Talk:Left–right politics

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In the introduction, the article states:

"There is also general consensus that the Right includes: capitalists, conservatives, fascists, monarchists, nationalists, neoconservatives, neoliberals, reactionaries, right-libertarians, social-authoritarians, theocrats and traditionalists" The reference provided is: ... The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-05678-8 "Fascism, philosophy of government that glorifies nationalism at the expense of the individual. ... The term was first used by the party started by MUSSOLINI, ... and has also been applied to other right-wing movements such as NATIONAL SOCIALISM, in Germany, and the FRANCO regime, in Spain."

However, this reference does not seem to support the claim being made. i.e. Of a "general consensus" that, for instance, neo-liberals and theocrats are considered to be on same side of the "left-right" spectrum. It merely provides a reference to MUSSOLINI, etc. --Prodos (talk) 00:00, 12 June 2015 (UTC)


Most of the article is fair but it seems to be a left-leaning article. No one on the right states that plutocracy is on the right, only the left states that so that should be revised. As well fascists is disputed, historically only compared to communism has it been called right wing and it has been common to refer to fascism as the radical center. Right anarchism is not mentioned, also referred to as anarcho capitalism or individualist anarchy. Left wing nationalism is not mentioned, only right wing nationaiism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:44, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Articles must reflect sources. If you have sources that describe the topic differently then please provide them. TFD (talk) 10:52, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

e.g. Source #9 is badly misquoted, and misleads readers in the article. You can read it for yourself and agree. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:34, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

No, it's just that only part of the source is quote in the footnote. Can you offer a alternative source? TFD (talk) 05:47, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

This article is ridiculously biased as it stands. Nazis and Neo-Nazi's on the right? The Nazi party was socialist. Fascism has absolutely nothing to do with right-wing politics. Also civil-libertarians on the left? That also makes no sense; there is nothing about protecting civil liberties that is incompatible with what is termed "economic libertarians." Please name one person who has ever identified as an "economic libertarian." I'm also wondering why there is no mention of anarchists or anarcho-capitalists on the right? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:58, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Pretty much everything you just typed is completely wrong, and you will not find any references from reputable sources to back up any of your bizarre revisionist theories. (I bet most people would get a real "kick" out of your theory that would put the American Civil Liberties Union on the Right! LOL.) Try getting your information from REPUTABLE SOURCES, rather than Conservative talk-show hosts who dropped out of school. --Bryon Morrigan -- Talk 01:26, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

To be fair, Bryonmorrigan, I suspect the person who started this thread is young, or has never read any mainstream books. The assertions in this article are entirely standard, outside of modern, right-wing sources, which rewrite history for their own advantage. Pick up any book on politics published before, say, 1980, and you will discover that the usage then was that Hitler and the KKK were right-wing, Stalin and Mao were left-wing, and liberals were squarely in the middle. The attempt to change the meaning of Left and Right, on the part of the Right, has led to a lot of confusion. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:14, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Indeed. "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery," and "Right-Wing means 'Small Government'." --Bryon Morrigan -- Talk 17:13, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
I do not see the need to explain the same points to every reader who comes here from the echo chamber and wonders why the world described in Wikipedia differs from what some talk radio host said. Anarchists btw are on the left. TFD (talk) 02:19, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Does that include Libertarian anarchists? Rick Norwood (talk) 15:39, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

If by that you mean individualist anarchism, they were clearly on the left. If you are referring to anarcho-capitalism, which developed out of individualist anarchism, then I don't think there is any consensus athat it is anarchist. It seems that most adherents have little understanding of their supposed ideology and align themselves on the extreme right of American politics. TFD (talk) 16:34, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

You guys sound like children, accusing me of getting my facts from right-wing talk show hosts. Talk about a hive-mind. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:09, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

From whence do you obtain your facts? Since articles are based on sources, we need to know. TFD (talk) 04:41, 15 March 2013 (UTC)


A major edit, this.

First, I have replaced a lot of 'X observed Y' with 'X claimed Y' or similar.

Second, 'Reactionary', by definition, is neither left nor right - it depends on what is being reacted against. - deleted as a type of 'right'

Third, on 'differences' The idea that "The main factor dividing left and right in Western Europe is class" is a piece of Marxist dogma and should be self-evidently absurd. Marxisms is not electorally significant in Western Europe, and yet, somehow, a left-right division remains.

I have written a brief para outlining the high-level disagreement between left and right. The key issue is that saying nationalism or capitalism are left or right misses the point - they have been both depending on the circumstances. A proper explanation has to start by talking about how these sorts of issues are symptoms of the deeper difference in approach. Otherwise you get an article claiming that free trade is a right wing project, when for most of European history it was a progressive project

I have deleted the whole section "Parties in the political spectrum'. I know this is harsh, but read my reasoning:

First, it appears to be almost entirely a summary of the argument made by one book. Far too much of this is simple taken as fact rather than as argument.

The second paragraph is a truism.

