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!

Woodstock Nation - Happy 40th!!

In the summer of '69, there were three days of peace and music.

We couldn't make it there, but others were there for us.