What Is Left Or Right Wing

The terms left wing and right wing are based on the seating arrangements in the French National Assembly, which directly preceded the French Revolution. The basic beliefs of each side are still equivalent to those of the parties seated there.

Left wing generally refers to more "liberal" or "progressive" views (as in wanting to change things in ways that have not been tried before), based on the belief that people are basically good and the government has a responsibility to care for all of its citizens to some degree. Taken to its logical conclusion, left wing politics becomes some form of socialism.

Right wing usually refers to more "conservative" or "regressive" views (as in wanting things to stay the same or return to how they used to be). It is characterized by a belief in the natural selfish nature of humans and the view that achievement is equivalent to worth. The government should stay out of people's affairs and not force the more productive citizens to subsidize the less productive citizens. Taken to its logical conclusion, right wing politics becomes either anarcho-capitalism (libertarian wing) or some form of Fascism (authoritarian wing, although many Neo-Fascists would describe themselves of taking a Third Position, between capitalism and socialism)

NOTE from someone reading this (please re read the above paragraph)- Not all right wing thinkers think this way. Some believe that a positive outcome is achievable as opposed to the negative that is portrayed in the above statement.

Some believe that in a hierachical society there is likely to be more order. Yes, there will be problems because people are naturally self centred but that is just how it is and we can't change that ever, we just have to accept it for what it is. As a society we need to approach leaders and rulers because they are the ones in power and authority and therefore have the ability to change things. Leaders and rulers need to be non corrupt individuals, therein lies the problem.

In Christian right wing politics for example, this is the order;

Hierachy Law Obedience to the law Discipline Order Duty Care for others

True believing Christians (meaning that some say they are Christains but don't behave like them) believe that once these simple rules are followed society will be a better place where fair rules and justice apply. For example, if someone is on the streets starving and cold, the Christian should feed, clothe him and offer him somewhere to stay if they are able, because that is what their hierachical leader commanded them to do! The fact that people often don't behave in this way, only proves that people by nature are not always naturally good, that, sometimes the opposite is true.

Every society needs justice and the wierd idea that loving everyone will solve problems is rediculous. Who wants to love the person who just killed your daughter or son for example? No, such a person deserves justice. It is just not fair and is quite outragous to let the victim go without justice!

Within a Christian hierachical system, there is a formula for justice which is clearcut (at this point it is essential to point out that this is not the law and commands given to the Jews any more, it has changed since the Christain ruler was born. That is why, Christians are called Christians and not Jews!) everyone knows where they stand. In Christian right wing thinking, it is NOT an individuals place to seek revenge, therefore the process goes to a fair court hearing instead. The Christian is meant to understand that even if justice is not seen to be done by humans, their ultimate ruler will see justice and fairness prevail when He returns to earth.

This way, no one goes on killing sprees or bombs others because they realise that justice will be done in the end. If that is the case, the reason for atrocities is ruled out, hence leading to a more peaceful prone society. Always being mindful that the problem lies with the human condition and not the rules or authority.

This means that even if humans make mistakes and convict the wrong person or don't jail the rapist etc. etc. such a system can never ultimately fail !!!!!!!!!

If you think about it, Christians view the ultimate problem as being rooted in the nature of the human condition, which only order and fairness can fix.

This right wing thinker SHOULD also tell you that the Christians hope is to live in the earth we have now. Re created as it was in the beginning, re made perfect for us to live on in peace in eternal life.

If they don't tell you this, they have probably lost sight of their faith and hope as Christians. END


Conservative, n. A politician enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal, who seeks to replace them with others. -- AmbroseBierce

: [See also LeftAndRightWingPolitics.]
In the UnitedStates of America, the Democratic Party is generally considered "LeftWing" and the Republican Party is considered "RightWing." However, there is substantial overlap between the actual views and policies of these two parties. and neither confirms to a classical definition of the two. I would call the Democrats conservative and the Republicans moralist.

