggestion. I'm not sure it's as important as E, P and O, though. More comments on this are very welcome.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Clarification (none / 0) (#49)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:00:19 AM EST

Labelling the O scale from collectivist to individualist was an error. I planned to edit the story more but somehow managed to move it to the unintentionally move it into the voting queue. (I wrote a diary entry about my ordeal with posting this story and some ideas for improvements.

I have asked the editors to change the wording to regulated/deregulated and am happy to say they did it. Much obliged. I'm glad we cleared that up.

As for individualist/collectivist being a separate variable, I think it's to interdependent with elitist/egalitarian to be considered orthogonal to EPO.

OTOH, openness to new technologies is an interesting suggestion. I'm not sure it's as important as E, P and O, though. More comments on this are very welcome.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Collectivist-Egalitarian connection. (none / 0) (#52)
by snowlion on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:04:35 AM EST

While I understand and strongly sympathise with the feeling of connection between Collectivist and Egalitarian, they don't necessarily have to go together.

You can have Collectivism and Elitism, such as with a communist dictatorship. You can have Individualist and Egalitarian, such as many of the founding capitalists envisioned. (Briefly, the vision works like this: Everyone gets back as much as they put in under the invisible hand of the markets. There are no unfair advantages, branding strategies are unheard of. Monopolies are broken up by the benevolent democracy.) While my personal belief is that neither of these strategies succeed in fulfilling their visions, they are both valid goals that people can have.

--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]

A possible solution (none / 0) (#56)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:52:23 AM EST

Let's say that collectivism is a function of E and -O, making Maoism and Enlightened Communism collectivist, and Libertarianism and Conservatism individualist. Other views fall in between.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

FWIW... (none / 0) (#61)
by dennis on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:40:44 AM EST

...individualist/collectivist is a distinction used by anthropologists. It makes a good comparison between, say, Japan (more collectivist than the U.S.) and the Nuer tribe in Sudan (more individualist than U.S.)

[ Parent ]
Combinatorics (3.66 / 3) (#55)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:39:34 AM EST

Additional insight could be gained by looking at what particular pairs of extreme E, P and O values mean for a society and seeing if these pairs correspond to common political concepts.

I will examine the pairs of values and try to find a corresponding concept.

Note:
For want of better terms, I will call the 155 position "Real Liberal Democracy (RLD)" (as analogue to "Real Socialism").
I will also call the 515 position (absolute equality, no regulation, no dissent tolerated) "Fanatical Anarchism". Better terms absolutely welcome.
I will also use the /\ symbol to denote intersection.

E/P:
11*: Nazism /\ Old-style conservatism = Right-wing
15*: Libertarianism /\ RLD = Liberalism
51*: Maoism /\ Fanatical Anarchism = Uravnilovka
55*: Anarchism /\ Enlightened Communism = Left-wing

E/O:
1*1: Nazism /\ RLD = Bureaucratism
1*5: Libertarianism /\ Old-style conservatism = Free-Marketism
5*1: Maoism /\ Enlightened Communism = Communism
5*5: Anarchism /\ Fanatical Anarchism = Unregulated Egalitarianism

P/O:
*11: Nazism /\ Maoism = Etatism
*15: Old-style conservatism /\ Fanatical Anarhcism = Habitual Intolerance
*51: Enlightened Communism /\ RLD = ?
*55: Anarchism /\ Libertarianism = Personal Freedom

OK, I don't know how to name the combination of Regulation and Permissiveness. Also "Unregulated Egalitarianism" is just a descriptive term. There may be a better one. There must be better terms for many of the others. Feel free to supply them.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?

*51 (none / 0) (#65)
by Shren on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 01:44:33 PM EST

*51: Enlightened Communism /\ RLD = ?

Sounds like a society obsessed with contract law. You are allowed to do anything and you must obey the rules implies a place where everyone sets thier own rules through contracts, and the rules for breaking them are harsh.

Agree to nothing, obedient to nothing. But if you break a contract they kill you. Odd place. You better read everything you sign.

[ Parent ]

Why would anyone kill you? (none / 0) (#66)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 02:10:28 PM EST

These are heavily regulated permissive societies, like most of Europe and USA to a great extent.

