The Political Atlas (3/9) Domestic Policy Spectrum (The 4 Quadrants)

[The cover image of every post in this series is an apolitical mock flag design of my own creation.The flower overlapping the star is a pansy, which represents Free Thought. I will eventually discuss political symbolism in Part 9.]

In the last post of this series, we looked at two different axes representing economic and social organization. In this section we will combine the two into four distinct quadrants, each encompassing their own various ideologies. The Political Compass designates these as “Right-Authoritarianism,” “Right-Libertarianism,” “Left-Libertarianism” and “Left-Authoritarianism.” I will refer to them as such for the sake of convenience and familiarity though I personally believe “Right/Left Statism” and “Right/Left Humanism” are more accurate names.

Those in the Authoritarian sphere believe that strong government should serve as the gatekeeper for, or the means to transition into, the socio-economic philosophy of their allegiance. Those in the Libertarian sphere believe that individual (and sometimes collective) autonomy in the form of negative (and sometimes positive) rights should be of the utmost importance. Typically, they call upon non-government institutions such as the free market or workers councils to fill the gap of the state.

My updated take on the Political Compass’ 2-axis spectrum.


Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a high degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to societal conventions and norms and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who do not adhere to them. They value uniformity and are in favor of using group authority to achieve it. These constraints might include restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association and laws regulating moral behavior. It is the willingness to support or take action that leads to increased social uniformity that makes right-wing authoritarianism more than just a personal distaste for difference.

  • Crony Capitalism: an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. This is often achieved by using state power rather than competition in managing permits, government grants, tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention over resources where the state exercises monopolist control over public goods, for example, mining concessions for primary commodities or contracts for public works. Money is then made not merely by making a profit in the market, but through profiteering by rent seeking using this monopoly or oligopoly. Entrepreneurship and innovative practices which seek to reward risk are stifled since the value-added is little by crony businesses, as hardly anything of significant value is created by them, with transactions taking the form of trading. Crony capitalism spills over into the government, the politics, and the media, when this nexus distorts the economy and affects society to an extent it corrupts public-serving economic, political, and social ideals.

  • Corporatocracy: an economic and political system controlled by corporations or corporate interests. It is most often used as a term to describe the economic situation in the United States. This is different from corporatism, which is the organisation of society into groups with common interests. Corporatocracy as a term is often used by observers across the political spectrum. Economist Jeffrey Sachs described the United States as a corporatocracy in The Price of Civilization (2011). He suggested that it arose from four trends: weak national parties and strong political representation of individual districts, the large U.S. military establishment after World War II, large corporations using money to finance election campaigns, and globalization tilting the balance of power away from workers.

  • Authoritarian Capitalism, or illiberal capitalism, is an economic system in which a market economy exists alongside an authoritarian government. Related to and often confused with state capitalism, within authoritarian capitalism individual rights such as freedom of speech and religion are repressed while economic rights such as private property and the functioning of market forces are maintained.

  • Inverted Totalitarianism: The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term in 2003 to describe what he saw as the emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin analysed the United States as increasingly turning into a managed democracy (similar to an illiberal democracy). He uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” to draw attention to the totalitarian aspects of the American political system while emphasizing its differences from proper totalitarianism, such as Nazi and Stalinist regimes. The book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012) by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco portrays inverted totalitarianism as a system where corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy and where economics bests politics. Every natural resource and living being is commodified and exploited by large corporations to the point of collapse as excess consumerism and sensationalism lull and manipulate the citizenry into surrendering their liberties and their participation in government.

  • Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.

  • Nazism: (from the initials of the German word for “National Socialism”) Usually characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and antisemitism. Nazism subscribed to theories of racial hierarchy and Social Darwinism, identifying the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race. It aimed to overcome social divisions and create a German homogeneous society based on racial purity which represented a people’s community. The term “National Socialism” arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of “socialism”, as an alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism. Nazism rejected the Marxist concept of class conflict, opposed cosmopolitan internationalism and sought to convince all parts of the new German society to subordinate their personal interests to the “common good” and accept political interests as the main priority of economic organization.

