An idea has been buzzing in my head for quite some time now, and it may turn out to be mere self-indulgence or may even have the potential for some larger initiative. This post invites an open house on this idea, its correctness and its feasibility. Those who are regular readers and my close friends are obligated to pour their thoughts in writing!
1) The socio-politico-economic Cube
How often have you come across the terms left-wing, right-wing, conservative, liberal, socialist, libertaraian, objectivist, marxist etc? And how often have you wondered about where exactly you stand on various issues that affect our daily lives, our relationship with the state, and the nature of our government? Society, politics and economics are deeply inter-related and yet some delineating markers can be found, in terms of various pressing issues that can be categorized as social, or political or economic. I have been trying to think of some of these issues that taken together may be comprehensive and representative, for an exhaustive list is not possible.
1-A : The Political Spectrum (the first axis of the cube)
A person's political views can lie anywhere between(and ofcourse, including) the extremes of anarchy on one side, and absolute authoritarianism on the other. If you support a hawkish foreign policy, aggressive millitary policy, capital punishment, etc. you are likely to be somewhat authoritarian. If you support freer borders, have deep faith in the Geneva Conventions, have little time for nationalist discourse and view the government and the millitary/intelligence agencies with inherent suspicion, you are more likely to be somewhat of an anarchist. Ofcourse, you may support a few of these things, oppose a few others and then again support or oppose these issues to different degrees. Here's a possible list of representative issues
1) voting rights and form of government
2) immigration policy
3) nature of defence policy and armed forces
4) legal system esp. capital punishment
5) extent of Right to Information
6) free speech wrt to importance of flag, anthem and other national symbols
7) intelligence agencies, security and privacy
8) human rights laws and power of law-enforcing agencies
1-B : The Social Spectrum (the second axis of the cube)
A person's social views can lie on the extremes between very conservative and very liberal, and a possible list of representative issues can be (don't think I need to mention what views are consdiered conservative and what views are considered liberal)
1) freedom of speech wrt censorship in arts/media/entertainment
2) role of religion in public life
3) gay rights and laws on homosexuality
4) abortion and contraception
5) euthanasia and suicide
6) drugs and laws on substance abuse
7) pornograhy laws
1- C : The Economic Spectrum (the third axis of the cube)
Economic views can be between Stalinist statism on one side and absolute laissez faire capitalism on the other, and a list of representative topics are
1) ownership of means of production
2) intellectual property rights
3) labour laws, unions, minimum wage etc.
4) government role in infrastructure, health and education
5) environmental regulations
6) domestic and international trade regulations
7) tax system and policy
8) monopoly or anti-trust laws
Now, here's the plan. A concise but representaive questionnaire can be developed, with three sections, one for each of the above aspects. Each of these sections will have a few questions, hopefully around 10, and each question will represent exactly one of the topics listed in each section. These questions will have multiple responses, and each response will have a numerical value attched to it to measure how anarchist/authoritarian or conservative/liberal or capitalist/marxist your views are on that issue. The scores on each question can then simply be totalled up to obtain the score for each section, and a combination of the sectional totals will directly reflect the set-up you want to live in. For eg. a score that is higher than average on authoritarianism and conservatism, and very high on the capitalism side would reflect a viewpoint that matches with messrs George W Bush et al. A score that is slightly skewed towards anarchy, and very high on the social liberal and capitalist scales would indicate a libertarian viewpoint, and so on. As a sample question and responses, consider this
Q: What's your take on capital punishment?
1) State-sponsored violence, a tool of propaganda, open to flagrant subjective abuse, a form of tribal justice that has no place in the modern scoiety
2) Has some arguments in its support, but statistics show that it is ineffective and counter-productive in controlling violent crime. Plus, it is extremely terminal nature for it delas with life. Should be abolished.
3) A system of natural justice that should be present, but used minimally. Should be used against serial killers, attackers and conspirators in terror bombings, political assasins who wage war against the state, and possibly for murders which were committed in an extremely premeditated and cruel manner.
4) An effective tool of retributive justice. Necessary for setting a precedent and controlling violent crime (statistics that show otherwise are flawed). those who violate someone else's right to life violate their own right to life. Can be handed out for all the above cases, as well as single murders and possibly even rapes.
As is easy to see, the responses are arranged in increasing order in support of a strong, authoritarian state, and hopefully represent all the rational viewpoints on the issue.
This plan can end up as nothing more than a rather meaningless online test that is not even fun. But then again, it may help many of us figure out the exact manifestos and public policy that we support and expect, and the public policy that some of us may even hope to form and implement in the future. What say?