Political Orientation

In the Wikipedia article, Poltical Spectrum, there are described different ways of placing a person’s political orientation.

An early one was presented by the psychologist Hans Eysenck “Chapter 7: Politics and Personality,” in Sense and Nonsense in Psychology (1957).

I found a quiz on the internet — allegedly based on Eysenck’s work — which can be taken by anyone to see where they are placed on his scale. Here is the quiz, and below is my own result after taking the quiz:

There is also a similar chart, called the Nolan chart, which looks like this:
My own approach to political charts is more limited. Since I reject all non-democratic forms of government, that leaves me with two questions:

1. Are you in favor of giving each person a right to free subsistence land? Yes No

2. Are you in favor of micro-democracy? Yes No

I also associate macro-democracy with a centralized government, there are thus four possible alternatives.

Andrew Chrucky’s Politico-Economic Democratic Chart

Reflections on Carl Sagan’s “baloney detection kit”

I am reading Carl Sagan’s collection of essays, titled “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” (1995). I agree with everything in the book, except for two caveats.

The first is that although Sagan juxtaposes the findings of science against superstition and pseudo-science, his real intent is to recommend critical thinking. This becomes evident from two considerations.

The first. He tells us that while teaching at Cornell, the chairman of the astronomy department, Yervant Terzian, allowed him to teach critical thinking in a course titled “Astronomy 490.” (p. 435)

The other matter is that this critical thinking course was composed of what he described as “baloney detection kit,” described in detail in the essay “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection.” My point is that science and the methods of science are a subset of critical thinking, and this is admitted by Sagan himself in footnote to the essay “Science and Witchcraft”: “I do not wish to suggest that advocacy of science and skepticism necessarily lead to all the political or social conclusions. Although skeptical thinking is invaluable to politics, politics is not a science.” (p. 401) Exactly!

My second caveat is that Sagan’s skepticism and criticism is too narrow in this book. It should have included a wider political criticism as part of “baloney detection.” But, to be fair, he does express some political criticisms. One example is given in his “baloney detection kit” under the entry:

“weasel words (e.g., The separation of powers of the U.S. Constitution specifies that the United States may not conduct war without a declaration by Congress. On the other hand, Presidents are given control of foreign policy and the conduct of wars, which are potentially powerful tools for getting themselves re-elected. Presidents of either political party may therefore be tempted to arrange wars while waving the flag and calling the wars something else — “police actions,” “armed incursions,” “protective reaction strikes,” “pacification,” “safguarding American interests,” and a wide variety of “operations,” such as “Operation Just Cause.” Euphemisms for war are one of a broad class of reinventions of language for political purposes. Talleyrand said, “An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public”).” (p. 216)

Sagan also expresses moral disapproval of President Truman’s dropping of atom bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. And he also criticizes the Alien and Sedition Acts.

But Sagan’s skepticism and criticisms are too narrow. He could have criticized the office of the U.S. President, as such. He could also have criticized the U.S. Constitution (as, for example, as inferior to that of Switzerland). And he could also have criticized the institution of capitalism. But he does none of this.

Why is the government of Switzerland invisible?

Most of the governments of the world have a person with whom we identify a country. The most visible and troublesome ones are Donald Trump, the President of the United States, and Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation. Then there is the motley crew of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany; Emmanuel Macron, the President of France; and Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Then there is Kim Jong-un, the Dictator of North Korea; Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela; Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel. Also there are a host of — at least to me — peripheral leaders: Xi Jinping, President of China; Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary; Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada; Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine. Other leaders are, for me, at the margins — and I have to look them up or be reminded of who they are.

As to Switzerland, the government of Switzerland is basically invisible to me — even if I look up who’s who. Why? Primarily because they do not have a single leader, but a Federal Council consisting of seven individuals, who — unlike the nine-member Supreme Court in the United States who are often quite visible because of their individual identifiable controversial decisions — cannot be individually identified with any decisions because their individual votes are unrecorded and unknown.

Besides, whatever the Federal Council’s decisions are, they are neither controversial nor of international significance. The significant decisions of Switzerland are made through national referendums and national initiatives by the people; not by any leader. The result of this type of government is a prosperous, peaceful, and neutral country in times of war.

