I have been writing and rewriting a book for over 20 years that captures my study of political theory. The goal of publishing that book will be to advance a universal scale for defining political belief systems. Or, to put it in plain language, “What does it mean to be politically left, right, liberal or conservative?”
In the first article of this three-part series on defining the political spectrum, I assert that the terms left and right, rather than liberal and conservative, provide a more useful standard for civic definition. You can read that primer here:
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In the second article, I present a 3-dimensional model for defining the political spectrum. You can read that column here:
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Part III: Cause and Effect
In all of my years of analyzing human nature as it applies to politics, nothing has come close to the intrigue of motive principle. In other words, what is the underlying, personal premise that moves a given individual to lean fiscally left or socially right, and vice versa?
In exploring the cause and effect of political preference based on perspective, I have discovered that there are two questions that draw out a person’s political bias; “What is your concept of god?” and “What is your concept of man?”
Our personal concept of God provides our individual basis for positions on the fiscal wing, those matters concerning the degree to which the government provides for its citizens. It seems that the less one believes in the existence of a supernatural creator, the greater their affinity towards a centralized management of human services. Perhaps this fulfills a deep-seated need that we all have for an anchor to some ultimate authority. The stronger one’s belief in the existence of God, the lower the tendency to rely on a manmade government to provide for personal needs.
It rarely occurs to those who conceive of God as the most powerful force in the Universe that the world lacks some capacity that would require the creation of a government agency. Del Tackett provides an elegant and compelling example of this in his magnificent lecture series, The Truth Project. Dr. Tackett proposes that the human experience is comprised of six, distinct components; Family, Labor, Church, State, God & Man, and Community. In this model, the state is a mere utility that is called upon when it seems practical. And, the state becomes a threat to the other components of life when it overwhelms them by forceful provisioning.
In leftwing fiscal dispositions, the state and God compete for the same territory, that being the citizens’ allegiance. Fiscally leftwing citizens will tend to meet poverty needs by using the state through taxation and redistribution rather than trust the church with charity funded by voluntary contributions. And in the case of far-leftwing structures like communism, the state attempts to eliminate the competition by taking an official position of atheism.
Our personal concept of man provides the basis for our positions on the social wing, those matters concerning the degree to which the government controls its citizens. I theorize that the more inferior one’s perception of humans in the hierarchy of living creatures, the greater is the inclination to want to manage them through the enforcement of laws. Conversely, the more superior is one’s perception of humans, the fewer are the reins that should control their behavior.
At the far left of the social wing, we find environmentalists, who think of man as a selfish and exotic error of evolution. Their undeserving role in the food chain is readily neutralized with restraining orders against access to animal habitats and energy reserves. Just to the right of environmentalists are the social busybodies who we know as the American liberal, enacting utopian laws designed to protect citizens from themselves. Moving to the right is the culture typically known as the American conservative, who sees a place for laws that protect citizens from injuring each other but disdains most laws that infringe on their personal freedoms. Next would be the libertarian whose high perception of humankind justifies very few limits on their behavior, preferring civil courts over laws to settle disputes. To the far right of the social wing are the everything-goes anarchists.
Our fiscal and social political positions can change to match newly adopted viewpoints, of course. The maturing into adulthood usually ushers in a wiser vantage on the concepts of God and man, typically migrating one’s position on both scales from left to right. The Ron Paul phenomenon has also revealed a significant segment of younger citizens whose positions are both fiscally socially very rightwing. Atheists who experience a spiritual awakening and come to embrace the idea of a personal God typically find themselves moving to the right on the fiscal scale, finding less need for the assurance of a caretaker government in their lives.
So, there it is, my Theory of Political Relativity. I can’t wait to read the book.