This extreme plain of the EPO space would also include social democracies, like scandinavian states (E would be about 3) and currently non-existant enlightened communism (E=5).

Or are you somehow automatically connecting the term Communism to murder?

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

slow down there, chief. (none / 0) (#67)
by Shren on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 02:19:31 PM EST

'Kill' is exaggeration. Likely enough, the details of your punishment would be expressly listed in the contract and would be binding. There'd have to be a cultural thing leaning towards strong punishments.

I'm just trying to come up with a possible *51 society. I don't think my particular "contract law" state is particularly communistic. You could enter a commune by contract, and you could even enter one by a contract that says they have the right to kill you if you leave, but it's not particularly prone to communes. It's prone to a very harsh capitalism.

I don't personally have anything against Communism, just as long as I'm allowed to leave if you turn my current country into one. *grin*

[ Parent ]

Still don't get it (none / 0) (#68)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 02:34:41 PM EST

As I said, Western Europe works this way - very permissive, very regulated. Yet it is probably the area of the world where people get punished the least. Most people who are imprisoned in the USA would be paroled, fined, cautioned or aquitted in Europe. I guess that's what "permissiveness" is about.

So, thinking about it, USA would probably have an EPO rating of 134.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

I'm going to need some help here. (none / 0) (#69)
by Shren on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:01:47 PM EST

Western Europe works this way - very permissive, very regulated.

How is it both very permissive and very regulated? I'm not following here.

[ Parent ]

Read the whole thing again (none / 0) (#70)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:10:59 PM EST

Regulated and permissive are not interdependent. USA is less regulated than Europe (less welfare, less healthcare, less public services, less rules generally), but also less permissive (the war on drugs, nudity restrictions on TV, hugely harsher legal punishment, higher age of consent).

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

I don't know about him, but I would (none / 0) (#83)
by afc on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 12:56:10 AM EST

For all practical purposes, communism has always been connected with tyranny and the worst bloodsheds throughout the XX century, the bloodiest of all.
--

Information wants to be beer, or something.
[ Parent ]

Are you just a troll? (none / 0) (#95)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 06:43:49 AM EST

Or also completely ignorant of history?

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Terms "left-wing" and "right-wing&q (4.00 / 2) (#58)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:14:24 AM EST

Good article, but a bunch of nit picks:

  1. Terms "left-wing" and "right-wing" were introduced into politics in late 18th century France.

    .... I thought it was Germany? (Or one of the german states?)

  2. Some people believe that people are born or at least raised different. They believe that some people deserve to have access to more resources and power than others.

    And what about people who believe that people are born or raised differently but should be allowed to go where ever their abilities take them? (i.e., "equal opportunity" as opposed to "equal outcomes") How does that rate?

  3. Some people think that in order to have a working society you must have elaborate legal, judicial, economic, healthcare, welfare and/or other systems.

    Hmmm... I was going to argue that this view point can be espoused by people from all over the political spectrum - but that's your point, isn't it? I'd point out, though, that you've scored this trait backwards from the other two: For E and P 5 is a maximum, but for O, 5 is a minimum. Did you do that just so you could make National Socialism all 1's?

Overall, a good try. If nothing else, I get tired of explaining how "liberal" and "conservative" mean the opposite in US politics that they do in the dictionary. Let alone the meaning of "progressive".


--
I feel like I've lived my live in screensaver mode....


Check other comments (none / 0) (#59)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:27:43 AM EST

...for the explanation of the O scale thing.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Point #1 (none / 0) (#64)
by Betcour on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 10:37:03 AM EST

No, it really comes from the French assembly that was created during the French revolution in 1789. Following the British tradition of seating the supporters of the current governement on the right and the opposition on the left of the parlement, the French who sided with the monarchy decided to seat on the right and those who sided with the revolution on the left. Contrary to the British who have a parlement split in two facing row, the French one was and still is a half circle, which gives more flexibility as to where you want to seat depending of your ideas (communist are seated on the far left, nationalist on the far right)

[ Parent ]
practical aspect to keeping them seperated... (none / 0) (#97)
by int19h on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 07:53:19 AM EST

Yeah, it was the French. Also, I'm not a 100% on this... but I think I read somewhere that there was a pretty important reason for keeping the 2 sides divided: in the good ol' days, MPs would casually stroll into parliament with swords, daggers, and other administrative apparatus.

