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).