Eruditorum Press

Temporarily embarrassed proletarians

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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

3 Comments

  1. Neo
    August 21, 2019 @ 8:54 am

    People who would sneer at the idea that gender exists on a spectrum, and often at the idea that species evolved, will reach for some kind of understanding of politics as involving the evolution of ideas, with the resulting ‘species’ of politics also being like colours on a spectrum, bleeding into each other.

    Fantastic line. Loved this, great to see a thoughtful pulling-apart of these ridiculous graphs.

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  2. Camestros Felapton
    August 21, 2019 @ 8:55 am

    Great essay.

    I have to say that I have a love of confused political spectrum schemes.

    The line reflects an imposition as well, that political choice is bivalent and that everybody lies somewhere between those choices. The line can be a useful map for a specific political situation (Democrat v Republican, Brexit v Remain) but is a poor reflection of the connection between ideas and a very poor reflection of an individual’s beliefs. It’s an even worse reflection of an individual’s beliefs over a period of time.

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  3. WLGR
    August 26, 2019 @ 3:30 pm

    Disappointing that you didn’t segue at any point into a direct discussion of the “Political Compass,” which is wildly popular among the confused online quasi-Marxian soft left for precisely the reasons you describe, allowing its target audience (those who fall in the “libertarian left” quadrant) “to create a moral diagram on which you are placed in the moral zone.” The major point of ideological befuddlement the Political Compass attempts to address — the cognitive dissonance between embracing left/socialist ideology as good and rejecting “actually existing socialisms” like the USSR as bad — is resolved on the Political Compass via a quick and easy separation between an “economic” X axis and a “political” or “social” Y axis, resulting in a simple one-dimensional “more government to less government” spectrum on the Y axis that functions in more or less exactly the same way as the gobshite right-wing spectrum you use as the illustration for the article.

    Of course one of the basic lessons of dialectical/historical materialist thinking is that ultimately there can never be a definitive separation between the “political” and the “economic,” because the division of labor and the distribution of economic resources are inherently relations of political power, and obfuscating this point by demarcating the two categories as separable means that the Political Compass itself is spreading a deeply right-wing message. All of which makes it quite fitting that the chart’s actual origin is as a superficial revision of an earlier version called the “Nolan Chart,” invented in the 1960s by the far-right activists of the US Libertarian Party, explicitly designed to play the same obfuscatory right-wing ideological role that the Political Compass plays only implicitly.

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