Kill the Political Compass in Your Head

The political compass is possibly the most popular political meme across a wide range of political identities and movements. Here is why socialist should stop using it.

One of my favorite jokes to make since socialism has made a comeback was this following parody of the political compass I would send to people when they asked me what my political orientation was or even more precisely where I was on the political compass:

“Stalin? Pol Pot? Those simps let everyone get away with everything.”
A lot to unpack here.

“Universal Tool”

In various ways, the political compass is claimed to be “a universal tool, applicable to all western democracies.” That sentence is somewhat contradictory since application to western democracies clearly puts it outside the realm of being a universal. Also while it may not have been the intention of the creators, the political compass is applied to governments and individuals outside of “western democracies” all the time. The website’s own analytical example of the need for a political compass has individuals who were mostly not in nor advocating for western democracies:

Known western democracy Nazi Germany.

Objective and Scientific

One of the reasons I think Leftists get attracted to the political compass is that it represents a range of politics not experienced in the United States dichotomy of a two party system with little differences between the two parties. Statements like “Bernie Sanders is popularly perceived in his own country as an off-the-wall left figure; in other western democracies he would sit squarely within the mainstream social democratic parties” seems like a refreshing objective assessment of Sanders’ politics versus the American mainstream of treating him as the furthest left possible (but also somehow the same as Elizabeth Warren).

The Political Compass perpetuates an individualistic and capitalistic idea of politics

The first two flaws with the political compass (a travesty of the “universal” and of the “scientific”) are flaws with the concept as used for political science. As a socialist, I do not think socialists should use it because it will not give them an accurate understanding of the politics of say the Thatcher administration or right wing libertarians. But there’s a third and even more fundamental reason I oppose the political compass as a socialist.

The way the gentry is holding the Church is quite sexual, or is that just me?
I have questions…

Feminist socialist writer fighting for econ justice. Views do not represent my firm, DSA, or my cats, who are sadly both ultra leftists.

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