Friday, March 24, 2006

A Political Compass

From a post that is almost two years old, but still on-target:
The left-right, liberal-conservative taxonomies of the political spectrum fail because they are linear and lacking in subtlety. My alternative is a . . . taxonomy with these four major points arrayed on a circular continuum:
• Anarchy -- "might makes right" without an effective state to referee the fight

• Libertarianism -- the minimal state for the protection of life, property, and liberty

• Communitiarianism -- the regulation of private institutions to produce "desirable" outcomes in such realms as income distribution, health, safety, education, and the environment

• Statism -- outright state control of most institutions, reached either as an extension of communitarianism or via post-statist anarchy or near-anarchy, as in Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, and Mao's China.
Think of anarchy, libertarianism, communitarianism, and statism as the North, East, South, and West of a compass. The needle swings mostly from anarchy to statism to communitarianism, and occasionally from communitarianism toward libertarianism, but never very far in that direction. . . .

The communitarian state is simply too seductive. It co-opts its citizens through progressive corruption: higher spending to curry favor with voting blocs, higher taxes to fund higher spending and to perpetuate the mechanisms of the state, still higher spending, and so on. Each voting bloc insists on sustaining its benefits -- and increasing them at every opportunity -- for one of two reasons. Many voters actually believe that largesse of the communitarian state is free to them, and some of them are right. Other voters know better, but they grab what they can get because others will grab it if they don't.
I remembered that post as I ruminated on the naïveté of anarchism, which is only a way-station to statism. Anarchy is an inherently unstable régime, favored by naïfs who probably wouldn't last more than a few days in it. As for modern "liberalism," it has become nothing more than statism.

Related posts:

Calling a Nazi a Nazi

Defense, Anarcho-Capitalist Style
But Wouldn't Warlords Take Over?
My View of Warlordism, Seconded
Anarcho-Libertarian Stretching
QandO Saved Me the Trouble
Liberty as a Social Compact
Social Norms and Liberty
A Footnote about Liberty and the Social Compact
Liberty and Federalism