There are other political parties in the UnitedStates that are far more "LeftWing" or "RightWing" than the "main stream" parties. But these "3rd parties" have little chance of winning the presidential election.

What is the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties? ("little" and "none" are both acceptable answers.) -- StephanHouben

little, but not none. So far as you can accurately model politics in the left-right axes, they are both centre-right parties, with little distance between them. There are minor differences in economic policy for example, but big enough to have noticeable effect.

There must be more than "little" difference, since they do seem to oppose one another - Just watch the voting patterns on issues in Congress, they do seem to vote oppositely on issues being considered. They do seem to want Judges and Justices appointed in the Judicial Branch who are in agreement with their views on political as well as legal matters. The do have separate conventions and differing Platforms, and nominate based on political and economic harmony with the party in question. These are but a few of many differences. (Also the mascots are different and representative, the donkey and the Elephant) If you are serious in offering as acceptable answers "little" and "none", I would suggest you might include additional possibilities.

This may be connotational, or learned behavior. My father votes exclusively Republican, but his beliefs are libertarian. I suspect the opposition is learned, and not real.
[Discussion of inflation under Democratic and Republican presidents in the UnitedStates moved to InflationUnderDemocratsAndRepublicans.]


[Moved from LeftWingMediaBias?]

EverythingIsRelative. That US politics tilt further rightward, especially on economic issues, than those in Europe is not a big surprise. In the context of mainstream US politics, however, it is reasonable to equate "left" and "liberal" with, say, the Democratic Party.

Otherwise you end up sounding like loony Libertarians who scream and holler that Clinton, for example, is a card-carrying Communist. He is, of course, nothing of the sort. What is a Communist and why do they need to carry cards?
I don't think Communists issue cards; if they do and there is an image of one, I'd like to see it or a link to it posted.

I guess there is such a thing, this is excerpted from a page on the internet:

"In the center of the Eurasian landmass is the sprawling Russian Federation, led by its President, Vladimir Putin. Although Putin is no longer a member of the Communist Party - he stated that he put his Party card in his dresser drawer - his government is overseeing a rehabilitation of the image of the former Soviet espionage services." (from http://www.inatoday.com/Eurasia.htm)

But what does it look like? and what is it used for? Why does one carry it and another put it in a drawer?
I would suggest that "political theory" might be assigning more dynamic range than necessary to the left; and compressing the right. Whether intentional or not, I don't know - but virtually nobody will admit to being an "extremist".

Conversely, I suppose, someone may be considered a "rightist" in Europe but a left-wing loony by academics and Americans. Actually, any academic worth is pedigree will consider the whole of the global political spectrum before assigning labels such as "left" or "right"; the notion that the European political center is the correct political center is just as flawed as the notion that the American political center is correct. One really should consider the entire world, from Osama bin Laden to Kim Jong-Il; the extremists in both the US and in western Europe pale in comparison to the real global nutcases.

One interesting case in point is the gay Dutch politician (PimFortuyn) who was assassinated a while back; he was branded a right-winger for an anti-immigration stance. On virtually every other subject; he would be considered well left of center in the U.S.

Actually, the concept of a "spectrum" is a gross oversimplification anyway. There are many orthogonal axes to the political space.

The word "liberal", in US political discourse, has gotten to the point where it is almost useless. For one thing, it has taken on many pejorative meanings (tax-and-spend liberal, bleeding-heart liberal, limousine liberal, etc.) that the concept of a liberal has become a strawman - if the Democratic Party were really all that the right-wing says it is, it would be an InTheNoise? party like the communists or the TaxpayersParty?. Most people who do occupy the left (US-relative) prefer to call themselves progressives; a term that hasn't yet been co-opted by conservatives. -- ScottJohnson

(Oh, really? In Canada, we have a party that was called the Progressive Conservative (PC) party for more than six decades. Their main political rivals are the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party (labour), and the separatist Bloc Québécois. We find Americans' use of the word "liberal" as an insult strange. It's also odd that they seem to find socialism abhorrent, despite having public welfare, roads, and schools.)

