It's been said that "a young man who isn't a socialist hasn't got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn't got a head" (http://tinyurl.com/kuarlt). Well, maybe that worked back in the 1920s, when Lloyd George (who said it) was prime minister of the British Empire. Things have changed, though - nowadays it's hard to pin down and pigeonhole conservatives and liberals, as well as capitalists and socialists. For example: Who spent more during their eight years as president, Republican (conservative?) George W. Bush or Democrat (liberal?) Bill Clinton? For all his conservative posturing, the answer turns out to be Bush. Huh?
Political commentators - after the fact, of course - could probably come up with a dozen explanations for this aberration. But I have a better question: How can we know in advance whether the people leading us (wherever we may live) are going to live up to their principles? In fact, it turns out it's not only difficult to determine our leaders' true politics. Would we live up to our campaign promises given the chance?
The Political Compass (http://www.politicalcompass.org/) may have the answer for us. It turns out that however we label ourselves, chances are we are not as liberal/conservative or socialist/capitalist as we think - and the Political Compass has the tools that can help us get in touch with our true inner political selves, in the form of a quiz designed to get us to reveal our true positions on the burning issues of the day.
The questions range from love of country to race preference to economic issues ("The freer the market, the freer the people") to social attitudes ("There are no savage and civilized peoples; there are only different cultures") to attitudes about crime, sex, religion and - astrology. You can agree or disagree (strongly or "regular") with each supposition, but you must answer them all.
And when you do, the results of where you really stand on economic (right/left) and social/freedom (libertarian/authoritarian) appear. According to the site's authors, "The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left'" are too simplistic to explain declared leftists like Stalin and Gandhi - or, by extension, the free-spending ways of conservatives like George W. Bush. My own position on the resulting graph was a bit surprising, to me at least - libertarian, slightly favoring the economic left. The site is free to use (you can order a certificate of your graph) and anonymous - no names are required.
But the site does name names when it comes to world leaders. According to the World Leader graph, former prime minister Ehud Olmert was a moderate believer in free-market economics, but a bit too close to the "fascist" end of the graph (but so are Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy and Mahmoud Abbas - although the latter is somewhat economically socialist).
The information on the leaders (there's a page for classical composers, too - can you guess where Wagner shows up?) - was gleaned from writings and speeches, some of which are also reproduced on the site, revealing a side of sometimes legendary leaders many weren't aware of. For example: Who said after World War II "The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs?" Answer: Mahatma Gandhi. Makes you think, doesn't it?