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The Two-dimensional Political Map

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  • Shlomi Fish
    Here is a post I made to this discussion on the Joel on Software forum regarding Paul Graham s new essay Inequality and Risk :
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 21, 2005
      Here is a post I made to this discussion on the Joel on Software forum
      regarding Paul Graham's new essay "Inequality and Risk":


      Julian wrote:

      I've usually found value in Paul Graham's essays, even when I don't agree with
      him. However, his latest simply parrots the standard right-wing economic

      I found two problems with this statement. The first one is called "labeling".
      You've labeled Paul Graham as parroting right-wing economic arguments, and
      expected us to agree with you that it was thus wrong. Yet, you gave no
      arguments for why the article was wrong. A person who tries to convince
      others of something needs to reason his arguments from more basic, commonly
      agreed facts. Saying it is wrong because it's "Socialiastic", "Fascistic", or
      whatever is not enough.

      The other and more serious problem is that you believe what Graham says is
      right-winged. While right-wing people often make such arguments, they are not
      the only ones. Libertarians, Objectivists, etc. also believe in Economic
      freedom, and yet they are by no means right-winged.

      In fact, there are two axis to the political map: individual freedom and
      economical freedom. The Left seems to uphold individual freedom while
      supporting economical restrictions. The Right supports economical freedom
      while believing that individual freedom is not that important. Libertarians
      believe that both economical and individual freedom are important. There are
      also authoritarians who think that none are important.

      Refer to this site for more information:


      It is true that once upon a time there was a single dimensional political map
      until the Liberals diverged into Libertarians and the current Left which
      believes in economical restrictions. But now we have a two-dimensional
      political map.

      You are not the only person who makes this mistake. Richard M. Stallman says
      in a Eurohacker interview with him
      ("http://eurohacker.mine.nu/issue2/a05.html") that Eric S. Raymond "is a
      right-wing anarchist", despite the fact Raymond is a self-proclaimed
      libertarian who rejects both the Left and the Right. In an IRC conversation I
      had on Freenode someone said that Objectivists are ultra-right-wing, despite
      the fact they are fanatical about individual rights.

      I read that article by Paul Graham you linked to, and agreed with it
      completely. Graham has a point. One thing he missed I think was stating the
      fact that societies can become prosperous enough so even the poor will be
      relatively rich. For example, in some countries many poor people starve or
      used to starve to death. On the other hand, in First-world countries, there
      is an abundant food supply and as a result even the poor are well-fed. In the
      States and other countries, many Middle-Class people can afford to frequently
      travel by airplanes. Once computers were extremely costy and could only be
      afforded by large organizations. Nowadays much more powerful, compact and
      otherwise superior computers are common in almost every household.

      These are all examples that while the economical imbalance is preserved, the
      economical well-being of everybody - poor and rich - grows.


      Shlomi Fish

      Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
      Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

      95% of the programmers consider 95% of the code they did not write, in the
      bottom 5%.
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