Ideological Space

Does ideological space make more sense when depicted as a triangle (rather than a line or quadrant)? It certainly helps to explain the room for controversy on the ‘extreme right’. Having Darwin out there beyond the edge of the ideologically-thinkable makes a lot of sense, too.

Political Triangle Click image to enlarge.

If anyone knows where this diagram originated, please let me know and I’ll credit it properly.
(Accessed via @MikeAnissimov).

February 10, 2014admin 29 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy


29 Responses to this entry

  • Alrenous Says:

    True ideological space is n-dimensional, and as a manifold it isn’t well-behaved.


    admin Reply:

    n-dimensional, but with a tendency to dimensional collapse


    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 8:46 am Reply | Quote
  • sconzey Says:

    The problem I have with most attempts to map ideology to some n-space is it doesn’t take into account the essential dynamic nature of government. Democracy isn’t just bad because it’s democracy, but mainly because it tends to decay into even worse forms of government.

    What we need is an ‘entropy’ component to the graph, showing how political structures can decay : democracy to ochlocracy, monarchy to constitutional monarchy, etc.


    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 10:25 am Reply | Quote
  • Red Says:

    The left has believed so many things over the years that’s it’s hard to pin exact ideologies on the spectrum.

    I’ve broken down the political spectrum into 2 statements:
    Left wing : Actions taken in pursuit of short term power.
    Right wing : Actions taken in the pursuit of long term power.

    This is why right wingers love order and hierarchy because such things promote long term societal improvement and thus a long term gain in power and wealth. Left wingers hate order and hierarchy because it limits their ability to gain power and wealth quickly.

    When a left winger builds a road his primary goal is political pay offs and kick backs and the quality and longevity of the road maters not. A right winger building a road cares most of all about how long the and well the road will serve so that the road will produce future gains.


    VXXC Reply:


    THIS. Except you left out HARM for the Left, and GOOD for the Right.

    Motive of HARM accurately describes our Left and Elites.

    Motive of GOOD accurately describes the Right, and disempowered.


    Red Reply:

    I don’t know if that’s true. For example Japan before WW2 transformed Manchuria from a worthless Chinese Provence into an industrial power house through oppression, terror, and slave labor. They did this because the long term benefits of having an orderly resource rich and industrious province benefited them in the long term. Once reunited with china Manchuria was the primary industrial base for the entire nation, so much so that not even Mao screwed with it during his worst bouts of madness.

    I’d characterize the Japanese actions in Manchuria as right wing, but I can’t call it good. In the long run it was quite good for the people living in Manchuria, but I doubt they see it that way at the time.

    Long sighted actions tend to result in great goods in the long run even if the actions to reach them are quite evil. Short sighted actions whither for good or evil tend to produce evil in the long term.


    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 10:54 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Actually if someone is better at graphics than me and that’s nearly everyone, a HARM/GOOD graphic would be helpful in explaining motives. Not to mention 1] demoralizing wavering demotists and 2] converting Proto NRs.


    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • hamsun Says:

    It seems to have been derived from Fig 8.1 over here, although this is not the origin of the above image:

    I’m sure you tried it, but Google Image Search did not find other uses of the above image.


    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 3:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • Saddam Hussein's Whirling Aluminium Tubes Says:

    Notice that the blue “Individualism” segment of the triangle is completely empty. The designer of the graph couldn’t think of any real-life political figure to put into the blue segment. Because nobody actually believes that “Human freedom from the collective is the ultimate value” except for marginal autism sufferers like Bryan Caplan.

    And isn’t Ron Paul a marginal figure, who wasn’t really sure what he wanted anyway?

    Meaning that the bluest important figures the designer of the graph could come up with were … some modern liberals?

    And isn’t widely understood that the soft-totalitarianism of modern liberalism is as totalitarian or more totalitarian than the “hard totalitarianism” of at least the later stages of communism?

    So one has to ask, why have an axis of the graph that is half empty?

    Isn’t the whole blue part of the graph merely a) an ideological weapon to manipulate silly Anglos and b) a nostalgia for the times when the state left you alone because it didn’t really care if you lived or died and technological constraints meant that it wasn’t efficient to develop a Cathedral as omnipresent as the one we have today?

