Cyborg Power

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I'm getting fed up with all these attempts to recast the one-dimensional political spectrum as a two-dimensional grid. If you really want to map the ideological landscape properly, you'll need at least six or seven dimensions to get it right.

The latest evidence: a blog for left transhumanists.

NEXT: Yarmulke, Yankees Cap

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  1. Er. Hmm. Eh?

    I’ll drink something and try that link again …

  2. maybe people should just be themselves instead of falling into the collectivist trap of belonging to some sort of abstract label

  3. Putting the commies on the far left and the nazis and fascists on the far right only makes sense if the line is 2-d and wrapping around to form a circle where they would meet in the extreme authoritarian area.

  4. I dunno. I can label that left transhumanists blog without using too many dimensions.

  5. Yes, the axes are weird. Being used to the classic World’s Smallest Political Quiz axes, I was thrown off by the new chart. It took me a minute to get oriented and figure out how it was different. It basically means that you could be, according to that chart, an extreme right-winger who also believed in legalized prostitution, gay rights, and drug legalization, which is kinda where I ended up on the chart. I also noticed that no world leaders were in the bottom right quadrant of the chart. How depressing.

  6. Take the test on the link and then check out the author’s ‘reading list.’ The author of the study has an obvious bias toward the so-called “libretarian left.”

    Perhaps most ergregious thing is placing “1984” and “Stupid White Men” in the same catagory while calling Michael Moore “The Tom Paine of our age.”

    No, strike that, the worst things is calling psuedo-intellectual communist hack Noam Chomsky “…one of today’s great intellectuals; a champion of the libertarian left…”

  7. Hmmm…somehow I ended up way to close to bush (same distance right basically but about 7 spots south) which definately makes me question this thing. I consider myself to be of the austian anarcho-capitalist mentality so that’s kinda odd.

  8. Micheal Moore is today’s Tom Paine.

    Wasn’t Tom Paine the guy that wanted the government to run everyone’s life, but also bitched that the US was a fascist state while also advocating that citizens be disarmed in the face of the said fascist state?

    And Chomsky is the most important intellectual alive according the the New York Times, just ask him. In fact he is, to quote the NYT, “Arguably the most important intellectual alive, how can he write such nonsense about international affairs and foreign policy?”

  9. Is this test an improvement over the 1-D left/right? Yes. Does it have any actual meaning? No.

    I think you’re being too generous with six or seven dimensions — an “accurate” model would have to have *millions* of dimensions and be constantly updating axes and relationships in real-time. There would be 6 billion descriptions of the results, one for each person. The map would become the territory, and hence useless.

    But this is mistaking the use of such models — they are not proscriptive or definitive. You don’t come with a label on your belly at birth (like the star-belly sneeches) with a “C” for “conservative” or a an “L” for “libertarian.” The models are descriptive, to allow us to talk about in short-hand general sets of ideas from subjective (not objective) definitional frameworks.

    So is the 2-D test very good? No. But it’s better than left/right. Maybe if awareness of this grows people will stop being “surprised” by my positions on the war on drugs and gay rights after hearing my views on economics and the WTO.

  10. Actually, the real reason I hate that particular quiz is (a) because it’s filled with questions where I want to say “none of the above” or “it depends on what you mean by that” and (b) because of its eccentric definitions of “left” and “right.”

    I agree wholeheartedly with Paul’s comment about the map and the territory. But I think there’s room for a map more precise than the most popular ones in use today — or, better, for a whole atlas of maps that look at the territory in different useful ways.

  11. I like to knock Chomsky’s politics as much as the next guy, but psuedo-intellectual is just not right.

    Whatever else you might think about him, his contributions to linguistics have been nothing short of revolutionary. His insights on the brain and language have had an enormous impact on other areas of cognitive science.

    Now, if you want to call him a hack political philosopher or ultra left wing ideologue, that’s fine.

  12. in case any of you actually considered yourself a libertarian, Karen De Coster has a fun piece of useless mental masturbation:

    http://blog.lewrockwell.com/lewrw/archives/002459.html

    so which libertarian fraction or faction or cadre or heresy or true faith are y’all?

  13. I found many of the questions difficult to answer. Along the lines of, “If gravity is inevitable, should it serve the worker or the capitalist?”

  14. Joe: Actually, the bottom left has more room for people who are libertarian on “social” issues but statist in economics. An anarcho-communist could conceivably give answers that land him in the bottom right-hand side.

    Which is part of why the test’s use of the words “left” and “right” is screwy…

  15. I wound up a little south west of Friedman when I took that quiz a few months ago. The quiz is clearly designed to bring you to a bottom left result.

    As Jesse indicated, there is a lot of “Well, it depends,” in there. Also, as twistedmerkin mentioned, the language is loaded. Markets aren’t supposed to serve any master, they are a means to exchange freely.