The third is almost entirely nonsense. The first 'parties' in the UK formed in the 18th century (and arguably earlier), not the 19th. The idea that conservative parties 'have only been able to achieve power in cooperation with other parties" is self-evidently untrue. The first communist parties formed FAR before the first world war. Many Green parties are explicitly socialist. And so on. I have no problem with an accurate discussion of this issue, but this is simple rubbish.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Bge20 (talkcontribs) 10:34, 8 August 2011

Articles are based on what sources say rather than our judgment on those opinions. While the section on poltical parties is largely sourced to Ware's book, it is not his opinion, but academic consensus. Political parties are normally seated from left to right as explained in his book. If you disagree with what is in the article then please find sources that explain it differently. TFD (talk) 13:56, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

So... First of all, much of what I deleted was itself unsourced.

To repeat: I zapped a bunch of unsourced, factually incorrect nonsense. I'm happy to go in and add some sources to what I added, but I'm not going to dig out a source that 'Nazi' is short for 'National Socialist'. This isn't original research - it's a statement of banal fact.

Second, Ware's book is not consensus. It is a set of assertions. Can you show me a source that conservative parties have 'generally have only been able to achieve power through cooperation with other parties"? In the last decade the UK, France, Spain and Germany have all had conservative governments that were not coalitions. So Ware's assertion (as cited here) is self-evidently untrue.

How would you propose I source that? A newspaper article stating that Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 election? Seriously?

Third, try reading my comment, and make an argument that what I wrote is inferior to the unsourced gibberish that was present before.

Bge20 (talk) 14:14, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Again, you need to provide sources. Note that the German Conservative Party ceased to exist after 1933 and was not allowed to reform after 1945. The current government is Christian Democratic, ironically like the UK Tories governing in coalition with liberals. TFD (talk) 14:22, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

A party doesn't need to have 'conservative' in the name to be conservative.

Adding sources is fine. but bulk deleting a substantial edit because it is unsourced is simply perverse. The result is an article that continues to make purely ignorant statements.

Bge20 (talk) 14:26, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Bge20, you need to provide sources for your edits. You can challenge old material (the talk page is the place to start) but not add new material without saying where it came from. Also, it is best not to attempt a major edit without discussing it first on talk. It is usually best to edit a little at a time, to avoid doing a lot of work that is only going to be reverted. Rick Norwood (talk) 17:59, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
RickNorwood, you've rather undermined your point by bulk reverting a sequence of totally wiki-compliant edits. I removed a serves of unsourced POV material, and added some carefully sourced NPOV material, And you reverted, clearly without even reading it. Go ahead and edit. But zapping stuff out of petulance is pretty silly.

I didn't use the talk page because the last activity there was in 2009.

Bge20 (talk) 21:41, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

An edit/ wrap-up of comment on talk (made there because that's were I was criticised, by two different editors).

I arrived and made a careful edit with a long note , and it was deleted with 'appears to be OR'. Charming.

Hmm. so even though there's almost no talk since 2009, there is some activity. Sorry.

So, I replace the (unsourced) statement that the first liberal political parties were formed in the 19th century with the sourced, linked statement that the Whigs were formed in the 18th. Reverted.

I replace an unsourced, PoV assertion that 'all' green parties have rejected socialism with a more qualified phrasing - and this is reverted.

Conservative parties were generally unsuccessful? Really? How's that for some bizarre unsourced POV - which is reverted back in. What would be a source to disprove that - a photo of Reagan, Thatcher or de Gaulle?

I replace an unsourced, PoV assertion that 'all' green parties have rejected socialism with a more qualified phrasing - and this is reverted.

I suggest you set your ego aside and have a look at the article. It's junk, full of unsourced factually untrue POV assertions. Is that how you like it?

I am all in favour of sources. However, that is not a reason to leave in unsourced, POV material, especially if it is highly tendentious.

Meanwhile, some of my reverted edits were not about sourcing. An academic theory is inherently POV and should ne referred to as such, with words like 'argued' or 'suggested', not 'showed' or 'demonstrated'. Equally, replacing words like 'all' with 'some' where there's no source that 'all counties were X or Y is an inherently unsourcable edit. Bge20 (talk) 01:50, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Ware's Political Parties and Party Systems is used as a univerity textbook and is not "inherently POV". You can read a precis of the information used for the article here at the University of Dayton website. TFD (talk) 02:08, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Re: your comments elsewhere. The lead is sourced to The government and politics of France by Andrew Knapp, Vincent Wright (Routledge, 2001).[1] It says, "The politics of class is the single most common factor dividing Left from Right in Western European systems". Note that this is repeated elsewhere in the Wikipedia article in the quote from Robert M. MacIver's 1947 book, which was reproduced in Seymour Martin Lipset's 1960 book Political Man. ("The right is always the party sector associated with the interests of the upper or dominant classes, the left the sector expressive of the lower economic or social classes, and the center that of the middle classes.") If you believe that all these writers are wrong then you need to provide sources that present a different viewpoint. TFD (talk) 02:27, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Re: Whigs. I suggest using the adjective "modern" for liberal parties, which is what the authors meant. The English Liberal Party dates from the 19th century, and it is questionable whether Whigs could be considered liberal or a party in any modern sense. In any case, political parties were rare before the 19th century. TFD (talk) 03:52, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Re: Christian Democracy. Christian Democrats belong to a family separate from conservatism as this book explains: "...these parties do not fit into the conservative slot. Their mass organization, their ties to trade unions and their concern with welfare and social policies clearly set them apart from traditional conservative parties". TFD (talk) 05:20, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Bge20: Your recent edits still did not provide any sources, and so I reverted them. I hate to see you waste your time and ours. Unsourced edits, however brilliant, are going to be reverted every time. I suggest you find a source and cite it. Since TFD has provided several major sources for the origin of the left/right division in class conflict, your source is going to have to be at least as authoritative as Knapp and Wright. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:48, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm enchanted by the idea that a quote from a 1947 book is a good source for European politics today. I'll be charitable and assume carelessness.

