Monday, 25 April 2011

What's this whole socially liberal and economic rational thing?

Over the long weekend I've spent some time talking about the position I have on social and economic issues over several glasses of wine and whisky.  So, I thought, why not start writing about what I talk to people about.  And given that I've titled this blog SocialLiberalEconomicRational, that seems like a fair place to start.

A good place to begin is to briefly explain what it all means.  In the media, you hear a lot about the left of politics and the right of politics.  Those terms really refer to economic positions.  The far left are the socialist approaches to economics - they are not in favor of free trade, and strongly favor social welfare.  The far right are in favor of the free market, in everything including social welfare.  Those who call themselves 'libertarians" (especially in the US, like the Tea Party) are economic libertarians on the far right.

But what gets left out of these conversations is attitudes to social issues.  I'm an extreme social libertarian, not an economic libertarian.  A good way to find out where you are is to take one of these little political tests.  The world's smallest political quiz is pretty good, even if it is sponsored by the economic libertarians.  The red dot shows where I sit on that spectrum. It's ironic that this labels me as a Liberal, given that in Australia of course the Liberals are not liberal at all.

Another good test is the political compass.  This is a bit longer, and has the economic left-right and social up-down axes.  You can see that I sit in the same spot on this test as on the first one - so that gives some credibility to both measurements.

What's interesting about this test is that they have mapped some world political leaders on the grid as well, so you can see where you sit. Kevin Rudd and Gordon Brown are still on the chart - but you get the general picture!  I'm closest to the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. There are a lot of people who are like me, but look at where all of the politicans are - they are nowhere near us.

What's also important is the shift over the past few decades.  The major parties have all shifted towards being more socially conservative and economically right.  If you want to read more about the patterns, based on UK data click here.

So, this is the heart of my blog.  Socially liberal, and economically rational people like myself and the Dalai Lama are not represented in our current democratic system.

Let me know what you think.

Mark S


  1. Welcome to the Blogosphere. But on left/right as economics, where did National Socialism fit?

  2. If you take a look at this page,, it suggests that Hitler was fairly centrist (a little to the right) economically - way left of the current Libs/Labor.