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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5582/working-paper-on-political-systems/

Working Paper on Political Systems

September 8, 2006 by

A Ternary Diagram of Western Political Systems
by George E. Gregory (URS Corp, Houston, TX)

The oversimplification of our system of political parties leads to a general labeling of political agendas as being either conservative or liberal, and defining these along a one-dimensional spectrum (with the extremes being labeled right or left-wing). Often, the two terms really only apply to which groups wants something to be changed (liberals) and those who want to keep them the same (conservatives). This spectrum fails to adequately describe the basis for the political landscape because it attempts to reduce all political conflict to one dimension. The following figure displays a similar simplified spectrum. It graphically charts “left” and “right” wing political groups, however this chart only describes the relationship between promoting equality of outcome (the egalitarian “welfare state”) versus promoting a secure, national order (the militarized “warfare state”). What is conspicuously absent in this spectrum is the promotion of liberty (freedom from coercive government action).


Roger M September 8, 2006 at 1:18 pm

I really like the ternary diagram. It’s brilliant!

Nick Bradley September 8, 2006 at 3:25 pm

I always saw the political spectrum as interventionist vs. non-interventionist. The Right is non-interventionist while the Left is interventionist.

Plus, true consrevatives are always anti-state because they want to restore a bygone system before the creation of the modern welfare state.

More recently, however, I’ve seen the spectrum as a circle.

If we start out at the bottom of the circle, we have statists. You move to the right until you get to Anarchocapitalism. You move to the Left until you get to AnarchoSocialism; they meet up at the top. Then they argue over semantics such as “would the large corporation exist in a truly free market” and which philosophy on land tenure and land rights is best? Is it Lockean or Georgist, or somewhere in between? That’s how I see it.

Mark Brabson September 8, 2006 at 6:02 pm

I prefer the RLC’s version of the Libergraph. The additional categories of enterpriser/statist/rightwing/leftwing. I prefer their graph to The Advocates Graph, although I think the RLC itself is ineffective at best.

TGGP September 9, 2006 at 11:30 am

This study of the opinions of college faculty found four different clusters, although I suppose many more could be found.

The link between fiscal and social conservativism receives an interesting analysis here.

E. Harding November 25, 2008 at 4:03 pm

The problem with the ternary diagram if used as a display of political views is that it only calculates the average amount of the Anarchist- Bolshevist/ Democrat- Totalitarian/ Communist- Republican spectra combined. For example, a person who is a full advocate of liberty, equality, and centralized order will occupy the same place on the ternary diagram as one that supports no liberty and complete inequality, but still wants direct democracy to function. I am sorry to say, but the Nolan chart remains the most accurate representation of a person’s political views that I know of.

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