Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Moral Matrix: Beyond "Left" & "Right"

Political ideas are often expressed using the right-left model. That separation originally referred to the seating (if indeed they ever took their seats) of the chamber members in the French Parliament after the 1789 Revolution.

Think about that for a moment: how adequate is that old cask in containing the new wines of the 21st century?

Stephane Dubois is a Frenchman living in the United States. (A latter-day Alexis de Tocqueville?) Dubois has devised a Moral Matrix to address this problem. Instead of a single left-right dimension, the Matrix has two dimensions that combine to create four quadrants which locate political Systems,
and the Ideologies which support them.

It's possible to put too fine a point on some of these ideological distinctions as well as their locations. Some delineations are really superficial. The size of each "system" and "ideology" obviously reflects a need to attain symmetry graphically and not to represent their comparative popularity.

Which brings me to Dubois' Moral Matrix Test. Dubois has unscientifically collected 556,409 responses internationally. The various national results are interesting if not instructive.

In the
United States:

It would have been of greater interest for this site to have mapped out responses from several of our dis-United States, which had significantly-sized samples. Maybe next year. For now, visitors at this site have to be satisfied with a country-by-country comparison.

Since cycling through this Moral Matrix site is cumbersome and slow, I have selected some national political cultures to display simultaneously. In light of the current American socialism-adverse obsession, I have decided to sequence these in an appropriate order. Some readers might be surprised.

Our neighbors to the north:

Here's Sweden:

Here's China

Here is Germany:

Here are the Israelis:

Here are the Aussies:

The European Union:

The United Kingdom:

Contrast Taiwan's score with China's:

Highest on the socialism scale is France:
Of interest is that Canada's socialism index is closest to the USA's. Also, Taiwan's political culture rates vastly higher on the socialism scale than does China's.

Closer to home, closer where American political parties are located on Moral Matrix' cultural Map:

Even closer to home, here is where I placed on my national political map when I took the Moral Matrix Test:
Frankly, I was surprised. For one thing, I never considered voting for Ford! And I voted for John Kerry, pinching my nose with my fingers, only because the MSM had disqualified Howard Dean!

Moral Matrix stipulates that there is wide disagreement about what constitutes "capitalism". That said, Capital Republicanism is described
as a moderate form of Conservatism; Capital Republicans are in favor of a Capitalist market economy and a strong moral order (abortion-control, tradional family values, strong military, etc.
Capital Democratism is described as
...a form of Moderate Liberalism; Capital Democrats are in favor of a Capitalist market economy and a looser moral order , e.g., legalized abortion, acceptance of alternative lifestyles, environmental issues, gun-control, etc.
I expected to land among the Social Democrats:
...a moderate form of Socialism; The Social Democratic current came into being by a break within the Socialist movement in the early 20th century. One reformist group of Socialists rejected the idea of a Socialist revolution, and instead tried to achieve the Socialist ideals through Democratic means.

Social Democrats are in favor of a highly regulated Capitalist market economy, but with a strong and large government.

Social Democracy is often considered the most commonly embraced political ideology in the world.
As opposed to Social Republicanism:
a moderate form of Authoritarianism.

Republicanism describes what is more commonly called a representative democracy; it restricts the term "democracy" to refer only to direct democracy.

For these reason, the primary difference between the Social Democracy and Social Republicanism is that latter's attachment to preserve existing class structures and delineations.
All I can say is that everything hinges on how the questions in a poll are phrased. I venture to guess that most of my readers will surprise themselves if they take this short survey: I'm betting they will land in my neighborhood.

Readers are invited to take the test and record their results in the comments below. Alternatively, if they make a copy of their map and mail it to me, I'll present it right here!

has emailed
this in.
I can't say
I'm that
at the mark
he leaves!

11 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Petrosexual said...

Can't believe I'm the 1st to submit a score!

8/16/2009 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Hey Vig,

I took the test. I landed in the middle of the top upper left hand square, making me - a flaming Socialist?

I applaud your reminding all of us of the importance (I would argue, the NECESSITY) of including the actual test/polling questions when reporting the results of any political polling, or "testing" of public opinion.

Reading the "Hints", which appear to be the (hidden) assumptions underlying each of the seemingly innocuous answers to the test's questions, I was appalled. The answers to the test questions seem to be stereotypical statements, designed to elicit knee-jerk responses - until you check out the "Hints".

The "Hints" (explanations of the author's assumptions of what each answer REALLY means) often deviated down unexpected paths, IMHO. I found several of the "Hints" disturbing. Too many seemed to be "wolves cloaked in sheep's clothing".

I strongly encourage any of your wonderful readership who decide to take the test, to check out the "Hints", after selecting their individual answer.

8/16/2009 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Like Emily, I placed in the middle of the upper left quadrant. I'm a social democrat, this placing confirms that. Any other result would have told me the test is useless.

I also have trouble with some of the statements. On gender, for instance, who wouldn't agree that women and men are both different and equal? It seems absurd to me to deny either.

8/16/2009 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

Vig I more resemble Emily than you. I'm living in the wrong country.

Your scored -5.5 on Moral Order and 4 on Moral Rules.

The following categories best match your score (multiple responses are possible):

1. System: Socialism
2. Ideology: Activism
3. Party: No match.
4. Presidents: Jimmy Carter
5. 04' Election: David Cobb
6. 08' Election: Dennis Kucinich

Of the 556,792 respondents (9,913 on Facebook):

1. 3% are close to you.
2. 79% are more conservative.
3. 6% are more liberal.
4. 3% are more socialist.
5. 7% are more authoritarian.

8/16/2009 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Vig, nice Sunday?

ok...first of all! I had to put on the bifocals, (eek! lookin like old wizard) to read the blog...damn that screws up looking outside at the birds... and then, then, I start to 'get it' and
Social Activism, Green Party (which is wrong legally I'm a Dem) but I AM GREEN!!! and then it says I voted for Dennis. Wrong. The guy I voted for is in the Oval, but he's frustrating me lately. So moving on,
I guess I'm MOral Socialist. ???
well! I hope I'm not getting a bar bill for this....LOL
Great fun.

8/16/2009 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I think that labels are ruining this country. That's what I think.

8/16/2009 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Keller said...

Test results are in an email to you.

I'd echo, but modify slightly, Will's statement above:

"I think that POLITICAL PARTY labels are ruining this country. That's what I think."

8/17/2009 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Kentucky Rain said...

I placed dead left of center, right on the line. I have no idea what my score was. Now I have to go back and look at it again!

8/18/2009 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Commander Zaius said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/18/2009 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Commander Zaius said...


Your scored -3.5 on Moral Order and 2.5 on Moral Rules.

The following categories best match your score (multiple responses are possible):

1. System: Socialism
2. Ideology: Social Democratism
3. Party: No match.
4. Presidents: Jimmy Carter
5. 04' Election: David Cobb
6. 08' Election: Barrack Obama

Actually, I'm a little underwhelmed and disappointed with my results. Hell, the conservatives are just now bringing pistols and assault rifles to town halls? Bunch of freaking wusses. Shit, I've been ready to hang bankers and stock market types from street lamps and ship conservative pundits to FEMA camps in cold Nebraska. I get a minor thrill thinking of all the Fox News babes having to go a day with out proper conditioners for their hair. Damn Glenn Beck for spilling the beans.

8/18/2009 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Commander Zaius said...

I hate white people too!

8/18/2009 05:36:00 PM  

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