A few days ago, I took the Political Compass test for a second time. The test, devised by politicalcompass.org , requires individuals to respond to questions which indicate where their views place them on scales labelled Authoritarian - Libertarian and Left - Right. My position had not changed since I last took the test 7 years ago (see below) but as I looked around the site, I noticed the chart (reproduced above) which suggests that the main contenders in the U.S. 2020 election held relatively authoritarian and right wing views (with Biden somewhat less authoritarian than Trump).
political compass make sense? The horizonal
axis measures economic freedom, with people at the right end favoring more
economic freedom. That corresponds, more or less, to the conventional
left-right spectrum. The vertical axis measures personal freedom, with people
whose views place them at the top end favoring greater restriction of personal
freedom. It seems to me that the positioning of a person on a political compass
incorporating a personal freedom axis is much more informative than attempting
to position them on only one axis. However,
the labelling adopted is not ideal. To be considered a libertarian, in my view
it is necessary to advocate economic freedom as well as personal freedom.
somewhat surprised by the placement of both Biden and Trump as favoring a
relatively high level of restrictions on personal freedom. I don’t
follow American politics closely enough to dispute how accurate that placement
might be within that context.
international standards, it would make little sense to view Biden or Trump as advocates
of authoritarian policies. The policies they have advocated in their efforts to
win votes have not been greatly different from those currently prevailing in
the United States. By international standards, people in the U.S. have
relatively high levels of personal and economic freedom.
of the latest Human Freedom Index, published by Cato and the Fraser
Institute, can be used to illustrate the point. The Human Freedom Index is the
result of painstaking efforts to compile a vast amount of data relating to
economic freedom and personal freedom in 165 countries.
interesting to see the relative position of various countries in a comparable
scatter diagram showing economic freedom and the x axis and personal freedom on
the y axis. In the diagram below, which I have labelled “Ideological Map of the
World”, the values on the personal freedom axis are in reverse order to make it
comparable to the political compass. The horizontal and vertical lines drawn on
the diagram are positioned at median levels of economic and personal freedom.
position of the U.S. is clear from the chart. The levels of both personal
freedom and economic freedom in the U.S. are comparable to those of other
liberal democracies, and far greater than in China or Russia.