Lazy Luddite Log

10.4.06

My New Politics Test

Those who have known me a while may know that I am on a mission to free the world from the mind-shackling meme of the 'left-wing versus right-wing' scale in politics. Now I have a new tool in this mission - an automated on-line test which allocates one of over twenty political labels to those taking it. You can take it too!

Take the test: Political Objectives Test

I hope it is informative and even amusing. In the descriptions I try to show that every position makes sense from a given mindset. However I also try to suggest that there are contraditions and drawbacks in all the positions (some moreso than others). And most importantly I hope to demonstrate that there are significant degrees of overlap between the many different political movements.

Catagory Descriptions

For your interest I include here a link to all the catagory descriptions on the test so you have a sense of what you compare with. I had such fun writing these descriptions (as well as the question statements) and I hope you enjoy them too.

Originality Of Test

Nothing under the Sun is entirely new. Nonetheless the feedback I get is that my test is much more distinctive than most politics tests in particular because it focuses on ideological underpinnings rather than issues. There is only one other on-line project I have come across that uses similar concepts - the LEO Test which uses the same three principles and then seeks to identify particular key-words utilised by the proponents of those principles so that the true identity of politicians can be determined by finding frequency of those key-words in speeches and public statements (of course any well-informed political actor can always study this and change the words they use but still it is a worthwhile exercise).

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18 Comments:

  • Cute test - I note there is no middle "fence sitter" option on the list :)

    I came out as "hard to qualify" - possibly Socialist, possibly Utopian, possibly Social-Liberal. So I guess that makes me a Socialist Fence-Sitter!

    - Korny
    (85 Equality, 64 Liberty, and 21 Stability - but no Fraternity)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 10 April, 2006  

  • I've touted you and written about my results here: I'm a moderate.

    Obviously what the test is lacking is a question that asks you whether you are actually political (write letters, protest, join a party, etc) or whether you just think about stuff and mouth off to your friends. I had a friend claim she had difficulty answering your questions because she was pragmatic. My first thought was that everyone thinks they're pragmatic. My second thought was that she's only theoretically pragmatic; practically, she does nothing. As do I. Lucky I married someone with cred and have friends like you, Daniel!

    Korny - if you answer the questions in a fence sitting manner you'll get a fence sitting result; or indeed, you can just not answer any of them!

    By Blogger David Golding, At 11 April, 2006  

  • Your description of a moderate is exactly what the common mis-perception is. True Moderates are not confused by issues. True Moderates are not dispassionate. True Moderates are not uncommitted to basic principles. Moderates understand that issue by issue is the ONLY rational way to approach governing a country with massive numbers of reasonable (and unreasonable) proponents and opponents of virtually ANY issue. True moderates understand that both sides of an issue often have merit, and by seeking to understand the opposition, and by truly CARING for the well-being of the entire country, one can arrive at a WIN-WIN solution, the OPPOSITE of a compromise, something better than either wing could have come up with on its own.
    Tommy Pain
    http://whatisamoderate.blogspot.com

    By Blogger Tommy Pain, At 12 April, 2006  

  • I'm a liberal. Interesting test - you should add a few environment questions and a couple of extra categories on that basis (I know it's difficult, but there are some distinct political philosophies in sections of the environmental movement that I think may belong in categories of their own.)

    By Blogger Polly, At 12 April, 2006  

  • Interesting. The test pegged me as an Anarchist (42 Equality, 92 Liberty, and 21 Stability), but I would be more likely to put myself as a Libertarian, or even a Liberal.

    As Korny mentioned, there is a distinct lack of middle-ground options, so that may have contributed to my rather extreme score.

    -- Gary.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 April, 2006  

  • Thanks for the comments all - this is like Bohemian Rhapsody versus Evie all over again.

    To start with I have to say that, in response to feedback and observation of what is happening with the test at OKCupid, I have made some changes to it. Some aspects of the text have been changed and also its scoring parameters have been adjusted somewhat. Now the default setting (e.g. 50% in all three principles) is 'Apathetic'. 'Moderate' is now a somewhat less likely result. Also I have made it a bit more difficult to become any kind of extremist.

    Now onto specific comments...

    To Korny

    Cute? My British Eccentric Test is cute! I was hoping for something more along the lines of "a tour-de-force of political scholarship that will have a lasting impact on the zeitgeist!" I am if nothing a legend in my own mind...

    There are actually three 'fence-sitting' options - Apathetic (for non-respondents and wildly negative and divergent responses), Moderate (for mildly positive and divergent responses), and Confused Extremist (for wildly positive and divergent responses).

    I have to apologise to you Korny as with the new scoring parameters you would be rated as Social-Liberal (but only just one click away from the 'Social-Liberal cum Socialist cum Utopian' catagory you were in originally).

    As for 'Fraternity' - that is a gender-specific term and you know how Politically Correct I can be (and 'Fraternity-slash-Sorority' is such a clumsy term...) Such terms suggests metaphorical kinship between non-relations and I think some of that is present in the descriptions of those groups that value stability (e.g. the Fascist nation-state as one big family with a parental figure as dictator).