And on what possible basis do you make all of these judgements? The way you word yourself suggests you know nothing of political theory, yet you put forward opinions which require great expertise in it.

I point to your use of "scare quotes" around political theory, the idea that "admitting" to being an extremist means anything, the idea that restricting US political analysis to the "mainstream" is "reasonable" (nothing could be more preposterous, certainly no academic would agree), the naive idea expressed above that the political center is some kind of center of mass, or that left-wing in the developing world means something different than it does in Europe, the idea that liberals are left-wing (they are right-wing), and your (deleted) positive reference to Libertarians (a right-wing extremism that doesn't exist outside the USA and Austria). And to address your dragging in right-wing terrorists in the discussion, the biggest right-wing terrorist on the planet is US President George Bush. So taking Osama bin Laden (or USAma as Americans like to call him) into consideration is pointless.

And on what possible basis do you make all of these judgements? Some personal experience, a bit of reading, etc... Do I have a Ph.D. in poly sci? Nope. Does that disqualify me from the discussion? I hope not.

The way you word yourself suggests you know nothing of political theory, yet you put forward opinions which require great expertise in it. An opinion requires expertise in nothing. A WellFormedOpinion?, perhaps. But I've read enough to at least form the opinion, like it or not, that the belief that AmericansAreAllRightWingersIncludingTheLeftists? often springs forth from pejorative attitudes towards ths United States as much as it does from anywhere else. Which I guess is OK; lots of Americans love to bash Western Europe as a haven of commies. Americans that do that are just as wrong.

I point to your use of ScareQuotes? around political theory. ScareQuotes?? That term implies a nefarious intent that I certainly don't possess. I use quotations around words that seem to have different meanings, depending on who you ask - and which frequently are used as DoubleSpeak - to indicate to the reader than they might parse my sentences differently.

[I point to] the idea that "admitting" to being an extremist means anything. Extremism is regarded as a vice in many quarters, Patrick Henrys' quote notwithstanding. Many politicians who I, or others, might be regarded as extremists often prefer to present themselves as mainstream. In a society which holds elections to determine leaders, extremism is often considered a liability.

[I point to] the idea that restricting US political analysis to the "mainstream" is "reasonable" (nothing could be more preposterous, certainly no academic would agree). I'm not restricting it to the mainstream; if we want to throw the John Birch Society et al into the mix, fine with me. However, the original topic started off as an argument between the two "modes" (using a little StatisticsSpeak?) in the US political model (which I claim is a bimodal distribution, regardless of where the mean lies); and in that context, using the terms commonly used in US political discourse seems appropriate.

The political science literature nonwithstanding; many terms have different meanings in different locales. I can deal with that; I understand full well that many Democrats in the US would identify with a right-of-center party in Europe. While having a uniform vocabulary for scholarly debates in political science is useful (assuming, of course, that it can be agreed upon); at some point theory must be reconciled with practice. If a Brit walks into a sports bar in the US, he doesn't get to tell everyone that from now on, the word football refers to soccer, as opposed to American football. You don't get to walk into a debate (among laypersons) on US politics and redefine the vocabulary, either.

[I point to] the naive idea expressed above that the political center is some kind of center of mass, Why not? Political science, being a social science, ought to reflect how humans actually think, and accurately model their political beliefs, values, and systems. If a model is to be at all descriptive, the center of the model ought be close to the center of reality. Terms like "left", "right", and "center", for better or worse, suggest a frame of reference. or that left-wing in the developing world means something different than it does in Europe Why should it? A term like "socialist" ought mean the same thing no matter where you are; terms like "left" and "right" have long, at least in popular usage, been dependent on where you are talking about.

