Tag Archives: Politics

The Interpersonal Circumplex

May I have your attention please. The following citizens have been declared unmutual: Number 6.”

— From the TV show The Prisoner

Here we have another diagram based on the work of Timothy Leary (the other being the Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness), a simple chart defined by two axes. The vertical axis is currently and commonly thought of as agency (as well as power, control, assertiveness, and dominance) and the horizontal axis as communion (as well as love, agreeableness, friendliness, and affiliation).

The diagram is usually shown with concentric circles centered on the intersection of the axes, inviting continuous twofold measurements and plotting for the factors of dominance and affiliation. Thus it allows comparisons for the different quantified interactions of individuals within a group, perhaps as a metric for social cohesion and its opposite, fragmentation.

It is quite similar to the scheme for CM/CR (Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution), except that the Interpersonal Circumplex (IC) is a tool for understanding psychological and sociological behavior and traits, and CM/CR is apparently more often used in the business and political world. The IC also has commonalities with Grid-Group Cultural Theory, a notion used in sociological studies.

I first ran across something very much like the IC in Anthony Stevens’s “Ariadne’s Clue,” being used as a model for mythological solidarity and divergence. However, Leary is not credited but instead the primate studies of Chance and Jolly (1970) are cited for their work in intimidation and attraction, or agonic and hedonic modes of attention and interaction.

I would think that the IC could be used effectively to analyze the sorry state of politics in these “United States”, as domination and affiliation play their tug-of-war for superiority. I see some interesting papers by Kenneth Locke (2013), and of course I’m also thinking of the political work of George Lakoff as well, but I don’t see any use of the circumflex for Lakoff’s work.

Further Reading:





John M. Oldham, Andrew E. Skodol, Donna S. Bender (eds.) / The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Personality Disorders

Christopher J. Hopwood, Abby L Mulay, Mark H Waugh (eds.) / The DSM-5 Alternative Model for Personality Disorders: Integrating Multiple …

Anthony Stevens / Ariadne’s Clue: a guide to the symbols of mankind (1998)

M. R. A. Chance and C. Jolly / Social Groups of Monkeys, Apes, and Men (1970)

Kenneth D. Locke / Circumplex Scales of Intergroup Goals: An Interpersonal Circle Model of Goals for Interactions Between Groups

Images of the Interpersonal Circumplex:







The Fourth Estate

As the basic institutions and fabric of our democracy come under general attack from within our very own government, I am reminded of this fourfold, long ago enlarged from the original but variable threefold of the estates of the realm. The journalism of the free press still remains a very important part of our society and has long served us well, shining a disinfecting light on the misdeeds of powerful and corrupt elements of the wealthy class, and yes, even some of those in the leadership of religious institutions.

Of course, the very same powerful and corrupt want to attack the scrutiny of the media by childish name-calling and vilification: “enemy of the people”, “lame-stream media”, and other silly phrases that encourage glad-handing and back-slapping, winking and smirking. But these attacks are extremely serious in their intention to weaken and transform a press geared towards informing the ordinary individual, and substitute for it an instrument for propaganda and misinformation serving the puissant.

As newspapers and news magazines lose readers, and traditional television network news shows lose viewers, the internet has provided a multitude of new ways for the “common” individual to be mislead, to be encouraged to give into base and false narratives, and to appeal to tribal mentalities of “us versus them”. I can barely see how this disorder might ultimately benefit the wealthy, but how does this serve the “clergy” of religious organizations that speak of peace and brotherhood yet side with a destructive, hateful agenda?

Oh look, some are calling blogging and social media a “fifth estate”. Piffle!

Further Reading:




At first I wanted to put “Free Press” into the fourfold below, but choose “Free Lunch” instead because I didn’t want it to be too political. Oh, well.


Also, this:





Capitalistic Values

Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!

― Ebenezer Scrooge (post ghosts) in “A Christmas Carol”, by Charles Dickens

I’ve been thinking about the fourfold shown above off and on for the past two years because the US federal government (consisting of the 115th Congress and the 45th President) are by majority members of the conservative “grand old” party. This government hasn’t done much except cater to the wealthy and powerful, undo environmental protections, estrange our world allies, and destroy our institutions.

Since socialism in any form is anathema to this administration, capitalism is king, and not capitalism with a conscious either. So I present to you four causes as means or four values as ends of capitalism. These values are principles that only a Scrooge could love!

For the efficient cause (left quadrant), instead of intentional actions I have chosen the value of Money. Finances, wealth, and currency are other synonyms. Money grants the bearer supreme choice in what they can obtain or choose to do. Laws try to restrict the choices that money can be used for or the circumstances where it can be used.

For the material cause (bottom quadrant), instead of substantive parts I have chosen the value of Property. Ownership and capital are related concepts. You really can’t use something to make something else unless you own it, so owning as much as possible is paramount!

For the final cause (right quadrant), instead of normative performance or function I have chosen the value of Power. Influence, capability, potential, authority, capacity are all related. To find out if power is an end in itself, ask the capitalist!

For the formal cause (upper quadrant), instead of necessary structure I have chosen the value of Mastery. Information, understanding, knowledge, or purview are options, but not as nicely nuanced as mastery. Power is nice but without mastery it’s aimless. Mastery is great but without power it’s useless.

As more and more wealth is acquired by fewer and fewer individuals, it may be time to rethink what our actions as a nation have given us on these last dark days of 2018. But a nice incremental change is coming next year and it is none too soon. Put that in your Christmas pipe and “smock” it!

Further Reading:



Some might think that since I promote a fundamental physicalism (informed by fourfolds) that I endorse economic materialism or even a predatory capitalism “red in tooth and claw”. Physicalism is a metaphysical stance towards the natural world whereas economic materialism is usually thought to be one of the bad aspects of consumer culture.




A tip of the hat to Richard Neil Abbott for the Scrooge quote! Please check out his blog at




Political Fourfolds

sq_politicalToday I present an example of a political fourfold. Frequently they have two factors: first, between the personal and the economic, and second, between liberty and security, or freedom and control. The quadrants that result can have different labels, but the one above is essentially the Nolan Chart, consisting of Authoritarian, Conservatism, Libertarian, and Liberalism.

  • Libertarian (personal freedom, economic freedom)
  • Authoritarian (personal control, economic control)
  • Conservatism (personal control, economic freedom)
  • Liberalism (personal freedom, economic control)

But you can read this anytime! This is an important day in United States politics so I urge everyone that can to please get out and vote!



Images of “Political Quadrants”:



Well that went poorly.

Another political or ideological fourfold is Anarchism, Radicalism, Conservatism, and Liberalism. This appears in Hayden White’s “Metahistory” but I’m unsure of its previous history.

[*3.172, *7.31, *9.172]