  • Falangism: is the political ideology associated to the Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional‐Sindicalista (Spanish Phalanx of the Assemblies of the National‐Syndicalist Offensive, or FE de las JONS in the Spanish acronym), a political party founded in Madrid on February 11, 1934. It was a phenomenon fundamentally linked to Spanish politics from the interwar period to the Franco dictatorship (1939–75). In essence, Falangism represents an Iberian variant of classical European fascism, albeit one with pronounced national characteristics, including an emphasis on Catholicism as a source of sociopolitical order, a valorization of the country’s imperial past in its celebration of a primordial Spanish nationalism, and a strong rural social base.


A series of libertarian political philosophies which advocate for negative rights, natural law (the position that certain rights are endowed by nature, or God) and a major reversal of the modern welfare state. Right-libertarians strongly support private property rights and defend market distribution of natural resources and private property. Broadly, you can think of Right-Libertarians as advocating a retreat of government from many aspects of society and letting private interests or markets fill the void.

  • Agorism: advocates creating a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges by means of counter-economics (the study or practice of all peaceful human action which is forbidden by the State.) Agorism does not support political engagement in the form of political party promotion as a means to transition to a free-market anarchism. The methods of the Libertarian Party (United States) are not compatible with agorist principles. Unlike mutualists (see below), agorists defend that there is no need for a property to be continuously used for it to belong to its legitimate owner.

  • Minarchism: advocates for the State to exist solely to provide a very small number of services. A popular model of the State proposed by minarchists is known as the night-watchman state, in which the only governmental functions are to protect citizens from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud as defined by property laws, limiting it to three institutions: the military, the police, and courts.

  • Objectivism: As it relates to politics, Objectivism rejects the notions of positive rights (rights created by government initiatives, such as guaranteed healthcare), collective rights and animal rights. Objectivism holds that the only social system which fully recognizes individual rights is capitalism, specifically what Rand described as “full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism.” Objectivism regards capitalism as the social system which is most beneficial to the poor, but that this isn’t its primary justification. Rather, it is the only moral social system. Objectivism maintains that only societies seeking to establish freedom (or free nations) have a right to self-determination.

  • Individualism: A philosophy that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one’s goals and desires. As a result, they value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one’s own interests by society or institutions such as the government.

  • Anarcho-Capitalism: a political philosophy and school of anarchist thought that advocates the elimination of the state in favor of self- ownership, private property, and free markets. Anarcho-capitalists hold that, in the absence of statute (law by centralized decrees and legislation), society tends to contractually self-regulate and civilize through the discipline of the free market (in what its proponents describe as a voluntary society). In an anarcho-capitalist society, law enforcement, courts, and all other security services would be operated by privately funded competitors rather than centrally through compulsory taxation. Money, along with all other goods and services, would be privately and competitively provided in an open market. Therefore, personal and economic activities under anarcho-capitalism would be regulated by victim-based dispute resolution organizations under tort and contract law, rather than by statute through centrally determined punishment under political monopolies.


May be thought of as using government as a powerful, centralized instrument of the people to fend off real or perceived infringements by businesses or bourgeois. They tend to want to use government as the instrument of common ownership over the means of production and as a means to transition into a socialist or communist society. Unlike the other three quadrants, LA does not have its own wikipedia page. Wikipedia does give a definition of authoritarian socialism that reads as follows: Authoritarian socialism refers to a collection of political-economic systems describing themselves as socialist and rejecting the liberal democratic concepts of multi-party politics, freedom of assembly, habeas corpus and freedom of expression.

  • Leninism: The philosophies of Vladimir Lenin. The idea that power must be seized by a political vanguard party as opposed to the less centralized economic struggle of collective bargaining, striking, etc. (In isolation, this principle is known simply as vanguardism). Follows the tenet of “freedom in discussion, unity in action” wherein free speech and discussion of policy is allowed, but once a course has been agreed upon, the party members are expected to follow that consensus without question. The belief that any internal political reforms within a capitalist system would ultimately fail (in other words, a revolutionary approach to Socialism as opposed to a Reformist, as alluded to in the previous essay).

