Political ideological mapping

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A political ideological mapping is a set of political ideological axes which work well together to uniquely identify differing political ideologies and accurately display the ideological distances between them.

The term can also be used as a gerund referring to the process of arriving at such a mapping.


comments by David Brin

I have my own favorite 3-D coordinate system.

Start by acknowledging a single discrete trait to stand for left-right. Not statism... but propertarianism. On the left you think personal property is suspect. On the right it's sacred. This is the best of all shadow simplifications of the horrid left-right cliche, since in fact there were many left & right statists. Still, Stalin did not actually "own" very much at all.

He didn't have to! The "up-down" axis would be "To what degree should the state or party have to power to coerce cooperation?"

Finally, the in-out dimensions should be "To what do you attribute differences among human beings? Nature or nurture?"

Now we really start to separate birds who are not of-a-feather!

Stalin, at top-left-in, says nobody should own anything, but he has the right to coerce/kill you... but because he believes all is nurture -- (Lysenkoism= infinite human reprogramability) -- he won't kill your children, only re-educate them to hate you.

Hitler is top-middle-out. Actually moderate syndicalist re: property. But he claims the right to coerce/kill you... and because he believes all is nature (race) explaining all differences, he must also kill your kids.

Classic aristocrats are top-right-out... They will kill you to defend their sacred and inherited right to own you and everything in sight.

Libertarians and anarchists differ over the sacredness of property. Down at the bottom, they will howl at each other for hours, while buying each other beers. So will Stalin & Hitler. Clearly the most important of these three axes is the one about coercion. All else is commentary.

  • Contrary Brin 2006-05-31 goes into some of the pitfalls of "political axis"-making, most notably:
    1. A spectrum should not be pejorative.
    2. Axes should not be (or seem) designed to coax people into choosing a predetermined quadrant (or area).
    3. It's best when the two or three "axis traits" don't have anything in common (i.e. avoid axes which seem different but share related concepts or are correlated in some way)
    4. The axes should pragmatically separate groups that clearly do not like each other and have different goals (i.e. avoid ideological conflation)