Now, as we've all witnessed in Taiwan, parliamentary proceedings can get a little heated sometimes... and when MPs are armed to the teeth, it can get a little gory too. Hence, after an incident or two, both sides were split up and made to sit separately. And stationed in between were big ugly men clad in chainmail wielding big rubber mallets.

I think I read this somewhere on the web... it may just likely be some corny story someone decided to make up. I dunno...

[ Parent ]

keeping the parties apart.... (none / 0) (#98)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 08:08:05 AM EST

in the good ol' days, MPs would casually stroll into parliament with swords, daggers, and other administrative apparatus.

That wasn't unique to France. Didn't Alexander Hamilton (among others) get into fist fights on the floor of the Congress?

Not very dignified, but at least we knew that congress people were passionate about their work....


--
I feel like I've lived my live in screensaver mode....


[ Parent ]
This is still quite common (none / 0) (#100)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 08:29:32 AM EST

Fights break up in many parliaments around the world. The first to come to mind are Italian, Japanese and Serbian.

In some ways it's indicative of a healthy parliamentarian democracy. A parliament where everybody agrees enough to never loose their nerve is not much of a parliament. Now, if they only learned to shout instead of strike...

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Where Political Classification Falls Down (4.33 / 3) (#60)
by gauntlet on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:36:45 AM EST

As I was reading this, it occurred to me that these scores are only useful for describing an average over a group of people. Any single individual is more likely than not to be impossible to describe in such a way, because people tend not to hold beliefs that are consistent with overriding values.

Maybe that's pessimistic of me, and people really have more integrity than I think, but I'm pretty sure that you could find an arbitrary scale on which I could not be accurately rated.

Into Canadian Politics?

Discussion (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by RandomPeon on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 04:58:35 PM EST

I like this scale a lot.

It's interesting to note that it's very difficult for people with widely different EPO numbers to have a discussion about issues where a given number is radically divergent.

One thing that EPO numbers implicitly measure is how someone stands on a host extremely difficult questions.

For example, a 115 is going to have an awfully hard time discussing any issue with a 551. The 115 will talk about God and decency and the efficiency of the free market and the majesty of capitalism. Even if this isn't the topic of discussion, these principles inform the 115's thinking. The 551 will talk about surplus value, alienation from labor, and religion as a tool to keep the populace in line.

Essentially, they are unable to carry on a discussion without having a flamefest. This is because they have are so apart on some questions of fact and value that they can't discuss specific questions from their different assumptions.

A 1*5 probably believes "market failures" and "externalities" are a bunch of madeup nonsense. A 5*1 believes market pressures are similarly nonsensical. In order to talk about, say, pollution control, they first have to agree on whether or not the private sector is capable of dealing with every problem. In order to talk about deregulation, they have to agree on whether or not competition ever produces better results.

The problem gets even worse on the P axis. A *1* almost always believes there is a higher being who has set dictates about personal behavior. He or she also believes that that higer being is Really Serious about those rules. A *5* is most likely non-religous or believes that the higher being doesn't give a damn about such things. Before these two can have a discussion on salient issues, they have to rectify their philosphical/theological issues about the existence of god(s) and/or the inerrancy of the Koran/Bible/Torah/etc. Unlikely at best.

USA Today

rest of comment (none / 0) (#81)
by RandomPeon on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:32:48 PM EST

USA Today ran a fascinating story about two towns that voted overwhelming for Bush and Gore. The people were so far apart on fundamental questions - the role of government, religion, and business that they could barely relate to each other. (Should really use that preview button more)

[ Parent ]
Political Compass (none / 0) (#82)
by cam on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 12:19:43 AM EST

I like this scale a lot.

There was a scale that popped up on australianpolitics.com.au's forum board recently that is along similar lines though it only graphs authoritarian and liberalism. It does it through six pages of questions,

http://64.224.165.166/politicalcompass/index.html

Interesting those (of my friends) that were doing the questions found themselves to be more Libertarian/Liberal than they thought, especially those that categorized themselves as conservative. However when answering questions about freedom it is irrational to say yes to questions that would restrict your personal freedom. So I am not surprised people end up in the Libertarian/Liberal sectors.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

That's partly because... (1.00 / 1) (#93)
by MickLinux on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 06:20:20 AM EST

... the major media in America has been trying to move things towards "socialist" for a long time now.  