    The Ancien Regime could easily have been moved farther into the bluish sections of the axis, not because it held Sperger-tarian values or used Sperger-tarian values as an ideological weapon, but simply because it ignored a lot of its citizens and didn’t care if they lived or died. Hence, they were free-ish.

    Really, very little meaningful information would be lost of you compressed it down to Red vs Green.

    I like the triangle but a different third axis would be more useful. Maybe something that would capture whether the state was run in the interests of the majority or in the interests of some other group.


    admin Reply:

    One reason for the empty space in the radical individualism corner might be that the potential occupants tend not to express themselves politically, and might indeed be even more fundamentally occulted (i.e. Dread Pirate Roberts types). It would be strange if they were well-represented by politicians, no?


    Hurlock Reply:

    What Admin said.

    Hostility towards political structures is a defining characteristic of anarcho-capitalists specifically. It would be quite ridiculous for someone from that corner to attempt any serious political participation, not to mention that the moment he does so, he would simply no longer fit the definition.

    And it’s not like that corner doesn’t have it’s due share of influential historical figures. A lot of Austrian Economists and classical liberals fit in there quite nicely. (and figures like Rothbard, Hoppe, etc. would even place at the very top) A lot of historical figures can fit there as well. Jefferson comes to mind immediately. (somewhere in the Confederalism part, which I find suprisingly empty)
    And the argument that the blue part of the triangle is obsolete in modern political reality holds with equal force against the green part as well. (in fact the blue corner actually has had a lot more adherents in recent history)
    To reduce the right to just monarchism is overly simplistic.

    A crucial thing to remember about the difference between the three corners is their perspectives on power. Both the green and red corner support the idea of absolute political power (but of a radically opposite kind). The blue corner however, is extremely hostile to any such ideas (and this is why it is positioned at the exact opposite of totalitarian side of the triangle). It’s most fundamental tenet is that absolute power is always absolutely dangerous, therefore power has to be dispersed as much as possible. Power monopoly is bad (for everyone but the monopolist, of course) and probably the most dangerous thing you could have. Therefore the ideological radicalization of the blue corner goes something like this: (classical) liberalism>separatism>confederalism>anarcho-capitalism.
    But of course, even if extremely hostile to the very idea of consolidated power, if faced with the choice between absolutism of the leftist kind (social-democratic cathedralism) and absolutism of the rightist kind (from fascism to monarchism), the anarcho-capitalist (Hoppe) does not hesitate – absolute monarchy it is!

    ” a) an ideological weapon to manipulate silly Anglos” This could actually make a lot of sense, but history suggests otherwise. Both Liberalism and Republicanism historically precede Democratism and the latter could in fact be considered a corruption of the former. The same way communist totalitarism of the stalinist kind can be seen as a corruption of absolute monarchism. (which is why it is so easy to see North Korea as a quasi-monarchy, which is precisely what the Cathedral does so often) Yet, we all agree that communist authoritarianism has nothing to do with monarchism.


    fakeusername Reply:

    This could be ameliorated by switching the places of city-state and tribe, since the latter is a smaller form of organization and hence closer to individualism than the city-state anyway. This would spread out the paleoconservatives to flesh out of the gap within the blue section. Also, I think it would be an improvement to simply replace individualism with anarchism and to have anarchocapitalism lean on the right side. This makes sense to me because individualism is an ideal, whereas, like communism and absolutism, anarchism is a point of convergence (well, really extreme dis-integration but you get the point).


    Saddam Hussein's Whirling Aluminium Tubes Reply:

    I’m probably putting more emphasis on the definitions printed on the graph than you guys are.

    “Humans can be property” v.s. “Human freedom from the collective is the ultimate value”.

    Jefferson doesn’t fit in the blue unless you give each axis more sensible definitions than the ones that are printed on the graph.

    Jefferson did believe that humans can be property but he did not believe that human freedom from the collective is the ultimate value.

    I only know of one society that could be said to believe that human freedom from the collective is the ultimate value:

    The Ik.


    The Ik were nomad hunters in Northern Uganda. The government made their hunting grounds into a national park and relocated them. They had to take up farming.

    In 1972 anthropologist C.M. Turnbull wrote about the Ik in their new life. They laugh only at one another’s misfortunes. They teach their children to steal food from the old. They are solitary and ill-humored. “They breed without love,” says Thomas, and “they defecate on one another’s doorsteps.”