Lets try this once more, focussing first on just one point:

"The first political parties were liberals, organized by the middle class in the 19th century"

Actually, the first, and very important political party was the Whigs, founded by aristocrats in the 18th century.

I've made that edit three times, sourced and commented several times, and been reverted without comment or engagement. Now The Four Deuces reverts it again, to the 'known bad' version, and finally gives a reason: "the whigs weren't liberal and the liberal party was founded in the 19th century". This is unsourced, naturally, and if you bother to read the Wiki article on whigs you'll see (with sources) it isn't true, but more to the point, this has nothing to do with the edit. TFD doesn't address whether the whigs were a party, were founded in the 18th century, or were founded by aristocrats. Just... revert.

Rick Norwood, chanting 'you don't have sources' isn't really very compelling if it isn't true - or pertinent: as I've repeatedly pointed out, some edits are effectively 'unsourcable'. Clarifying wording or changing definitive statements to qualified ones isn't susceptible to footnotes.

Ware is the source for the whole section, and the whole section has a pattern of making absolute assertions that are sort of true, sometimes, but presented in wildly inaccurate ways (which is why I removed it in the first place). Conservatives did not only win in coalition, greens have not always rejected socialism, the first proto-communist parties emerged in the 19th century, not post WWI, and so on. Either Ware is wrong, or the editor who used him really didn't understand the issues. I suspect the latter.

I was sent a link to this article as a joke, to show me how worthless wiki is. I've tried, repeatedly, to make good wikipedian edits, and been zapped without any cogent reasoning. So, you can keep it as it is, deliberately misinforming anyone who comes here and doesn't know better, or you can accept input. I'm off.

Bge20 (talk) 18:37, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

MacIver's writing in 1947 was validated by Lipset's research in the 1960s, Lipset's observations were validated by later writers. If you think they are all wrong, then please provide a book or article that will enlighten us. Also see WP:RS which explains why we are required to reflect the opinions of experts rather than those of individual editors, no matter how informed they may be. TFD (talk) 18:56, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
which part of is so hard to understand?

Bge20 (talk) 19:11, 9 August 2011 (UTC)


Browsing the revision history, it is pretty clear that a couple of editors like to maintain a left-wing bias to the article. The description of right wing ideas is fundamentally from a left perspective and frequently perjorative. By and large, it fails to understand what the right believes, preferring superficial and rather childish assertions about support for property and the rich, which is as meaningful as saying the left supports the mob and anarchy. "Support of the Right for rule by the rich is well documented" is a pretty typical quote from one frequently reverting editor- it's something that someone from the left might genuinely believe, but which is no more true than, say 'the left's support for family breakup is well-documented".

Hence, much the same material keeps being deleted by new arrivals and restored jealously by the same clique, almost always on technical or entirely spurious grounds. A removal of unsourced POV is 'unsourced' (a nonsensical statement), sourced material is unsourced, editing wording is 'OR', or the removed nonsense is 'long standing'.

I'm going to assume good faith, so try this test, guys. Have a look at your revisions. Can you see a single one in which you didn't remove an edit that made the article less favourable to the left?

I'e never looked into Wiki governance before, but I'm bored this summer, so I'll do a little digging, out of curiosity, — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bge20 (talkcontribs) 19:01, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

If you believe that the sources are biased, then please provide sources that are not. TFD (talk) 19:18, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm intrigued by your penchant for replies that show no sign of having read the preceding comment. I'm not arguing that the sources are biased. I'm arguing that YOU are biased. Also, maybe, that you haven't read or don't understand the sources, since as quoted they are factually incorrect, and it is unlikely that they make the claims attributed to them
 Bge20 (talk) 19:25, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
If you believe the sources are not correctly reflected, then please explain using comparisons of what is in the text and the WP article. Do you for example believe that the direct quote from MacIver is a misrepresentation? If so, show us what he actually wrote. TFD (talk) 19:56, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

The meme of accusing anyone who disagrees with right-wing views of left-wing bias has become so common that it has lost its sting, and become a joke. It's like calling someone a "communist" in the 1950s. Everyone who disagreed with the anti-communists of the time, even Dwight Eisnehower, was accused of being a communist. Now, the same is true of the political Right. Anyone who disagrees with right-wing views is, sooner or later, accused of bias. Apparently, nobody who is not of the political Right can ever disagree honestly. Well, sir, there is such a thing as honest, reasoned disagreement with your views, and name calling is frowned upon in Wikipedia. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:38, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

yeah but the article is still biased. "the left is for the working man and the right is against him" is something a lot of self described right-wingers, and a lot of working men, would disagree with. there is a difference between being a red-baiter and being intellectually honest and fair in your treatment of a subject. Decora (talk) 21:31, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I made a search for "the left is for the working man and the right is against him" on the article and cannot find it. Could you tell me what line it is one? TFD (talk) 21:50, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't think it's necessarily the editors who are biased. The topic could be inherently biased.

