25 March 2008

The Circle of Ideology

It is customary, based upon the seating preferences of deputies the French revolutionary parliament, to call liberals "left wing" and to call conservatives "right wing." Most of the time, this is a quite useful description of real life political behavior.

Despite the protestations of organizations like the operators of the Political Compass website, that strive to distinguish between social liberals and conservatives as one dimension of political ideology, and economic liberals and conservatives as another dimension of political ideology, most real life politicians end up in the liberal-liberal quadrant, or the conservative-conservative quadrant. There are subtle distinctions to be made in the middle in a multi-dimensional way, but they are outliers.

Left and right wing ideologies are, of course, matters of degree. Some people are more liberal than others, and some people are more conservative than others. Some people in the middle are just plain muddled and incoherent ideologically, and those people are mostly politically inactive or at least reluctant participants in politics.

I'm certainly not the first to note, however, that if one goes far enough to the right, and one goes far enough to the left, that there is a certain convergence, suggesting that left and right wing are relative directions not on an ideological line, but on an ideological circle in which the extremes meet.

The new to me, at least, Not My Tribe group blog which comes up as a Colorado based blog in the Lefty Blogs feed is very far to the left of my own ideology to the point at which it is starting to enter the extremes meet zone. I'm something of the Brennan liberal roughly in the ideological middle of non-Blue Dog elected Democrats in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. So far as I can tell, Not My Tribe hovers around the ideological boundary distinguishing Democratic Socialists from bona fide Communists.

For example, a recent comment at the blog, which seemed to me to be in accord with the spirit of the blog, argued that the Free Tibet movement was an corporatist Anglo-American plot to secure a puppet who could cut off the water supply of the rest of China. Call me old fashioned, but I'm not too impressed myself with sovereignty obtained in recent times through mere force of conquest.

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