  It's a way of augmenting their own power.

  Their method is to portray "left" as socialist and "right" as libertarian (classical liberal).  What that has done, then, is make for utter confusion when a person says "I'm conservative", meaning that he is what the media is portraying as "right", and yet it matches up with "liberal".  

It's a full 90-degree swing on the axes of economic freedom/social freedom; but in combination with a general discouragement from thinking, it works to some extent.  

I make a call to grace, for the alternative is more broken than you can imagine.
[ Parent ]

Interesting taxonomy (none / 0) (#72)
by epepke on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 05:50:25 PM EST

Those who say it's too simplistic miss the point: it's less simplistic than the common left/right dichotomy.

Trivia about left/right. In English, German, and Spanish, three of the four languages I have some ability in, the word for right in the sense of the direction and right in the sense of the Constitution is the same. In Spanish, the word for left is one of the few Basque words: izquiedra. In the eleventh century, it was sinestra, obviously related through the same to "sinister." A bend sinister on a coat of arms indicates bastardry. (There is no "bar sinister," despite Rocky and Bullwinkle, but there are bars in heraldry, and it's still a great pun.

One problem, though, is the definition of elitism. There's a big difference between class/birth elitism and ability-based elitism. I'd be 1 for ability-based elitism and 5 for birth elitism. A lot of people are 5 for ability elitism, too, and they and I seldom get along.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


The types of equality (none / 0) (#91)
by xriso on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 04:14:16 AM EST

Equality of result, opportunity, or rights.

All governments use a mix of these equality types, despite their potential incompatibilities (eg. affirmative action programs (eq. opportinity) conflict with non-discrimination (eq. right))

Personally, I want equality (which my country has plenty of), but not just any kind of equality.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]

Equality (none / 0) (#96)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 06:51:58 AM EST

The equality we're talking about here is the equality/inequality in access to resources. It doesn't matter (for the purposes of this discussion) how it came about to be.

The question is do you believe that some people should have a lot, and others little, or do you believe that differences in access to resources should be as small as possible.

The belief in equality of opportunities would probably score about 3 on the E scale, because in a society with a perfect equality of opportunities, some people would have more and others less, yet this would be somewhat compensated due to high vertical mobility.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Not really (5.00 / 1) (#104)
by epepke on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 07:38:17 PM EST

The equality we're talking about here is the equality/inequality in access to resources. It doesn't matter (for the purposes of this discussion) how it came about to be.

No, not really. That in itself is an assumption of a particular set of political beliefs; it cannot therefore be used as a factor in a taxonomy. Spending money, capital, education, housing, information, goods, and sex could all be considered resources in some contexts. People naturally widely disagree on whether they support equal axis on each of them, depending on the context.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Re: Interesting taxonomy (none / 0) (#102)
by jxg on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 02:07:01 PM EST

That's interesting.  Regarding "E", on this scale any elitist system is rated 1, making no differentiation between meritocracy (elitism based on ability) and aristocracy (elitism based on birth/class), while obviously those are two different viewpoints, nearly as dissimilar as both are dissimilar to enforced equality (everyone gets the same, regardless of circumstances, similar to Stalinist Russia).

Your Egalitarianism variable seems, like Permissiveness and Organization, as if it could be better represented by multiple variables.

I propose
En (natural equality: are all men created equal)
Ev (allowed variation of equality; are you allowed to change your social standing)

Pf (financial permissiveness)
Ps (social permissiveness)

Os (overall organization; how much organization and social cooperation is necessary)
Oc (centrism; is the system of organizations monolithic (The State Is God))

from 1 - 5, 5 being the greatest amount of {variable}.

EnEvPfPsOsOc
E55xxxx would be meritocratic
E11xxxx would be aristocratic
Pxx55xx would be libertarian
Pxx11xx would be totalitarian
Oxxxx5x would be collectivist
Oxxxx55 would be monolithic
Oxxxxx1 would be anarchic

Obviously some variables are orthogonal to others; 15xxxx is an obvious example.