I've created a "Criticism" section with a notable criticism by Thomas Sowell. Sowell claims that the left-right spectrum is flawed because the left is the only side clearly defined, whereas the right includes everyone who disagrees with the left.

"Those who advocate the free market typically do so as just one aspect of a more general vision in which the government's role in the lives of individuals is to be minimized, within limits set by a need to avoid anarchy and a need to maintain military defense against other nations. In no sense is fascism a further extension of that idea. It is in fact the antithesis of that whole line of thinking. Yet much talk in terms of left and right suggests that there is a political spectrum which proceeds from the center to conservatives to 'far right' neo-fascism to fascism itself." -Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed

Of course the sources are biased, because people on the right don't tend think of themselves as being on the right. A criticism section might help to balance things out. (talk) 05:50, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

The article already explains why both right-wingers and liberals have challenged the spectrum and the inclusion of a criticism section based on a fringe source is not helpful. TFD (talk) 06:06, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Please quote the specific parts of the article where right-wingers' challenges have been noted. The criticism that fascists and laissez-faire capitalists have conflicting views seems a staple of this talk page, and I have a quote from a notable thinker that articulates that criticism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:46, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
"The right mostly denied that the left–right spectrum was meaningful because they saw it as artificial and damaging to unity.... Some political scientists have suggested that the classifications of "left" and "right" are no longer meaningful in the modern complex world. Although these terms continue to be used, they advocate a more complex spectrum that attempts to combine political, economic and social dimensions." TFD (talk) 13:59, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

I think the use of big words for the right side designates a certain bias. And monarchy, a right winged' venture? Perhaps the above comment is right and left-right is no longer useful. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:14, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

If you have an alternative narrative, please provide sources. TFD (talk) 21:18, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Inherent Contradictions[edit]

"The Right includes conservatives, libertarians, plutocrats, reactionaries, capitalists, monarchists, nationalists and fascists."

"Those on the Right defend private property and capitalism."

Do all the groups in the above list defend private property and capitalism? Let's check. (I've clicked to all of these pages and searched for the word "capitalism".)

Conservatives: Before the 19th century, no. After the 19th century, yes. Libertarians: Yes. Plutocrats: Yes. Reactionaries: Yes. Capitalists: YES. Monarchists: No mention. Nationalists: No mention. Fascists: No. Actually, they violently opposed and frequently denounced capitalism.

It's clear that not all of those on "the right" support capitalism. Actually, it's not clear that all those on "the right" support anything universally! Take two of the aforementioned groups, the libertarians and the fascists. One would be hard-pressed to find any common ground between these two groups. The modern libertarian movement was spurred, largely, by F.A. Hayek's 1944 book, "The Road to Serfdom", where he described Germany's slide from socialism to fascism and argued that a similar process could happen elsewhere. Hayek opposed socialism because he saw it as a stepping-stone towards fascism. He feared that coercive powers accrued by the state, even for benign purposes such as the promotion of social justice or of economic equality, would eventually fall into the hands of those who would use those powers to tyrannize and enslave.

Fascism is anathema to libertarians. Since there is no common ground between these two, there cannot possibly be any common ground between all those on "the right". Therefore, any general discussion of the beliefs of "the right" is inherently contradictory. As the article states, "The differences between left and right have altered over time."

This article can't be about criticisms of the left by the right, or the right by the left, because a criticism of fascism by a communist is entirely different from the criticism of capitalism by a progressive. It has to be about the use of the terms "right" and "left" over time, and if readers want to know about the specific groups being described, they can click the links. (talk) 01:48, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Articles are based on reliable sources. If you have sources to support your views then please present them for our perusal. TFD (talk) 05:01, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I noticed that you removed sourced material and introduced fringe material. I will reverse these changes and ask that you discuss future changes that could be considered controversial. TFD (talk) 05:40, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
The sourced material I removed was removed because I thought it was redundant. It was about the history of the terms, but there is an entire long section about the history of the terms. If you think it is valuable, then I guess we can leave it in.
More importantly, the material I introduced was not fringe material. Thomas Sowell is very influential among conservatives. Rush Limbaugh, for example, reads everything Sowell writes. The criticism I cited was a good example, I think, of a contention held by thousands, if not millions, of conservatives and libertarians. "Wikipedia summarizes significant opinions, with representation in proportion to their prominence." I think that Sowell's opinion is significant, and that it is prominent enough to warrant the two sentences I wrote about it. What if it went in the "Relevance of the terms today" section instead? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:28, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

The popularity of a writer on Limbaugh's show does not mean that WP:WEIGHT shouled be given to his theories on every subject. Sowell by the way writes i n the section "The left-right dichotomy" of his book Intellectuals and society

Perhaps the most fundamental difference between the left and the right is that only the former has even a rough definition. What is called "the right" are simply the various and disparate opponents of the left. These opponents of the left may share no particular principle, much less a common agenda, and they can range from free-market libertarians to advocates of monarchy, theocracy, military dictatorship or innumerable other principles, systems and agendas.... The usual image of the political spectrum among the intelligentsia extends from the Communists on the extreme left to less extreme left-wing radicals, more moderate liberals, centrists, conservatives, hard right-wingers, and ultimately Fascists."[2]