    The whole 'three word slogan' thing is very powerful. The English 'Revolution' (more an era of changing thinking) had 'Life-Liberty-Property' which was transformed in the American Revolution into 'Life-Liberty-Happiness' and then in the French Revolution we had 'Liberty-Equality-Fraternity'. Interestingly, of those three times-and-places of political change it was the French Revolution that was most prone to descent into despotism.

    To Dave

    You are right about the lack of political action as an aspect of the test. I have since in the Introduction Page to the test stressed that the test only gauges political philosophy rather than political practice. I suppose without the civic action element ones politics is merely latent.

    I too must apologise to you Dave as with the new scoring you would be a Liberal.

    To Tommy

    Wow Tommy - cudos to you for your mission to improve the image of the moderate. I think you may find that any negative images of moderates are held by political activists and that the average person will have a much more positive impression of moderates.

    I understand your objections and I have had some others say to me that they feel the Moderate description is a bit wishy washy. But take another look at it - in it I say they are committed to principles but just to more than one principle. Likewise I say they have opinions but they are made on a case-by-case basis which is also what you say. Finally I say they play an important role in any democracy.

    Does using different principles in different cases show a lack of consistency? One possibility is that the moderate has some other guiding principle in mind other than the three I name - maybe it is 'quality of life' - in which case they are consistent but in a way that my test cannot recognise.

    To Polly

    Why does my test lacks any reference to the environment? In part it is - as you say - difficult to assess within the existing framework of the test.
    If the test focused on issues (like my old test with its economic and societal axes) then I could simply add an environmental issues axes. But with the Political Objectives Test I am looking at principles and it is difficult to say what environmental principles are.

    Are they simply 'environment good development bad' or are they more like 'environment good for us development bad for environment and therefore bad for us'? Does the environment have intrinsic value or merely utilitarian value? Do I then add an 'Intrinsic Environment' scale and a 'Utility Environment' scale? And then how many extra catagories do I have to name?

    I personally feel that politics concerns human relations rather than resource management. At the end of the day I think the truth is that I am a captive of modernity and therefore exclude many pre-modern and post-modern concepts from my way of thinking. As such my test excludes a whole lot of things: The environment, sexuality, the sanctity of life, religion, ethnicity, age, rural versus urban interests, war and peace...

    To Gary

    Over in the Land of the Free (most OKCupid users seem to be Yanks) a lot of respondents are getting rated as Anarchists and like you I think they are more likely Libertarian. But an anarchist in heart and mind may just be a liberal in action. The other possibility is that the test is hopelessly flawed. But then it is on a dating and time-wasting website so I think we can get away with that...

    One more thing...

    Just so it is on the record I am rated by my own test as a Social-Liberal (78% Equality 78% Liberty 21% Stability).

    By Blogger Daniel, At 15 April, 2006  

  • Excellent test. People willing to wear the anarchist label have been in short supply in the States for over a hundred years.

    By Blogger Gary, At 26 April, 2006  

  • More than one Gary in the one discussion - how confusing!

    Thanks American Gary. As I suggested to Australian Gary, the test is looking at statements of philosophy, so many of your peers getting 'Anarchist' scores are just getting overly excited by the buzzwords associated with liberty. And hey it can make you seem cool and 'out there' to say you are into anarchy. But as long as it gets test-takers thinking a bit then I am happy.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 27 April, 2006  

  • Hi,
    Haven't taken a look at your test yet, but I just cruised over from my page on typepad. I must admit I've been remiss in responding to much commentary thanks to my day job. Also I've been out of the country the last couple weeks, and am trying to catch up. Absolutely I'd like to discuss it with you. Stability has been coded as a keyword in the LEO inventory for some time. Sounds like we might be on similar tracks.

    By Anonymous jonathon, At 31 May, 2006  

  • Thanks Jonathon - to contact me one-on-one you can email my address as shown in the 'About Me' text to the right of post texts - conversation most welcome.

    Jonathon is an academic from the US who is developing a very interesting tool of political analysis - the LEO Test (which stands for Liberty Equality Order) - for more info click on the 'Jonathon' link in his comment.

    Its intention is to identify particular key words that resonate with with particular political traditions and to then assess political documents (e.g. speeches) on that basis to determine what kind of politics the writer truly advocates. A project definitely worth keeping tabs on.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 31 May, 2006  

  • No comments since 06? Maybe they're all okcupid messages.

    I liked the test; novel take from the two axis models, either pre-defined or statistically extracted (politics.beasts.org). I used to be libertarian, self-id these days as liberal, tested as Progressive -- which makes sense since you're reserving liberal for its old sense, and I'm supporting things like single-payer these days.

    I also like the explicit encouragement to not answer questions if one didn't feel like it. I was torn between the middle options on question 3, but choosing the other one still leaves below 50% Stability.

