Understanding The Political Scale

Ignorance Of Different Systems

Sadly, my college education was in the liberal arts field of sociology, so I am therefore well educated in Marxism, socialism, humanities, social justice, liberal politics, and the social sciences. Luckily however, the progressive indoctrination and brainwashing didn’t take. I therefore feel compelled and qualified to write on these various topics.

Yet many people are completely ignorant of, or at best have a difficult time comprehending and differentiating between, the various types of political and economic systems that exist in the world. Capitalism, socialism, democratic socialism, communism, national socialism, mixed-economy, these terms are essentially meaningless to most people. Many people are also completely ignorant about how the laws, policies, and regulations passed by their own government can alter their current system for the worse.

This ignorance is largely due in part to the intentional dumbing down of the public education system, through a blatant lack of civics, economics, and finance courses in the curriculum, as well as the re-writing and “politically-correcting” of history courses. Along with this, there is also the insidious affect of aggressive collectivist and progressive propaganda within the public education system, which serves to promote reformist-Marxism socialism, and muddy the waters about various other types of political and economic systems. This then allows for a general brainwashing, promotion, and acceptance of progressivism and cultural Marxism, as well as political and economic socialism, since it is never studied or compared critically or objectively. Along with the failures of the public and higher education system, another reason for this lack of understanding political and economic systems is simply due to the plain old sheer ignorance and stupidity of the general public at large, but I digress.

For the layman, the comprehension and comparison of political and economic systems, both historic and current, seems like a complicated undertaking, due to the myriad of different systems, definitions, variations, distinctions, interpretations, and implementations. However, it is important to remember not to get bogged down in the minutia of this analysis, because in the end the specific definitions and distinctions are not really all that important. What is important is the understanding of how these various systems affect individual liberty and rights, both economic and civil. For example, overly focusing on the differences and implementations between various forms of socialism and communism is a waste of time. Marxist, Leninist, and Stalinist authoritarian-communism and liberal democratic socialism are merely different points in the same general direction along the authoritarian and economic spectra, and both systems will rob you of your individual liberty, rights, and property.

Understanding The Political Scale

Getting back to my original point though, there is a way to grossly simplify the analysis and understanding of various systems, by using a common scale. First off, generally speaking, the government of a nation can be broken down into two separate elements: governmental and economic. The governmental element refers to the system, organization, and most of all the authority of a nation’s government, while the economic element refers to the system and policies governing the economy. Pretty self-explanatory. Throughout history, these elements have existed and can be compared along a spectrum or gradient. A government can therefore be categorized by its point along these two separate axes. Using two distinct axes gives a much more accurate picture than just the traditional “left-right” model, which is inadequate in describing many political systems such as fascism, free-market fascism, or national socialism.

In many common political scales and graphs, the “x axis” is a measurement of economics, while the “y axis” is a measurement of government control. On the economic spectrum or “x axis”, the extreme left of the spectrum indicates a total government control and central planning of the economy and means of production, while the extreme right indicates a total free market economy. The center point of the “x axis” would indicate a mixed economy. On the governmental control spectrum or “y axis”, the extreme bottom of the spectrum indicates a total lack of government control and anarchy, while the extreme top indicates total authoritarian statist control. The center point of the “y axis” represents a theoretical perfect balance between necessary government and individual liberty.

My Personal Interpretation

My Personal Interpretation

Benefits Of This Scale

This type of scale can also be used to plot an individual’s personal political leanings, but I feel that the true power of this scale is its ability to simplify, visualize (mentally and visually), and compare various systems. It also makes the abstract concepts of personal and economic liberty, and the encroachment of government control, easier to comprehend when it can be visualized along a spectrum. For example, with each new law, policy, and regulation passed by a government, one can visualize the points along the spectrum trending and moving in various directions depending on said policies. I have written often about the spectrum of government control, and how progressive policies erode individual liberty in favor of government and collectivism, this scale is a visual representation of that.

