Political axes

Dimensionality reduction for the Great Society

Psychometrics for societies.

I complain that the decomposition of politics into “left” and “right” was arbitrary and unhelpful and should be done away with. Like any banner you do not hold, some unexpected persons can rally around it with you. They might rally around another banner later.

Prima facie it seems weird we would even have political orientations, no? Always option for big-government solutions, or market-led solutions, or traditionalist solutions or whatever category of solution, to a diverse array or problems sounds odd. If I had to solve statistical regressions would it make sense to have an x-axis orientation where I systematically decided not to use the y axis?

Of course the world is not made of independent regression problems, and it might be reasonable to suppose there are biases that are helpful to lug around from one policy decision to another. I wonder how the biases that we do lug around are in any sense optimal for the decision we need to make?

There are many attempts to slice the pie in different ways. Status 451 does it in terms of traditionalism. It is an interesting provocation. TBD: insert other fun examples.


In practice people clearly do choose to interpret the richness of the great human project in terms of partisan categorisation, so I am advocating for the axes we decompose it into to be at least intersting:

Liam Bright’s axes: Social justice warrior/Intellectual dark web, and Sexy murder poet versus Basically nice bureaucrat

Inference from data

Presumably many, but the one I saw a seminar on was Leibon et al. (2011).


Baumann, Fabian, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Igor M. Sokolov, and Michele Starnini. 2021. Emergence of Polarized Ideological Opinions in Multidimensional Topic Spaces.” Physical Review X 11 (1): 011012.
Leibon, Greg, Scott Pauls, Daniel N. Rockmore, and Robert Savell. 2011. Partition Decomposition for Roll Call Data.” arXiv:1108.2805 [Cs, Stat], August.
Nilsson, Artur, Henry Montgomery, Girts Dimdins, Maria Sandgren, Arvid Erlandsson, and Adrian Taleny. 2020. Beyond ‘Liberals’ and ‘Conservatives’: Complexity in Ideology, Moral Intuitions, and Worldview Among Swedish Voters.” European Journal of Personality 34 (3): 448–69.

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