Flux Continuum

I spent some time today talking about political affiliations – and how complex they can be.

No one is as simple as a “left” or a “right.” But do more axes more accurately describe a person?

The Political Compass aims to address the “overly simplistic” one-dimensional model by adding another axis – a spectrum of authoritarian to libertarian. It’s a fun quiz, and the results are interesting. Go ahead and check it out.

While this quiz is great and the model is helpful, it somehow feels…insufficient. Four boxes are better than two, but it still doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the day you’re getting put in a box.

And maybe that’s unavoidable to some extent. You really can’t talk about groups of people or about changes and trends without putting people in boxes. But these static boxes support – or may lead to – polarization. It can be a helpful heuristic, no doubt. But is boxing people really the optimal solution?

Even a complex system – with say, 16 boxes instead of 2 – just puts people in neater, more well-defined boxes.

No one puts Shugars in a corner, and I don’t really like the idea of being in a box either. My opinions and politics are subtle, varied, complex, and changing.I wonder if we could come up with continua that accounted not only for different aspects of politics – whether you’re authoritarian or libertarian, individualistic or collective – but accounted for shifts in those opinions.What situations make you act selfishly? Which make you act selflessly? What personal flaws do you have that you wish you could overcome? I have my ideals, but I also have my realities, and both make me the person that I am. If we could capture these complex, changing, subjective views…well, it might be too complicated to be practical, but it should would be interesting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.