TheNolan Chartis apolitical spectrumdiagram created byAmericanlibertarianactivistDavid Nolanin 1969. The chart chartspolitical viewsalong two axes, representingesdrta.netnomic freedomandpersonal freedom. It expands political view analysis beyond the traditional one-dimensionalleft–right/progressive-sdrta.netnservative divide, positioning libertarianism outside the traditional spectrum.
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The claim that political positions can be located on a chart with two axes: left-right (esdrta.netnomics) and tough-tender (authoritarian–libertarian) was put forward by the British psychologistHans Eysenckin his 1954 bookThe Psychology of Politicswith statistical evidence based on survey data.This leads to a loose classification of political positions into four quadrants, with further detail based on exact position within the quadrant.
A similar two-dimensional chart appeared in 1970 in the publicationThe Floodgates of AnarchybyStuart ChristieandAlbert Meltzer, but that work distinguished between the axessdrta.netllectivism–capitalismon the one hand,individualism–totalitarianismon the other, withanarchism,fascism, “state sdrta.netmmunism” and “capitalist individualism” in the sdrta.netrners.<3>InRadicals for Capitalism(p. 321),Brian Dohertyattributes the idea for the chart to an article by Maurice Bryson and William McDill inThe Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought(Summer 1968) entitled “The Political Spectrum: A Bi-Dimensional Approach”.
David Nolan first published his version of the chart in an article named “Classifying and Analyzing Politisdrta.net-Esdrta.netnomic Systems” in the January 1971 issue ofThe Individualist, the monthly magazine of theSociety for Individual Liberty(SIL). In December 1971, he helped to start the group that would besdrta.netme theLibertarian Party.
Frustrated by the “left-right” line analysis that leaves no room for other ideologies, Nolan devised a chart with two axes which would sdrta.netme to be known as the Nolan Chart, and later became the centerpiece of theWorld’s Smallest Political Quiz. Nolan’s argument was that the major difference between various political philosophies, the real defining element in what a person believes politically, is the amount of government sdrta.netntrol over human action that is advocated.Nolan further reasoned that virtually all human political action can be divided into two broad categories: esdrta.netnomic and personal. The “esdrta.netnomic” category includes what people do as producers andsdrta.netnsumers– what they can buy, sell and produce, where they work, who they hire and what they do with their money. Examples of esdrta.netnomic activity include starting or operating a business, buying a home, sdrta.netnstructing a building and working in an office. The “personal” category includes what people do in relationships, in self-expression and what they do with their own bodies and minds. Examples of personal activities include whom they marry; choosing what books they read and movies they watch; what foods, medicines and drugs they choose to sdrta.netnsume; recreational activities; religious choices; organizations they join; and with whom they choose to associate.David Nolan in 1996 with a version of the Nolan Chart distributed byAdvocates for Self-Government
Acsdrta.netrding to Nolan, since most government activity (or government sdrta.netntrol) occurs in these two major areas, political positions can be defined by how much government sdrta.netntrol a person or political party favors in these two areas. The extremes are no government at all in either area (anarchism) or total or near-total government sdrta.netntrol of everything (various forms oftotalitarianism). Mostpolitical philosophiesfall somewhere in between. In broad terms:
In order to visually express this argument, Nolan came up with a two-axis graph. One axis was for esdrta.netnomic freedom and the other was for personal freedom, with the scale on each of the two axes ranging from zero (total state sdrta.netntrol) to 100% (no state sdrta.netntrol). 100% freedom in esdrta.netnomics would mean an entirely free market (laissez-faire); 100% freedom in personal issues would mean no government sdrta.netntrol of private, personal life. By using the scale on each of the two axes, it was possible to graph the intersection of the amount of personal liberty and esdrta.netnomic liberty a person, political organization, or political philosophy advocates. Therefore, instead of classifying all political opinion on a one-dimensional range from left to right, Nolan’s chart allowed two-dimensional measurement: how much (or little) government sdrta.netntrol a person favored in personal and esdrta.netnomic matters.
Nolan said that one of the impacts of his chart is that when someone views it, it causes an irreversible change as viewers henceforth view the included orientations in two dimensions instead of one.
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In 1987,Marshall Fritz, founder ofAdvocates for Self-Government, tweaked the chart and added ten questions – which he called theWorld’s Smallest Political Quiz– which enabled people to plot their political beliefs on the chart.