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Where do you consider yourself politically (Poll)

  1. 1: Very conservative

    2 vote(s)
  2. 2: Conservative

    5 vote(s)
  3. 3: Moderate

    12 vote(s)
  4. 4: Liberal/progressive

    15 vote(s)
  5. 5: Very liberal/progressive

    9 vote(s)
  6. 9: None of the Above

    11 vote(s)
  1. Jul 23, 2015 #1


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    Hi there! I wanted to ask this question about the basic political leanings of the members of PF forums. I will keep this poll open for 60 days, starting today.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2015 #2
    Strange that you have no option for socialist or left-wing?
  4. Jul 23, 2015 #3


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    This poll is very restrictive to a simplistic left/right spectrum. "Liberal" is someone who supports a capitalist market economy with government regulation, welfare and provision of essential services. How does a socialist who does not approve of capitalism answer the poll? What about an anarchist? For that matter how do libertarians answer?
  5. Jul 23, 2015 #4


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    Typically, the economic spectrum has full private/unfettered capitalism on the right and full socialist on the left, with gradually increasing government control as you move from right to left. Today, most people/governments who identify as "socialist" do still utilize some capitalism. So the typical European socialist would just answer "very liberal".

    I doubt we'll get any anarchists, but if we do, they can identify thems elves without the poll.
  6. Jul 23, 2015 #5
    I would consider myself a socialist but very very people would consider me liberal, me included.

    I have liberal views on some subjects, and not on others.

    Very liberal does not describe my politics, nor does liberal in general.

    Socialism does not mean very liberal, especially in Europe. It often means the opposite, especially when it comes to arguments such as private versus public ownership (of the means of production and distribtution of wealth).

    There is a clear difference, which this poll does not consider. So I have voted none of the above.

    Socialism is as far removed from liberalism as liberalism is from conservatism.

    Many European countries, the UK is one, have Liberal politcal parties.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  7. Jul 23, 2015 #6


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    Are you saying that in Europe, "liberals" favor private ownership? Then what does "conservative" mean to europeans?

    If we just clarify that these are USA centric definitions and just use "left" and "right" instead, does that help?

    Or do people just mislabeled themselves/their parties? The wiki for the Party of European Socialists says the party is really social democrats.
  8. Jul 23, 2015 #7
    the protection of private property is a defining characterisitic of liberalism!

    The problem with these things is that people might be broady left wing (as I am) but also hold some right-wing views (as I do) and vice versa.

    The USA is a lot more right wing than, for example the UK.

    Ideologically, there would not be much difference between David Cameron, The Conservative Prime Minister, and much of the democratic party in the USA, including your President.. Indeed there are many in the Conservative Party that are much further to the left than most democratic politicians could openly admit to being.

    We don't have many politicians that are as reactionary as the Tea Party (there are a few, but very few). One of the major differences between the UK and the USA is that public figures in the UK don't have to pretend to believe in god. We all know Obama is an atheist, along with many in his party. Being an atheist, of any party colour, does not stop you getting elected in Europe!
  9. Jul 23, 2015 #8
    Yes I think that would help.
    'Socialism' from the US perspective has connotations of totalitarianism and fascism, not really something many would opt for.
    The US does have relatively left leaning politicians though, and the term 'liberal' is used for those.
    In Europe and elsewhere 'Liberal' is sort of centrist, and left of that there is a broad range of social-democratic type parties which support public ownerships in some form, but are nowhere near suggesting a preference for a dictatorial authoritarianism.
  10. Jul 23, 2015 #9


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    This is just a way to narrow our belief systems into little boxes. I just don't find life that simplistic.
  11. Jul 23, 2015 #10


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    Big boxes, not little boxes. People want to be unique: they want their own little box, not to be collected into the same big box as everyone else.

    My perception with discussions like this is that because people don't like to be put in big boxes, they argue against them instead of just answering the question as best they can. Like it or not, though, people get put in boxes all the time -- they must be in order to analyze group beliefs. Or, to vote in an election: An election is almost literally putting yourself (your vote) into a box.

    Classically, liberalism is essentially synonomous with "personal freedom", including private property ownership. But as the wiki on the political spectrum points out, modern liberals (in general) favor social freedom, but oppose economic freedom (private property). And vice versa for conservatives. That's why tax rates are higher in more "liberal" countries. So in that way, the current usage of the word "liberal" doesn't match the original meaning -- it's just a label for the box. But in my googling for information about European political parties, it appears to me that the usage by the OP and in the US is the accepted usage in Europe too, so I don't understand why you are arguing this. Liberal, socialist, democrat, progressive: these are all related/linked ideologies on the left side of the political spectrum, differing largelly in degree, and often put under a "socialist" umbrella (just like the right side is put under a "capitalist" umbrella, highlighting the two extremes): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_of_European_Socialists

    You can't argue your way out of a box by arguing about the label. We could easily re-name them "Box 1" and "Box 2" if that would help, but it doesn't change anything so it should not be necessary.

