Political quadrants

As discussed in my previous post, here’s how I imagine the political “spectrum” today (still a working schematic of course):


Within each quadrant, politicians will be conservative/progressive to different extents. For example, Trump is probably much more protectionist than Sanders (if we took his campaign rhetoric at face value).

Protectionism tends to be an ugly word. But in the quadrants above, I refer to it in a much broader sense, not just restraining free trade in order to artificially prop up struggling, weak industries at home. It means giving priority to certain interests above economic interests, and therefore curtailing market freedoms to protect those interests.

Most of the time these ‘interests’ turn out to be national interests (e.g. national security and the environmental and social well-being of the State), but may also be ethical (e.g. how certain countries outlaw individuals selling their blood).

In practice, public discourse almost exclusively focuses on national interests so the point I’m making may be irrelevant if preserving the idea of a “country” is no longer valued (e.g. if economic globalisation is followed by worldwide labour mobility, dissolution of national borders and transactional/flexible “citizenship” – or doing away with the concept altogether). Conservatism in this sense really means blocking certain transactions or dealings which may be economically beneficial to both parties, but may violate other principles. These transactions or dealings could be:


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