What is meant by the "left" and the "right"?

  • When discussing political issues and parties, I often hear mention of a party being "left", "centre-left", "right" or "extreme right". In broad terms, what do these designations mean?

    The fact that someone speaking uses "extreme right" but not "extreme left" should be a clear indication that the terms used are extremely subjective and in the eye of the beholder. 95% of people consider themselves politically moderate.

    The list including "extreme right" was meant to be just examples, as the "extreme left" certainly does exist - Communism is considered far- or extreme- left

    Google has 4,550,000 results for "Extreme right politics" and 1,360,000 for "extreme left politics"

    In Europe, "left" tends to mean the same as "socialist/socialdemocratic" and everything else gets lumped together as "right".

    maybe we now need a 2d model (left front, right back) or even a 3d model (left front top, right back bottom) or even a 3d axis model (5 left, 3 back, 8 top).

    @DVK: The remaining 5% is probably a good definition of "extreme". Problem is most people think that the 20-30% at the other end of the spectrum are "extreme" :D

    @KinjalDixit: https://www.politicalcompass.org splits politics up into a 2D plane: authoritarian-libertarian, and left-right (which is a bit vague, I personally associate it with collectivist vs. individualist).

  • The standard terms of left and right politics originate from the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789. They are often considered overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape.

    In the 1789 at the French National Assembly the First Estate (noblemen) sat on the right side and the Third Estate (revolutionaries) sat on the left side. Thus, the left wing of the room was more liberal, and the right wing was more conservative.

    Today you often use the terms left or extreme-left to describe social and progressive measures and right or even extreme-right the more conservative and nationalistic approaches. Those terms as I stated in the first paragraph however are too simplistic for a modern world where libertarians are often very progressive (left) on social issues such as gay marriage but are fiscally very conservative (right).

    Therefore, the Nolan Chart is popular among libertarians. The chart tries to characterize political positions on a two-axis model, one axis being "social authoritarian vs libertarian", the other "economically left vs right".

    @cls: And two dimensions is twice as good as one, but since once dimension is near useless.... :-) The Nolan chart also is very bad because it's still based on the concepts of left and right, which mean nothing. So in fact it only really has one dimension as opposed to zero. Which of course can be claimed to be infinitely better. ;-)

    @cls: No sorry, I was thinking of the political compass, not the Nolan Chart. The Nolan Chart is OK. It actually has two dimensions.

    Note that "progressive" is no more definitive then "left", and "conservative" adds little more than "right" unless applied to specific question (i.e. gay marriage or raising taxes) but in these questions the same person can be conservative and not conservative at the same time.

    Imho this has been dealt with in the last paragraph where I exactly explain what you state in your comment…

    Gay marriage has nothing to do with left-right destinction. It is a US invention that so-called "left" support feminism and gay rights so to divert attention from economic issues and make the "left" inappropriate for normal people. In the USSR homosexualism was punished by a term in prison.

    Actually it is not from the national assembly but from the constitutional meetings, in the "salle de manege royal". 11 september 1789 There was a walking referendum, where people were asked if they were in favour of keeping or rejecting certain privileges in the new French state. The first question was: "Should the king retain the right to stop a newly voted law by his veto. Those who are in favour, please place yourself at the right side of the hall, those who are against please go to the left side of the hall" Heads were counted. Essentially the left side was to abolish the privileges.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM