The other day, a friend of mine somewhat surprised me by referring to me as a ‘conservative.’ Pressed to define myself, I would say that I am a pragmatic libertarian who is willing to recognize that our freedoms need to be constrained in many ways in order to live decently together.
The Political Compass test categorizes me as follows: moderately left wing on economics (-3.00) and strongly slanted towards libertarianism rather than authoritarianism (-6.67).
I do object to some of the questions they pose. For instance:
- If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations – It is a bit silly to say that globalization serves one or the other, or that corporations are purely abstract entities whose welfare has nothing to do with individual people.
- The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders – This seems like an oversimplification of a complex question. Clearly, corporations have a general obligation to obey the law (though those in them may sometimes be morally obliged to break unjust laws). It certainly isn’t clear that the directors of corporations should undertake charity using shareholder wealth.
- First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country – This clearly depends on what constitutes integration. For instance, when there are societies that have multiculturalism and inclusiveness as important features, people can be integrated without being assimilated.
The test also features a number of confusingly worded multiple-negative items. “Is X not true? No.” There are also a few questions seemingly designed to establish whether you are a racist. It seems to me that there have probably been racists of all possible political affiliations.
Personally, I would say my political philosophy is a combination of some classically liberal ways of viewing the world coupled with a libertarian concern for the individual and a utilitarian concern for group welfare. I would say that I am also unusually aware of the extent to which seemingly private decisions (what to eat, how to travel, etc) have significant and morally relevant impacts on other people.