Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Compass

I've been away for awhile working on a project for my mother-in-law, but she kicked me out the other day so I'm back now among the "unemployed and not collecting." I again have time to read and write.
A year or more ago, a blog friend of mine, Dacia, the real inspiration for by blog here, introduced her blog circle to a little test designed to measure a person's "political compass" on a dual-axis spectrum where the horizontal axis represents the standard Left/Right political spectrum, but the vertical axis is represented to show the person's orientation with respect to the Authoritarian (up) verses Libertarian (down) spectrum. If I recall correctly, I scored in a region shared by Nelson Mandela and the Dali Lama, but it was long enough ago that I may have that fact wrong.
In any case, ever since I took that test, I've had this new political dimension to deal with in my political thinking. It surprised me that there was a strong political leaning in common between a diverse left/right spectrum of political leaders. That leaning is the tendency of many political leaders to be authoritarian as opposed to being libertarian. The Bush administration fits not just the conservative (right) mold but also into the authoritarian mold.
I've been trying to read a book ever since early last summer titled Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. The main theme of that book is about how conservatives use the authoritarian father model for the basis of their political philosophy while Liberals use the nurturing parent model. but that's like comparing up on the political compass to left, not opposite poles.
While it's easy to see the authoritarian influence in today's various governments, it isn't so easy to see the libertarian influence. I'm not quite sure why that is, but I think it has something to do with the way we use the word "liberal" in politics today. That word has become a slur, slander, when it is used by the controlling power, the Republicans. It is virtually synonymous with "socialist" but socialist has become a word almost never spoken. Whenever we wish to speak of the social agenda - the nurturing parent model - we say "liberal" and "left" instead of the synonym "socialist." So in that climate, "libertarian" has virtually no connection to the word liberal. In fact, libertarian is viewed in our culture as something that exists on the far right, the extremes of conservatism. Yet I recall being taught somewhere that the far right is where fascism resides. How can anybody suggest (nobody that I know of ever has) that libertarians are fascist?
I have no doubt that fascists and the Nazis are far right. But I also have no doubt that they are authoritarian. Using the political compass, that puts them in the upper right quadrant of the compass, the same quadrant that holds most of the politicians in America. Is it any wonder that I'm feeling a little out of place in my own home country?
The opposite of liberty is authoritarianism. Liberty itself is freedom from authority and authority derives its existence from the submission of liberty, the submission of free people to authority. Socialist authoritarianism is Communism. Conservative authoritarianism is fascism. So why is it that authoritarianism is oriented on the positive Y-axis on the political compass? And why is it that both on that axis and in our own heads, libertarian is negative?

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