  • Trotskyism: The ideology of Leon Trotsky. Emphasized the importance of spreading Communism around the world, and the idea that it would only be sustainable as a shared, simultaneous revolution. Also the belief that Communism should be achieved right away, as opposed to the two-stage model of Stalinism. He also did not support centralized, planned economics, instead advocating for local workers’ councils. With that last feature, it’s debatable then whether Trotsky’s ideas truly belong under the umbrella of Left- Authoritarianism. However, since he aligned himself with Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and he intended on aligning Russia with foreign revolutionary groups, I think in practice his system would have featured a strong central government had he been able to implement his plans.

  • Stalinism: The features of Joseph Stalin’s regime. In sharp contrast to Trotsky, this is the two-stage model of Communism, where a country must go through a period of Capitalism first before transitioning to Communism. He also believed in the concept of communism in one country as opposed to aiding foreign revolutionary movements, a centralized economy and agriculture, forced purging of dissidents, a pervasive cult of personality and rapid industrialization. It’s worth noting that because Karl Marx always intended for his system to be adopted in developed, Capitalist countries (as opposed to the agrarian, feudal Tsarist Russia) Stalin’s two-stage method could be argued as closer to Marx’s intentions in that particular sector, though everything else is a perversion of the egalitarian utopia Marx envisioned.

    • Bureaucratic Collectivism: A term coined by Trotskyists to discredit Stalinism, particularly the way the surplus goods were distributed to the party elites rather than the workers, and the way the party bosses control policy, not the workers.

  • State-Capitalism: The government controls the economic decisions of the country. The means of production are controlled as State-owned business enterprises, with capital accumulation, wage labor, and centralized management. Also includes systems where the government is controlled along business practices or where publicly traded corporations have controlling interests of stock owned by the state. Lenin described the USSR in 1918 as State-Capitalist, and China transitioned to this model after the death of Chairman Mao.

  • State-Socialism: a classification for any socialist political and economic perspective advocating state ownership of the means of production either as a temporary measure in the transition from capitalism to socialism, or as characteristic of socialism itself. It is often used interchangeably with state capitalism in reference to the economic systems of Marxist—Leninist states such as the Soviet Union to highlight the role of state planning in these economies, with the critics of said system referring to it more commonly as “state capitalism. ”

  • Khrushchevism: The ideas of Nikita Kruschev, which involves the rejection of Stalinism and particularly represents a movement away from Stalinist politics, including advocating a more liberal tolerance of some cultural dissent and deviance, a more welcoming international relations policy and attitude towards foreigners, and a repudiation of Stalinist arbitrariness and terror tactics.

  • Maoism: The tenets of Mao Zedong’s politics. The idea that peasants should form the backbone of the revolution. Emphasizes the rural/urban divide and predicts the agrarian peasants overrunning the bourgeois cities. In contrast to the Leninist idea of a vanguard party, he supported a “Mass Line” of peasants dictating policy. Supported the idea of a cultural revolution to wipe out the remnants of bourgeois ideology.

  • Juche: The variant of Leninism developed by Kim-il Sung for North Korea, emphasizing self-reliance of the state.


Several related but distinct approaches to political and social theory, which stress both individual freedom and social equality. In its classical usage, left-libertarianism is a synonym for anti-authoritarian varieties of left-wing politics, e.g. libertarian socialism, which includes anarchism and libertarian Marxism, among others. Left-libertarians, while maintaining full respect for personal property (objects, commodities), are skeptical of or fully against private property (land, real estate), arguing that neither claiming nor mixing one’s labor with natural resources is enough to generate full private property rights. They largely maintain that natural resources (land, oil, gold, vegetation) should be held in an egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively. Those left-libertarians who support private property do so under the condition that recompense is offered to the local community. Many left-libertarian schools of thought are communist, advocating the eventual replacement of money with labor vouchers or decentralized planning. On the other hand, left-wing market anarchism appeals to left-wing concerns such as egalitarianism, gender and sexuality, class, immigration and environmentalism within the paradigm of a socialist free market.

  • Social Democracy: is a political, social and economic ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, as well as a policy regime involving a commitment to representative and participatory democracy, measures for income redistribution and regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions. The Nordic Model countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark), and some of Western Europe, could accurately be described as Social Democratic. It originated in post-war Europe as either an alternate, reformist and democratic path to Socialism (contrasting Stalin and the USSR) or a compromise between it and Capitalism.

  • Democratic Socialism: a political ideology that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production with an emphasis on self-management or democratic management of economic institutions within a market socialist or decentralized socialist planned economy. Democratic socialists hold that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the democratic values of liberty, equality, and solidarity; and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society. Similar to Social Democrats, Democratic Socialists oppose the more authoritarian approach to Socialism of Leninism or Stalinism. In contrast to SDs, they are committed to the transition between Capitalism and Socialism rather than stopping at incremental welfare “bandaids” to capitalism.

    • Decentralized-Planned Economy: a type of economic system based on decentralized economic planning, in which decision-making is distributed amongst various economic agents or localized within production units. Decentralized planning is held in contrast to centralized planning where economic information is aggregated and used to formulate a plan for production, investment and resource allocation by a central authority. Decentralized planning can take shape both in the context of a mixed economy as well as in a post-capitalist economic system. This usually implies some form of democratic decision-making within the economy or within firms in the form of economic democracy or industrial democracy. Alternatively, computer-based or computer-managed forms of decentralized coordination between economic enterprises have been proposed by various economists and computer scientists.

    • Self-Management or workers’ self-management (also referred to as labor management, workers’ control, industrial democracy, democratic management and producer cooperatives) is a form of organizational management based on self- directed work processes on the part of an organization’s workforce. Self-management is a characteristic of many forms of socialism, with proposals for self-management having appeared many times throughout the history of the socialist movement, advocated variously by market socialists, communists, and anarchists. There are many variations of self- management. In some variants, all the worker-members manage the enterprise directly through assemblies; in other forms, workers exercise management functions indirectly through the election of specialist managers. Self-management may include worker supervision and oversight of an organization by elected bodies, the election of specialized managers, or self-directed management without any specialized managers as such. The goals of self-management are to improve performance by granting workers greater autonomy in their day-to-day operations, boosting morale, reducing alienation, and when paired with employee ownership, eliminating exploitation.

    • Workplace Democracy is the application of democracy in all its forms (including voting systems, debates, democratic structuring, due process, adversarial process, systems of appeal) to the workplace. Workplace Democracy is implemented in a variety of ways, dependent on the size, culture, and other variables of an organization. Workplace Democracy can be anything from direct democracy to employers asking opinions of employees without taking into consideration their beliefs and opinions.

  • Mutualism: an economic theory and anarchist school of thought that advocates a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or in purely voluntary collectives, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market. Integral to the scheme is the establishment of a mutual-credit bank that would lend to producers at a minimal interest rate, just high enough to cover administration. Mutualists oppose the idea of individuals receiving an income through loans, investments and rent as they believe these individuals are not laboring.

  • Autonomism: A series of semi-related anti-authoritarian Marxist theories. Unlike other forms of Marxism, autonomist Marxism emphasises the ability of the working class to force changes to the organization of the capitalist system independent of the state, trade unions or political parties. Autonomists are less concerned with political party organization than are other Marxists, focusing instead on self-organized action outside of traditional organizational structures.

  • DeLeonism: Named after Daniel De Leon, leader of the Socialist Labor Party in American History. According to De Leonist theory, militant industrial unions are the vehicle of class struggle. Industrial Unions serving the interests of the proletariat will bring about the change needed to establish a socialist system. While sharing some characteristics of anarcho-syndicalism (see below), De Leonism actually differs from it in that he and the modern Socialist Labor Party still believe in the necessity of a central government to coordinate production, as well as in the use of a revolutionary political party in addition to union action to achieve its goals. The success of the De Leonist plan depends on achieving majority support among the people both in the workplaces and at the polls, in contrast to the Leninist notion that a small vanguard party should lead the working class to carry out the revolution. In some ways then, you could think of this as a marriage between Leninism and Democratic Socialism.

