Evolution of thoughts is often the result of the interaction of factors which can be classified into two categories – Leanings and Practicability.
Leanings here refers to any position one has on certain matters and this leaning plays an important role in determining our final position on a related issue. Hence, if you support smaller governments then it isn’t surprising if you end up supporting lesser taxes as well. It is basic psychology at play.
Practicability essentially is a summation of all the mental processes that play a role in determining the feasibility of implementing a certain decision. Hence, if a situation of war presents itself to you, if your leanings are towards aggressive actions to protect national interest and you determine that the war is feasible or can be won, then your final decision would logically be to support the war. However, this decision may change if we modify one of the variables here and make the war unfeasible for the economy. Notwithstanding this possibility, history tells us that leanings have often overpowered practicability.
As stated above, leanings are a reflection of our positions. A summation of an individual’s leanings results in his classification as a supporter of a certain school of thought. Therefore, leanings towards preferring enhanced levels of governmental action to help all sections of society, monitor the economy closely, respect the privacy of the individual along with his right to take decisions pertaining to his own life and thereby not enact laws which affect the freedoms of an individual result in one’s classification as a subscriber to the Liberal school of thought.
The exact opposite leanings result in a classification as a Conservative.
However, this article is not about the definition or identification of already classified leanings. This article is an attempt at pointing out the fact that, despite the most obvious division of opinions into Liberal and Conservative or Left and Right wing thoughts, there still exists a huge chunk of opinions which fail to find ground in either of these major leanings or their subsections when considered as a whole.
This can be understood with the following illustration. An individual can support universal face recognition CCTV systems at every corner and be called a Conservative or at least a non-Liberal. But the same individual’s support for the rights of the LGBT community allows him to classify himself/herself as a Liberal. However, if both these opinions of the same individual were to be considered together, then which school can the said individual be classified under? It certainly is not Centrist, as a Centrist position has its own set of philosophies which rarely ever advocate taking an extreme side and, in fact, would have suggested the establishment of a CCTV system with strong monitoring mechanism over its usage by the government. Similarly, the LGBT situation would have found a centrist attempting to suggest that the government neither recognise it as an offense nor as a right and thereby creating a grey area.
Thus this broad spectrum of opinions held by an individual, a common phenomenon, prevents rigid classification of an individual into a particular school of thought. As illustrated above, a classic display of such variation is an individual’s support for a government CCTV face-recognition monitoring system, which is a Conservative position, but with a pro-choice position when it comes to abortions, which is a Liberal position. While both the issues are social in nature, the individual fails to take a stand which, when summed up, classifies him as either a Liberal or Conservative. This thought forms the crux of this article which proposes individualisation of classification of opinions.
This article rebuffs the school of thought that classifies an individual having such variant opinions, which are both left-wing and right-wing or Liberal and Conservative, as being Centrist in nature. It proposes non-classification of an individual into a position paradigm. This would give birth to many smaller concepts like Libertarian Conservatism (I will classify all my opinions as being closest towards the Libertarian Conservatist positions) which often attempt to accommodate segments of an opinion but as a result ends up being too convoluted an idea. A better solution is a classification of individual opinions which can be understood through phrases like “I am a Liberal when it comes to an individual’s right to marry” or “I have a Conservative stand on taxation”. Occasional summations can however be allowed but only if the subjects can be classified into a particular nomenclature like Socially-Liberal or Conservative-Economist.
Hence, if I were to put my positions down on a piece of paper, I will have to contend that there is No School Of Thought that the summation of my opinions can be classified into. Thus, there exists room in this porous field of political, economic and social philosophy for new schools of thought to emerge and take shape in order to classify the thoughts not currently classified. Till then, classification of individuals with varying opinions depending on subject will continue to be chaotic in nature and result in a lot of confusion in the democratic processes that have come to run a significant number of countries.
About the Author
Dhruva is a 20 year old fresh graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai with Majors in Economics and Political Science. He blogs at An Indian Youngster and tweets at @Dhruva_Mathur and is followed by Kevin Rudd, Foreign Affairs and European Council on Foreign Relations among others. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and debating. He is a Social Liberal with a Right tilt for economics oriented towards development.