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November 06, 2019



"Politics is no longer about left or right. It's about open or closed. Liberal or authoritarian."

You may not believe this, but there is real evidence for it. See:


specifically the work of the late Chris Lightfoot and Tom Steinberg shown in the slides, which dates back to 2005.

Dave Timoney


The claim that "politics is no longer about left and right" has been made repeatedly over the last century. It's a perennial feature of democracy, or more precisely of those who find democracy problematic. It was central to Fascism, to the social market economy, to anti-communism and to every variety of technocracy.

The current vogue is to acknowledge that the dimension of economic power still matters (an admission that every attempt to sideline it has failed) but to augment it with another, and supposedly more determinant, dimension in a biaxial model (such as the one you cite). This is typically a dimension of "values" or "culture", which tends to be a mish-mash of cod pyschology (open vs closed) or polemical sociology (anywheres vs somewheres).

One fundamental flaw in this approach is that it assumes people's worldviews are both stable and internally consistent, rather than being dynamic, influenced by environmental factors and subject to cognitive dissonance, but this messy reality can be obscured through aggregating data, hence the centrality of opinion polling and supposedly neutral data manipulation in "revealing" this dimension.

Treat with caution.

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