  • Communalism: proposes that markets be abolished and that land and enterprises — such as private property — be placed increasingly in the custody of the community — more precisely, the custody of citizens in free assemblies and their delegates in confederal councils. The maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is taken as a bedrock guide for an economically rational society, where all goods are designed and manufactured to have the highest durability and quality, a society where needs are guided by rational and ecological standards, and where the ancient notions of limit and balance replace the capitalist imperative of “grow or die”. Communalists hold that the special interests that divide people today into workers, professionals, managers, capitalist owners and so on would be melded into a general interest.

  • Councilism: (also called Council Communism) an alternative to the state capitalism and central planning of Leninism, advocating instead for decentralized workers’ councils to dismantle the class state. It rejects party vanguardism and democratic centralization. Democratic worker’s councils will coordinate the functions of a society rather than a bureaucracy found in state socialist societies. Because of these beliefs Council Communists have been compared to Anarchists and Syndicalists.

  • Luxemburgism: The ideas of Rosa Luxemburg. The chief tenets of Luxemburgism are a commitment to democracy and the necessity of the revolution taking place as soon as possible. In this regard, it is similar to Council Communism, but differs in that, for example, Luxemburgists do not reject elections by principle. It resembles anarchism in its insistence that only relying on the people themselves as opposed to their leaders can avoid an authoritarian society, but differs in that it sees the importance of a revolutionary party, and mainly the centrality of the working class in the revolutionary struggle. It resembles Trotskyism in its opposition to the totalitarianism of Stalinist government while simultaneously avoiding the reformist politics of Social Democracy, and believing in a vanguard party but differs from Trotskyism in arguing that Lenin and Trotsky also made undemocratic errors as well as different views on national self-determination.

  • Syndicalism: a proposed type of economic system, considered a replacement for capitalism. It suggests that workers, industries, and organisations be systematized into confederations or syndicates. It is ” …a system of economic organization in which industries are owned and managed by the workers. ” Its theory and practice is the advocacy of multiple cooperative productive units composed of specialists and representatives of workers in each field to negotiate and manage the economy. For adherents, labor unions and labor training are the potential means of both overcoming economic aristocracy and running society in the interest of informed and skilled majorities, through union democracy.

    • Anarcho-Syndicalism: a theory of anarchism that views revolutionary industrial unionism or syndicalism as a method for workers in capitalist society to gain control of an economy and, with that control, influence broader society. Syndicalists consider their economic theories a strategy for facilitating worker self-activity and as an alternative co-operative economic system with democratic values and production centered on meeting human needs. The basic principles of anarcho-syndicalism are solidarity, direct action (action undertaken without the intervention of third parties such as politicians, bureaucrats, and arbitrators) and direct democracy, or workers’ self-management. The end goal of syndicalism is to abolish the wage system, regarding it as wage slavery. Anarcho-syndicalist theory therefore generally focuses on the labour movement. Anarcho-syndicalists view the primary purpose of the state as being the defence of private property, and therefore of economic, social, and political privilege, denying most of its denizens the ability to enjoy material independence and the social autonomy that springs from it.

  • Social Anarchism: (also known as Socialist Anarchism) a non-state form of socialism and is considered to be the branch of anarchism that sees individual freedom as being dependent upon mutual aid. Social anarchist thought emphasizes community and social equality as complementary to autonomy and personal freedom. They also advocate the conversion of present-day private property into social property or the commons, while retaining respect for personal property. It is considered an umbrella term including but not limited to Mutualism, Anarcho-Syndicalism and Anarcho-Communism.

  • Anarcho-Communism: a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wage labour and private property (while retaining respect for personal property) in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of workers’ councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”


  1. Well done Cassandra! After reading your definitions I guess I am still an Anarcho-Capitalist’s. It is nice to see all these political ideas so well defined.

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