Abstracting The Political Compass

2 min readJan 11, 2021

Our political representations are inherently influenced by the aftermath of the French Revolution.

More recent representations have added an important accuracy layer to how we measure our political beliefs by decoupling the linear left/right axis into a social scale versus an economic scale.

I would like to update the common political representations with a more abstract compass that does not rely on specific historical events.

There are two fictional vectors that humans have invented for life to make sense.

Fictional because they are impossible to demonstrate and their impact on the physical world is limited, not to say void. These vectors’ value is therefore symbolic.

In other words, they make human existence livable.

Human societies have developed these two vectors that I call: the relationship to randomness and the relationship to ambivalence.

Randomness is what we commonly call Nature, the physical world or the Universe. The type of reaction humans have to randomness defines a major part of their ideological and political preferences.

There are two ways of interacting with randomness: acceptance or resistance.

Both are powerless, which is why the symbolic aspect of those interactions are worth mentioning.

However, depending on whether they accept or resist the random characteristics of the universe, a series of particularities are observed within the individuals’ behavior, that could be expressed in different ideological frameworks.

For example, accepting randomness can lead into believing in superior forces that require immediate surrendering. It can also lead to chance idolatry with as a consequence, the adherence to a social and economic system based on the supremacy of probabilistic chance.

On the other side, resisting randomness can lead to the expression of different degrees of control over the physical world or to the contrarian mistrust of the “natural order”, which is nothing else but randomness.

By ambivalence, I mean the rich multitude of the Self or the changing nature of individuals. One can be simultaneously something and its exact opposite. Humans being capable of all the possible differences and contradictions. Of the best and of the worst.

People’s reaction to ambivalence is also dyadic: either it is acceptance or resistance.

The more resistant an individual is, the bigger their need for control and punishment. Another manifestation of resistance is an exacerbated individuation, leading to rejecting cooperation and social isolation.

Conversely, accepting ambivalence leads to the expression of different forms of tolerance and resilience or, in other cases, indifference and avoidance.

It is therefore more accurate to use these two vectors as the new political scales instead of the regular left/right, authoritarian/libertarian representations.




Aspiring terraformer | Eco-minimalist | Interested in: #Justice #Decolonization #PostGrowth #History #Semantics #Narratives #Concepts #Deconstruction #Systems