    The social roles of the Ik have been unthreaded. And with that, they’ve lost all sense of community. Each Ik is now an isolated one-man tribe unto himself. Interdependency is gone; and the Ik no longer sing.


    People may believe in something they call “individualism” and “freedom” I don’t think they mean it like that. There aren’t enough people who really believe that “Human freedom from the collective is the ultimate value” to make it worthy of an axis on the graph. Without the collective, where would you get your status points?


    Hurlock Reply:

    Yes, the definition given on the graph is stupid. In fact a lot of anarcho-capitalists would have no problem with the statement ““Humans can be property”. As long as it is voluntary, a lot of austrians have actually argued that slavery is ok. The greatest value of anarcho-capitalists is definately not “freedom from the collective”, but rather the upholding of the non-aggression principle and private property rights. Freedom from the collective is a value insofar as the collective is in some way using violence against the individual.

    All valid points on Jefferson, but it is undeniable that he was a confederalist strongly opposed to centralized power. I think that pretty much puts him somewhere in the blue section.

    But yes, if we are to keep strictly to the definition given in the graph, you would probably be right. Which is why the definition given is incorrect.

    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 4:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • Grotto Says:

    As Alrenous states above, ideological space cannot be easily mapped to two-dimensions, but we certainly must try if we are to communicate intelligibly with other people.

    The right-edge essentially corresponds to the natural state of man. Absolutism is simply might-makes-right, and individualism is just the free agency of an individual human. Along the right edge is a spectrum of social organization, starting at the top with individual sovereignty, passing through tribalist loyalty, to end up at the bottom with absolute monarchies and empires.

    As you move left, you enter constructed states, moving away from how things are, to how things should be. At the far left apex, you have an aspirational state (or a delusional one) that has never actually been achieved, the only results of which have been total failure, misery, famine, and death. The greater the distance from the right edge, the greater the departure from reality, and the less sustainable it becomes.

    Looking broadly at political history, traveling leftward corresponds to consuming luxury goods. Opulent Western states decided to spend some of their material and societal capital on making their societies closer to what the feelgoods say it should be, and they could afford some level of self-deception. By contrast, the poor desert tribes of the Middle East had to deal in harsh reality with little margin for error. By necessity, their societies stayed firmly tacked to the right edge.

    Neoreaction, as a criticism of the liberal move leftward, is the ultimate pessimist (horrorist). The right edge is human nature. Deviation from the right edge leads to instability and eventual failure. The greater the distance, the greater the chaos, and quicker the failure.


    R.J. Moore II Reply:

    Ordinary people are incapable of intelligible communications on complex subjects. By simplifying you are not making it possible for the Lumpenprole to understand it, you are simply distorting it and possibly creating a cartoon caricature some retard will later pick up. This is how we got left-libertarians and fake-libertarian Republicrats to begin with. Ideology can not be meaningfully communicated to stupid people. Stupid people are not amenable to sensible ideas. they don’t need to be ‘converted’. They need to be depoliticized. Any scheme that relies on the courage or intellect of the masses, especially in the post-industrial world where lumpenproles make up most of the population, is about as likely to succeed as San Bernidino was to create a caliphate. Shitty people are only amenable to shitty ideas.


    R.J. Moore II Reply:

    To extend my statement, I think population control (both in keeping numbers low, controlling who gets born/kept alive and in keeping people strictly segregated, IE ape labor in Malaysia/Ubermensch in Singapore; let the dregs rule themselves into the ground and the Eurasian Master Race rule from its cloud cities. There is no reason, post-agriculture, that shit-tier subhumans should be allowed in the cities of civilized men.


    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 10:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    i think the graph is actually quite clever in terms of aesthetic initiation. the triangular collapse from ‘right’ multiplicity of being to a ‘left’ entropic event horizon, a revolt against being itself, gnostic progressivism. all thinking, history, providence, teleology, values, ideals, and et cetera, are made pawn too, and ultimately destroyed by, increased adherence to leftist sentiment.


    Posted on February 11th, 2014 at 12:32 am Reply | Quote
  • Igitur Says:

    Is missing an explicit trilemma.


    Posted on February 11th, 2014 at 12:57 am Reply | Quote
  • survivingbabel Says:

    It’s quite satisfying that this triangle’s center is Putin, Pinochet, and Pat Buchanan. Privileging the Progressive position on political philosophy in one’s practical paradigm is a faux pas.


