Have A Go

We’ve had plenty of chat in in here lately about the political Left and Right, and what the words mean. I recently induced, with mischief aforethought, a conniption or two merely by mentioning that I was reading a book that argues (and persuasively, I might add) that Fascism was a phenomenon of the political Left; for many folks of my acquaintance the political markers “Left” and “Right” appear to be nothing more than synonyms for “good” and “evil”, respectively. There are many others, of course, for whom the polarity is reversed, but what never seems to be lacking is the polarization itself.

Here’s an online political quiz that locates you on the two-dimensional Nolan chart. It only takes a minute or so. Where do you stand? (Leaving aside the obvious disclaimers about boiling down such complexities to a one-minute quiz, I appear to be a “Left-leaning Libertarian.”)


  1. I’m a smaller government centrist . . . but I was guessing at some answers due to my ignorance.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  2. JO says

    I appear to be a hardcore libertarian….who knew? I may have to adjust the old self-image!!!Jeanie

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  3. bob koepp says

    And I’m “left-leaning freedom lover.” Given that I restrained my anarchistic impulses to work within the “archist” assumptions of the questionnaire, I’d say that’s a reasonably accurate label.

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  4. Charles says

    Hmm… I am also a left-leaning freedom lover. I’m not sure what to make of that. It is true that I do love freedom… not sure about the leaning part.

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    The Nolan chart is a useful construct — putting economic and personal freedom on orthogonal axes makes obvious sense, and fleshes out the left-right distinction in a meaningful way. So it isn’t enough to say that we love freedom; we have to say what kind.

    So is extremism in the defense of liberty a vice?

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 11:51 am | Permalink
  6. the one eyed man says

    Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue. That much is easy. The tricky part is defining what liberty and justice are.

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  7. the one eyed man says

    Two examples:

    1) Barry Goldwater might view liberty as the absolute right to bear arms, including semi-automatic weapons, bombs, and tanks. I might view these things as being destructive of my right to liberty, as living in a safe environment is an integral part of liberty.

    2) I might view giving due process to Gitmo detainees an essential element of justice. Goldwater might view that as destructive of his right to liberty, defined as living in a safe environment.

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Thanks for that broad-minded comment, Peter.

    All we need to do, then, is define liberty and justice in a way that everyone can agree upon, and we’re off to the races. With all the bright folks we’ve assembled here over the past three years, we ought to be able to knock that off pretty quickly.

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  9. the one eyed man says

    My point is simply that it’s wonderful to wax elegiac about Liberty and Justice, but one man’s liberty is another man’s tyranny. I say the liberty is protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion; you say that liberty is protecting the putative rights of the fetus. So saying that extremism is defensible in pursuit of liberty is a non-starter, unless there is some understanding of what liberty consists of.

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    It would be hard to choose a more difficult example than the countervailing “rights” of mother and fetus; there you have one person gradually becoming two.

    But yes, it is obviously true that laws of any sort necessarily limit some freedoms. I’m sure most would agree that extremism in the defense of my liberty to drive on the sidewalk might seem a bit much.

    Posted May 26, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  11. I for one may be considered pretty far to the left on several topics… But I will admit that the term “political correctness” smacks of a truly narrow-minded approach to political thought…
    So that even as I adhere to political equality with women and freedom of expression for all thought…I am often angered when chastized for “incorrect speach” if offering such terms as “girl friend” and such in conversation… which has happened to me when conversing with “femanistas”… or is that term verbotten as well?

    Posted May 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
  12. lo & behold -it seems I’ve been peged as a small gov centrist…
    Libertarian to boot… I guess I’ll say maybe so…

    Posted May 27, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
  13. JO says

    Malcolm and Company,
    I’ve been checking in on this particular post as I do when any of yours looks like we might need to take a day off to catch up! I have all kinds of ideas about liberty and justice but I think that I’ll blog about them instead of a ten paragraph response here. Like Pat, I feel like the term “politically correct” is giving someone else the right to essentially censure my speech. I decided to comment after the “girl friend” thought from Pat. I have had many a heated discusssion with my friends that did not want to be called a “girl friend”. They have a right to their opinion but when women go this point they are being idiots. As a matter of fact, I feel that any attention to such junk just causes men to see us less as just another person at work, or when striving to achieve and more like the very image we were working to overcome: that of the gender not worthy of notice in the struggle to right the world. It has come to the point that I just want to be considered a “personist”. Justice for each individual, freedom to say “you are a bimbo”if I feel like it and not be kicked out of the girl’s club, and the liberty to say, “I hope that I have not offended anyone” without feeling like I gave up the cause of womanhood.
    thanks, Pat, for giving me a chance to express!
    Jeanie Oliver
    and I may be back if I feel like I can contribute intelligently to the liberty and justice conversation. I just need time to think about it.

