10.26.2009

DISPLAYING OUR BIASES

BY SEACHRANAI

I recently saw a diagram (see here) on a friend’s computer and was immediately impressed by the concept. The graph, compiled by some artistically talented individuals from across the pond, is a visual representation of the archetypical “left versus right”. Off the bat the author publishing this graph reveals that he does in fact have a liberal biased, and also acknowledges that it is not a truly representative depiction of political ideology (a representative model being biaxial, see diagram pictured to the right).
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I think it is an interesting narrative however, on some of the biases that underpin our individual political leanings. While impressed by the concept of this visualization, I must say I very much disagree with many of the generalizations that are made about left and right. I believe that most of these errors, as I would see them, in the diagram’s classifications stem from the biases we all have towards people of opposing ideology. The remainder is born of ignorance – and by this I do not mean any specific lack of intelligence on the author’s part, but a lack of experience that prevents the author from making a meaningful comparison.
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Right now what we are really looking at is one person’s visualization of how they view their own ideology, and a contrasting visualization of how they view people of a factious ideology. I could spend hours deconstructing this diagram and rewriting it to fit my personal worldview, but in the end I fear all I will do is replace one bias visualization with another.
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I would like to point out what I believe are a few of the more obvious errors in the model, and would then ask for your input as well. Perhaps by combining multiple viewpoints, we may be able to come to a consensus that creates a meaningful tool.
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The diagram makes the assertion that the goal of a government on the left is personal freedom, and the goal of a government on the right is economic freedom. I take exception with this immediately, as the two are one in the same. One would argue that not allowing a person to walk around nude infringes that person’s personal freedom, while taxing someone infringes economic freedom. However, the same people will tell you that it is not an infringement on personal freedom to outlaw guns. The line is not drawn on economic or social lines; it is drawn on what each group defines as acceptable behavior.
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The next most obvious flaw in this representation is the depiction of the ideal family on the left and the right. The nurturing parent on the left has a relationship with their child built on respect and trust, where as the strict parent on the right has a relationship build on respect and fear? I come from a family I am certain the author of this diagram would consider to the right, but I would most definitely classify my parents as nurturing, and our relationship based on trust more than fear. At the same time, I know many people who would define their households they were raised in as liberal, and would most definitely not consider them nurturing. This is one of the diagram’s classifications that I believe is born of ignorance and lack of experience. I don’t believe political ideology fosters one parenting style or another – rather, the values on which the family focuses are different. Parents can be both strict and nurturing. Responsibility is really where the difference lies. I would think the family on left would see nurturing a child as the responsibility of the community, not the parents. In contrast, I believe that nurturing the child in a conservative home is strictly a parental responsibility (to the extent that parents often take offense when unsolicited nurturing comes from exterior sources).
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Furthermore, the diagram argues the left family teaches children to ask questions. I think this is fundamentally incorrect. Skepticism is a specifically individualistic trait, and from my experience is usually frowned upon in left ideology. If you want to break this down into a more fair representation, it should ask whom does each side teach you to question? The left encourages you to question other individuals, but is less likely to challenge authority or society. On the other hand, the right encourages trust in specific individuals, but is skeptical of trusting society and authority.

Anyway, those are a few of my more relevant thoughts. Again, I could go on for hours, and would love to pick other peoples minds as to what an accurate chart would really look like. Please let me know your thoughts.

1 comment:

loudelf said...

I agree on the family point: The conservative (traditional) family is one where mom stays home and raises the kids. The liberal (progressive) is that mom goes out and works, and has others tend to the children. I don't know that one or the other displays nurture per se, but I'd lean toward the traditional family purely based on time availability. Also, you can have structure and discipline along with nurture... they are not mutually exclusive.