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[Under Construction]Political Dimensions[Under Construction]



We would like to apologize for the way in which politicians are represented in this program. It was never our intention to imply that politicians are weak-kneed political time-servers who are concerned more with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than with the problems of government. Nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matters, in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well-being of the people they supposedly represent. Nor to imply at any stage that they are squabbling little toadies without an ounce of concern for the vital social problems of today. Nor indeed do we intend that the viewers should consider them as crabby, ulcerous little self-seeking vermin with furry legs and an excessive addiction to alcohol and certain explicit sexual practices which some people might find offensive. We are sorry if this impression has come across.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus


Is there a single spectrum of political thought where every individual’s positions on issues can be characterized by a point somewhere between right and left? Of course not. There are many dimensions to political space, and an independent thinker’s position on one axis of this space does not necessarily correlate her position on a different axis. And yet the political landscape of the United States is almost always described as if this were the case – as if everyone were in one of two camps, “right” or “left”, (or worse, “conservative” or “liberal”) and all members of these camps agreed with each other on all issues. Of course this is not the case, but political analysis still centers on this absurd fiction. Why?

The purpose of the one-dimensional simplification of political space is simply to aggrandize those in power. A politically powerful person or institution increases its power by convincing others that from alignment on one issue, alignment on other issues should follow, and so this is the lesson that is taught and driven into our minds relentlessly by the mouthpieces of power (such as the news media).

Preaching the one-dimensional simplification is only one way in which the system aggrandizes its elite. The Constitutional and legislated political structures of the United States are set up to favor the two party system, which is symbiotic with the one-dimensional simplification.

The two party system eliminates real choice for the electorate on many of the issues. Besides concentrating power for the elite, it serves to subvert the will of the people on these issues. Current examples include campaign finance reform, corporate subsidies, crime, the environment, human rights, military spending, trade policy, and education. Only when an issue becomes of utmost importance to the people can the democratic process override the wishes of the elite. The parties adopt slightly different positions on a few axes of political space, chosen as the strongest magnets for much of the electorate that don’t inconvenience the elites too much (e.g. tax policy). When these issues lie on independent axes, there is a risk that the electorate could split into more than two camps. Propaganda is then used to educate and re-align the electorate. Also, the two party system prevents a split in the electorate from manifesting itself as an alternative center of power. On other issues, especially those the elite prefer removed from the political arena, the party positions are similar and different from the electorate, offering no choice to the electorate.

[Under Construction]To Be Continued[Under Construction]

Copyright © 1999 Earl A. Killian. All Rights Reserved.