Understanding The Trends Of Economic And Political Power

All governments, both historic and current, can be placed and visually compared along the axes of economic and government control. This is a useful measurement and comparison standard for two reasons: first, it simplifies the countless definitions, variations, and implementations of economic and political systems into simple visual points along the two axes, and secondly this kind of scale can plot and compare government systems regardless of the type of system. What I mean by this is that an elected republican system of government can be plotted and compared against a parliamentary system, a dictatorship, a monarchy, etc. The type of government system itself is therefore irrelevant, what matters instead is where that system falls along the economic and authoritarian spectra.

This is important because there are many ignorant and naïve people out there who assume that just because they live under a duly elected democratic system of government, that it is somehow not an authoritarian and statist one. Or they believe that simply because they live in a “free” and “capitalist” country, that it will somehow always remain as such no matter what laws and policies are passed. Most people are completely ignorant and often fail to grasp the consequences of political and economic actions, or how those actions can move a system along the scale towards authoritarianism. Many people foolishly believe that a “free”, “democratic”, and “capitalist” nation will somehow magically remain that way, no matter what kind of imprudent political and economic actions are taken. They assume that the passage of new laws and policies happens in a vacuum, with only positive results and no negative affects on the status quo. As such, they mindlessly vote for the people and policies which move a system in the wrong direction, completely unaware of the totality of the consequences. Understanding the political scale is a simplified starting point to remedy that.

The Problems Of This Scale

First off, I acknowledge that this scale is a simplistic generalization of political systems. That is the intended purpose, so spare me your criticism. This scale serves merely as a simple tool for visualization.

The downside to this type of scale is that obviously it is not an exact mathematical science as to where an individual government may be placed. There is really not a standard of measurement for this kind of scale, or a standard deviation for points along the spectrum. Rather, this kind of scale is merely intended as a visual representation to simplify comprehension of how government and economic systems fall along a spectrum of personal and economic liberty, and how those points can change with each new law, policy, and regulation. Different people may have differing opinions as to where certain systems should fall along this scale, and it is therefore open to subjective interpretation. The graphs which I have displayed are my personal interpretations, and are subject to debate. This kind of graph also does not account for social issues, although one could reasonably place social issues within the spectrum of government control and authority.

Despite this not being an exact science, there are certain indicators that can be used to somewhat accurately track a government along this scale. One indicator of economic policy is the percentage of GDP which is spent on government. Most nations that are considered “socialist” have percentage of GDP in the high 40s to 50s or more. This however is not a perfect indicator, because there are exceptions, but it is a factor to consider. The US is at about 41%.

Another economic policy indicator is the percentage of a government’s total budget that is spent on social programs and “non-discretionary” spending. Once again, when the percentages are upwards of 50%, you are looking at a mixed to socialist economy. The US budget is 66% “non-discretionary” spending, or 2/3 of the total budget. Other economic policy factors to consider as well are: tax rates, corporate tax rates, private property rights, and business policy and regulation.

Indicators of government authority and control may include things such as: rule of law, limited government, separation of power, un-elected bureaucratic power, corruption, integrity of elections, civil rights, civil and human rights abuses, and laws, policies, and regulations which preserve or impede individual liberty.

I have not gone into detail about these various indicators, because that is not the point of this essay. I have merely pointed them out to illustrate that they can be used to somewhat mathematically track systems along this scale. If you are interested in a detailed analysis of these types of indicators, I refer you to The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. This index ranks nations on their economic freedom, using these various indicators.


Most people are completely ignorant of various political and economic systems, and are therefore completely oblivious as to how their own government and system can change, or how their own rights and liberty can be eroded, with the passage of every new law, regulation, policy, and executive action. By visualizing and understanding where various systems fall along the political scale, it can serve to simplify abstract concepts. Getting overly focused on the definitions, distinctions, and implementations of various political systems is a waste of time, what matters more is understanding the direction that various systems move along the spectrum. I write often about the political spectrum and the direction that progressivism takes us along that spectrum, and this scale serves as a visual representation of that. This scale is not perfect, nor is it intended to be, and It is open to subjective interpretation. The purpose is merely to serve as a visual representation of economic and political policy.

Revised 3-19-2015

© 2014 by AB Frank, All Rights Reserved

Read More: Socialism Part 1:  The Dangers Of Populism


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