How true is your political compass?

28 10 2006

(Good find, Liza!)

Welcome to The Political Compass™.

There’s abundant evidence for the need of it. The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.

That’s about as much as we should tell you for now. After you’ve responded to the following propositions during the next 3-5 minutes, all will be explained. In each instance, you’re asked to choose the response that best describes your feeling: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree or Strongly Agree. At the end of the test, you’ll be given the compass, with your own special position on it. . .

The idea was developed by a political journalist with a university counselling background, assisted by a professor of social history. They’re indebted to people like Wilhelm Reich and Theodor Adorno for their ground-breaking work in this field. We believe that, in an age of diminishing ideology, a new generation in particular will get a better idea of where they stand politically – and the sort of political company they keep.

So are you ready to take the test? Remember that there’s no right, wrong or ideal response. It’s simply a measure of attitudes and inevitable human contradictions to provide a more integrated definition of where people and parties are really at. Click here to start.

When Power of Story IS the Story

28 10 2006

Now the election story is that we’re voting on which character issues lying behind each candidate’s fictional characters, betray more flaws in their real-life plotlines?

I spent my own two cents prematurely, I guess:

“Telling” stories – when does fiction betray lack of character?

Catholic leaders claim (Dan Brown’s novel) “The Da Vinci Code” is manipulation of belief, fraud for profit, harmful lies we must warn the world to reject. Now comes the titillating and, one supposes, quite predictable reverse play, the crowning glory of the news and belief cycle (whoops, not to be redundant!) — historical Christianity itself challenged as fraud, with the courts as the objective Standard of Truth.

It’s being called “abuse of popular belief” by the plaintiff. . .
I think it’s time we add it to our mandatory graduation standards — if we can find anyone qualified to teach the course.

If midterm races do come down to exasperated voters weighing degrees of brazen fiction as clues to character, which party has the electoral edge?

As NYT’s Frank Rich wrote in a January 22 column headlined, ” Truthiness 101″:
“It says everything about the Democrats’ ineptitude that when they spin fiction, they are incapable of meeting even the low threshold of truthiness needed to make it fly in this lax cultural environment.
The Republicans would never have been so sloppy. Indeed, hardly had Mr. Kennedy’s melodramatic stunt blown up in his face than they came up with a new story line . . .
(from) a PR outfit called Creative Response Concepts . . .”

Meanwhile, Kennedy gave this speech:
“Instead of a free and honest exchange of ideas, our hearings have become stylized and choreographed appearances in which nominees are coached to say as little as possible. When it comes to lifetime appointments to the highest court in the land, surely the American people deserve better. . .”

UPDATE to “choreographed appearances” and candidates “coached to say as little as possible” about their personal truths and fictions. One needn’t evoke Clinton to bring Dem fictions into this free-for-all, just stick with Ted Kennedy. This still-polarizing fiction needs no comment.

We struggle so hard to judge the relative currency of every politician’s truthiness, contradictions and abuse of our belief. If the American people DO deserve better but never get it from politicians, I’m thinking we can just write some better stories for ourselves?