    Posted on February 11th, 2014 at 5:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • Vxxc Says:

    It needs Intersectionality. That will complete us.


    Posted on February 12th, 2014 at 12:53 am Reply | Quote
  • Fred Says:

    It makes absolutely no sense to put Darwin in a political idea space; social darwinists maybe, but Darwin and evolutionary theory, as observational theories rather than prescriptive theories, have no place in any political or ideological chart. It is, I feel, manifestly foolish to try and place such incomparables as communism’s fundamentally Hegelian view of reality (i.e. historical determinism) on the same plain as a libertarians insistence on free will (a necessity for any concrete individual responsibility outside of a monopolistic authority). Likewise, the placement of certain positions on this plain is ripe for disagreement, and inst entirely consistent in itself; for example, anarchists, like communists, are invested in the idea of hegelian historical determinism. Notably socialism is not, being instead a fundamentally liberal position, being invested (like most contemporary western politics) in the concept of a dignified free human agent, i.e. one deserving of universal rights with regard to that freedom and dignity. Further, many of these position do not exclude one another, or are vague. What exactly do you mean by ‘fascism’? How is stalinism distinct from a tyranny? This, rather than speaking any useful insight into the breakdown of political loyalties, instead offers us a view of the authors (mistaken) understanding of the relationship between ideologies. I would argue for one thing that the republicanism/individualism lines are fundamentally connected (back to the enlightenment) in a way that socialism and communism simply arn’t. This things major sin, an all too common one, is a failure to understand the philosophical foundations of all political systems and ideologies. It is the philosophy which is important, the political tribes represented here are just a symptom, and examining and arranging them till the cows come home will do not one iota of good.


    Posted on February 12th, 2014 at 2:58 am Reply | Quote
  • Zimriel Says:

    Judging by how Chilean policy went throughout the 1970s: I’d have pushed Pinochet away from the Statism on the left and more toward Darwinism to the right. Better, I’d say Pinochet is where the model collapses.

    Certainly Allende *thought* that Pinochet was a fellow-traveler or else he wouldn’t have promoted him. But Pinochet’s guiding star was saving Chile. He was Left when he thought that was what worked, and then he went Right when he thought *that* was what worked.

    (Just because Nixon preferred Pinochet to Allende does not meant that Pinochet was, in fact, to the Right of Allende at the time. Nixon preferred Pinochet because Pinochet was more *anti-Soviet* than Allende. Pinochet started his rule as a Latin Tito. It was several years later when Pinochet started to privatise stuff.)

    Franco incidentally also started out a statist who turned into a capitalist. “Spanish miracle”.


    Posted on February 15th, 2014 at 1:17 am Reply | Quote
  • To Mayberry, Minerva, or the Matrix? | The Ümlaut Says:

    […] diverse than the left, which is merely a spectrum from more to less extreme. That is one reason this seems like a better ideological map than the Nolan Chart. Wyndham Lewis savaged James Joyce, and […]

    Posted on February 15th, 2014 at 3:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Umlaut Says:

    […] their concerns, driving them into polarization, conflict, collaboration, and counter-collaboration. Which Right is right? The potential tension is extraordinary. It cannot possibly be less than […]

    Posted on February 17th, 2014 at 5:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • R.J. Moore II Says:

    Geometric modeling of highly complex abstract tendencies with multiple contradictory manifestations and ‘cores’ is a metaphor, and like all metaphors, they are literally not the case. Arguments over these political graphs is like arguing over what number to assign when dividing Tuesday by Grandmothers. These are not meaningful, they’re at best pedagogic tools with no actual underlying mechanical relationships. I am not anti-metaphor, but it’s important to remember that all metaphors are literally false. Ask Aristotle.


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    Thank you. As you know, none of us are familiar with Aristotle or philosophy of language.


    Posted on January 20th, 2016 at 12:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Espaço Ideológico – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on August 2nd, 2016 at 12:21 am Reply | Quote
  • Triangular Politics – Site Title Says:

    […] obsessed with innovative/uniquely descriptive political categorization/spectra, and I found the original political triangle an interesting concept, more descriptively powerful than any other spectrum I’d encountered, […]

    Posted on February 6th, 2017 at 7:04 pm Reply | Quote

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