    By Blogger Damien, At 24 June, 2007  

  • Hello stranger Damien (as distict from any Damien I know) and thanks for commenting. You are right in thinking that most comments I have got recently has been from OKCupid users to my OKCupid in-box. Most of the feedback has been positive even if it is from those with markedly different politics from my own.

    The 'single user' phrase is an unusual one to me. Is this some US political terminology?

    I think it is important to allow non-responses. A friend vasilates between some statements but feels compelled to slect something (as if she feels the need to have an opinion on everything) and so she alternately gets Progressive or Communitarian which are rather different but have in common a commitment to equality. If she left the hazy ones blank it would rate her as a garden-variety Socialist which would make more sense sinse she is so borderline on some liberty and stability matters.

    I will have to take a look at that site you cite. Thanks.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 25 June, 2007  

  • Those who criticize this test are arrant fault finders. They have to criticize, so they criticize. This testvery intelligently distinguishes your political philosophy as distinst from others. The test doesnt condemn anyone as its propounder likes all classes of people. I generally cut out as a fascist though at times I adhere to ultra conservative wisdom. I wish drastic action to save the world both from extreme permissiveness and terroristic talibanization. I am no rascist and generally gell with all barring hard communists, extremists, terrorists, violent rascists and yag liberals.I think this test is the most perfect.

    By Blogger Bireshwar, At 30 January, 2009  

  • Thankyou Bireshwar.

    Your comment as a taker of my test on-line is interesting. We have very different politics (I get Progressive while you get Ultra-Conservative) yet you comments that I appreciate all kinds of politics. I suppose what I do is compartmentalise. I can shift from partisan to non-partisan quickly.

    And even if I differ strongly from a politics I can still see that it is important for it to be understood. If I wish to caution against a particular politics I may as well identify its intrinsic nature rather than just focus on common associations. One can imagine a non-racist form of Fascism (for instance) which simply focus on different forms of 'excluded other'. It is important to recognise it for what it is rather than just what its infamous forms have been.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 30 January, 2009  

  • Daniel, what I find very appreciative in your test is that though you belong to the liberal spectrum of politics, you understand conservative and fascist politics like a conservative. I am an Indian. I would bow my head to ultra conservative wisdom and caution (incidently ultra conservatives can only control fascists). If opposing jehadi violence ( 9/11, Mumbai 26/11, Bali etc) and protecting christian, hindu, jewish, moderate muslim and sikh traditions from the attack of jehadis and radical atheists is fascism, then I would like to call myself facsist. Islamofascism shall begat opposing fascisms also. Let it be clear. Also, if I, an ultra conservative bordering on fascism am appreciating your progressive views, this means that I can even become a fascist to cherish and foster generous, compassionate, progressive intellectuals of our society be it India or Australia. After all the ink of a scholar is more sacred than the blood of a martyr.

    By Blogger Bireshwar, At 31 January, 2009  

  • Thanks for your further comments. I do see the sense of 'fighting fire with fire' but it would be truly depressing if the only solution to Islamofascism was (say) Christofascism or Hindofascism or whatever. In fact much more liberal nations have defeated fascism in the past (like during WWII).

    What do find with this conversation however is that even very different forms of politics can find common ground. We both very simply want a world in which humans of all kinds are safe from violence.

    I like you comment on the ink of the scholar.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 08 February, 2009  

  • Hi Daniel. I have been studying your political objective test very closely. I take the test daily with a new attitude to understand political temperament of people. I have read your survey. You have said that most of your test takers value liberty. Takers of stability and equality are very few. I too have seen that in western society, communitarians and their extremist versions are few. USA and west worship liberty though I feel that liberty is a double edge sword and one persons liberty may be anothers bondage. American free market global liberalism is actually very oppressive to poor nations. You are an australian and would understand this better as Australia has always befriended Asian nations even if they were opposed to US liberalism. American society is also very decadent. I mean they impose their permissive culture on unwilling nations and bully them if they dont comply. Other western nations are more tolarent from this angle. I feel if asians, muslims, africans etc take the Political Objectives Test, there may be a large number of takers for equality-stabiliy. I have tested this in India. OkCupid is a very western site. I have made those people take your test who never visited this site or even helloquizzy.Lastly Communitarians are also called conservative socialists, social republicans, sustained orderists, theocratic socialists etc. Most doomsday cultists are communitarian.

    By Blogger Bireshwar, At 22 December, 2009  

  • Hello Bireshwar

    I appreciate your contribution now as in the past. It is good that differences of ideology can agree on things within the context of academic debate.

    I agree that if there were more test-takers in the developing world then the ratios would change. On the other hand I suspect that the more the world embraces the Internet the more developed world standards will be accepted...

    Yes - many of the groups you name would be communitarian (mind you I think they would tend towards stability more than equality).

    I think we can exaggerate the excesses of liberty. Libertarians are annoying but are a minority. The vast majority of us like liberty in _combination_ with either equality or stability. And hopefully it will stay that way because the dominance of any one view is problematic.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 22 December, 2009  

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