Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

The Chook Chart of Occidentalist Democracy Mk 2

Penned upon the 8th of July, 2006

What is this? Political opinion has often been explained as a sliding scale between two extremes: left and right, democracy and despotism, capitalism and communism, radical and reactionary. Some theorists have proposed a two-axis model: economic and social factors, or statism and rationalism. The politically active usually make a distintion of their own: big government and small government, thriftiness and excess spending, kindness and self-centredness, peace and warmongering.

The Chook Chart is an attempt to present the range of political thought in a simple form to which almost anyone can relate. The three traditions which I feel dictate most democratic action form the points of the triangle: socialism, liberalism and conservatism. These refer, not to specific policies such as “big government” or “less spending”, but to the underlying ideological drives which continue to push a given party even after government has grown or spending has decreased. Likewise, specific models of government, even those closely associated with an ideology (socialism and Marxist communism, or conservatism and monarchy), are not used in the Chook Chart.

What do the points represent? Conservatism, at the right-hand point of the chart, is concerned with morality. A conservative party will try to build and maintain moral standards and traditions and protect institutions which are thought to represent those standards and traditions. The role of the ruling body becomes a role model and moral watchdog, concerned with such issues as law and order, moral quality of broadcasting and entertainment, and passing values on to the next generation.

Liberalism, at the left-hand point of the chart, is concerned with individual freedom. A liberal party will try to build and maintain individual liberties, both social and economic. The role of the ruling body becomes a nightwatchman and tool, protecting individuals against violations of their liberty and facilitating the pursuit of personal goals. Key issues become civil rights, freedom of expression and free trade.

Socialism, at the top of the chart, is concerned with material quality of life for the general populace. A socialist party will try to directly build and maintain a high standard of living for all members of society. The role of the ruling body becomes a referee and helping hand, orienting the economy toward benefiting the populace and ensuring social divides do not grow too wide. Key issues become fairness, material standards and the rights of the worst-off.

How do you justify those parties’ positions? In the above example, I use three Australian parties to show the Chook Chart in action. The Liberal Party, concerned with both moral values (such as national identity and traditional marriage) and free trade, fits between the Conservative and Liberal points. The Labor Party, before the Whitlam, Hawke and Keating governments saw a great deal of change, was concerned with working-class quality of life and with national moral values, placing it between the Conservative and Socialist points (it has since drifted closer to the Liberal Party.) The Greens, concerned with both fair trade (in terms of both welfare and the environment) and with civil rights (including progressive drug laws and gay marriage), fits between the Socialist and Liberal points.

‘Occidentalist democracy’? By ‘occidentalist’ I refer to political systems based on Western models, traditions and philosophies. The Chook Chart refers exclusively to democratic, parliamentary groups – it makes no attempt to cover non-parliamentary, revolutionary or dictatorial movements.

Where is Mk 1? Here

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