    Posted May 27, 2008 at 7:49 pm | Permalink
  14. Malcolm says

    Thanks for your comments, all. As for liberty and justice, I may need a little more time to think about it too.

    Pat, are you sure you filled that thing out correctly?

    Posted May 27, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  15. PDG says

    sure am Mac,
    Fact is I do tend to play the devil’s advocate here somewhat…

    You know I love you as few others on our planet – a true brother in spirit and fact… but, you seem to hard-headed while disparaging “leftist utopian ideals” that I feel compelled to be more leftist in my responses than would be normal for me…

    I see much good in leftist ideals. And I do indeed see the American Dream as much the same ilk, as you see socialist dreams …A false ideal that harmed/harms many in its grasp, only more dangerous in our society as so many literally “buy” into the idea of consumerism as a way of life…

    Materialism is a great danger to my way of thinking. I am at heart a believer in the idea that we are spirits having a human experience, that this life is a time for lessons to give us strength for further growth in another form of being after death. I have had too many experiences that point to this reality as temporary, but my inner (spiritual) self as -if not eternal- at least as able to continue into, and as having continued from, previous states of being that I can only discribe as being of spirit…

    & THANK YOU Jean for yr kind words!

    Posted May 28, 2008 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  16. JK says

    Well I can see that I should not be away for extended periods.

    I find myself to be a centrist, libertarian leaning conservative. But I was somewhat gratified to see that six percent pf the general population might find it in their hearts to ask me over for a brew or two.

    Six percent! Now I know what my Sociology Professor meant when she advised me that “You are likely to be about as popular as a fart in an elevator.”

    Posted May 28, 2008 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  17. Some of my best friends are bimbos!

    Posted May 28, 2008 at 7:23 pm | Permalink
  18. JO says

    I hear the creak of the door locking on the girl’s club as I say this: for just one hour of my life, someday, I’d like to be a bimbo. I think I’ll throw over 48 years of the marmish schoolteacher who tries to think logically, rationally and represent the equal of man and just be blond and beautiful, knock’em dead at the door!!!
    I feel reasonably safe saying this here since I’m the only female respondent and may any gods forbid even my own sisters finding out I have revealed such slander against the cause.

    Posted May 28, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  19. Malcolm says

    Hi Jeanie,

    Yes, unfortunately we have far too few women commenting here, though I know there are many more who drop by to read. I wish they’d join in!

    Posted May 28, 2008 at 10:36 pm | Permalink
  20. Hi again Jeanie,

    The blond who knocks guys into distraction is just a fantasy in many ways…Most of us, at least after we matured some, will ask ourselves what will her comportment, conversation and likes/dislikes be? -That is if we’re “on the make” in the first place…Otherwise it is just fleeting distraction…

    Some women do not even get jealous of the looking guys do in an automatic sort of response to allure- (as long as no drooling is involved). As they realize they do so as well when distracted by sexual allure. But some will create quite an uproar over such meaningless leering…I’m thinking it has more to do with self assurence than political correctness…

    Most men fantasize quite a bit, and so do women; but who we stick with doesn’t often come down to looks as much as the inner self… and in that I mean both the personality- (that which dies) and the spirit, which, for me, is that which we unite with in love.

    Posted May 29, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
  21. Jeanie Oliver says

    Who would have thought such a conversation would arise from our political testing!
    My husband of 28 years thought it so funny that I would tell complete strangers that I would try bimbo by the hour. I replied that maybe it wasn’t so good to tell the people around us in this small community in Arkansas as they might not understand that I write in jest, sort of!!
    Just wanted you to know that I can laugh at the fact that I am female, and wonder how on earth I ended up here, anyway, in this forum.

    My apologies as I never really meant to take your post and blog down a side street.

    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm | Permalink
  22. Malcolm says

    No worries, Jeanie! It’s always interesting to see where these will lead.

    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  23. I guess it is kinda difficult to take such testing in a completely serious manner…And it seems a short hop-skip-jump from political proclivities into political correctness into morals and behaviors vis-a-vis our sexuality- which I have read may be on our minds quite alot anyway.

    And yes in would be wonderful to find more of the “gentle sex” here, as well as many other cyber-sites I visit…A wider perspective is always a boon to any discussion, and that is certainly one of the demographics that matters the most in varying our perspectives… to my way of thinking…

    Posted May 31, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink

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