[I point to] the idea that liberals are left-wing (they are right-wing) See above regarding the word "liberal" and it's utter uselessness, at least without some qualification and your (deleted) positive reference to Libertarians For the record, I don't much care for what the Libertarian party peddles. As a BigIdeaParty?; they have little solution to the complex problems facing the world; plus their absolute elevation of property rights above human rights disturbs me greatly. Property rights should be a means to secure human rights; not an end to themselves. (a right-wing extremism that doesn't exist outside the USA and Austria). You need to travel more. While Libertarianism as a political movement is mainly active in the US (I'll leave Austria out of this; other than to note that the school of economics named after that country is nuts); many societies, particularly developing nations, have economies with libertarian features, including a lack of a social safety net, little protection for consumers or workers, no primary education provided by the government, etc. Why do you think so many Western (in particular, American) corporations like to move factories offshore? And to address your dragging in right-wing terrorists in the discussion, the biggest right-wing terrorist on the planet is US President George Bush. And before Jan 2001, it was Clinton, right? Before 1993, Bush Sr. Before 1989, Reagan. Before 1981, Jimmy "Nobel Peace Prize Winner" Carter. Before that (in backwards order), Ford, Nixon, LBJ, JFK, Ike, and Truman. (FDR couldn't have held the title, as Hitler was still around during his administration.) Am I correct? So taking Osama bin Laden (or USAma as Americans like to call him) into consideration is pointless. I've never heard ANY American refer to bin Laden as USAma. (Unless you are referring to the habit some have of mispronouncing his name as oo-sa-ma rather than o-sa-ma.)


moved here from my home page. My word in italics. -- ScottJohnson

Left-wing means that a person is invested in some form of socialism, whether moderate or extreme. Extreme forms include anarchism, Marxism, Trotskyism and Maoism. Anarchism has many forms; including anarcho-capitalism, anarcho-communism, etc. Equating it in all cases with socialism is flawed. Anarcho-"capitalism" is a contradiction in terms. It's no more anarchist than the Nazionale Socialist Party was socialist. Anarchism was founded on explicit anti-capitalism, so in Europe anarchism = libertarianism = left-anarchism. Anarchists have already ceded the use of "libertarianism" in the USA to an ideology diametrically opposite to theirs, the interests of communication are not served by muddying the waters any further. Libertarians do have the habit of linking themselves to more attractive ideologies, I'll admit. Many insist that they are the proper heirs to the "classical liberal" tradition, at least as espoused in the US by Thoreau and others. I find that argument silly. OTOH, anarchism seems to have lots of different causes and camps; most self-proclaimed anarchists I've run into are little more than nihilists and "I'm gonna do whateverthehellIwant" types. At any rate, the ship of anarchist theory quickly runs aground on the rocks of political reality. In the places where "legitimate" government has been so weakened as to resemble anarchy, one sees the rise of warlordism, organized crime, and other sorts of pseudo-governments - who may eschew the formal trappings of the state; but rule their domains with a closed fist nonetheless.

Extreme means radical, revolutionary, conceptually simple, ideologically motivated. Whether or not it is pejorative to some or many people is simply irrelevant. Lots of people consider its pejorative nature to be quite relevant. Eat shit, a trillion flies can't be wrong. What is good for flies isn't necessarily good for people. At any rate, some people take pride in labels such as "extremist", others couldn't care less.

Right-wing means that a person is invested in capitalism, corporatism, or some other such ideology. This includes liberalism, neo-liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, neo-conservatism, fascism, Nazism, et cetera. Quite a wide brush you're painting with. About the only thing that these have in common is that they are not socialist. A fact obscured by many on the left, as the gleefully equate the first five with the last two. Certainly, while the Nazis weren't socialists (despite what Nazi is short for), they weren't laissez-faire capitalists, either. When the means of production are secured by the State to further its own ends; that ceases to be traditional capitalism. And the Nazis did this when? Point to something the Pentagon isn't doing now. The Pentagon most certainly isn't in the business of grabbing every factory it can get its hands on; converting them all to manufacture munitions, and staffing the assembly line with slave labor. On the contrary, that's exactly what it did during WW2, which is exactly the time when the Nazis did all of these things.