  16. What about Machine Supremecists who view “The Matrix” as a utopian goal for the future?

  17. Joe M,

    I’m only like 2 notches south of the equator, if you will, when I probably should be way toward the bottom right. Basically I landed right where milton friedmand is, so this thing definately seems a bit off. The only reason I can think that I landed there is becuase I’m anti-abortion. But you’d think one question wouldn’t make that much difference.

  18. I’m behind ANY attempt to get away from the left-right dichotomy. Maybe we need 6 dimensions as Jesse says, but 2 is certainly better than 1.

    BTW I scored right in the middle of the bottom right square, and I was distressed (but not surprised, I guess) to see that no world leader shares the square with me!

  19. Someone posted:

    “Micheal Moore is today’s Tom Paine.

    Wasn’t Tom Paine the guy that wanted the government to run everyone’s life, but also bitched that the US was a fascist state while also advocating that citizens be disarmed in the face of the said fascist state?”

    True – but my point was more about the historical comparison rather than their politics.

    Another person wrote:

    “I like to knock Chomsky’s politics as much as the next guy, but psuedo-intellectual is just not right.

    Whatever else you might think about him, his contributions to linguistics have been nothing short of revolutionary. His insights on the brain and language have had an enormous impact on other areas of cognitive science.”

    I 100% agree with that statement. However, Chomsky uses his credentials as an expert in one area of scholarship to give himself an air of intellectual credibility when talking about other areas. By “psuedo-intellectual” I mean that, because Chomksy has a PhD, he presumes that he knows more about politics, media, economics, etc., than the average blowhard, regardless of his area of expertise. If you listen to or read his polemical diatribes you can hear that his speeches have the format and language of an academic presentation or scholarly paper (he cartainly knows the jargon, style, etc), yet the substance of his speech is based on errounous facts, moral/revisionist conclusions about historical events, and an utter lack of regard competing arguements and theories.

  20. Agent Smith, I know this is all part of your scheme.

  21. According to the quiz I’m apparently a right-libertarian, although my tendencies in both directions are mild. I’m pretty close to the center.

    As most people here can attest, the luke-warm libertarianism may be an accurate description of me (off with his head!), but the right lean? Huh? I’m the guy who thinks the Democrats are often the lesser evil.

    Goes to show how quizzes must be taken with a grain of salt (or some other white powder…).

  22. There’s also the “Are you a paleolibertarian?” quiz?”

    http://selectsmart.com/FREE/select.php?client=zeron

    It’s better than the World’s Smallest Politcial Quiz, but it does have its flaws.

    And there’s David Brin’s “Fundamental Questions” poll

    http://www.davidbrin.com/questionnaire.html

    which doesn’t generate any results, but it does allow you to answer some political questions with something more than a yes, no, or maybe.

  23. I too scored near Milton Friedman. Nice company to be in. It is depressing that no world leaders share our quadrant, but duUhh, that’s hardly surprising.

    A two dimensional grid is far better the ubiquitous one dimensional lib/con line. Hyper dimensional space might be more useful for scholars but not the lay citizen.

    A three dimensional political space might be interesting:
    Economics, Civil Liberties, Foreign Affairs.

    To be proper orthogonal axis they should be independent of each other but politically everything is linked.

  24. twistedmerkin,

    Yeah, I was freaked that Ken Macleod was on board. I figured he’d be trying to kill them all off.

    Jesse,

    Your response to the quiz is pretty much my response to every political poll I’ve ever tried to take. I wind up writing in angry comments about how badly written the questions are, and refusing to choose any of their unacceptable alternatives. Telephone pollsters usually hang up on me in disgust.

  25. politopia.com is a more appropriate quiz. the one linked above i find to be slanted to the brit/ european way of thinking and not the us.

    good weekend, all,
    drf

  26. Warren-

    The third axis for foreign affairs might not be needed. Even though in principle it is a separate set of issues, in practice a person’s position on foreign policy can often (but most certainly not always) be predicted by that person’s stances on domestic issues.

    Trade issues are obvious. A person’s stances on domestic economic issues will often carry over to trade issues.

    The military side of foreign policy may actually be correlated with social issues: The so-called “social issues” axis, or “civil liberties” axis may not be as accurate as having a “cultural issues” axis. For instance, a person who support obscenity laws and flag burning laws while opposing immigration and gay rights (things that most people here would say are government regulation of individual decisions) will often be ardently pro-gun (something most people here would say is a stance in favor of individual liberty). And a person who tends to take a more civil-libertarian stance on many issues (e.g. obscenity, privacy, immigration, gay rights) will often be adamantly anti-gun. And many people on both sides will believe the government should support their stances (e.g. we should have public schools to teach that gays are immoral, or we should have public schools to teach that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice to be celebrated).

