|Part of the Politics series|
Far-left politics are politics further to the left on the left–right political spectrum than the standard political left. There are different definitions of the far-left. Some scholars define it as representing the left of social democracy, while others limit it to the left of communist parties. In certain instances, especially in the news media, far-left has been associated with some forms of authoritarianism, anarchism, and communism, or it characterizes groups that advocate for revolutionary socialism, Marxism and related communist ideologies, anti-capitalism, and/or anti-globalization.
Similar to far-right politics, extremist far-left politics can involve politically motivated violent acts, such as radicalization, genocide, terrorism, and the formation of far-left militant organizations. Far-left terrorism consists of militant and/or insurgent groups that attempt to realize their ideals and bring about change through political violence rather than using parliamentary processes.
The definition of the far-left varies in the literature and there is not a general agreement on what it entails or consensus on the core characteristics that constitute the far-left, other than being to the left of the political left. In France, extrême-gauche ("extreme left") is a generally accepted term for political groups that position themselves to the left of the Socialist Party, although some such as the political scientist Serge Cosseron limit the scope to the left of the French Communist Party.
Scholars such as Luke March and Cas Mudde propose that socio-economic rights are at the far-left's core. Moreover, March and Mudde argue that the far-left is to the left of the political left with regard to how parties or groups describe economic inequality on the base of existing social and political arrangements. Luke March, Senior Lecturer in Soviet and post-Soviet Politics at Politics and International Relations of the University of Edinburgh, defines the far-left as those who position themselves to the left of social democracy, which is seen as either insufficiently left-wing, or as defending the social democratic tradition that is perceived to have been lost.
The two main sub-types of far-left politics are called "the radical left" and "the extreme left"; the first desires fundamental changes in neoliberal capitalism and progressive reform of democracy such as direct democracy and the inclusion of marginalised communities, while the latter denounces liberal democracy as a "compromise with bourgeois political forces" and defines capitalism more strictly. Far-left politics is seen as radical politics because it calls for fundamental change to the capitalist socio-economic structure of society.
March and Mudde say that far-left parties are an increasingly stabilized political actor and are challenging mainstream social democratic parties, defining other core characteristics of far-left politics as being internationalism and a focus on networking and solidarity as well as opposition to globalization and neoliberalism. In his later conceptualization, March started to refer to far-left politics as "radical left politics", which is constituted of radical left parties that reject the socio-economic structures of contemporary society that are based on the principles and values of capitalism.
Radical left parties
In Europe, the support for far-left politics comes from three overlapping groups, namely far-left subcultures, disaffected social democrats, and protest voters—those who are opposed to their country's European Union membership. To distinguish the far-left from the moderate left, Luke March and Cas Mudde identify three useful criteria:
- Firstly, the far-left rejects the underlying socio-economic structure of contemporary capitalism.
- Secondly, they advocate alternative economic and power structures that involve the redistribution of income and wealth from political elites.
- Thirdly, they are internationalists, seeing a causality between imperialism and globalization, and regional socio-economic issues.
Other scholars classify the far-left under the category of populist socialist parties. Vít Hloušek and Lubomír Kopeček of the Masaryk University at the International Institute of Political Science suggest secondary characteristics, including anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, opposition to NATO, and in some cases a rejection of European integration.
March states that "compared with the international communist movement 30 years ago, the far left has undergone a process of profound de-radicalization. The extreme left is marginal in most places." March identifies four major subgroups within contemporary European far-left politics, namely communists, democratic socialists, populist socialists, and social populists. In a later conception of far-left politics, March writes: "I prefer the term 'radical left' to alternatives such as 'hard left' and 'far left', which can appear pejorative and imply that the left is necessarily marginal." According to March, the most successful far-left parties are pragmatic and non-ideological.
According to political scientist Paolo Chiocchetti, radical left parties have failed to concretise an alternative to neoliberalism and lead a paradigm shift towards a different path of development model, despite electoral gains in the 2010s; when they were in government, such parties were forced to put aside their strong anti-neoliberalism and accept neoliberal policies, either proposed by their larger allies or imposed due to the international context. This view is also shared by Mudde and political scientist Yiannos Katsourides in regards to SYRIZA.
Far-left militants and terrorism
Many far-left militant organizations were formed by members of existing political parties in the 1960s and 1970s, among them Montoneros, Prima Linea, the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, and the New People's Army. These groups generally aimed to overthrow capitalism and the wealthy ruling classes.
- Far-right politics
- Hard left
- Horseshoe theory
- List of anti-capitalist and communist parties with national parliamentary representation
- Rossi, Federica (April 2021). Treiber, Kyle (ed.). "The failed amnesty of the 'years of lead' in Italy: Continuity and transformations between (de)politicization and punitiveness". European Journal of Criminology. Los Angeles and London: SAGE Publications on behalf of the European Society of Criminology. doi:10.1177/14773708211008441. ISSN 1741-2609. S2CID 234835036.
