Sunday, April 20, 2008

More on politics

I've never taken a class in political philosophy, but I would like to think that I am not completely unaware of the structure of politics or how the history of human thought has affected public and private human life. The absence of a formal background leaves me to flounder with abstract and non-standard terms, and I probably have significant blind-spots. That said, I know what I believe, and why, so it is relatively easy for me to explain why I vote for a particular candidate--or why voting is difficult in certain instances.

I took a "political compass" test to remind myself of where I stand. Here is the result:


By this chart alone, you would believe that I was left-middle economically, and socially very centrist. However this chart is uninformative on two counts. First, it presents the fallacy of the absolute middle. Any good postmodern thinker will recognize a certain arbitrariness to where the central lines are drawn, especially if the authors of the test do not reveal precise rationales.

Second, the chart falls into the fallacy of spectrum thinking. The validity of spectrum models itself lies on a spectrum, and I would suggest that that validity decreases the most sharply in proportion to the number of ideas and positions the authors attempt to represent in a single spectrum.

The first problem can be assuaged somewhat by presenting my dot in relative position to other dots. It so happens that the website provides for us a chart of famous figures, including, happily, Pope Benedict XVI:


It is perhaps not surprising that I am economically closely aligned with Pope Benedict, given that my strongest influence in this area is perhaps the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which is unavoidably left-center in its basic values as regards a government's responsibility to preserve basic human rights. Also, perhaps the fact that I am more libertinist than the Pope reflects some Americanism on my part. Mea culpa.

However, even as such, the chart fails to provide meaningful information about what I believe and why. For example, no one could guess from this chart that, while I am relatively libertinist on many issues, I am relatively extremely authoritarian where sexual matters are concerned, as I am strongly opposed to fundamental doctrines of the sexual revolution. I think a basic, non-scientific empiricism exposes the strong link between private sexual misbehavior and the collapse of public pillars of civilization, which in turn has led to epidemics of mental illness, crime, drugs, general unhappiness and a drag on education, social intelligence, and culture.

Thus a look at my political standpoint will not be accurate until it is broken down into a hierarchical structure of values and disvalues. See if the following personal doctrines are consistent with the location of my "dot" on the spectrum above:

  1. The theistic presumption. It is not necessary for an individual's moral framework that one believe in the Objective Ultimate as a metaphysical origin of Being and the ground of goodness as objective, universally binding, and thereby sanctioning a government's aligning itself toward the Good as a real yet mysterious truth. But the just state requires this presupposition as the linchpin of its existence and direction. Even were an atheist to be a head of the state, even as a dictator, the state fails its purpose unless the dictator presupposes his/her service to the Good as reality larger than the State and larger than him/herself, knowable (in part) by the full use of human reason, and Real. No just state, no matter the system of governance, can be founded in ideological relativism. All subsequent points flow from this theistic presumption.

    1. As against "atheizing" official documents and declarations of the United States, including the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, anthems, and the Pledge of Alleigance*.

      1. *Not requiring individuals, even heads of the state, to personally endorse theism.

  2. The sanctity and dignity of the human individual life is based exclusively one's being, and not upon any contingent realities--whether age, stage of development, history, location, citizenship, gender, health, or state of mind.

    1. As absolutely against abortion, euthanasia*, capital punishment, embryonic experimentation, and cloning.

      1. *Not requiring "extraordinary treatment", i.e., artificial extension of the life of patients whose condition directly implies immanent and inevitable death, or whose burden is not proportional to the good of the patient, which is not first and foremost physical, but spiritual.

    2. As against the prioritizing of any organization, theory, program, entity, plan, abstract value, structure, national identity, or law over and against the sanctity and dignity of individual human life.
    3. As for actively and proportionately guarding and encouraging, with all available resources legitimately obtained, the dignity, safety, health, freedom, and (opportunities for) prosperity of each individual in our boundaries.

      1. As for the official recognition and public privilege of family (organized not only by interpersonal choices by also by common biology as represented in heterosexual monogamy) as a public fact, a natural and necessary element of human life, having vital direct consequences for the physical and mental health of individuals and the health of civilization.

        1. As against frivolous divorce, all forms of the "marriage tax", public recognition or privilege granted to unmarried or homosexual unions, and indoctrination by public or non-profit agencies in sexual license.
        2. As for a preference granted to homes organized by heterosexual monogamy (among other obvious requirements) for the adoption of (especially young) children.

    4. As against all coercion not necessary to fulfill the previous.
    5. As for the advancement of culture, thought, technology, and the whole human heritage--in a word, civilization.

Obviously this is not meant to be comprehensive. I wanted to highlight beliefs of mine which might be unusual and needed elaboration. But it shows something of the hierarchy of my political beliefs.

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