------

I would rate myself a 342 on the original scale and a 552444 on the scale I described above.

[ Parent ]

Another form of bigotry (none / 0) (#73)
by Ben Welsh on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 06:09:41 PM EST

I'm only 22, and I've only taken an "interest" in politics in the last 2 years, but from day one I've felt that 'liberal' and 'conservative' weren't much different than a man in a white hood saying 'ni**er' or 'kike'. Whatever they used to mean, you have to admit that people today use them with no more concern (and almost as much hatred) as a racist would. And it has all the earmarks of bigoted thinking. First you label a group of people with a one word term that turns thousands, or millions of individual thinkers into a soulless 'brand'. Then you associate the brand with things that no one in their right mind (including the people being branded) would support or tolerate. E.G. Ni**ers sell drugs in schools, kikes horde money and rip you off, liberals want to kill babies then free the terrorists, and conservatives want the poor to rot in the streets. I don't have any more respect for people who believe the latter two, than I do for people who believe the first two.

Christianity Meme
What? (none / 0) (#74)
by zocky on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 06:22:03 PM EST

This article has nothing whatsoever to do with any political position being right or wrong. It's about classifying political beliefs so that similarities and differences between various ideologies can be noticed and appreciated.

You have any comments on the actual article?

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

No :( (none / 0) (#75)
by Ben Welsh on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 06:24:59 PM EST

I have the attention span of a 3 year old, I just saw the terms in the first few paragraphs and my train of thought veered off into the opinion you see above you. Damned ADD! *shakes fist at the sky*

Christianity Meme
[ Parent ]
Anyway (none / 0) (#76)
by Ben Welsh on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 06:27:11 PM EST

I wasn't calling you a bigot of course, I just went off onto my view of the two labels.

Christianity Meme
[ Parent ]
please (none / 0) (#84)
by mairidhin on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 01:49:52 AM EST

If you're going to use degrogative terms in a post use them and don't edit them as you did the term 'nigger' above. Is the term 'kike' somehow not as bad as 'nigger' (since you took out the double-g and replaced it with a double-asterisk)? I think people will understand by the context that you aren't calling anyone by either of those terms.

[ Parent ]
PC party (none / 0) (#77)
by TheLogician on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 06:49:58 PM EST

If progressive meant left-wing, and conservative mean right-wing, then what the hell does The PC (Progressive Conservative) party in Canada stand for? Seems like an oxy-moron to me.

Re: PC party (none / 0) (#79)
by Hai Etlik on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:25:48 PM EST

I belive their official interpretation is that they favour slower (more conservative) progression than "left wingers" like the Liberals (Which is in truth the ultimate of a centrist party, existing simply to lead rather than following any particular philosophy).

[ Parent ]
Is that a new form of editing now? (none / 0) (#78)
by mami on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:25:35 PM EST

Comments made to the first draft of a story are not taken into a rewritten article?

I guess it would be too embarrassing? Who cares, but I had the feeling this wasn't done before. Comments were taken over, or am I wrong? Is it a new "policy"? Hey, was I asked to vote on it? :-)

Rewrite, not editting (none / 0) (#90)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 04:10:33 AM EST

Explanation here, but in short, after you send the story to the voting queue, you can't edit it. So, if you want to change it, you have to start anew. And comments were not embarassing at all :)

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Some difficulties with the non-empirical approach (none / 0) (#85)
by Carter Butts on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 02:22:18 AM EST

(I preface the following by noting that I am not a political scientist, and that I do not know how well the traditional single factor model of political attitudes actually describes US (or world) populations. I do know a bit about both scale construction and numerical taxonomy, however, and thus my comments are based on this more general line of argumentation.)

