I notice on Facebook, the more than 13,000 people on the Stellenbosch network mostly consider themselves “liberal”, with respect to politics. (With only 40% filling in the field, 2% chose Conservative, 1% Very Conservative, vs 14% Liberal, 4% Very Liberal. That’s 18% vs 3%. 9% have marked “Other”, 8% “Moderate”, 1% Libertarian.)
Back at the beginning of the year, when I joined Facebook, I took a look at the definitions in American politics, and determined I am quite certainly not a conservative. I was not sure if I was a liberal, I marked myself moderate. (I considered the Libertarian perspective for a while, but I am in favour of a welfare state of some shape or form, as tricky as it may be.) I have since come to the conclusion I do fall in the “liberal” camp, though, of course, I still reserve the right to disagree vehemently with certain typical “liberal” perspectives. (I have no idea what I might disagree with yet, I’m just saying.)
In terms of Facebook classification though? I am now one of the 60% “None Listed”, clearly not because I extend “dinner party etiquette” to my online presence. It just seems rather absurd to use such labels in a global setting, labels simply become too misleading when they cross international borders. My definitions influenced by American politics, I really thought most South Africans would adopt the “conservative” label. I have since concluded that “conservative” implies ties with “apartheid” in too many people’s minds? Give it another couple of decades for the definition pendulum to swing, for the new “conservative” to emerge less ambiguously. (Afrikaans-capable readers: realise “konserwatief” is close to the same thing as “behoudend”, with “liberaal” being related to “progressief”?)
Consider for another example, the Netherlands: there defending the right to smoke Cannabis in coffee shops is considered conservative? I liked the Netherlands, it broadened my horizons. (Of course, the country does seem rather “artificial” in a number of ways, that gets to you if you miss the “wilderness” and outdoor life style of South Africa…) I was relatively young while we lived there, I wonder in what ways my experience would have differed if I had been older?
(Hmm, just to clarify: it is indeed not absurd to pick a label if the people you are communicating with understand it correctly. So, by all means, keep your labels! My definitions are just in chaos with too many inputs and unclear definitions.)
UPDATE: Stéfan sent me a link to a Political Compass Questionnaire. Let’s be civil about this (i.e. let’s not be divisive), but share your results! Different perspectives are welcome in this world, that way we find a better overall solution… I think?
On first quick fill in, in my current frame of mind, never abstaining despite wanting to (don’t know if it is allowed), I ended up on the Libertarian Left. -6, -5.23. I expressed opinions rather strongly. Who knows how my perspectives will differ tomorrow… I expect I will remain in the Libertarian Left category, but with opinions less strongly expressed? I do like to think of myself as a moderate. (A moderate with strong opinions.) Maybe less left…? Hmm, who knows.
Drop yours in a comment! Do so anonymously if you’re a chicken. Chickens have rights too! No discrimination against chickens, please! You can still fill in your email address if you want to share your identity with me only…