The Political Spectrum

‘Everything the left and right say about each other is true. And the reason it’s true is because they have so much in common.’ Bob Black

I made a wall-chart to help clarify what the political spectrum actually is. As I explain in the notes it is impossible to categorise people exactly, but this gives a much truer picture than the ‘meagre-dribble-of-piss-stream’ media.

(click image to download)

(Feel free to print out – it’s a high-res pdf — but please consider making a donation via the widget on my front page)

2019 Update: I’ve tidied it up a little bit, added an intermediary section on the left, moved a couple of names around and added a couple.


If you think Lenin and Monbiot are on the right, then your simplistic characterisation of left-right is fatally flawed.

It’s actually really fat-headed and offensive to think a nasty stalinist and misogynist like Galloway is ‘properly on the left’ and people like penny and monbiot are part of  the corporate machine, like, really quite stupid. (Dan Hancox, Corporate Journalist).

And so on. These are explained in the notes to the graph.

What’s the measure here? Nothing subjective, just ‘who I like’ on one side and ‘who I don’t’ on the other!

It’s neither objective nor subjective, but what I call panjective. I’m not going to go into that here, save to say that this chart is based on a ‘measure’ which can never be admitted into the standard political spectrum, and that is conscience. True conscience — as opposed to mere guilt, or that curious species of conscience that only responds to victims of official enemies — can never be accepted within the Overton Window.

WTF! Hitler and Stalin in the Overton Window

Yes, this was an oversight. Of course Hitler and Stalin, like the National Front and a few ultra-ultra-ultra right wingers are in some respects in a minuscule sliver of opinion to the right of the Overton Window — It’s just not fashionable to explicitly target racial minorities these days; but their approach to everything in life that actually matters is identical. I’ve modified the graph now with a brief explanation.

Interested in your argument for putting Monbiot quite so far to the right.

Monbiot is a corporate employee paid to enhance market-share. He’s a classic case of a wealthy, elite-educated system-selected intellectual, hardly ever criticising the play (just the players — which includes ‘corporations’ and ‘growth’), never critiquing the ‘left’ media (just takes pot-shots at Murdoch, et al) and periodically smearing those on the genuine left; Chomsky, Media lens, Pilger, Herman, etc. He’s a 67K company man: see here.

Russell Brand? You wot? / Henry Miller next to Jesus? / Bernie Saunders probably right wing / Chomsky isn’t really an anarchist

I point out in the notes that the list is and has to be very rough, given how complex real people are, and that I’m not necessarily endorsing  people for being further to what I call left. That said I kind of agree with all three of these. Sanders is clearly right under FDR, a classic new-deal democrat (edit: I’ve now shifted him). Miller is out there on the far left because he was apolitical — he was basically anti-civ, which puts him further out than someone like Chomsky (who, yes, I agree, isn’t actually that much of an anarchist, and these days is drifting ever rightwards) even if Miller could be a pillock. Same with Brand who pulls his punches (rarely targeting the corp-left), recommended a vote for Miliband(!), is clearly an egomaniac (although he gets a lot of good laughs by admitting it) and might well yet transform into another wealthy shuffed-out sleb-halfman, but he did kind of criticise the whole thing — quite marvellously — which puts him to the left of slightly more ‘embedded’ critics I’d say.

EDIT: I’ve taken Brand off. He’s just all over the bloody shop.

Anyway, as someone else said, it’s reductive, this left / right thing, silly even. I just wanted to inject a bit of WIDTH into the two terms, which are utterly meaningless in the faecal trickle-stream. If the words are going to exist, if there is going to be ‘a political spectrum’ — if people are going to use the words ‘left’ and ‘right’ — we might as well put reality in there somewhere.

Freedom and equality? What do you mean? You do realise you can’t have both don’t you?

These two words have a wide range of meanings, so it’s a big subject; too big for now. By freedom, though, I don’t mean ‘freedom for everyone to do as they please’ and by equality I don’t mean ‘everyone the same, with the same privileges and powers, and all agreeing with everyone else.’ If you interpret freedom and equality like this — and many do —then I, and many on the left side of the diagram, believe in zero freedom and equality. This does not entail, however, authoritarian control; truly free societies enhance self-mastery (sometimes called ‘self-control’) and truly equal societies enhance respect for and enjoyment of difference (sometimes called ‘complementarity’).

EDIT: I’ve since written a piece on anarchism, the version I consider myself part of, to help explain the leftmost pole. This is part of 33 Myths of the System, a [free] book which expands on the ‘Myth of Uniqueness’ that the above graphic was written in an attempt to expose.

Sexist! No women!

Explained here.

Other posters in this series: