- Political spectrum
Most long standing
spectrainclude a right wingand left wing, which originally referred to seating arrangements in the 18th century French parliament. According to the simplest left-right axis, communismand socialismare usually regarded internationally as being on the left, opposite fascismand conservatismon the right. Liberalismcan mean different things in different contexts, sometimes on left, sometimes on right.
However, researchers have frequently noted that a single left-right axis is insufficient in describing the existing variation in political beliefs, and often include other axes. Though the descriptive words at polar opposites may vary, often in popular biaxial spectra the axes are split between cultural issues and economic issues, each scaling from some form of
individualism(or government for the freedom of the individual) to some form of communitarianism(or government for the welfare of the community). In this context, the left is often considered individualist (or libertarian) on social/cultural issues and communitarian (or populist) on economic issues, while the right is often considered communitarian (or populist) on social/cultural issues and individualist (or libertarian) on economic issues.
Historical origin of the terms
The terms "
Right" and " Left" refer to political affiliations which originated early in the French Revolutionary era of 1789-1796, and referred originally to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France. The aristocracysat on the right of the Speaker(traditionally the seat of honor) and the commonerssat on the Left, hence the terms Right-wing politicsand Left-wing politics.
Originally, the defining point on the ideological spectrum was the "
ancien régime" (" old order"). "The Right" thus implied support for aristocratic or royal interests, and the church, while "The Left" implied opposition to the same. Because the political franchiseat the start of the revolutionwas relatively narrow, the original "Left" represented mainly the interests of the bourgeoisie, the rising capitalist class. At that time, support for laissez-faire capitalismand Free markets were counted as being on the left; today in most Western countries these views would be characterized as being on the Right. Similarly, the opposition to capitalismwas counted as being as "Right-wing", whereas now it is likely to be characterised as "Left-wing".
As the franchise expanded over the next several years, it became clear that there was something to the left of that original "Left": the precursors of
socialismand communism, advocating the interests of wage earners and peasants.
For almost a century, social scientists have considered the problem of how best to describe political variation; a sample of their results is given below.
Leonard W. Fergusoncarried out an analysis of political values using ten scales measuring attitudes toward:
Submitting the results to
factor analysis, he was able to identify three factors, which he named " Religionism", " Humanitarianism", and " Nationalism".
Leonard Ferguson's "Religionism" was defined by
belief in Godand negative attitudes toward evolutionand birth control; "Humanitarianism" was related to attitudes opposing the harsh treatment of criminals, capital punishment, and war; and "Nationalism" described variation in opinions on censorship, law, patriotism, and communism.
Note that this system was derived through purely empirical methods; rather than devising a political model on purely theoretical grounds and testing it, Ferguson's research was purely exploratory. Although replication of the Nationalism factor was spotty, the finding of "Religionism" and "Humanitarianism" had a number of replications by Ferguson and others. [Ferguson, L. W. (1941) "The stability of the primary social attitudes, religionism and humanitarianism." Journal of Psychology, 1941, 12, 283-288.] [Kirkpatrick, C. (1949). "Religion and humanitarianism: a study of institutional implications." "Psychological Monograph, 1949, 63," No. 9]
Hans Eysenckbegan researching political attitudes in Great Britain. He believed that there was something existentially similar about the National Socialistsor Nazison the one hand, and the Communistson the other, despite their opposite positions on the left-right axis.
As Hans Eysenck described in his 1956 book "Sense and Nonsense in Psychology", [ [http://www.ditext.com/eysenck/politics.html Digital Text International homepage] ] Eysenck compiled a list of political statements found in newspapers and political tracts and asked subjects to rate their agreement or disagreement with each.
Submitting this value questionnaire to the same process of
factor analysisused by Ferguson, Eysenck found two factors, which he named "Radicalism" (R-factor) and "Tender-Mindedess" (T-factor).
Eysenck's R-factor is easily identified as the classical "left-right" dimension, although the T-factor is less intuitive; high-scorers favored
pacifism, racial equality, religious education, and restrictions on abortion, while low-scorers had attitudes more friendly to militarism, harsh punishment, easier divorce laws, and companionate marriage.