Center means that a person is invested in nothing except democracy. This doesn't refer to just any political process propagandists, politicians or other bozos call democratic. For example, "representative democracy" is a contradiction in terms. Democracy refers to control of society as a whole by society as a whole. Social democrats aren't concerned with any particular electoral process, nor with any particular outcome of such processes, so long as said outcome reflects the considered will of society.

Further, as an American, an inhabitant of the most propagandized nation in the history of the planet, it follows automatically that "a little reading" will get you no appreciable knowledge regarding politics. Such prejudice does not become a well-founded argument. You'll have to do better than that. [Lots of stuff deleted] A low or negative opinion of a group is not the same thing as prejudice. A well-considered opinion based on facts cannot be prejudice. Horseshit. Much stereotyping and prejudice is based on a kernel of truth, buried in a mound of crap. Making a generalization that "Americans are stupid" or "blacks are lazy" or "Europeans are CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkies?", etc. where perceived attributes of some members of the group are extrapolated to the whole, IS prejudice. And intellectual sloth of the highest order. For instance, it is not prejudice to note that black people are less intelligent than white people in the USA. How could they be otherwise with the extreme poverty and racism they are subject to? Intelligence is generally considered a measure of innate ability, not of education or learnedness. Care to qualify that statement? So it is a fact that you come from the most propagandized nation in the history of the planet. Every nation is propagandized; every newscast contains a bit of propaganda, no how matter meticulously you try to avoid it. Please don't fall into the simplistic trap of assuming that your sources are TheTruth? and someone else's are "propaganda". Recognizing and compensating for it is not prejudice. But then, living in one of the most racist nations on the planet (the only? one that supported South Africa during apartheid) you wouldn't understand prejudice, would you? (The only credentials I need are dedication to truth at all costs. This is a compound measure including non-patriotism. If you can't spit on your own country as I have on mine, then your opinion is tainted.) My my, you are full of it. At any rate, I object strongly to the policies of my own government in many cases; including the conduct of the WarInIraq?. You are promoting a FalseDichotomy here, between blind patriotism/nationalism and "spitting on your own country", as you put it (which I assume means renouncing all there is about said country). There is a middle way, of course; active dissent in order to bring about change is a noble pursuit. As someone once said, "I love my country. It's the government I can't stand." And the society, its culture and its people. Exactly the attitude taken by German Jews circa 1930s. Watch your back.

In order to have a valid political opinion, an American must put ten times more effort into educating themselves than a member of any other country. Hogwash. Perhaps true of some Yanks, but not true of all of us. Sure, all you have to do is be unpatriotic, uncompetitive, unauthoritarian, and a host of other unAmericanisms. So long as you're a traitor, you're A-Okay.

Your ignorance of politics is extreme. Witness your inability to distinguish between the politics of people (individuals), nations (groups with shared histories), and states (government apparatus). You treat all three as interchangeable in AmericansAreAllRightWingersIncludingTheLeftists?. Your paintbrush is similarly broad. I'll admit to one thing, however. Many Americans are suspicious of the concept of "group rights"; in the past, it has been used to further much mischief in the world. If that makes us clueless, so be it. This is a non sequitur. I'd delete it but I'm curious about what it is you mean by it. It was a response to your mention of "national politics" as a third thing, in addition to the individual and the governmental. Perhaps it is LinearIndividualistThinking?, but in my experience those folks who start promoting "national" (or state interests, though in the US the two are often equated) ahead of individual interests are often up to no good. Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, and all that.


Re: "based on the belief that people are basically good..."

I don't think this is necessary in progressive philosophy. Perhaps "money is not the primary motivator for good works" is a better replacement.


Left wing: the group is important. Right wing: the individual is important.

Extreme left wing: non-conformity is dangerous poison in the body public. Extreme right wing: the strong take and do what they want; the weak are failures.


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