This week our discussion will have a slightly different format. Instead of taking a single stand on a broad issue, we’ll consider a series of political positions, and talk about where we stand on each one. What we’re practicing this week is initiating discussion on a position.
Instead of just beginning a discussion and carrying it out for an hour or two, we’re practicing beginning a discussion over and over again. It’ll be a little like speed dating; instead of committing to just one topic and one position, we’ll create a series of positions on a series of topics, and learn how asking questions can jump start a discussion.
Here’s how it’ll go: When the question is read, you must indicate that you Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. There is no, “I don’t know”. You must formulate an opinion on the spot.
Then, when everyone has stated their opinions, you have to ask the others questions about their positions. Allow your curiosity free play. When someone says their position, allow yourself to wonder, “Why?” And then ask! Questions like: “Why do you feel that way?” “Why do you only ‘disagree’, not ‘strongly disagree’?” “How can you can agree with this statement?” “How can you NOT agree with this?” can be useful to get things going. By the end of this session everyone should have initiated at least two, if not three or four, discussions.
These questions come from a test on the internet, called “The Political Compass”, that judges where you are on a two-dimensional political chart:
Here’s the chart and an explanation:http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis
For your reference and amusement, my score was: Left/Right -7.50, Fascism/Anarchism -8.51 (essentially nearly all the way to the bottom left-hand corner)
Part 1: Country and World
1. If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.
2. I'd always support my country, whether it was right or wrong.
3. Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.
4. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
5. Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.
Part 2: Economic Attitude
6. People are ultimately divided more by class than by nationality.
7. Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation.
8. Land shouldn't be a commodity to be bought and sold.
9. It is regrettable that many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.
10. Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
11. The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.
12. The rich are too highly taxed.
13. Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care .
14. Governments should penalise businesses that mislead the public.
15. The freer the market, the freer the people.
Part 3: Personal Social Values
16. All authority should be questioned.
17. Schools should not make classroom attendance compulsory.
18. All people have their rights, but it is better for all of us that different sorts of people should keep to their own kind.
19. Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
20. It's natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.
21. Possessing marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offence.
22. The prime function of schooling should be to equip the future generation to find jobs.
23. People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.
24. The most important thing for children to learn is to accept discipline.
25. There are no savage and civilised peoples; there are only different cultures.
26. Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society's support.
27. When you are troubled, it's better not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things.
28. First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country.
29. What's good for the most successful corporations is always, ultimately, good for all of us.
Page 4: How you see the wider society.
30. Although the electronic age makes official surveillance easier, only wrongdoers need to be worried.
31. The death penalty should be an option for the most serious crimes.
32. In a civilised society, one must always have people above to be obeyed and people below to be commanded.
33. Abstract art that doesn't represent anything shouldn't be considered art at all.
34. In criminal justice, punishment should be more important than rehabilitation.
35. It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals.
36. The businessperson and the manufacturer are more important than the writer and the artist.
37. Mothers may have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers.
38. Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries.
39. Making peace with the establishment is an important aspect of maturity.