This scheme may or may not have value as a heuristic for classifying philosophical distinctions between positions, but I do not think it is likely to work well as a taxonomic device. To be clear, I will speak here (somewhat loosely) of a "taxonomic device" as being a classificatory system which is used to summarize the distribution of realized states within a population (or their differences). Here, those states are sets of positions on various political issues, as held by citizens of the US/Europe/world/wherever. (I'll use the term "classification" to include both clustering and dimensional summaries, although the former meaning is more standard.) The basic problem is that -- to serve the above purpose -- your a priori system would have to satisfy the following empirical requirements:

  1. Each of your putative dimensions would need to reflect a "dimension-like" structure in the distribution of positions. This means, for instance, that "circular" formations in the distribution of positions should not occur. Looking at your description of the three dimensions, I do not think that circles are likely, but this is an empirical question. A more probable alternative is strong clustering: almost all positions in the population being centered on a small number of locations. See below for comments on why this would be a problem.
  2. Your dimensions would need to be at least approximately orthogonal with respect to the underlying population structure. This can be interpreted in multiple (formally equivalent) ways, but one way to think about it is the requirement that a regression of observed values for one dimension on the corresponding values for the other two dimensions be uninformative (R^2 approaching zero). Note that, even if your dimensions are conceptually orthogonal (i.e., logically independent), they may not actually be orthogonal in the population as a whole. By way of example, there is no logical reason that fundamentalist Christians must be fans of capitalism (and a few groups are not), but AFAIK these beliefs are positively correlated in the American population. (Someone who's more up on current opinion research can indicate whether my recollection of this last fact is correct.)
  3. The vast majority of the overall variability in positions would need to be accounted for by your three-dimensional model. The present scheme could fail this requirement either by having too few dimensions to capture the real distribution of political positions, or by simply picking the wrong dimensions.

My skepticism towards your descriptive system (it's not really a "scale" in the proper sense, since it has not been shown to proxy for a latent variable) stems from the fact that I expect it to fail at least one of the above requirements. Such a failure might not make the system useless per se, but it would indicate that the system either (A) fails to effectively summarize the distribution of real-world political positions or (B) is more complex than it needs to be. For instance, if it turns out that the real-world population of positions falls into a small set of distinct clusters, then it would be more appropriate to describe that distribution by a reference to the clusters than by trying to force the clusters into a dimensional model. Likewise, strong correlation between dimensions may suggest that a one- or two-dimensional model can do as well as your three-dimensional one, and/or that a rotation of your dimensions is called for. There are lots of ways to diagnose and solve these problems, of course, but they all involve changing the underlying classification system. When all is said and done, you might find that some version of your system works quite well, but you might not: just because a system makes conceptual sense does not imply that it will provide a good model for real data.

Having said all this, I really do encourage you to follow up on your interest in this area. I would begin by looking over the literature on public opinion research, with an eye to understanding what the current models are. (This is a well-known problem, and I imagine that much ink has been spilled over it.) You might also want to look at some texts on scale construction and multivariate data analysis, since these will teach you more about the methods used to construct classificatory schemes. (Pay particular attention to the subjects of multidimensional scaling, cluster analysis, principal component analysis, and factor analysis.) Finally, if you're really ambitious, try getting your hands on some public opinion data and trying your system out. At the very least, you could fit some three-dimensional models and see whether any of them could reasonably interpreted as looking like the EPO system. And hey, if you get it working (and if it hasn't already been done), you could have a decent article on your hands....

Just be careful, though, or you might turn into a political scientist. ;-)

-Carter

The EPO for anarchism is sorta incorrect (none / 0) (#86)
by bemann on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 03:13:25 AM EST

If one actually goes and asks a libertarian socialist/anarchist (such as myself) what libertarian socialism/anarchism is all about, organization is usually not mentioned. Based on how anarchism (not so-called anarchocapitalism) is described, it would have an EPO of 55*; while anarchism is firmly against authority/hierarchy, it is not against organization.

Also note that there are both highly organizationalist and highly antiorganizationalist anarchists and variants of anarchism. Probably the most highly organizationalist variant of anarchism, which would have an EPO of 551, is anarchosyndicalism, which is anarchist revolutionary industrial unionism, and which is for uniting workers across all trades and industries into one union which has the purpose of ending capitalism, taking over the means of production, and bringing about libertarian socialism/anarchism. Anarchosyndicalism is most closely (but still not purely) represented in the United States today by the IWW. The more antiorganizationalist variants of anarchism could reach an EPO of 555, but I know few anarchists who are actually that against organization. Most anarchists (from what I know) would probably fall in the middle, being 55[234].



[ Parent ]
Accidentally misplaced my comment (nt) (none / 0) (#87)
by bemann on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 03:23:07 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Clustering (none / 0) (#99)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 08:25:03 AM EST

First of all, I'm not from the US and am actually interested in trying to find a way of describing political positions which would be compatible around the world. Current labels simply do not work, because their meanings vary widely across political cultures.

And thanks for this very interesting comment. As for your points,

1) I think that some clustering is bound to occur, simply because some political positions are more propagated than others. On the other hand, people tend to agree with those positions more or less, so my guess is that a more likely outcome is uneven distribution, but that's only to be expected and I don't think it presents a problem.

2) I understand what you're saying, but I don't see this as a problem. If the axes are conecptually orthogonal then correlation between certain axis would be informative of a certain population. Especially if correlations vary across populations.

3) Agreed. More variables may need to (indeed would have to) be added in order to describe the whole spectrum of political opinion. But it's a question of which are the most informative. From my observation, these 3 are the most contested.

I think that a good way to measure closeness of political positions of two people is two observe their political discussions. Seems to me that people with a similar EPO rating should be able to have a peaceful discussion about finesses of their political beliefs, while those with very different EPO ratings would probably fall into a raging dispute - most likely a meta-dispute.

Anyway, this story wasn't really an attempt to introduce a new taxonomy into political science it was more of an attempt to offer readers of k5 the chance to express their political beliefs and discuss them without the usual namecalling. Not that I have anything against namecalling per se, it's that the usual namecalling tends to be very imprecise plus the added effect of liberal meaning something completely different in US and Europe.

And I did study some political science, but was careful enough to give up before becoming a political scientist :)

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

The EPO for anarchism is somewhat incorrect... (none / 0) (#88)
by bemann on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 03:25:43 AM EST

If one actually goes and asks a libertarian socialist/anarchist (such as myself) what libertarian socialism/anarchism is all about, organization is usually not mentioned. Based on how anarchism (not so-called anarchocapitalism) is described, it would have an EPO of 55*; while anarchism is firmly against authority/hierarchy, it is not against organization. To quote Errico Malatesta, "anarchism is organization, organization, and more organization."

Also note that there are both highly organizationalist and highly antiorganizationalist anarchists and variants of anarchism. Probably the most highly organizationalist variant of anarchism, which would have an EPO of 551, is anarchosyndicalism, which is anarchist revolutionary industrial unionism, and which is for uniting workers across all trades and industries into one union which has the purpose of ending capitalism, taking over the means of production, and bringing about libertarian socialism/anarchism. Anarchosyndicalism is most closely (but still not purely) represented in the United States today by the IWW. The more antiorganizationalist variants of anarchism could reach an EPO of 555, but I know few anarchists who are actually that against organization. Most anarchists (from what I know) would probably fall in the middle, being 55[234].



55what (none / 0) (#89)
by zocky on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 04:06:31 AM EST

The whole problem came about when people asked me to reverse the O scale, so nazism would get EPO 111 and anarchism would get 555.

Also the O scale might be wrongly named. It is in fact about regulation/deregulation. While many anarchist favor many forms of organization, the whole point of anarchism is that it would be self-organization and not dictated from above.

I personally love the idea, but don't believe it would work - I fear that society of any size and no regulation would quickly turn into libertarianism and then Mad Max is not far away :)

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

A bit complicated, No? (none / 0) (#103)
by krek on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 04:39:40 PM EST

If you feel the need to classify yourselves into such an arcane system, may I sugest an even more complicated system, a system that gets to the true heart of your politacal views; may I sugest trying the Geek Code Generator.

But I assume that you have mearly extended this system, which, I might add, is more simple and more human than the one you have proposed.

I object to the way you confuse liberal with progresive, and thus mistakenly place libertarianism and conservatism at opposites.

Liberal = liberation.
Progressive = change.
Authoritarian = restriction.
Conservative = status quo.

Here is a dictionary.

552 (none / 0) (#106)
by dirvish on Tue Jul 02, 2002 at 03:37:51 PM EST



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What's left of the right and what's right on the left: EPO ratings, v2.0 | 106 comments (74 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
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