Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Combined Chart

Recently the Pournelle Chart was analyzed. It has both its advantages and disadvantages when compared to the Nolan Chart, but overall is a good way to represent the political spectrum.

That leads to the question of what the result would be if the two charts were combined. Given that the liberty axis of the Pournelle Chart is basically the vertical cross axis of the Nolan Chart, it would simply be a matter of substituting the one axis with the two axes to create a cube. The three axes would be Economic Liberty, Civil Liberty, and Rationality.

To view it directly on the Rationality axis it would look exactly like the Nolan Chart, which means that the only thing to describe is the high and low rationality end of each of the four corners.

Starting with the corner of high economic liberty and high civil liberty, the high rationality aspect is libertarianism, including anarcho-capitalism and objectivism. The low rationality aspect is counter-cultural anarchism.

In the corner of high economic liberty and low civil liberty, the high rationality aspect should be considered conservatism excepting the fact that conservatives do not embrace economic liberty. Either the theoretical model needs a new name, or the modern conservative needs to embrace a new name. A low rationality equivalent would be the Theocrat. The difference is that one is the security conservative and the other the moral conservative. The theocrat, the moral conservative, is technically an authoritarian but as Ayn Rand pointed out they consider economics to be less important than civil matters and are willing to not regulate it because other matters are more important.

In the corner of low economic liberty and high civil liberty, the high rationality aspect is the welfare liberal. These are the ones that support welfare due to the belief that government can solve economic problems. Their low rationality counterpart is the libertine who relies on government to support. There is no overarching philosophy behind this position other than a feeling of entitlement.

In the final corner of statism, the high rationality aspect is communism, in which there is a belief in government planning of all aspect of society, while the low rationality aspect is fascism.

Perhaps there could be further refinements, especially further examination how to effectively measure the rationality axis, but this could also be considered a more descriptive model than either of the parent models when considered alone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Anonymous versus Scientology

Mr. William Lind has created the foundation on the subject of Fourth Generation Warfare. In that warfare, a centralized force, more powerful but less able to apply that power, is faced by a decentralized disorganized force. While the more powerful force could prevail if the two were to meet openly, they never meet in that way. Instead the smaller force strikes at random and melts away into anonymity.

The primary conflict is to cause the more powerful force to lose their morale, to lose the public relations war, to lose the will to continue the fight. The smaller force expends few resources for a large impact. The larger force expends many resources for a smaller impact. This played out in Vietnam. This is playing out in Iraq. Some call it guerilla warfare. Some call it terrorism.

And it may be playing out in an unexpected front in the United States in the war between the Anonymous of the Internet versus the Church of Scientology. Attempts to get the opinion of Mr. Lind on this subject have not been successful, but that does not mean independent analysis is not possible. Although this conflict is not lethal like the Iraq conflict, it does have many of the characteristics of fourth generation warfare.

Scientology is a large and powerful organization with a reputation for fiercely attacking critics. The organization is quite centralized with massive resources.

Anonymous is a group if independent individuals communicating anonymously through various message boards including 4chan, 711chan,, and IRC chats, as well as Encyclopedia Dramatica. None of these boards lead the effort, there are no leaders to the war anonymous is waging. They serve instead as a way to relay information to interested parties.

In a standard confrontation with Scientology, scientologists have the advantage of numbers and organization. A single protestor can be met by many scientologists, investigations run, and harassments through lawsuits can cripple the financial resources of the person attacking scientology. If Chanology (the code word for this war among Anonymous) is analogous to Fourth Generation Warfare, then the tactics of Anonymous turn those advantages on their heads. Scientologists do not know who the protestors are, and the protestors turn out in (masked) numbers to overwhelm the Scientologists who normally react to individual protestors.

Whereas a large portion of Forth Generation Warfare takes place on the realm of psy-ops, winning the hearts and minds of the people while demoralizing the opposition, again Anonymous has the advantage. Anonymous knows how to use the internet to its advantage, which is a very inexpensive tool. Documents are lifted (possibly by illegal means) and posted to wikileaks, while videos by anonymous are posted on Youtube.

Like a regular government in a 4GW, Scientology is slow to react to each new attack, and is always preparing for the last attack. Individual Scientologist are not able to create their own responses without permission, much like individual commanders of military units have to get proper permission to deviate from the plans of the military central command. Individual members of Anonymous are under no such constraint and are free to come up with creative attacks of their own, much like how individual terrorists are under no constraints about where and when to attack government forces.