Despite the difference in
methodology, location, and theory, the results attained by Eysenck and Ferguson matched; simply rotating Eysenck's two factors 45 degrees renders the same factors of " Religionism" and " Humanitarianism" identified by Ferguson in America.Eysenck, H.J., 1956. Sense and nonsense in psychology, Penguin Books, London]
Hans J. Eysenck was an outspoken opponent of what he perceived as the
authoritarianabuses of the leftand right, and accordingly he believed that, with this T axis, he had found the link between fascismand communism: according to Eysenck's research findings, members of both ideologieswere tough-minded. Central to Eysenck's thesis was the claim that tender-minded ideologies were democraticand friendly to human freedoms, while tough-minded ideologies were aggressiveand authoritarian.
Although he was a longstanding opponent of
fascism, having left Nazi Germany to live in Britain, Eysenck was not shy in attacking communism, noting the anti-Semitic prejudices of the Russian communistgovernment, the luxurious lifestyles of the USSR's leaders despite their talk about equality and the povertyof their people, and the Orwellian " double think" of East Germany's naming itself the " German Democratic Republic" despite being "one of the most undemocratic regimes in the world today." [Eysenck, H.J. (1981). "Left-Wing Authoritarianism: Myth or Reality?, by Hans J. Eysenck" "Political Psychology"] Accordingly, he carried out studies on fascistand communistgroups, finding members of both groups to be more dominant, and more aggressive, than control groups.
At the time, Han J. Eysenck's conception of 'tough-mindedness' was criticized for a number of reasons.
* Firstly, virtually no values were found to load only on the tough/tender dimension.
* Secondly, his interpretation of tough-mindedness as a manifestation of "
authoritarian" versus tender-minded " democratic" values was incompatible with the Frankfurt school's single-axis model, which conceptualized authoritarianismas being a fundamental manifestation of conservatism, and many researchers took issue with the idea of "left-wing authoritarianism." [Stone, W. F. (1980). "The myth of left-wing authoritarianism." "Political Psychology, 2", 13-19.]
* Thirdly, the theory which Eysenck developed to explain individual variation in the observed dimensions, relating tough-mindedness to
Extroversionand Psychoticism, returned ambiguous research results. [Ray, J.J. and Bozek, R.S. (1981) "Authoritarianism and Eysenck's P-scale." "Journal of Social Psychology, 113", 231-234.]
* Lastly, Eysenck's finding that
fascistsand communistswere more tough-minded than members of mainstream political movements was criticised on technical grounds by Milton Rokeach. [Rokeach, Milton & Hanley, Charles (1956). "Eysenck's Tender-Mindedness Dimension: A critique." Psychological Bulletin, Vol. S3, No. 2.]
Despite the problems of Hans J. Eysenck's model, his dimensions of R and T were found by factor analyses of values in
Germanyand Sweden[Eysenck, H. J. (1953) "Primary social attitudes: A comparison of attitude patterns in England, Germany, and Sweden." abnorm. soc. Psychol., 48, 563-568.] , France, and Japan[Dator, J. A. (1969). "Measuring attitudes across cultures: A factor analysis of the replies of Japanese judges to Eysenck's inventory of conservative-progressive ideology". In G. Schubert and D.J. Danielski, "Comparative Judicial Behavior". New York, Oxford University Press.] .
One interesting result Eysenck noted in his 1956 work was that in the
United Statesand Great Britain, most of the political variance was subsumed by the left/right axis, while in France, the T-axis was larger, and in the Middle East, the only dimension to be found was the T-axis: "Among mid-Eastern Arabs it has been found that while the tough-minded/tender-minded dimension is still clearly expressed in the relationships observed between different attitudes, there is nothing that corresponds to the radical-conservativecontinuum."
Dissatisfied with Hans J. Eysenck's work,
Milton Rokeachdeveloped his own two-axis model of political values in 1973, basing this on the ideas of " freedom" and "equality", which he described in his book, "The Nature of Human Values."Rokeach, M. (1973). "The Nature of Human Values." New York: Free Press.]
