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The political spectrum is not a line, it does not go from left to right. In reality the political spectrum could be seen as multidimensional with as many dimensions as there are decisions to be made. But that is of course not a workable model. So is it possible to reduce the multidimensionality to a simpler usable model while avoiding the oversimplification of the linear model?

I my opinion it is possible, we can replace the linear model by a plane model with three axis. Using a priority preference for each axis.


The figure could be drawn with either arrow pointing up. It is draw with the “people” preference up because that allows it to be compared with traditional “right” vs “left” thinking. “Ideas” people are found to the left of the “People” arrow, and “Money” people are found to the right of the “People” arrow. This illustrates how the conventional left vs right thinking more or less maps to this figure. However that only applies to the more pronounced leftist and rightwing views.

So what does each of these arrows represent?

Before I answer that, lets first define the nature of government: it is the nature of governments to wield power (through the threat or application of force) to achieve an agenda.

The arrows represent the preference to which end this power should be wielded.

“Ideas” people have a set of ideas that they would want to see implemented and they would want to use the power of government to enforce those ideas. Note that this is not a value judgement. It is not about the question if the ideas are good or bad. It only deals with the fact that people on this axis have ideas for which they want to use the power of the government. An example of this is communism.

“People” people hold the integrity of the individual paramount to everything else. They only want to use the power of the government to prevent others from breaching that integrity. We find libertarians (minarchists) along this axis.

“Money” people want to use the power of government to create as much money, i.e. wealth as possible. Again, this is not a value judgment, these people genuinely believe that this is for the betterment of society.

The nice thing about this way of thinking is that it also explains why for a minarchist “leftists” and “right-wingers” are “all the same”. Both of these groups are opposite to their arrow. Leftists on the other hand see libertarians and right-wingers as “much of the same sort”. And lastly for right-wingers there is hardly any difference between libertarians and moderate leftists. This of course explains why people cling to the linear view of political preferences.

Originally posted at: 2017-01-03
Last modified on: 2017-01-03