Political Taxonomies

Political Taxonomies

There are at least two definitions for "Political Taxonomy":
  1. A categorization of the  political systems, e.g. Democracy, Dictatorship... (Which I will ignore)
  2. A categorization of the ways that individuals value political issues, and perhaps the valuation of an issue. e.g. Liberal, Conservative... (Note this is what I am interested in, MLL)
My theory is that a Good Political Taxonomy allows individuals and policies to be evaluated on each of the "dimensions", e.g. Categories, with a number from +1 thru -1. The objective is to be able to take the generalized distance between a person and a policy, and predict how close the policy is to the person's values. An ideal Taxonomy would:
  • Minimize the number of, independant, Categories.
  • Choose Categories that are: instinctive, clear, and easy to evaluate.
  • Be effective at determining the important areas of agreement and disagreement between people and policies.
My theory is that an individuals and policies, can be  characterized by numeric (+1,-1) measures along each of the Taxonomy Categories and that one can make a reasonable guess as to how much a person prefers a policy by taking the "distance" between their location in the Taxonomy space.

    I have tried to collect a list of these individual values taxonomies in  WeMatter.com/links#quiz

    The one that I thought was most interesting was the: "Political Position Quiz, World's Smallest Political Quiz: 10 questions-- Libertarian vs. Authoritarian, Left vs. Right. The Advocates"
    Note: This is similar to the PoliticalCompus.org analysis (See: below)

    I just, 8/8/2011, started the book: "Beyond Red and Blue" and it suggests that there are 12 different political philosophies, (Political Taxonomies) that shape American debates:n

    1. Theocracy
    2. Natural Law
    3. Libertarianism
    4. Utilitarianism
    5. Free-market Conserfatism
    6. Contratirianism
    7. Social Conservatism
    8. Feminism
    9. Mulitculturalism
    10. Environmentslism
    11. Communitarianism
    12. Cosmopolitanism


    • Liberal vs. Conservative -- relates to one’s basic assumptions about human capacities. -- a liberal outlook trusts individuals and questions authority; a conservative outlook distrusts individuals and defers to authority.
      • A liberal is someone who is generally impressed with the capacities of an individual, and who therefore wants individuals to be free to develop those capacities. 
      • A conservative by temperament takes the opposite side in this dispute. Most human beings are naturally afraid of freedom, eager to hand over decisionmaking power to some authority.

      • Left vs. Right -- defined by attitudes towards success. -- A left-wing perspective is animated by an affinity for the losers and their interests, while a right-wing perspective is animated by an affinity for the winners and their interests.
        • A left-wing perspective is animated by failure and the consequences thereof. Whether we’re talking about Rawlsian liberals or Christian socialists or orthodox Marxist-Leninists, the ultimate object of concern is the miserable of the earth. Their perspective, their needs, are the beginning and the end of political morality.
        • A right-wing perspective is opposite to this. How to design a system that adequately rewards success is the essence of the right-wing political project.

        • Progressive vs. Reactionary -- revolves around attitudes toward time and history -- A progressive viewpoint looks toward the future, while a reactionary looks back to the past.
          • The progressive is future-oriented. Things will – or could – be better in the future than they are now.
          • The reactionary, by contrast, is past-oriented. Things will – likely – be worse in the future than they are now, just as they were better in the past. 

        • The Economic (Left-Right) axis measures one's opinion of how the economy should be run: "left" is defined as the view that the economy should be run by a cooperative collective agency (which can mean the state, but can also mean a network of communes), while "right" is defined as the view that the economy should be left to the devices of competing individuals and organisations. 
        • The Social (Authoritarian-Libertarian) axis measures one's political opinions in a social sense, regarding a view of the appropriate amount of personal freedom: "libertarianism" is defined as the belief that personal freedom should be maximised, while "authoritarianism" is defined as the belief that authority and tradition should be obeyed


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