Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Left / Right Vs. Up / Down

Would it work?:
Do you think that if we ran a publicity campaign to let people know that the left/right distinction is French, then we could rely on latent British Francophobia to finally abort the distinction?
Well, something has to. "The Lib Dems move Right", "That's a left-wing policy". Um, no. It's neither. left vs right is and ill-defined, misunderstood term that is abused by the commentariat (especially in the MSM) who show little understanding of the history. By the definition of what was meant when the term was coined (ie political reform at the time of the French Revolution) the LibDems are, and always have been, the most extremeyl left-wing of all parties. But these days they mean economic policy only. Outdated terminology used by media types looking for another "split".

Can we please stop calling people "modernisers"

Sorry. Rant over. Still horribly busy, still catching up, haven't even looked at half the blogs I normally read daily, and it's about to turn midnight. Still, Paddy's back.

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Northwing said...

Totally agree, like the words "Progressive" and "Reactionary" are used. I tend to use the Political Compass to differentiate viewpoints if I can. The media stick to the shibboleths they're used to though dont they.

MatGB said...

I'll use 'reactionary' in context if correct. 'Progressive' is generally utterly meaningless, who doesn't want progress? But reactionary meaning "opposed to all change regardless" can be applied, but sparingly.

However, as others use it as a meaningless label, it's a word I avoid unless short for time.

BondWoman said...

Does anyone know of a "political compass equivalent" which focuses on questions which are relevant to the UK rather than the US for use in this context?

MatGB said...

BW, political compass is British, hosted on f2s.com, initially all the questions were Brit based and the only politicos were British politicians.

The alternate is Political Survey, but that's not up/down in the way we're talking about. It is however designed and set up by Chris Lightfoot, whose blog is linked to the right.

I really like the layout and design of his quiz, but I prefer the up/down axis of Compass.

Northwing said...

Ditto. H J Eysenck (our very own functionalist) first invented the multi-axis model in the early 60s. Since then a number of permutations have come about. Some US ones reverse the southwing/northwing axis and so are confusing.

chris said...

Hayek once used the idea of a Y shaped graph to illustrate his politcs. The three arms of the graph representing right, left, and liberal. This maps quite well onto the main trends of the Political Compass.

KathyF said...

I am also trying to stamp out the use of left/right in regards to politics. (In fact, I hardly use the terms in giving directions either!)

George Lakoff in Moral Politics refers to political leanings as existing in two big circles, which overlap. He calls these political thought models "Nurturant Parent" and "Strict Father" and these are amazingly accurate in predicting political leanings.