Milton Rokeach claimed that the defining difference between the
leftand rightwas that the left stressed the importance of equality more than the right. Despite his criticisms of Eysenck's tough-tender axis, Rokeach also postulated a basic similarity between communismand fascism, claiming that these groups would not value freedom as greatly as more conventional social democratsand capitalistswould, and he wrote that "the two value model presented here most resembles Eysenck's hypothesis."
To test this model, Milton Rokeach and his colleagues used
content analysison works exemplifying fascism(written by Adolf Hitler), communism(written by V.I. Lenin), capitalism(by Barry Goldwater) and socialism(written by various socialistauthors).
Multiple raters made frequency counts of sentences containing
synonymsfor a number of values identified by Rokeach, including freedom and equality, and Rokeach analyzed these results by comparing the relative frequency rankings of all the values for each of the four texts:
"In excerpts from..."
*Socialists(socialism) - Freedom ranked 1st, Equality ranked 2nd
*Hitler(fascism) - Freedom ranked 16th, Equality ranked 17th
*Goldwater(capitalism) - Freedom ranked 1st, Equality ranked 16th
*Lenin(communism) - Freedom ranked 17th, Equality ranked 1st
Later studies using samples of American
ideologues [Rous, G.L., & Lee, D.E. (1978). Freedom and Equality: Two values of political orientation. Journal of Communication, Winter, 45-51.] and American presidential inaugural addresses [Mahoney, J., Coogle, C.L., & Banks, P.D. (1984). Values in presidential inaugural addresses: A test of Rokeach's two-factor theory of political ideology. Psychological Reports, 55, 683-686.] were consistent with this model.
In further research [Eysenck, Hans (1976). "The structure of social attitudes." Psychological Reports, 39, pp. 463-6] , Hans J. Eysenck refined his
methodologyto include more questionson economic issues. Doing this, he revealed a split in the left-right axisbetween social policyand economic policy, with a previously undiscovered dimension of "socialism-capitalism" (S-factor).
While factorially distinct from Eysenck's previous R factor, the S-factor did positively
correlatewith the R-factor, indicating that a basic left-rightor right-lefttendency underlies both social valuesand economic values, although S tapped more into items discussing economic inequalityand big business, while R is known to relate more to the treatment of criminals, and to sexual issuesand military issues. An online quiz tests users on the three Eysenckian political dimensions. [ [http://www.childrenofmillennium.org/heroes/faust/faust3.php The Hall of Heroes ] ]
researchand political theorysince this time has replicated the factors shown above, either with two axes or three.
analysisof survey datausing principal component analysiswas carried out in 2003 in the UK; the results of this study yielded the same two dimensions as found by Eysenck's original research: the familiar "left-right" R-dimension that mixes economic issuesand social issues, and a second T-dimension that is described as " pragmatismvs idealism." See [http://politics.beasts.org] [http://politics.beasts.org/scripts/survey] for more information.
replicationcame from Dr. Ronald Inglehart's research into national opinionsbased on the World Values Survey, although Inglehart's research described the values of " countries" rather than individualsor groups of individualswithin nations. Inglehart's two-factor solution took the form of Ferguson's original Religionismand Humanitarianismdimensions; Inglehart labelled them " secularism-traditionalism," which covered issues of tradition and religion, like patriotism, abortion, euthanasiaand the importance of obeying the law and authorityfigures, and " survivalism-self expression," which measured issues like everyday conduct and dress, acceptance of diversity (including foreigners) and innovation, and attitudestowards people with specific controversial lifestylessuch as homosexualityand vegetarianism, as well as willingness to partake in political activism. See [http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/library/main_illustrations.asp] for Inglehart's national chart.
Other Proposed Dimensions
Numerous alternatives exist, usually developed by those that feel their views are not fairly represented on the traditional right-left
One alternative spectrum offered by the conservative "
American Federalist Journal" (See: http://www.federalistjournal.com/spectrum.php) emphasizes the degree of political control, and thus places totalitarianism(total government control ie facismand communism) at one extreme and anarchism(no government at all) at the other extreme.
In 1998, political author
Virginia Postrel, in her book " The Future and Its Enemies", offered a another single axis spectrum that measures one's view of the future; on one extreme are those who allegedly fear the future and wish to control it: " stasists", and on the other hand are those who want the future to unfold naturally and without attempts to plan and control: " dynamists". The distinction corresponds to the utopianversus dystopianspectrum used in some theoretical assessments of liberalism, and the book's title is borrowed from the work of the anti-utopian classic-liberaltheorist Karl Popper.
