bobsheridan at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 28 09:18:49 PST 2004
The two poles on the conventional political spectrum are liberal
(sometimes referred to as the hated L-word) and conservative
(thought by some to mean on the right hand of God). However there may
be room for the suspicion that there are other poles on the political
compass that require recognition, such as authoritarian and
libertarian. At least thats what the site, below, suggests by
offering a list of statements or political propositions to which you
indicate whether you agree or disagree, and whether you feel that way
strongly or not. You are then presented with a score in the form of a
dot located on a four-way flat matrix in relation to the center of an
X/Y axis, the resultant of left, right, libertarian and authoritarian.
Lucas A. Powe, Jr., in The Warren Court and American Politics,
(Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2000), concludes his review of the court and
its leading cases by noting, at pp. 500-501, the influence of the
interplay of so many events and cross-currents of the time, some of
which he lists, such as MLK, Jr.s I Have a Dream Speech, Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrins trip to the moon, the assassinations of John
and Robert Kennedy, Violet Liuzzo, Catch-22, the Summer of Love, etc.
All these and many more, he suggests, went into the making of
constitutional law at the time.
All this suggested to me that while adding another dimension
(authoritarian-libertarian) to the usual Left Right political spectrum
(said to have originated with the seating arrangement during or after
the French Revolution), is fine, a more complete view might encompass
yet other dimensions, say at minimum a third concerning other competing
influences which you are free to posit, that arranges matters in the
form of a cube-matrix. Three-dimensional chess, as it were.
If constitutional law is the resultant of the many basic attitudes
existing in the hearts and minds of the controlling elements of the
population at the time of decision, one of the more difficult
understandings to reveal in class is a picture of what was going on at
the time, as Powe does.
I thought the politicalcompass site, above, helps to illustrate this
A good one-volume history of the Civil War era, James M. McPhersons
Battle Cry of Freedom (Oxford U. Press, 1988), reveals the many and
complex competing attitudes that existed on slavery, union, race,
political rights, social rights, etc. These of course lead to the
amendments (13, 14, 15) we spend the most time teaching as they come to
be understood through the changing multi-dimensional matrix, generation
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