Political Tendencies

The Stereotype

Recently, Jordan Mantha blogged about being excited about Palin joining McCain‘s campaign. Some of the comments were quite harsh, some even suggesting that it’s wrong to support the Republicans, being a free software developer and affiated with the Ubuntu project. I will admit that I was quite surprised to see his support for the McCain myself- from the vast majority of posts I’ve seen on Planet Ubuntu, Planet Debian and Planet Gnome so far, most free software supporters seem to support Obama and the Democratic party. Being a supporter of free software (or Ubuntu) shouldn’t imply what kind of political tendencies you have. Statistics might show that most free software supporters might choose something, that doesn’t mean that everyone has to.

The Political Compass

In CLUG, many of the people in our IRC channel participated in the Political Compass test. It asks you a series of questions and then gives you co-ordinates on where you stand politically. Michael Gorven put together a Python script that takes the results from Spinach (our channel bot) and plots it on a graph using Gnuplot:

In the graph above, it’s clear that everyone in our LUG that participated landed in the Libertarian quadrants, and not a single person in the Authoritarian quadrants. Most people are in the Left-wing Libertarian quadrant, with quite a few in the Right-wing Libertarian quadrant. In this case, the graph supports the stereotype that free software supporters may be more inclined to be left-wing libertarians. There are other things that this graph doesn’t bring into account though. Everyone in our IRC channel are also South Africans. Could that perhaps have an effect on our choices and tendencies? We also discuss *everything* on our IRC channel, and we mostly read each other’s blogs. Could it also be that we shape each other’s political views, if only we sway it by the tiniest bit on a continuous basis?

I think it’s natural of humans to make assumptions about other people and the world around them. I think it’s wrong of people to take offence when these assumptions and generalisations do not fit into their little view of the world. While we’re not all unique little snowflakes, we are all different, and tolerance and acceptance goes a long, long way.

See also:

Other Cluggers who have blogged on the political compass:

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12 Responses

  1. Herman Bos says:

    Talking about the US politics and being left or rightwing i would like to say something.

    I watched the US presidential debate as well last friday. McCain tried to label Obama as “left” several times in the debate.

    Which is quite funny since I consider the democrat party easily more rightwing then the most rightwing party in the netherlands. Our rightwing parties must be “commies” for McCain.

    Lets add a little rant about the debate. McCain is the loser if you ask me. On the economical topics, the only thing he could say is that he is against all spending and Obama wanted to burn everyones hard earned pennies.

    On the foreign policy he could only say he visited the country in question and he knew how to fix it up without further arguments.

    Obama had some really good points also with foreign policy. At least he understand what needs to be done if he wants to keep the american influence dominant around the world. Not that I find that particularly exciting but at least it shows a real standpoint and reasoning. McCain failed on that completely and gave the impression of an old grandpa who only knows better because he is old and fought in the war.

  2. Herman Bos says:

    I just did the same test and ended up with:
    Economic Left/Right: -4.00
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.26

  3. Ante Karamatic says:

    It’s interesting to note that in Croatia, for example, left-wing government signed a big deal with Microsoft to take care of all government computers. Conservative government decided to favor open source software wherever it can be applied. And, at the first look, funniest thing is that hard-core-right-party wanted to use only open source software :)

    It’s a common mistake to link free software with left political views. It’s true, free software is developed by all kind of people, from all around the world. But… It’s also true that local companies can use the potential of open source software, so that government can favor local companies over foreign. This is a conservative approach.

    Bottom line, both left-wing and right-wing parties are closer to each other every day and we already have only left and right center. There isn’t really a big difference. Obama will not stop the war in Iraq. USA needs oil, and this war is about oil, not democracy. :)

  4. jldugger says:

    Given that the Political Compass is a Libertarian invention, it’s little wonder that the chart says Everyone Is Libertarian.

    The wikipedia entry on the Political Compass is sparse, but the Nolan Chart has a good crop of critical thinking.

  5. Davidh7426 says:

    I did it to, I cannot remember the numbers, but I think I’m sat in the Dalai Lamas chair… (thought it was a bit crowded)…

  6. HCl says:

    hi jonathan,
    I didn’t read the post you are talking about in detail, but it made me think about republican ubuntu users.
    Maybe there where a lot of comments because being a political conservative and at the same time a FLOSS developer is a very contradictory situation. Political conservatives tend to have egoistic political/social positions about foreign policies (e.g. http://vorian.org/?p=244), about civil liberties, immigration, gay rights, etc, … and that is in complete contradiction with the very generous posture of being a FLOSS developer.
    I don’t know. human beings are very contradictory, and I think that those kinds of dichotomies are actually very common.

  7. Jordan Mantha says:

    So I came out as:
    Economic Left/Right: 3.62
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 2.51

    So I’m guessing that’d explain why I was excited about Palin and not a lot of other FLOSS people were. :-)

  8. Julian says:

    conservatives = economic freedom = open source
    liberals = freedom of thought = free software

    People agree on EU being more liberal and the US being more conservative (US meaning of those words) so this might be interesting as well: http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/09/24/1420214

  9. Scott says:

    I thought this was used for some time by libertarians at state fairs to cow people into thinking we’re all libertarians.

  10. The Political Quiz is woefully flawed because it posits a false dichotomy: you’re either an authoritarian wanting to regulate everyone’s fun, or a libertine who says, “go have your fun.”

    A libertarian friend once said, “I don’t care what you do, just don’t make me pay for it.” My response is, “I don’t care who pays for it, just expect me to be on your case about it.”

    Maybe the answer to problems like global warming or disease-spreading promiscuity has nothing to do with the state. But I think it does have to do with folks getting on others’ cases about irresponsible behavior.

    A better quiz would involve different axes, like statism/libertarianism vs. status-quo-preserving and status-quo-tearing-down. See the World’s Smallest Morality Quiz:

  11. Right libertarian says:

    HCI: Your claim that socialists* are more generous than conservatives** is simply not true. Counter example: Conservatives donate more to charity than socialists.

    Footnotes to avoid a flame war:
    * Not trying to insult anyone. If they use another name like liberals, progressive or something else in your country just imagine I wrote that instead.
    ** I am a right libertarian myself but I don’t like attacks based on lies against conservatives

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