Other proposed axes include:
*Focus of political concern: "
Communitarianism" vs. " Individualism". This axis is often considered perpendicular to the left-right axis in popular multi-axis charts (often rendered " populism" vs. " libertarianism"), but is a legitimate axis in itself, comparing a focus on the communityvs. a focus on the individual. This language is preferred to the prejudiced language of " totalitarianism" (anti-freedom) vs. " libertarianism" (pro-freedom), because one can have a political focus on the community without being totalitarian and undemocratic (see the Nolan chart below). Christian Democracyis a political philosophythat would be counted as communitarianon this axis, but is not totalitarian or undemocratic.
*Role of the church: "
Clericalism" vs. " Anti-clericalism". This axis is less significant in the United States(where views of the role of religiontend to be subsumed into the general left-right axis) than in Europe(where clericalism versus anti-clericalism is much less correlated with the left-right spectrum).
*Urban vs. Rural: This axis may be the most useful and significant today in
European as well as Australian politicsand Canadian politics. The Urban vs. Ruralaxis was equally prominent in the United States' political past, but its importance is debatable at present. In the late 18th centuryand early 19th centuryin the United States, it would have been described as the conflict between Hamiltonian Federalistsand Jeffersonian Democrats.
*Foreign policy: "
interventionism" (the nation should exert power abroad to implement its policy) vs. " non-interventionism" (the nation should keep to its own affairs); similarly, " multilateralism" (coordination of policies with other countries) vs. " isolationism" and " unilateralism":* Relations with individual states or groups of states may also be vital to party politics. During the Cold War, parties often had to choose a position on a scale between pro-Americanand pro-Soviet Union, although this could at times closely match a left-right spectrum. At other times in history relations with other powerful states has been important. In early Canadian historyrelations with Great Britainwere a central theme, although this was not " foreign policy" but a debate over the proper place of Canadawithin the British Empire.
*Political violence: "
pacifism" (political views should not be imposed by violent force) vs. "militancy" (violence is a legitimate or necessary means of political expression). In North America, particularly in the United States, holders of these views are often referred to as " doves" and "hawks", respectively.
*Foreign trade: "
globalization" (world economic markets should become integrated and interdependent) vs. " autarky" (the nation or polity should strive for economic independence). During the early history of the Commonwealth of Australia, this was the major political continuum. At that time it was called " Free trade" vs. " Protectionism".
*Trade Freedom vs. Trade Equity: "
Free trade" (businesses should be able trade across borders without regulations) vs. " Fair trade" (international trade should be regulated on behalf of social justice).
multiculturalism" (the nation should represent a diversity of cultural ideas) vs. "assimilationism" or " nationalism" (the nation should primarily represent, or forge, a majority culture).
Democracy" (rule of the majority, or mob rule) vs. " Aristocracy" (rule by the enlightened) vs. " Tyranny" (total degradation of Aristocracy, ancient Greek philosophers such as Platoand Aristotlerecognized tyranny as a state in which the tyrant is ruled by utter passion, and not reason like the philosopher, resulting in the tyrant pursuing his own desires rather than the common good.)
Positive liberty" (having "rights" which impose an obligation on others) vs. " Negative liberty" (having "rights" which prohibit interference by others).
*Social Power: "
Totalitarianism" vs. " Anarchism" (Control vs. No Control) Analyzes the fundamental political interaction between people, and between individuals and their environment. Often posits the existence of a 'moderate' system as existing between the two extremes.
*Change: "radicals" (who believe in rapid change) and "progressives" (who believe in measured , incremental change) vs. "reactionaries (who believe in changing things to the way they were) and "conservatives" (who believe in minimal or cautious change).
*Origin of state authority: "
popular sovereignty" (the state as a creation of the people, with enumerated, delegated powers) vs. various forms of " absolutism" and " organic state" philosophy (the state as an original and essential authority) vs. the view held in " anarcho-primitivism" that "Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home." [Diamond, Stanley, "In Search Of The Primitive: A Critique Of Civilization", (New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1981), p. 1.]