The 1970s in Italy were characterized by the persistence and prolongation of political and social unrest that many Western countries experienced during the late 1960s. The decade saw the multiplication of far-left extra-parliamentary organizations, the presence of a militant far right movement, and an upsurge in the use of politically motivated violence and state repressive measures. The increasing militarization and the use of political violence, from sabotage and damage to property, to kidnappings and targeted assassinations, were justified by left-wing groups both as necessary means to achieve a revolutionary project and as defences against the threat of a neo-fascist coup.
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- Hloušek & Kopeček 2010, p. 45.
- Hloušek & Kopeček 2010, p. 46.
- Katsambekis & Kioupkiolis 2019, p. 82.
- March 2008, p. 3.
- March 2012a, p. 1724.
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- Chiocchetti 2016, "Filling the vacuum? The trajectory of the contemporary radical left in Western Europe".
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- Chiocchetti, Paolo (2016). The Radical Left Party Family in Western Europe, 1989–2015 (E-book ed.). London, England: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-22186-9. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Dunphy, Richard (2004). Contesting Capitalism?: Left Parties and European Integration (paperback ed.). Manchester, England: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-719-06804-1. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Google Books.
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- March, Luke (2012a). Radical Left Parties in Europe (E-book ed.). London, England: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-57897-7. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Google Books.
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- Further reading
- Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared (1st hardback ed.). London, England: Roitledge. ISBN 978-0-754-67840-3. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Holzer, Jan; Mareš, Miroslav (2016). Challenges to Democracies in East Central Europe (1st hardback ed.). London, England: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-65596-6. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Liebman, Marcel; Miliband, Ralph (1985). "Beyond Social Democracy". The Socialist Register. London, England: Merlin Press. 22: 476–489. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Marxists Internet Archive.
- Norwood, Stephen H. (2013). Antisemitism and the American Far Left (paperback ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139565806. ISBN 978-1-107-65700-7. S2CID 153120694. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Cosseron, Serge (2007). Dictionnaire de l'extrême gauche (paperback ed.). Paris, France: Larousse. ISBN 978-2-035-82620-6. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Smaldone, William (8 August 2013). European Socialism: A Concise History with Documents. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4422-0909-1.
- Radical left parties case studies
- Chen, Cheng; Lee, Ji-Yong (December 2007). "Making sense of North Korea: "National Stalinism" in comparative-historical perspective". Communist and Post-Communist Studies. 40 (4): 459–475. doi:10.1016/j.postcomstud.2007.10.003. JSTOR 48609679. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
- Kioupkiolis, Alexandros (March 2016). "Podemos: The Ambiguous Promises of Left-wing Populism in Contemporary Spain". Journal of Political Ideologies. London, England: Routledge. 21 (2): 99–120. doi:10.1080/13569317.2016.1150136. S2CID 147247286. Retrieved 21 November 2021 – via ResearchGate.
- Katsourides, Yannos (2016). Radical Left Parties in Government: The Cases of SYRIZA and AKEL (hadrback ed.). London, England: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-58841-8. ISBN 978-1-137-58840-1. Retrieved 21 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Katsourides, Yiannos (2020). "Radical Left". In Featherstone, Kevin; Sotiropolous, Dimitri A. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Modern Greek Politics (hardcover ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 299–315. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198825104.013.19. ISBN 978-0-198-82510-4. Retrieved 21 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Mudde, Cas (2016). SYRIZA: The Failure of the Populist Promise (E-book ed.). London, England: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-319-47479-3. Retrieved 21 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Balz, Hanno (2015). "Section III: Terrorism in the Twentieth Century – Militant Organizations in Western Europe in the 1970s and 1980s". In Law, Randall D. (ed.). The Routledge History of Terrorism. Routledge Histories (1st ed.). London, England: Routledge. pp. 297–314. ISBN 978-0-367-86705-8. LCCN 2014039877. Retrieved 3 December 2021 – via Google Books.
- Chaliand, Gérard (2010). The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda (1st ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24709-3. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Internet Archive.
- "Red Brigades". CISAC. Stanford University. May 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
- Clark, Simon (2018). "Post-War Italian Politics: Stasis and Chaos". Terror Vanquished: The Italian Approach to Defeating Terrorism (E-book ed.). Arlington, Virginia: Center for Security Policy Studies. ISBN 978-1-732-94780-1. LCCN 2018955266. Retrieved 28 November 2021 – via Google Books.
- Martin, Augustus; Prager, Fynnwin (2019). "Part II: The Terrorists – Terror from Below: Terrorism by Dissidents". Terrorism: An International Perspective. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications. pp. 189–193. ISBN 978-1-526-45995-4. LCCN 2018948259. Retrieved 27 December 2021 – via Google Books.
- "Red Brigades announce end of their struggle to overthrow German state". The Irish Times. 22 April 1998. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
- Pedahzur, Ami; Perliger, Arie; Weinberg, Leonard (2009). Political Parties and Terrorist Groups (hardback 2nd ed.). London, England: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-77536-6. Retrieved 27 December 2021 – via Google Books.
- Raufer, Xavier (October–December 1993). "The Red Brigades: A Farewell to Arms". Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. London, England: Routledge. 16 (4): 315–325. doi:10.1080/10576109308435937.
- Media related to Far-left politics at Wikimedia Commons