    That's a different issue, but still your problem and not the poll's. Everyone needs to average their own views and weigh them against the choices in this poll and actual elections and pick the closest fit.
  12. Jul 23, 2015 #11
    It depends on how little or big the box is!

    i.e In broad terms, I share very little, politically with the tea party. I don't think describing my political beliefs as being broadly opposite to the tea party and in broad agreement with the Labour Party (of the UK) as simplistic. Its just a fact. Its like describing somebody as a christian, or a muslim or a jew.

    I think it is quite useful to describe people, their cultures, beliefs, political persuasions etc. in broad terms.
  13. Jul 23, 2015 #12
    NO. This is not a case of a rose by any other name.
    The reason I am arguing about this is because I am not a liberal; but you seem to think that I am because I am left wing. There are many liberal policies that are polar opposites of what socialism is about, and vice versa.

    The poll (broadly) splits people into conservatives. liberals or other.

    Why not liberals, socialists or other?

    You might think that the latter option is broken because it ignores a very important political system.

    Maybe it is because you are an American and are confusing liberalism with socialism because to Americans they mean the same thing. This is NOT the case in the rest of the world, and certainly not Europe. Liberals are just as likely to be conservatives as socialists. The Liberal Party of the UK was in a right-wing coalition with the Conservative party here for the past five years.
  14. Jul 23, 2015 #13


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    Yes in Europe liberalism is very different to socialism, what tends to be referred to in the U.S. as socialism in Europe is actually social democracy. SD proposes state provision of vital services and regulation of the market but it still advocates markets of private property to do so and social democrats are against socialists. Liberals are a more weak sauce version of social democrats.
  15. Jul 23, 2015 #14
    In some matters very conservative, in the American sense of conservationism, others very liberal, so I chose Conservative. Anyway, like it has been said, in Europe the Left-Right political spectrum is shifted in relation to US, so a right-wing person here in Europe could be considered left-wing in US, and vice-versa. Also someone conservative here is usually much more to the authoritarian side than an American conservative. In Europe someone very conservative actually supports a very strong State, in some sort of dictatorship, while in US someone very conservative is mostly against the government and for free-markets. In the left-wing spectrum, there's also the Conservative Communists, who want to go back to some sort of Soviet state.
    As of liberals, Social-Democrats are liberals in both economic and social policies, and are at the forefront of turning European economies into more free-market economies. Socially they usually support gay rights, abortion, etc... So classifying them as left-wing just because they're liberals doesn't make sense, as their economic policy is clearly right-wing.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  16. Jul 23, 2015 #15
    I'm a republican but I have a liberal view when it comes to the environment and abortion.
  17. Jul 23, 2015 #16
    I am a social idealist but have a conservative view of the environment and consider abortion to be a matter of personal choice for the pregnant woman.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  18. Jul 23, 2015 #17


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    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  19. Jul 23, 2015 #18


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    All of those are still on the same side of the specturm and differing only in degree (heck, in one sense, you can measure all positions on the specturm by degree of government intervention). Here's a common, multi-national spectrum:

    Notice that liberal, socialism, and democrat are all on the left side of the spectrum and essentially overlapping depending on degree.

    That doesn't imply their views are far apart: In the US, we're up to about 20 self-identified Republican presidential candidates, who are all against each other. Heck, they both have "social" in their names!
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  20. Jul 23, 2015 #19


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    Here's mine (from Evo's link):

  21. Jul 23, 2015 #20


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    You seem to be arguing both sides of this at once:
    I don't know you and until now, knew nothing of your political views, so no, I haven't been suggesting you are anything -- I'm just analyzing the poll and the political specturm. However, yes, if you are left wing, then by the common political spectrums I'm familiar with, that's the "liberal" side. I agree that the above poll cuts off the ends, though, because I recognize that someone who is far off to one side or another is not commonly referred to by the more mainstream view. So if you are that far left, then it is certainly possible that the categories in the OP are insufficiently narrow. In the US, however, people tend to go the other way and believe they are closer to the center than they really are, so are more likely to self-identify as less extreme. IE, liberals in the US will bristle at being referred to as "socialist" even as they get further and further to the left in the spectrum, whereas in Europe the word is less taboo -- so it's used in the many of the names of the parties on the left side of the spectrum.

    So again: liberal is left, conservative is right, by the scale used in the OP. So if you are on the left side, you should pick a "liberal" label even if that's not what you usually use: that's "a rose by another name".
    Now you're arguing that they are actually on opposite sides of the spectrum. Presumably (by below examples) that "liberal" is more commonly/properly identified as being on the right side of the spectrum. Please provide an example or two of such a policy.
    Because as you see in the spectrum I posted, liberal and socialist are on the same side of the spectrum.
    Please provide a better example of liberals being conservative. IE, a "Liberal Conservative Party". For the Liberal Democrats, the Wiki defines them as a social liberal party and an opponent of the conservative party! So I don't see how what you are saying could be any more clearly wrong.
    My understanding is that that's a contradiction in terms, even in Europe. My understanding is that parties in parliamentary systems form coalitions because they need them to share power if they don't have a majority of their own. So forming a coalition does not imply full adoption of the other party's views (indeed, if they did, they should just merge).
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