*International action: "
Multilateralism" (states should cooperate and compromise) versus " Unilateralism" (states have a strong, even unconditional, right to make their own decisions).
*Levels of sovereignty: "unionism" vs. "
federalism" vs. " separatism"; or " centralism" vs. "regionalism". Especially important in societies where strong regional or ethnic identities are political issues.
Other Multi-Axis Models
Nolan: Economic freedom, Personal freedom
Nolan chartwas created by libertarian David Nolan. This chart shows what he considers as " economic freedom" (issues like taxation, free trade and free enterprise) on the horizontal axis and what he considers as "personal freedom" (issues like drug legalization, abortionand the draft) on the vertical axis. This puts left-wingers in the left quadrant, libertarians in the top, right-wingers in the right, and communitarians (whom Nolan originally named populists) in the bottom. It is possible to consider the Nolan chart to be an Eysenck model that has been rotated 90 degrees. The popular "diamond" presentation of the Nolan chart makes this particular comparison readily apparent.
The traditional left-right spectrum forms a diagonal across the Nolan chart, with communism and fascism both in the ultra-populist corner, an assignment hotly disputed by more liberal-minded communists who do not advocate state control over matters of personal freedom.
The Nolan chart has been reoriented and visually represented in many forms since David Nolan first created it, and has been the inspiration for an endless array of political self-quizzes, perhaps the most famous of these being the
World's Smallest Political Quiz, which places one on the Diamond Chart. As of 2005this quiz is being used in 420 schools. [ [http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz-in-class.html The Quiz in Classrooms ] ] It can be found in at least a dozen popular textbooks that feature the Quiz as part of their enhanced digital content. [ [http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz-in-textbooks.html The Quiz in Textbooks ] ] In August 2000Portrait of America did a telephone survey that was done using the same questions and scale. [ [http://www.theadvocates.org/library/poll-results.html Poll Results - Libertarian Litmus Test ] ] More recently, The Institute for Humane Studies has created [http://www.politopia.com Politopia] , a similar quiz.
Three Axis Variants of Nolan Chart
There are two three-axis models based on the Nolan Chart. The
Friesian Institutehas suggested a model that combines the economic liberty and personal liberty axes with positive liberty, creating a cube. The Vosem Chart splits the economic axis of the Nolan chart into two axes, corporate economics (z-axis) and individual economics (y-axis), which combine with the civil liberty axis (x-axis) to form a cube.
political compasslargely follows the Eysenck method with the two-axes representing economic issues as right-vs-left and issues of freedom as authoritarian-vs-liberal. One can determine their position on the political compass through a [http://www.politicalcompass.org/test popular online quiz] by the same name.
Greenberg & Jonas: Left-Right, Ideological Rigidity
In a 2003 "
Psychological Bulletin" paper, [ [http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/resources_files/ConsevatismAsMotivatedSocialCognition_Critique.pdf Psychological Motives and Political Orientation—The Left, the Right, and the Rigid: Comment on Jost et al. (2003)] , Jeff Greenberg& Eva Jonas, Psychological Bulletin, 2003, Vol. 129, No. 3, 376–382] Jeff Greenbergand Eva Jonasposit a model comprising the standard left-right axis and an axis representing ideological rigidity. For Greenberg and Jonas, ideological rigidity has "much in common with the related concepts of dogmatism and authoritarianism" and is characterized by "believing in strong leaders and submission, preferring one’s own in-group, ethnocentrism and nationalism, aggression against dissidents, and control with the help of police and military." Greenberg and Jonas posit that high ideological rigidity can be motivated by "particularly strong needs to reduce fear and uncertainty" and is a primary shared characteristic of "people who subscribe to any extreme government or ideology, whether it is right-wing or left-wing."
