Thursday, August 06, 2009

Left moderate social libertarian non-interventionist cultural liberal

That's me, according to this quiz. On a scale of 1 to 10, I scored:

Economic issues: +7.06 left
Social issues: +3.06 libertarian
Foreign policy: +5.48 non-interventionalist
Cultural identification: +6.59 liberal

And that's probably about right -- at least, I'm definitely more left than right economically, socially more libertarian than authoritarian, internationally more non-interventionist than interventionist, and culturally more liberal than conservative. It's quite good compared to most internet quizzes.

The interesting thing to me is how much I've changed over the past eight years. In 2001, I probably would have been in the same quadrant, but I would have been tucked way up in the corner, close to the center point.

My libertarianism score probably changed the least. I've long believed in encouraging socially beneficial behavior, but otherwise leaving people alone. I suppose my cultural identification shifted to the left because I stopped believing in my religion and started thinking for myself a little more. (That's not a statement on other believers, just on me.)

I used to believe more in markets and deregulation, but under the Bush Administration, that turned out to be a colossal FAIL in the financial sector. Not to mention Enron, and the individual health insurance market, and on and on. (Of course, the Clinton Administration also helped many of these cases along, and they merely came to a head under Bush.) I used to be open to interventionism (in fact, I might even have gotten a slightly positive "interventionist" score eight years ago) but since then we've had two wars that also turned out to be colossal FAILS.

So I've changed over the past eight years. Yet I know many who haven't, and even some who've become more conservative. It's a curiosity to me that people could see the same things happen over the last eight years in America, namely, the utter failure of conservative policy after conservative policy, and yet remain completely unmoved in their conservatism. Of course, 15 or 20 years ago, I saw the same thing happen among hard-core Marxists after the Soviet Union collapsed. They'd say things like, "That wasn't real Marxism. Real Marxism hasn't failed." Sure. OK. You go right on telling yourself that.

What I try to do is to remember that everything I believe should be conditional. If I believe something, I want to believe it only pending better information. If I get better information that contradicts a belief, I want to stop believing that belief, even if believing is easier. Of course, that's easier said than done, but for me it is at least an ideal.

But I find a lot of people dislike that idea. They believe that clinging hard to an ideology, say, or a religion, despite the evidence, is a virtue. They describe this in terms such as "loyalty" or "faithfulness" to their ideals or beliefs. Those who change their beliefs in the face of evidence they consider "easily shaken" or political "flip-floppers." (And, of course, politicians in particular are indeed probably more prone to engage in rank pandering to whatever groups they think will get them enough votes rather than to actual rethinking of positions.)

I just can't see the virtue in that. Loyalty to people, despite their faults, you bet. I believe in that. (Although I also notice that many people seem rather blind to their friends' and families' faults.) But loyalty to ideas and organizations in the face of contrary evidence? What is the point of that? I don't understand it.


  1. Our two wars are not Collosal Fails. You are still alive to write this article?

  2. BTW I have exact same score as you

  3. I'm still alive so the wars aren't failures? That seems a bit of a false dichotomy, doesn't it? I mean, it's flattering, but my survival isn't really much of a criterion for military success.

    Besides, I'm pretty sure that I'd still be alive if we hadn't FUBARed one war after we had it won and invaded a completely irrelevant country based on bad information.


What do you think?