Political compass memes

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How political compass memes help plot everything on the internet

Where do you land?


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Mar 22, 2024   Updated on Mar 14, 2024, 9:51 am CDT

With the American political spectrum the way it is right now, it can be hard to figure out where you stand. Maybe you’re not a fan of President Joe Biden… but in a right-wing way or a left-wing way? How about RINOs and DINOs, or Republicans and Democrats “in name only”?

Some people might need more than one axis on which to plot their political support, as politics comes down to more than just “right” and “left.” 

That’s where the political compass comes in. 

The Political Compass

Those curious to better understand their political and ideological affiliations can take the Political Compass test and see their viewpoints plotted on a square graph with two axes: The horizontal axis goes from “left” to “right,” whereas the vertical one goes from “authoritarian” to “libertarian.”

The four quadrants on the compass are categorized as authoritarian left (communism), authoritarian right (neo-conservatism), libertarian right (free market capitalism), and libertarian left (socialism). 

The online test was created in 2000 by a journalist and an academic who don’t reveal their names on the test’s site. The test is composed of 62 questions and though its popularity has grown exponentially over time, it’s also been criticized for over-simplifying terms and being outdated.

But nothing can live on the internet and not be satirized and, even more frequently, memed. So, of course the political compass became a meme that has come to signify as many things as there are plot points on its graph.

Political compass memes

The most simple form of political compass memes are those that plot non-political concepts onto the political compass axes. 

For example, one political compass meme plots Satan (libertarian left), Judas (libertarian right), Peter (authoritarian right), and Pontius Pilate (authoritarian left) on the graph, with Jesus exactly in the center.

The joke is that because Pontius Pilate presided reluctantly over Jesus’ trial, he is the authoritarian left; because Peter denied Jesus three times during the Last Supper, he is the authoritarian right; because Satan tempted Jesus to sin, he is the libertarian left; and because Judas betrayed Jesus, he is the libertarian right.

Another one makes the graph’s quadrants relatable: Authoritarian left is “you when you are angry,” authoritarian right is “you in your worst nightmare,” and libertarian right is “you when you want to sell your shit online.” Libertarian left is captioned “you normally,” but that joke only lands if you normally have left-leaning, libertarian beliefs.

And Jesus stars in another meme that somehow makes each quadrant clearly differentiated from each other—though it is just as subjective as the aforementioned one.

On the two axes of pro-Christmas to anti-Chritmas and anti-capitalism to pro-capitalism, the Grinch is anti-anti, Ebenezer Scrooge is anti-Chrismas but pro-capitalism, Santa Claus is pro-pro, and Jesus is pro-Christmas but anti-capitalism.

Scrooge hates Christmas because he doesn’t want to give any of his money away, so he is anti-Christmas but pro-capitalism. The Grinch, however, hates Christmas (and wants to get rid of it), but not on account of any financial ideology—so he’s against the holiday and capitalism. 

Santa Claus, though, is the commercial mascot for Christmas, meaning he’s for commerce and capitalism and the holiday. Jesus, however, is the reason for the holiday but not the gifts—so he’s pro-Christmas but anti-capitalism.

Memeing the memes

Memes and meme creators have built an entire universe of characters and tropes online, so much so that one can plug those into the political compass to categorize (or, meme) memes themselves.

In one, Porky and “Epstein didn’t kill himself” occupy the authoritarian left, and Pepe, Wojak, and most other memes are on the authoritarian right. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez memes are libertarian left, and the classic troll face meme is the libertarian left. 

In Body Image

The meme can utilize the axis, too. The antisemitic happy merchant meme is authoritarian, exactly between left and right, while the alignment chart meme is left, exactly between authoritarian and libertarian. Futurama and Simpsons memes are in the middle of both axes and act as the great neutralizer.

Another political compass meme places different memes about Barbie in the quadrants. Seeing Ken’s character as a bell hooks critique is authoritarian left, thinking “Kendom looked lit” is authoritarian right, fighting for Kendom is libertarian right, and seeing the movie as—in part—a critique of how men don’t know how to have their own identity is libertarian left.

And then there are memes that go even deeper into the fold and meme the four quadrants themselves. One such meme plots the axes using “works very hard” and “does basically nothing” instead of authoritarian and libertarian, and “somehow fails” and “somehow succeeds” as left and right. 

Thus, the authoritarian left works very hard but somehow fails, the authoritarian right works very hard and somehow succeeds, the libertarian right does basically nothing but somehow succeeds, and the libertarian left does basically nothing and somehow fails. 

But, again, that’s all subjective. Isn’t it?


Political compass memes became so popular that there is an entire subreddit dedicated to the creation and sharing of the memes, with almost 585,000 members. 

Not all memes in the subreddit are in the traditional political compass format (though most are), some memes are about the political compass memes—like a recent comic about sharing your political compass results with someone else.

The subreddit has also made headlines: In 2022, r/PoliticalCompassMemes banned the word “groomer” from being used in the subreddit as a way to disparage LGBTQ people. 

The word is often used by right-wing figures to falsely equate queerness with pedophilia, making the subreddit fall somewhere along the lines of the libertarian left.

Which probably is most of Reddit, anyway. 

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*First Published: Mar 22, 2024, 7:00 am CDT