The main ideologies classified to be left wing include;
- Communism Communism is considered left wing though its totalitarian element has much in common with right wing Dictatorships.
- Social Democracy
Communism is the furthest to the left wing, along with Marxism, as well socialism is more moderate, and liberalism is more towards the centre. In modern practical terms, Liberalism is a centrist system However, most communist governments end up in a dictatorship. This website feels Socialism, social democracy and Liberalism are better political ideologies.
Liberalism is considered left-wing by convention, because it originated as an alternative to Monarchy, Aristocracy, Theocracy and other Class-based systems. In practice, Liberalism is a spectrum of beliefs with considerable overlap of both more left-wing and more right-wing systems, depending on support for individual rights vs. communal powers and equal legal rights vs. equality of outcomes.
The main ideologies classified to be right wing include;
Nazism and Fascism are both recognised as being the furthest right wing ideologies, while Conservatism is a more moderate right wing belief.
The terms "left" and "right" often are simply economic terms. The left-right line is often defined as simply being an economic line. Therefore, under this definition, authoritarianism can be left-wing. Examples of this are the former Soviet Union, and other former Marxist-Leninist countries.
In Marxist-Leninst thought, the state was thought to be temporary, eventually being abolished. Theoretically, the state would be used to suppress the former ruling class, eventually leading to anarchism. Mikhail Bakunin believed that this should not occur, and that the state should be abolished at the same time as capitalism.
There is another axis the political spectrum, which is the social scale. This scale is sometimes included within the one-dimensional left-right line. If this is the case, countries like the Soviet Union are not on the Far Left. The social scale is sometimes thought of as distinct from the left-right axis, with one end of this spectrum called "libertarianism" and the other end called "authoritarianism".
Spectrums within ideologies
Within a specific ideology, different views held can also be referred to as being left and right wing.
For example, if a Communist advocated a small amount of private ownership, he would be seen as a right wing Communist, as private ownership is not a policy associated with "true" left wing Communism. Therefore the Communist would be to the right wing of mainstream Communism. In practise many communist Countries including communist China include a private sector because that works.
Another example is Liberalism in the United States. For most of the last 250 years, American Liberals differed in the amount of progressiveness they wished in the societal movement toward equal civil, political and economic rights. Progressives wished quicker change, conservatives advocated slow change to no change, and moderates preferred a moderate rate of change. Within the last 30-40 years, American conservatives have largely abandoned traditional Liberalism, and advocated a new so-called Liberalism (known as neo-conservatism or neo-liberalism) which accepts political and economic hierarchy and privilege as inevitable if not preferrable, and rejects progression towards universal civil, political and economic rights.
Far left wing beliefs, such as Communism, are associated with bright red crimson while conservative right wing beliefs are associated with blue. The colour associated with far-right Fascism, when it's out in the open, is black. Anarchism is also associated with black, Nazism uses brown. The colours associated with moderate liberals is most commonly yellow or orange.
However, in some countries, this is not the case. In America, Liberals are associated with blue while Conservatives are associated with red. This is probably because the Republican was the liberal party during the time period of the American Civil War, and the Democrats were the conservative party, and they simply haven't switched around their colors to match the political drift of their viewpoints over time.
That may also be a historical accident, as Red states and blue states - Wikipedia suggests. The states were colored that way in 2000, but in previous years, they'd been colored Democratic = red, Republic = blue, and sometimes blue and yellow instead of blue and red.
The political spectrum is sometimes rendered as a simple left-right line, such as this one: (The chart above has American colors.)
(The chart below has colours used outside the USA.)
There is also the Nolan chart, such as the one pictured to the right. This diagram has two dimensions: one for cultural issues and one for economic issues. A one dimensional political spectrum can be placed into a Nolan chart, going from culturally and economically left to culturally and economically right.
There is also the horseshoe diagram shown to the left. The idea behind this depiction is that extremists have more in common with each other than either side has with moderate centrists.
Here is a variant of the Nolan chart. According to this chart, Liberapedia is more along the lines of anarchism though in reality Liberapedia is Social Democratic . The chart's version of liberalism is more along the lines of libertarianism. As for Marxism , the state, or the dictatorship of the proletariat, was theorized to be temporary, eventually leading to anarchism. Conservatives are Fascists.
Here is another model of the political spectrum shaped like a triangle. It is called the Wrobel Chart . It uses the dimension of tradition and the dimension of freedom. Extreme positions on this chart are Anarchism, Communism, and Fascism.
Europe is mostly liberal or Social democrat, (at least Northern Europe is) and parties that are considered Centre right in Europe would be considered Centre left in the United States. Perhaps also all of North America. Sweden is a Democratic socialist country along with most of Scandinavia; however the rest of Europe is mainly social democrat and liberal.
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