Viva la Switzerland!

Der Gesamtbundesrat 2020 (von links nach rechts): Bundeskanzler Walter Thurnherr, Bundesrätin Viola Amherd, Bundesrat Guy Parmelin (Vizepräsident), Bundesrat Alain Berset, Bundespräsidentin Simonetta Sommaruga, Bundesrat Ignazio Cassis, Bundesrat Ueli Maurer, Bundesrätin Karin Keller-Sutter. Foto: Annette Boutellier/Yoshiko Kusano

(3) Further commentary on Ian Shapiro’s course: “Moral Foundations of Politics”

The last four lectures are on democracy.

I agree with the idea of democracy as the claim that government, if moral, should be founded on the will of the people. However, Shapiro seems to use American Democracy, as if it were the paradigm of democratic government. My objection is that there are many different existing types of democratic governments, which Shapiro should have mentioned.

Shapiro mentioned Robert Dahl as being — according to him — the foremost current scholar of democracy. Because of this endorsement, I have read his book, On Democracy (1998). Dahl, in his turn, recommended looking at the freedom ranking of governments at the site: Freedom House. What is more interesting for me is the type of governments which exist in these “free” democracies. And for that answer — by Dahl’s recommendation — we should look at the studies of Arend Lijphart, whose most important book is Patterns of Democracy (1st ed. 1999; 2d ed. 2012). [available on the Internet]

Lijphart’s main classification of democracies is into two types: Majoritarian (also known as the Westminister model) and Consensus models. For example, the United Kingdom uses majoritarian democracy; whereas Switzerland uses consensus democracy.

I am not going to get into the details except to point out two features. In England the House of Commons is elected by a principle that whichever party gets the most votes wins, and then this party chooses the Prime Minister. Whereas in Switzerland, party members are elected by proportional representation, and the four parties with the largest number of representatives nominate the 7-member Federal Council.

Swiss Federal Council 2020

Arend Lijphart believes that Consensus type of democracy is preferable to the Majoritarian type.

My criticism of Ian Shapiro’s course boils down to this. He failed to tell the audience that there are different types of democracies in the world, and failed to consider which is preferable.

But that is not his only failing: i.e., the failure to differentiate and to grade democracies. Beside actual different types of democracies, there are also ideal and utopian types of democracies which are never mentioned by Shapiro. For example, Part III “Utopia” of Robert Nozick’s Anarchism, State, and Utopia points in this direction. [Contrary to Nozick, I would call his framework for utopias as the framework for anarchism] And a general description of anarchist proposals could be summarized as bottom-up federated democracies.

And without considering these alternative ideal democracies, there is no prospect for finding “the moral foundations of politics.”

Why is the world enamored by the Leader principle (except Switzerland)?

A single person in any capacity of making decisions is subject to advancing his own self-interest, subject to bribery, and subject to threats. Let us call this “corruption.”

I advance the following claim.

If it is possible for a leader to be corrupted, he will be corrupted.

This is just a rephrasing of the old adage that power tends to corrupt.

The ancient world of the Greeks and Romans knew this, and called a single leader a “dictator.” To offset this evil, Sparta had two kings, while the Roman Republic had two consuls — with veto powers over each other.

So why is it that everywhere in the world, we democratically give power to dictators?

English is the lingua franca of the world — no bullshit

Woke up this morning, thinking of the series of videos on the dominance of the English language in the world, narrated by Robert MacNeil.  I think this was prompted by what I heard on Sunday.   On Sunday, Nov. 11. 2018, in Paris, during his speech commemorating the centenary of the First World War Armistice, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is its betrayal.”  I reject this for the following reason.  A nation is a country (or State) with one language. A patriot is someone who is loyal to his country — even if it is not a nation; while a nationalist is someone who aspires to create a country based on his language, or to preserve the existing Nation.

This made me think of how English is spoken everywhere in the world.

