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Tim, this makes a good attempt to be fair but it overlooks a couple key points. There are a variety of political spectra, but most people have a clear concept of the one to which "left" and "right" refer. In fact, if you look at the one presented by the advocates for self-government, you will notice that the horizontal axis is the same left-right spectrum everyone else uses. So while people may debate over the precise definition of that axis, its existence is not nearly so controversial.

The other thing is that the particular diagram to which you refer is fairly non-discriminatory. Inasmuchas it can't distinguish between libertarianism and anarchism - one of which has policies much like capitalism, one of which has policies much like socialism - and again between fascism and marxism. In short, they have identified different ideologies by pinching the diagram off into a diamond, which is probably more for the purposes of popularizing libertarianism (something the site obviously tries to do) then accuracy. -- JoshuaGrosse

Joshua - The two axes are 'personal self-government' and 'economic self-government'. Which is the horizontal axis?

Economic self-government: the one that showed up as horizontal on the chart, of course. :)

But personal self-government is equally horizontal on the chart. The axes lie parallel like two AA batteries in a walkman: The positive next to the others negative.

The diagram can be represented like this:

 +-  -+

Oh...I see what they're doing. In that case the corners of the graph are grossly mislabeled - a completely totalitarian government is authoritarian whether or not they allow a free market. But all in all, it's the square is suggested, only tilted in a non-standard way. Usually left-right is portrayed as an economic spectrum. I'm very sorry for the confusion. I still say the source is biased, though. -- JoshuaGrosse

Also - I do not agree that there is similarity between socialism and anarchism. As I would define them, socialism attempts to maintain social order with political institutions, and without cultural or economic institutions. Anarchism seeks to maintain social order with economic and cultural institutions, and without political institutions. As they are conventionally understood, socialism means more government, anarchism no government. So even if you don't like my definition, common usage place these two at opposite extremes.

Just as libertarian is usually applied in a narrow sense to exclude libertarian socialists (~anarcho-syndicalists), it seems anarchism is usually applied in a narrow sense to exclude anarcho-capitalists (~free market libertarians). It's in this sense that I was using the term. Obviously anarcho-syndicalism has strong ties to socialism and free market libertarianism has strong ties to capitalism, but the two systems aren't distinguished on the diamond. A square or circle would be much better in terms of actually representing ideologies.

Other than those, though, I don't really have any complaints other than perhaps a slight editorial tone (fear the future and wish to control it). And, of course, none of this is meant as negative criticism, my being too uncertain to try writing political articles myself. :) -- JoshuaGrosse

Tim, you wrote:
In modern WesterN? countries, the spectrum is usually defined along an axis of ConservatisM? ("the right") versus SocialisM ("the left", called liberalism in the UnitedStates).
I think we need to find a better word for The Right than "conservatism" because that means, after all, something quite different in countries where the tradition for decades has been socialism. Perhaps there isn't a single word--perhaps it's simply "support for traditional values and some support for capitalism."

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Last edited February 15, 2001 4:34 am by LarrySanger (diff)