Scientology has main bases, the various locations of the churces as well as various headquarters. Anonymous does not have those, although the nearest analogous structures would be the redundant lines of communication. The attacks are direct protests as well as politic, economic, and social. The attacks by anonymous are directly against the culture of Scientology, while the attacks by Scientology are against individual protestors.

The war between Anonymous and Scientology is in every way except for bodycount a classic example of Fourth Generation Warfare.

Comments are open. Due to a software bug Blogger is not automatically showing the link. Since I already have one comment I am reluctant to delete this entry and repost it. Seriously, you can comment. I'm trying to find out what is wrong with Blogger's software.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another political spectrum

While libertarians are quite familiar with the Nolan Political Science Chart, it isn't the only attempt to more accurately graph the political map. Moreover, as shown in Conservatives Versus the Nolan Chart it doesn't depict the political landscape as accurately as it could, given that modern American conservatism isn't synonymous with Nolan conservatism.

Another chart that is slowly making waves is the Pournelle Chart, another two dimensional representation. He starts his essay with the standard attack on the inconsistencies of the standard one-dimensional spectrum, but proceeds from there to describe his own alternative model.

The first axis of his chart is "liberty", which could be considered the cross-axis of the Nolan chart ranging from statist to libertarian. That is common to many attempts to rectify the political spectrum, but Jerry Pournelle felt that was inadequate. The reason is that it groups fascists and communists on one end as if they are the same, and it groups anarchists and libertarians at the other end as if they are the same. He felt a second axist was necessary to separate out these ideologies.

The axis he came up with is called "attitude towards planned social progress" or "rationalism", the belief that society's problems can be solved by reasoned solutions. After adding this axis he was able to differentiat the communist from the fascist and the libertarian from the anarchist.

On the corner of statist and rationalist one finds Communists and Socialists. The corner of statist and irrationalist one finds Fascists and Theocrats. The corner of rationalist and anti-statist is occupied by the libertarians and objectivists. Finally the corner of irrationalist and anti-statist is Anarcism and counter-culturalism. Conservatives and Liberals are both near the center by having midway opinions of both the state and the ability of planning to achieve social goals.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Conservatives versus the Nolan Chart

The Nolan Chart defines a conservative as someone who advocates economic liberty but also advocates government regulation of civil matters. Is that definition accurate? Within the context of the chart it is certainly accurate but does a modern American conservative hold the same beliefs?

The problem with the Nolan Chart is that modern American conservatives do not necessarily hold those beliefs. As discussed in Liberalsim, Conservatism, and Libertarianism a there are several factions all sharing the label "conservative", and only one of them is strong on economic liberty. Other schools show general disinterest, and a couple of schools favor government involvement in the economy. Mercantilism is not capitalism, and advocates for mercantilism are not the same as advocates for the free market.

A tangent is necessary here as some will object to the term "mercantilism" as it is used with reference to a school of conservative thought. Mercantilism originally described policies of Great Britain in the 19th century with regards to the gold supply. Some wish to keep the definition so restricted, but if that is the case there is no suitable term for similar policies in other locations or in other times. Mercantilism, some would say corporatism, refers to using the government for the benefit of domestic industries by a variety of methods including but not limited to import quotas or tariffs, subsidies and tax breaks to domestic industries, and government contracts. These are all designed to restrict the amount of competition a domestic company faces or to support a failing domestic industry. Union-unfriendly legislation is also used to increase profits without the necessity of competition.

The problem most people have with thinking about mercantilism as not being an anti-liberty ideology is twofold. First people often think of socialism as being the anti-liberty economic ideology, and mercantilism certainly isn’t socialism except in the most outrageously loose sense of the term. Second, mercantilism doesn’t have an ideological base the way that capitalism and socialism do. It borrows somewhat from capitalism, but the arguments in favor of mercantilism are either purely emotional (appeals to patriotism quite often) or simply lobbying.

Socialists in a truer sense often think mercantilists are not advocates of government intervention in the economy, as shown by Democrat accusations of that nature towards Republicans. The problem isn’t that Republicans don’t advocate intervention, it is that Republicans advocate the wrong interventions. If an analogy could be made between religion and politics, liberals are theists because they believe in government while libertarians are atheists because they do not believe in government. Conservatives, under that analogy, are heretics. They do believe, they have the wrong beliefs, and because they have beliefs (however wrong) they are not atheists. When a liberal accuses a conservative of being anti-government, the accusation is based on the inability (due to intellectual laziness) to tell the difference between atheism and heresy.

Unfortunately there is no spot on the Nolan chart for a real world conservative. What would be needed is a third dimension to show this different means of economic interventionism. An attempt has been made here but the labels need further adjustment to more closely fit the model to the real world.