Essentially he agrees with what is in the article. TFD (talk) 14:25, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

The OP of this section is correct in that "Right Wing" does not mean "Pro Capitalism". Aristocracy, for example, has frequently been anti-capitalist yet no one here would doubt that Aristocracy is "Right Wing" would they? It is erroneous to presume that "anti-capitalism" is a purely "Left-wing" consideration. LeapUK (talk) 10:24, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Of course right-wing does not mean "Pro Capitalism", and the article does not say it does. It merely says that those on the Right defend capitalism. TFD (talk) 11:40, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

More accurately, many of today's right-wingers defend capitalism, though historically this was not the case.Rick Norwood (talk) 12:06, 24 September 2014 (UTC) reference. Possible OR?[edit]

"Whether something is to your left or to your right depends on where you stand. According to liberal commentator David Sirota, writing in, "On economic issues, we are often told that right is center, center is left, and left is fringe.""

This statement seems like original research WP:OR, and the source could be considered "fringe". I think the first sentence does not accurately reflect what Sirota is saying, it's been extrapolated from what he has said. I tried the link, but it is 404.

Also, I challenge that if Thomas Sowell, a political commentator, is fringe, then David Sirota, another political commentator, is also fringe. Also, this seems to be just an offhand comment from Sirota, whereas Sowell was addressing this specific topic. (talk) 16:41, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

You could be right about the Sirota article. Let us see what other editors think. TFD (talk) 17:18, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

The first sentence seems obvious. I've added links to both Sirota and Sowell. Rick Norwood (talk) 18:45, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

The U.S. section is currently sourced to popular writing. I have come across serious writing about the use of the terms "left" and "right" in the U.S. which could be helpful, and will try to find them. TFD (talk) 05:21, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
This source mentions the tendency to identify modern liberalism as "left", which the author believes is a distortion that pre-supposes that "true left" views which question capitalism should be excluded from discussion. TFD (talk) 14:48, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Inherent non-NPOV?[edit]

This article discusses a one-dimensional spectrum of politics on a global scale. Ask yourself, can it truly be POV neutral? Citing historians, political scientists, and the like who define this one-dimensional spectrum is a bit like asking sportsmen which team they prefer. I submit a more accurate and useful article is one which discusses the topic's multitude of definitions, as well as the philosophical and ideological bases for each along with their proponents and critics. I submit that is article is woefully broken on the face of it. NPOV indeed. (talk) 19:15, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Coming from someone who thinks that the hilariously-absurd book "Liberal Fascism" is worthy of inclusion on this page, it's pretty obvious where your POV is coming from. Do not attempt to add such a preposterously POV edit again, or I will seek admin assistance in shutting down your attempts to include utter nonsense on this page. The book is not even close to RS, and was written by a journalist, with no scholarly credentials, and ripped apart by the foremost historians in the fields of WW2 history and the history of fascism. It's like putting a reference to books by "Holocaust revisionists" on the page for the Holocaust, saying, "This book disputes that the Holocaust ever occurred." You have no "case" for adding it, and you need not bother trying again, as no reasonable editor on Wikipedia will let it stand. This page discusses academic and scholarly consensus regarding the historical and modern definitions of Left and Right. The opinions of uneducated journalists and talk-show hosts are completely irrelevant. --Bryonmorrigan (talk) 00:37, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
If you believe that this article does not accurately describe how reliable sources describe the topic then please provide sources. TFD (talk) 01:31, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

An IP has made a number of changes to the article, which have not been fully explained. In many cases, a piped link to a re-direct page has been changed to a piped link to the main article. That seems to oppose policy, because a re-direct could become a separate article or a main article could be moved to a re-direct. the IP has also added links where none existed before. The "democratic-socialists" of 1849 France for example are now linked to Democratic socialism although the relevant article is The Mountain (1849). Therefore I will revert the changes and ask that future changes be explained. TFD (talk) 06:02, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