    If the real divide is a cultural one, with mindsets that correlate with cultural stances rather than a philosophical support for or opposition to government regulation, then military issues may also be cultural issues. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I observe that many culturally liberal people are also skeptical of most wars, while culturally conservative people are often supportive of our various military interventions.

    So 2D might be sufficient if the axes are properly identified.

  27. “maybe people should just be themselves instead of falling into the collectivist trap of belonging to some sort of abstract label
    Posted by Mr. Upsidedown Neoconmutualistitarianhumanist at November 21, 2003 03:28 PM ”

    You get my vote for having said it best.

    As it happens, was sitting on the toilet today–had diarrhea–reading my local atheist newsletter which was trying to put a label on Einstein: Was he humanist, atheist, agnostic, “bright,” jewish, egghead, hippie?

    I came to conclusion then: It would take an “Einstein” to label Einstein.

  28. Kevin, never hang up on a telephone pollster! They’re forbidden to hang up on you because it will ruin their sample. Politely refuse to answer immediately, explaining at greater and greater length why the choices are inadequate, why it’s important that their poll offer additional alternatives, all sorts of helpful advice. Then end in a single “So. ” followed by a long pause. With success, eventually, they won’t fill the pause but hang on the otherwise dead line, still not allowed to hang up. To reach this desired state, you have to have left open the possibility that you MAY ANSWER SOON, so the statistical rules still forbid hanging up.

    On topic exhaustion, look for common hobbies between the pollster and yourself. I found one who trained dogs once.

  29. Whatever else you might think about him, his contributions to linguistics have been nothing short of revolutionary.

    I dunno. There seems to be a growing movement to reject a lot of transformational-generative grammar in linguistics. Yes, he had some good insights, but overall his approach was flawed (basing his ideas on English, then trying to shoehorn other languages into fitting patterns based on English). From what I’ve seen, the idea is to keep the (few) parts of TG grammar that make some sense and throw the rest out as a noble but flawed attempt to create a grand unified theory of linguistics.

    Just to note, I’m not an expert; I’m studying linguistics, but I have no degree and I’m only fairly knowledgeable. But this is what I’ve been able to glean from what I’ve read in linguistics.

  30. http://selectsmart.com/politics.html has a lot of little politial quizes. Unfortunately, I came out as anything from Left-Liberal to Anarchist to US Conservative on them. The problem with these sort of quizes is that the number of questions is too low to balance out the bias of the creator.

  31. “Wasn’t Tom Paine the guy that wanted the government to run everyone’s life, but also bitched that the US was a fascist state while also advocating that citizens be disarmed in the face of the said fascist state?”

    I must be thinking of a _different_ Tom Paine:

    The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage the keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. — Thomas Paine, Writings of Thomas Paine at 56 (1894)

    Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. — Thomas Paine

    …arms…discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. …Horrid mischief would ensue were (the law-abiding) deprived the use of them. — Thomas Paine.

  32. “The third axis for foreign affairs might not be needed. Even though in principle it is a separate set of issues, in practice a person’s position on foreign policy can often (but most certainly not always) be predicted by that person’s stances on domestic issues.”

    I disagree wholeheartedly.

    In-group ethics are not strongly correlated to out-group ethics.

  33. Non-libertarian transhumanism does seem like quite a contradiction.

    For a more consistent strain see: http://www.extropy.org/

    For the objectivist pedigree of transhumanism and affinities between the two, see the interesting article:
    http://www.prometheuscrack.com/philosophytatpoar.html

    On the other hand:
    The “cyborg democracy” blog tells us that it is: “transmitting a sexy, high-tech vision of a radically democratic future”

    Ignoring that the words, “radically democratic future” conjure up some freighting prospects, it sort of seems like “fashion-cyberpunk”, but sans all the really cute girls.

    Hey, Ken MacLeod; whats up with this?

    Any way, I don’t think that the fact that these guys are extant requires any additional axes to the political spectrum. That third; Z, foreign intervention axis might be descriptive some times though.

  34. anon @ 4:01 pm:

    I understand your point. But whenever the US contemplates military action, the anti-war protests seem to disproportionately come certain groups, while the people most likely to display patriotic bumper stickers and signs often come from certain other groups. It seems like America’s factions tend to fall along the same lines in foreign affairs as well as domestic affairs.

  35. Thoreau,

    I think you’re off on that. I’m one of many, many liberals and libertarians who never thought they’d be flag-waving types until after Sept. 11.

  36. Thoreau,

    I’m going to have to agree with Steve in CA. In fact, it is an equal source of pleasure and frustration that I cannot culturally relate to either side of the “war protestor”-“flag-waving” dichotomy.

  37. I was quite close to Nelson Mandela, just a little closer to the “right” (meaning, market). In your face, Flanders!

    Anyway, what does “When you are troubled, it’s better not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things.” have to do with anything?

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