Below are the 9 videos “The Story of English,” broadcast in 1989, which was followed by the  publication of the book: Robert MCcrum, Robert MacNeil and William Cran, The Story of English, 3d ed., 2002. [496 pages]

1. An English Speaking World: Discusses how English has become the most dominant language throughout the world.
2. The Mother Tongue: Discusses the early stages of the English language, including Old English and Middle English.
3. A Muse of Fire: Discusses the influence of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible on the English language.
4. The Guid Scots Tongue: Discusses the Scottish influence on the English language.
5. Black on White: Discusses the influence of  Blacks on the English language. (Includes interviews with Philadelphia hip hop legends The Scanner Boys, Parry P and Grand Tone.)
6. Pioneers, O Pioneers!: Discusses Canadian English and the various forms of American English.
7. The Muvver Tongue: Discusses Cockney dialect and Australian English.
8. The Loaded Weapon: Discusses the Irish influence on the English Language.
9. Next Year’s Words: Discusses the future and new emerging forms of the English language.

1 An English Speaking World

2 The Mother Tongue

3 A Muse of Fire

4 The Guid Scots Tongue

5 Black on White

6 Pioneers, O Pioneers!

7 The Muvver Tongue

8 The Loaded Weapon

9 Next Year’s Words

A documentary of how an American lived for 6 weeks in a Ukrainian village

Peter Santenello, an American from San Francisco with limited Russian language skills, moves in with a local family in the village of Osypenko near the city of Berdyansk near the Sea of Azov in Ukraine. From one perspective, this shows how one can live on a homestead as an alternative to living on welfare, as in the United States.

Andrew Chrucky’s speech at the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument, Forest Home Cemetery (Waldheim), Forest Park, IL — May 1, 2018

Transcript of Andrew Chrucky’s speech:

First of all, as I was riding here … anyway, I became an anarchist somewhere in 2000. The rest of my life I have been in philosophy, studying epistemology and logic … until it hit me in 2000, roughly. . . . Anyway, as I was biking over here I was thinking about what is the significance of this? … Well, when I woke up this morning I said, shit it’s May 1st, its the labor day for the whole world, and this is the greatest monument … this is the Mecca of the laboring people of the world. This is it, its like the Muslim Mecca. So, I said, what does this mean? I felt like it was like Easter for Christians. Why Easter? Well, I was talking with a fellow here and he said it was like Christmas for him. Well I said, Christmas was when Christ was born, and there is a promise of things to come. But Easter is the big event. Easter is the promise of heaven, of resurrection. Well, perhaps these people are buried here and they are dead, but their spirit has resurrected . . . it spread all over the world, so in a sense this to me is Easter.

Here we are.  I was listening to you talking about and thinking about workers.  And I want to talk to you about capitalism. What is the definition of capitalism? There is a movement called anarcho-capitalism. It is bullshit. I’ll tell you why its bullshit. They think that capitalism is free trade. Well, free trade is just barter. It always existed. It existed under slavery, it existed under feudalism. What is unique to capitalism is what came after the French Revolution. It came after the end of feudalism, at the end of slavery. But what happened? Well, you had wage workers, you had wage-slaves. You had to work because what was the alternative? The alternative was starvation, or being homeless, going around looking in garbage for food. Now, why is that? Why if you don’t work you don’t have food, you don’t have shelter? Well, it’s a simple thing: you don’t have access to land. You cannot grow your own food. All land is privatized. You cannot be a free man if you do not have access to land. This has been recognized throughout history. It was recognized in Roman times…you have a problem of people not having access to land. You had the Mexican Revolution … what was their slogan? Tierra y libertad. Tierra is land. After that you had the Russian Revolution in 1917. What do you think their slogan was? Zemlia y volia, which translates into land and freedom. They were fighting for land. Then in 1936 to 1939 you had the Spanish Civil War. What do you think their slogan was? [Someone in the audience says “Tierra y libertad”] Tierra y libertad! It’s all about land. Capitalism cannot exist if people have access to free land. All these other definitions of capitalism make so sense. They say its free trade. No. Free trade has always existed. If you don’t have free access to land, then you have to sell yourself. All right. Glory to the anarchist Easter!