This is a rambling mess, but I wanted to get the idea out… it probably should have gone into a private diary, but if you saw my traffic stats you’d understand that this blog pretty much is a private diary.
Inspired by feedback I have received, by recent events and by books I’ve read on the varieties of authoritarianism, I have been rethinking my old “newish political model” with new simpler language and with the addition of a third dimension.
In my new model, the dimensions are liberty, equality and fraternity — three of the four active ingredients of the famous battle-cry of the French Revolution, minus the last “or death” which was wisely dropped after the Reign of Terror.
This indicates something about origin of this framework. It is also a battle-cry, and as such it makes no pretense of neutrality. But it has learned something from history about revolutionary extremism even in service of liberal values and has found guidance in the two sayings inscribed at Apollo’s temple at Delphi. “Know thyself.” (We are all susceptible to self-privileging, especially when we appoint ourselves the enlightened dismantlers of it!) “Everything in moderation.” (Including our own values!)
This battle-cry is spoken calmly and clearly with an “inside voice”. Not too loud, too stridently, too uncompromisingly. But also not quietly, meekly or limply. It wants the zero-point. The median. And that median is determined by strict adherence to liberal-democratic discipline. (This is a topic for another time.)
So these values structure an agenda, and despite the agenda’s modesty, it is not lukewarm in the least.
This framework is a tool — an ideological lens — for seeing the world in a centrist liberal-democratic way.
It is a partisan tool, but for a party that has not yet formed to represent a political position that has not yet found articulation and self-awareness.
As a partisan tool, it is not meant to do justice to possible political positions; it meant to strategically build bridges between previously separated positions, drive wedges between previously allied positions and to encourage new alliances concealed by the in my view, libertarian-biased and suddenly obsolete) Political Compass model. Its purpose is to rally centrists committed to liberty and justice for all against those committed to liberty and justice to some at the expense of others. The latter should object to this biases of this model, it is not meant to do them justice, and in fact is meant to drive them back into their mom’s basement, an environment more suited to their maturity level.
I don’t know how to draw this, yet. For now I will describe the three axes that define the conceptual space within which political positions are situated.
As this is a highly-biased Centrist model, the extremes of each axis is cast as either +) untenable or -) evil. The 0) point is defined as the most desirable point sought between the extremes.
Liberty (individual autonomy): freedom of individuals versus authority of collectivities. Who determines how an individual is to think, feel and act?
+) an individual alone determines individual being;
-) the collectivity determines individual being;
0) at the center an individual determines individual being within reasonable limits set by a collectivity.
What kinds of collectivity are we talking about? According to this model any group capable of imposing its will on an individual is considered a collectivity capable of curtailing individual liberty. This differs from Political Compass, which views liberty as curtailed primarily by the federal government.
And what are reasonable limits? That is a matter of perpetual debate and dialogue to be continuously re-determined by Centrists.
Equality (power distribution): desirability of equality versus desirability of rank. How much disparity of power among individuals is acceptable and ideal?
+) each individual is given the same power and resources as every other;
-) each individual is given different amounts of power and resources according to rank;
0) at the center every individual is guaranteed a fair opportunity to acquire power and resources.
What kinds of rank are we talking about? According to this model every value system ranks differently and imposes rank according to its own logic. Societies can rank-stratify by family, class, wealth, race, education, talent, temperament, party membership — anything to which the word “deserve” can be applied. This differs from Political Compass, which casts equality issues in terms of government regulation.
And what is fair? That is a matter of perpetual debate and dialogue to be continuously re-determined by Centrists.
Fraternity (scope of obligation): universalist/globalist obligation versus tribalism/nationalism obligation.
+) in-groups and out-groups are abolished and moral obligation is extended to all of humanity (or even all living beings);
-) in-group membership is sharply defined and moral obligation is confined to the in-group;
0) at the center in-groups and out-groups are defined and moral obligations exist for each but in differing degrees.
How are in-groups and out-groups defined? According to this model in-groups self-define according to whatever criteria seems most relevant to the group. Examples of in-group determinants include place of origin, place of residence, citizenship, race, class, religion, ideology, party-membership. Political Compass does not consider the dimension of fraternity, because fraternity is largely invisible unless one is denied obligation due to out-group status.
And what are the in- and out-groups, and what is our degree of obligation to them? That is a matter of perpetual debate and dialogue to be continuously re-determined by Centrists.