"Why the Political Compass is Wrong (and Libertarians are now on the Left)"


Original poster
May 3, 2009


This compass is wrong. Not only wrong, but dangerous. A person trying to understand the direction George W. Bush is taking the U.S. Republican party and the United States with it would be at a crippling disadvantage.

In fact, leftism and rightism are not defined the way that the compass implicitly defines them (respectively, socially libertarian/economically authoritarian as leftist and socially authoritarian/economically libertarian as rightist).

Leftism on social issues doesn't equal social libertarianism, as the political compass implies. Just think about debates on gun control or cigarettes. Nor does it equal economic authoritarianism: the left doesn't seek just any kind of government intervention in the economy, but specifically intervention for the sake of egalitarian ends. In 1850s Russia and America it was the leftists who were the economic libertarians advocating the abolition of serfdom and slavery.

Similarly, Rightism on social issues doesn't necessarily equal social authoritarianism and Rightism on economic issues doesn't necessarily equal economic libertarianism.

But why?
* meant to pique your interest to read the whole article/discussion, and not meant to put words, beliefs, and/or assumptions into my mouth


macrumors 68000
Jun 24, 2010
I'm sure the brits here will have something to say about where the actual political spectrum is.
Indeed... and whilst it would be easy to comment on traditional left vs right policy, as it is understood in the UK, things have moved on and there is a more '3-dimensional' spectrum now.. where economic, social, philosophical and personal beliefs can span the traditional linear divide, making it harder to define an individual as simply 'left' or 'right'.