Here are my changes.
First, I have added four different sources on when "the left" and "the right" are capitalized, and when not.
Second, I have added & fixed various relevant links (anti-clericalism, The Mountain (1849), green politics rather than green party when referring to the typology of von Beyme, etc.
Third, I have also made more NPOV the introduction section, which used very negative language about conceptions of a left-wing spectrum - The phrases "binary interpretation of complex questions" and "the terms left and right are commonly used as if they described..." are very pejorative. It's fine to include criticism of the left-right spectrum as a useful/accurate ideological conceptualization, but (a) these must be properly sourced and (b) these should not be presented as fact in the lead.
Fourth, I have made NPOV the David Boaz paragraph, which previously did not identify him as the source of the ideas and which flatly reproduced his position as fact. I added key signifiers ("Libertarian writer David Boaz argued that..." and "Boaz asserts that") to rectify this problem. I also also moved the Boaz paragraph from the lead section, where it was inappropriately placed, to the "Relevance of the terms today" section
Fifth and similarly, I have properly attributed the statement that "In the United States for example both major parties are liberal, even though there are left–right policy differences between them" by adding "Ware (1996) asserted that..." and changing to the past tense (i.e., "asserted" that both parties "were liberal [i.e., at the time]." It is important to stress the date, since 1996 was sixteen years ago and it is possible that party ideologies change over time, so Wikipedia should use language to reflect it. (talk) 08:49, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Addressing your issues one at a time: neither reference you cite agrees with you about when the Left should be capitalized. The distinction is between "left" as an adjective as in left-handed and "the Left" in a political sense. While the dictionary you cite only says the word is often capitalized, it does not make a distinction between particular parties and general movements. In any case, we should be consistent, and either always capitalize or never capitalize. Since capitalization is the more usual form, I think we should follow that. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:08, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Ware was not providing his own opinion but explaining how the U.S. parties are classified by political scientists. The refererence to the greens was about political parties not ideology, although the point was that green parties, etc., have ideologies. The general principle however is that if we believe sources are wrong, then we should find sources that are right, and not misrepresent what they say. TFD (talk) 16:16, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
No, not so. Ware articulated one view and one place in time. Other political theorists (more recently) state the opposite. I have added a reference by Wolin (2010), who asserts that the contemporary Republicans are illiberal.
As to green politics vs. green party as a link: von Beyme is discussing parties classified by ideology (not ideologies classified by party), so it is best to link to ideologies, not parties (same reason why the link in the von Beyme sentence is to Communism, and not Communist party). (talk) 23:27, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
I was unable to find the quote from Wolin, but he is probably using the term "liberal" differently from other political scientists. You need to find a quote that says something like, "while Von Beyme and other political scientists classified the Republican Party as "liberal", Wolin says they are not/ceased to be liberal, arguing that...." Why does he say the Republicans are "illiberal"? TFD (talk) 23:50, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
No, not so. Obviously, a source may be useful simply in providing contrast, or simply an additional or alternate perspective; there is no need to directly contradict another writer, and I have no idea why that would be considered necessary. (Also, it is not von Beyme who classified both major parties as liberal, but Ware).
As to Wolin - He is using the term in the same vein as other political scientists (although as always, there are infinite shades of interpretation and meaning to such terms, and no single concept completely controls). As to the reasoning for Wolin's classification, that isn't really relevant for this article, as an extensive discussion of the reasons for classifying one party one way or the other would be out of place. (It would be suitable in the Republican Party article in a discussion of the party's placement on the political spectrum). But to answer the question - this dealt with throughout the book and particularly in Chapter 7. See for a capsule summary of Wolin's thesis.
I have also added a view by Martha Nussbaum to provide a perspective different from either Ware or Wolin. (talk) 10:01, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

All major parties in developed nations are liberal: they favor individual freedom and representative government. Some are also conservative: they want to hold on to tradition and the existing social power structure. The use that has grown up in the past few years of calling liberals "the Left" and conservatives "the Right" ignores the standard meaning of the terms, in favor of meanings that are neologisms, and probably ephemeral. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:46, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

You are adding sources to show that the categorization of political parties in the U.S. is controversial, although none of the sources provided write about the categorization. That fact that the Democratic Party has contained socialist elements does not mean that it defies categorization. You are also playing on the different meanings of the term liberalism. Wolin for example in your source says that modern politics in the U.S. is undemocratic and dominated by free-market capitalism. But democracy is not a core liberal principle and free market capitalism is a classical liberal position. Anti-democratic liberalism is considered a form of right liberalism. Also, you need to explain some of the minor changes. For example, you capitalized "right" and "left" in the sentence, "The contemporary press occasionally used the terms "left" and "right" to refer to the opposing sides". But the source (Gauchet) does not capitalize them. Presumably they were not capitalized until they assumed their modern meaning. You should not change text so that it misrepresents the text. Rick Norwood is right of course that liberalism has dominated all political parties in developed countries, regardless of history, and the traditional cleavages, e.g., monarchist vs. republican, are increasingly irrevelant. TFD (talk) 17:49, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
What you write is essentially a (very simplified) version of the quote I added from Nussbaum (who argues that both parties are liberal to the extent they support the Constitution, but there are serious challenges to liberalism as a political philosophy. Do you disagree that the Nussbaum quote is quite useful?
As to "That fact that the Democratic Party has contained socialist elements does not mean that it defies categorization." That's obviously correct - nobody is arguing that any party "defies categorization." Nussbaum says there is a liberal consensus in U.S. contemporary politics, but that serious challenges to the liberal consensus have come from many quarters, including in the past "socialist antiliberals" (emphasize mine) and several other groupings. This statement is clearly true, so not sure what the issue is.
I also think it would not be correct to say that "democracy is not a core liberal principle." While surely liberalism does not mean majoritarianism nor direct democracy, I think it is widely accepted that "Generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and freedom of religion" (from the first paragraph in our liberalism article). I think few people could disagree with that sentence. Wolin's categorization of some aspects of American politics as illiberal or antiliberal is based on the emergence of phenomena that he states undercut liberal ideas (managed democracy replaces liberal democracy; various practices undercut human rights, fair elections, and religious freedom, etc.) See Wolin, p. 224. This isn't some wacky idea; it's the position of many members of the academy. It's clearly worthy of mention. (talk) 21:38, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
Nussbaum writes in chapter 2 of Sex and Social Justice, "...Kantian liberalism is profoundly different from classical Utilitarian liberalism, and both of these from the Untilitarianism currently dominant in neoclassical economics.... When I speak of "liberalism," then, I shall have in mind, above all, the tradition of Kantian liberalism represented today in the political thought of John Rawls...." She does not claim that Republicans are not liberal, merely that they would not be included in her description. More importantly she is not writing about comparative political parties. And yes most liberals support democracy but it is not a core principle and the Republicans are far more democratic than say 19th century English liberals. But that is all synthesis, you need sources. Also the correct place for discussion of meaning of liberalism, who really is or is not a liberal, belongs to the liberalism article not an article about the left-right spectrum and the left-right party divide in the U.S. is receiving undue attention. It is interesting that the parties can be placed on a left-right spectrum and that they both fall within the broad grouping of liberal parties, but it is not the main subject of the article. TFD (talk) 22:06, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
"She does not claim that Republicans are not liberal." Well, that's broadly true. Nussbaum says (a) there is a liberal consensus (in that both parties defend the Constitution), but (b) there exist significant challenges to that liberal consensus, including an antiliberal presence in both parties. I think the Nussbaum quote currently in the article accurately reflects her position, but I'd be open to rewording. (Ultimately, I think we agree more than we might disagree).
I would agree that an in-depth discussion of the meaning and import of liberalism would be inappropriate here. But the page as now worded makes no such attempt to pursue such an in-depth discussion. I think if we are going to attempt to include information on where parties are placed on the left-right spectrum, we include (as precisely yet succinctly as we can) the full range of scholarly work (the just of which is that there there has been a historically (within the modern era) liberal consensus but also antiliberal/illiberal elements (which, some scholars suggest, are of greater prominence today).
I might have some other references that may be helpful. I will post them later (possibly at talk first). (talk) 09:43, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Then go and find those sources. Your current sources make no attempt to compare the Republican party to political parties outside the United States. TFD (talk) 18:48, 1 January 2012 (UTC)