UK Inferred Model: Left-Right, Political Pragmatism
While multiple axes on the political spectrum had been postulated for a while, statistical analysis of survey data using
principal component analysisto verify the theory and establish their existence, number and meaning was not done until recently. A 2003 study in the UK yielded two significant eigenvectors(that is, groups of questions that tend to be answered consistently), one less well-constrained than the other. If one examines the survey questions and tries to assign a meaning to the axes it turns out that one is like the familiar "left-right" axis that mixes economic and social issues, and the other indicates a degree of political pragmatism. The outcome of that study is that the UK political spectrum is most sensibly described with two axes. [http://politics.beasts.org] [http://politics.beasts.org/scripts/survey]
Pournelle: Liberty-Control, Irrationalism-Rationalism
This very distinct two-axis model was created by
Jerry Pournelle. The Pournelle charthas liberty(a dimension similar to the diagonal of the Nolan chart, with those on the left seeking liberty and those on the right focusing control, farthest right being state worship, farthest left being the idea of a state as the "ultimate evil") perpendicular to Rationalism, defined here as the belief in planned social progress, with those higher up believing that there are problems with society that can be rationally solved, and those lower down skeptical of such approaches.
Inglehart: Tradition-Secular, Self Expression-Survivalist
January 4, 2003issue, " The Economist" discussed a chart [http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/library/main_illustrations.asp] , proposed by Dr. Ronald Inglehartand supported by the World Values Survey(associated with the University of Michigan), to plot cultural ideology onto two dimensions. On the y-axis it covered issues of tradition and religion, like patriotism, abortion, euthanasiaand the importance of obeying the law and authority figures. At the bottom of the chart is the "traditionalist" position on issues like these (with loyalty to country and family and respect for life considered important), while at the top is the "secular" position. The x-axis deals with self-expression, issues like everyday conduct and dress, acceptance of diversity (including foreigners) and innovation, and attitudes towards people with specific controversial lifestyles such as homosexualityand vegetarianism, as well as willingness to partake in political activism. At the right of the chart is the open "self-expressionist" position, while at the left is its opposite position, which Dr. Inglehart calls "survivalist". This chart not only has the power to map the values of individuals, but also to compare the values of people in different countries. Placed on this chart, EU countries in continental Europe come out on the top right, Anglophone countries on the middle right, Latin American countries on the bottom right, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian countries on the bottom left, and ex-Communist countries on the top left.
Mitchell: Eight Ways to Run the Country
In his book "" (ISBN 0275993582)
Brian Patrick Mitchellidentifies four main political traditions in Anglo-American history: republican constitutionalism libertarian individualism progressive democracy plutocratic nationalism
These four have given rise to eight distinct political perspectives:
communitarian progressive radical individualist paleolibertarian paleoconservative theoconservative neoconservative.
A potential ninth perspective, in midst of the eight, is
populism, which is vaguely defined and situation dependent, having no fixed character other than opposition to the prevailing power.
These perspectives vary according to their regard for
kratos(the use of force) and arche(the recognition of rank). Mitchell roots his distinction of arche and kratos in the West's historical experience of church and state, crediting the collapse of the Christian consensus on church and state with the appearance of the four main traditions.
Mitchell's vertical axis is a scale of kratos/akrateia; his horizontal axis is a scale of archy/anarchy. Anarchy, for Mitchell, is not the absence of government, but the rejection of rank. Thus there can be both anti-government
anarchists(left- libertarians, whom Mitchell calls libertarian individualists) and pro-government anarchists(Mitchell's progressive democrats, who use government against social hierarchies such as patriarchy).
Mitchell also distinguishes between left-wing anarchists and right-wing anarchists, whom Mitchell renames
*Charles Blattberg [http://www.mapageweb.umontreal.ca/blattbec/pdf/essays/1_Political_Philosophies.pdf Political Philosophies and Political Ideologies] (
List of politics-related topics
World's Smallest Political Quiz
* [http://www.friesian.com/quiz.htm Friesian Institute]
* [http://www.idealog.org Idealog (Education+Quiz)]
* [http://www.cronologia.org/snaz.jpgItalian political spectrum]
* [http://www.reformthelp.org/theory/positioning/models.php Models, Maps and Visions of Tomorrow]
* [http://www.politopia.com/ Politopia (Quiz)]
* [http://www.politicalcompass.org/ The Political Compass]
* [http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/6/14/45425/6208 Vosem Chart]
* [http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html World's Smallest Political Quiz]
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