Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Political Yen/Yang Principle: The Political pH Scale

Political Science may be a science, but it is not quantitative like chemistry. It, like most social sciences, can be measured to some degree. But Poli-Sci is mostly an abstract discipline, like sociology, psychology, and several others. Research is limited to surveys and other subjective methods, much unlike lab sciences that require more concrete thinking, less opinion, and more finite terminology.

But knowing all of this, means little except to say that any abstract science, will always be subject to much more scrutiny and skepticism, than those sciences that can settle their difference in a laboratory. With that said, let me also say that like other social sciences, Poli-Sci has changed much since I took a couple of classes, 30 years ago.

Recently, I posted a piece called, The Political Yen/ Yang Principle. If you haven't read it, I recommending reading it first. But if you already have or just don't care to, that's fine too. It's not a prerequisite to what I am about to present.

Except for this part:

Yen And Yang In Science

Take chemistry for instance. Remember the pH scale of acids and bases? Too much of one or the other, creates an unstable compound. The more stable the compound the more balance between the two. Here is but one example: Sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-) molecules by themselves are not stable. Yet when they develop a bond with each other, they become one of the more stable compounds, known to mankind, table salt.

Table salt (NaCl), by itself and in its natural form, serves many useful functions today and at one point in history was a valuable trading commodity, with the ancient Romans even using it as money.

As I said earlier, Poli-Sci is not easily measured. Like any other science it covers a wide range of topics, sub-topics, and subjects. It is different from country to country, mainly due to the differences in political systems and the ideologies that govern them.

But leave a person alone long enough with a set of subjects that are interesting and fascinating at the same time, and soon, you will come up with all kinds of theories. These theories are debated more intensely than in other fields, because objective data is less prevalent than in those that are more quantified. Much is left open to various interpretations and they are often times, hotly contested and debated.

One widely accepted model developed to helped explain political ideology is the
political spectrum. Clicking on the link will better explain it, if you do not understand just how many different models have been developed, over the years. While trying to explain pretty much the same things, each has its own set of attributes and faults, or better yet, its pluses and minuses. Thus, the debate can be endless, with good agruments, both for and against the use of said models.

But the thing to note here is, since this is difficult to quantify, some method has to be used to qualify Poli-Sci as a valid discipline. And this is a simple way of doing it, if you do not get too deep into the technicalities that are so subjective to begin with.

Now look at the
pH scale we all learned in chemistry. 0= strong acid, 14=strong base, and 7=pure water, which is perfectly balanced. Note: Pure water does not occur naturally unless it is distilled.

Now, take this model and apply it to the political spectrum, and there you have the Political pH scale. 0=anarchistic left wing militants, 14=anarchistic right wing militants, and 7=perfect centrist, which is probably not an attainable value, in reality. I would say it exists only in theory.

Some believe that a value should be should not be assigned, nor should a label be given to political ideologies and/or their proponents/opponents. But I ask, how else can you describe behavior, beliefs, and/or value systems that exist in the political world? Labels and values are not always a bad thing, they are what they are.

In the future and whenever applicable, I will refer to the Political pH Scale and will assign what I feel is a proper pH value to selected ideologies, ideas, philosophies, and other things that exist in the realm of political science. It is not a perfect model by any means, but it does serve the purposes of these conversations, on the whole. There is no claim to scientific method here. It, like it has always been, is just one man's opinion.


Mark said...

looking forward to hearing about some pol melting another's face off with their acidity....but i have problems with the linear nature of your scale. I prefer those based on x and y axis, one being economics and the other society. i don't fit on a linear scale, but have a dot on the other graphs. you say, one man own opinion.

LASunsett said...


//i don't fit on a linear scale, but have a dot on the other graphs. anyway//

I doubt many people do.

The x and y axis is a better model when there are multiple issues to consider. From what I have gathered from your comments here and on TLLL, you seem to be a libertarian, which is hard to pin down on a linear model. But if we break down the individual issues and where you as an individual stand on them, you would fit somewhere on that line, for that particular issue.

As I said, there are faults with any model and this is no exception. I just wanted to keep the model as simple as possible and demonsrate the need for balance, as in the case of chemical compounds.

L'Amerloque said...

Hi LASunsett !

/*/I just wanted to keep the model as simple as possible and demonsrate the need for balance …/…/*/

Amerloque is on the same wavelength: keeping such a complex issue simple is tough …

He tried to devise a spectum for the French model that one could superimpose an American model on, so as to see the difference.The whole political spectrum in France is far further to the left, compared to the USA.

Last year Amerloque attempted to outline the French and American political spectra, by plotting familiar politicians' names on a do-it-yourself chart … :

for what it's worth. (grin)


LASunsett said...

Hi Amerloque,

I looked at your model, which is along the same lines as mine. I agree with your statement on the European spectrum being wider, with the median being shifted more to the left. When I lived in what was then West Germany, I think it was that way too.

One of the posters on SF's blog made the statement one time that the Daily Kos blog was a "centrist" blog. And in France it may very well be. But I would say that here in the US, the pH of the Kos kids is low enough to digest a rock. ;)

G_in_AL said...

LA, you should have named this thing:

What smart folks come up with when the've got too much time on their hands.


This is good, but good-lord it's long and detailed. Makes me wish I had more time for analysis and debate... but, at my age, life is moving at warp speed.

LASunsett said...


//This is good, but good-lord it's long and detailed. Makes me wish I had more time for analysis and debate... but, at my age, life is moving at warp speed.//

Imagine how long it'd be, if I had the time. ;)