A new editor has changed "social conservatives" to "conservatives", "free market liberals" to "free market and capitol liberals" (sic) and "free-market system" to "free-market or capitol system" (sic). The edit summary was "Contemporary usage in the United States".[3] I have changed them back. TFD (talk) 06:55, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

"evidence has shown"[edit]

The circumlocution "evidence has shown" is to be avoided. What evidence? Where? Rick Norwood (talk) 12:27, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

"Differences between left and right" section[edit]

Really weird section. The source is a book about politics in France which may explain the peculiarities. Not many are arguing for a single "established church" today even in Western Europe. Most on the left are not arguing for rejecting private property or capitalism with the exception of some far-left groups. There seem to be some strange argument that the left prefers a strong legislature while the right prefers a strong executive. The right may argue for the importance of allowing market competition in various forms but they would not only mention "workplace competition" as desirable. It strangely implied that the left believes in the "the power of human reason to achieve progress for the benefit of the human race" while the right does not. Academica Orientalis (talk) 09:17, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

Although main source for Left–right politics#Differences between left and right is a book about the politics of France, the section that is used is about Western Europe as explained in the section. If you believe that the source is wrong, then you must provide sources that provide an alternative narrative. TFD (talk) 10:27, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
BTW I see no need to change the section heading from "Differences between left and right" to "Usage in Western Europe".[4] The terminology originated in Europe and came to be applied to other countries. The implication of the new heading is that the terminology in Western Europe differs from that of other countries. Also, we do not use inline citations when presenting factual information because it implies the information is just an opinion. For example, "The book further argues that the differences between left and right have altered over time" implies that there is doubt whether the differences between Left and Right have changed from the French Revolution to today. Do you have a source that they are the same? If you believe the facts presented in the book are wrong, then find a source that presents another set of facts. TFD (talk) 12:17, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
If you are claiming that Western Europe usage is relevant for the rest of the world you need a source for that claim and for that this particular usages applies to the rest of the world. Furthermore the book presents an opinion, not a fact, on what are current left and right wing differences. But I will remove what you cite about time differences. Academica Orientalis (talk) 12:55, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Also you are very likely wrong that political opinions in Europe generalize the rest of the world. Have a look at this map. Academica Orientalis (talk) 13:01, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
A recreation of the Inglehart–Welzel Cultural Map of the World, created by political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel based on the World Values Survey.
The statement in the article, "The terms "left" and "right" appeared during the French Revolution of 1789" is sourced to Gauchet, Marcel. "Right and Left". In Pierre Nora, Lawrence D. Kritzman (Eds.), Realms of memory: conflicts and divisions. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. If you believe that the terminology developed independently elsewhere then please provide a source. Also, I did not say that "political opinions in Europe generalize the rest of the world" but that the terminology "came to be applied to other countries". As stated in the article, "These categories [ideologies that can be plotted along a left-right axis] can be applied to many parties outside Europe". Obviously many ideologies, especially the farther one gets from Europe, sit outside the spectrum. If you don't think that there are socialists, liberals, etc. outside Western Europe, then please provide a source. TFD (talk) 13:43, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Here is a source. In much of the world left-right is far less important than tribes, language groups, and so on: [5]. "consistent patterns of Left-Right ideological beliefs exist almost exclusively among individuals in Western Europe, North America, and East Asia." That European views can be applied to some parties outside Europe does not mean that they generally do so. The section should be titled according to what it describes.Academica Orientalis (talk) 13:50, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
What relevance do your comments have to do with the discussion? TFD (talk) 14:24, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Western Europe views are not necessarily applicable in other regions. So therefore the title of the section should state that it is about Western European views. Furthermore, even for these regions having strong left-right views, Western European views do not necessarily apply to all of these regions. For example, claims about the "established church" obviously do not apply to Eastern Asia.Academica Orientalis (talk) 14:43, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
If the left-right spectrum was developed in W. Europe, applies primarily to W. Europe and can only be applied to other countries where Western ideologies have been transplanted, then it makes sense to emphasize the left-right spectrum in W Europe. Your source btw does say that political elites in other countries often think in left-right terms, even if the masses do not. Hence indigenous people vote for Chavez because they believe he will improve the welfare of indigenous people, not because they have a left-wing ideology, but Chavez himself thinks in left-right terms, as do many other South American political leaders. Also, in E Asia, although the spectrum may have limited application, the Left certainly did oppose religion. TFD (talk) 15:44, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
My source givens a quite different definition from your: "Those on the ideological Left favor government intervention in the economy to promote equality. Those on the ideological Right extol free enterprise, and believe that individuals, not government, should be primarily responsible for economic outcomes" It seems superior to your definition since it is definitely not limited only to Western Europe. Also, "established church" is not equal to religion in Eastern Asia. That is incorrect OR. A single "established church" does not exist in the US. Your source is obviously having a local Western European and not global perspective. Academica Orientalis (talk) 15:56, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

