While checking my Facebook inbox, I noticed that Todd in Toronto from the Talking Stick show had invited me to install the Political Compass application. These days I prefer not to add anything else to my Facebook profile, but I discovered that they have a general website too.

The Political Compass asks you six quick pages of questions with four options ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree for each. The questions range from religious freedom, economic structure, governance, the environment and social issues. Once you've answered the questions it plots where you stand on their Political Compass which addresses the problem of the flat left-right scale only including economic views. Instead of left and right for extreme communism and extreme capitalism, they also include a top and bottom for authoritarian to libertarian. From their test page:

That deals with economics, but the social dimension is also important in politics. That’s the one that the mere left-right scale doesn’t adequately address. So we’ve added one, ranging in positions from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian.

According to the Political Compass, I am in the left wing libertarian quadrant. My Economic Left/Right score is -3.38 (mildly left wing), my Social Libertarian/Authoritarian score is -6.05 (mid range libertarian).

My political compass

I answered that companies sometimes need regulation to stay honest; religion isn't required for morals and should be kept out of government; education and healthcare should be free for all; unemployment assistance should be provided but that the government should be stricter about requirements; laws introduced to combat terrorism have gone too far; and that what consenting adults do in the bedroom and in weddings is no business of the state. I answered that free trade is generally a good thing but that companies should be held accountable when they're caught abusing people in developing countries; that patriotism is largely irrelevant these days; and that racism and sexism are fundamentally wrong.

The only thing that disappointed me about the questions was that there weren't enough about the environment. For example, I would have loved to answer that new public transport lines are more important than new express ways; that old buildings should be preserved; that high speed rail is more desirable than new airports; that tax breaks should be given to businesses that are environmentally concious; and so forth. I wonder how my position on the compass would change if these were taken into consideration? I suspect it would make me marginally less libertarian.

The folks at Whole Wheat Radio have really been the only people I've discussed politics with in any great detail… I hope I did okay! I'm thinking I might do this test every year or so because as a younger person I tend to change my mind about things a lot. For example in high school economics I had a teacher who was 110% for free trade, and while I think it's still a good idea I feel as though I'm more realistic about it now, and understand some of the shortcomings.

If you've taken the test too, feel free to post the scores you got too! We could have a Rubenerd Blog political compass with the views of several people shown on the one graph :)