(out) The section is about the differences between left and right not their definitions. I do not see btw how your description differs from what the Routledge book says, "[The Left] seeks social justice through redistributive social and economic intervention by the State, and [the Right] is committed to defending capitalism and private property (and, it would argue, prosperity) against the threats thus posed. According to the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Buddhism has "a long history as the established “church” of the various southeast Asian states".[6] The American states also had established churches, although revolutionary fervor led to their disestablishment. Of course ideologies are adapted to local conditions, but it makes sense to begin with where the terms were developed and have their strongest application. TFD (talk) 17:09, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

That is of course only part of the what the section states. The text claims that the Left likes legislatures while the Right likes executives. Strange statement even for Europe. Ask Stalin or Mao. Southeast Asia is not all of Asia and not all East Asia nations have an established church. The US has never had a state church or a single established church. I see no reason you definition is better than mine and mine seems much more universal and if single definition should be given it is much better. Academica Orientalis (talk) 17:45, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Definitions and descriptions are different things. Left and right are defined as the ideologies of the parties that normally sit on the left and right. How they differ is a matter for empirical research. BTW, the American states, like the German states and divisions of the United Kingdom, had established churches in individual states. Youy should also be aware that the Russian Communists supported the authority of the legislature over the tsar. Communist revolution in Eastern Europe of course destroyed all existing institutions, including the established church and private property, and the left-right spectrum not longer became relevant to political parties, which is why the source referred to Western Europe. TFD (talk) 18:29, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

This discussion seems to be going around in circles. Since the source says, "in Western Europe", that is appropriate for the title to the section. If the section is about worldwide usage, more sources are needed. Rick Norwood (talk) 17:57, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

It makes sense to begin with W. Europe where the terminology was developed because it represents the model which was used to differentiate left from right in other countries. Of course the rest of the world does not have the same conditions and hence nowhere else would all the ideologies from communism to extreme right exist as major forces. Mainstream US ideology for example does not have the same extremes as Greece. However there are a range of issues with Academica Orientalis`s edits, especially reporting factual material as opinion. [7] TFD (talk) 18:29, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
According to the study mentioned here religious people in Europe tend to be leftwing: [8]. Seems like the claim in the French book associating left-wing with secularism in Europe is an incorrect opinion/stereotype and not a fact.Academica Orientalis (talk) 19:24, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
The study asked respondents about their views on religion not on the established church. It says it included Muslims, Sikhs, etc., who do not support the established Christian churchs. Note that the most right-wing faction of the Conservative Party UK calls itself the Cornerstone Group, because it supports the three cornerstones of the UK, including the established church, while the most left-wing Labourites support disestablishment. The religious Labour leader mentioned in the artile, Tony Blair, left the Church of England. BTW the French book is written in English by English-speaking people and published in the United States of America by Routledge. One of the authors, Vincent Wright, has written books on politics in China, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and the EU. TFD (talk) 20:58, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
The text claims that secularism is a left-wing value in Europe. This is obviously wrong among the population. Some political parties may show the opposite pattern but this does not change the population values. We should mention this result which show the variety regarding left-right wing views and which differ from what is stereotypically thought to be a universal pattern. Academica Orientalis (talk) 22:22, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Secularism does not mean opposition to religion, merely that church and state should be separate. TFD (talk) 12:54, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Looking broader than your text which is not the only source on the matter it is a common stereotype that religious persons are rightwing. To guote the Guardian article "commonly held view that faith group members are more conservative". Thus some actual research is important and interesting. Academica Orientalis (talk) 17:43, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Being religious is not necessarily "Right-Wing," but forcing people to conform to conservative standards of "morality" and behavior, based primarily on religious reasoning (whether from the Bible or the Qu'ran), is certainly a Right-Wing position. I'm a very religious person...and vehemently committed to secularism in government. --Bryon Morrigan -- Talk 17:57, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
The section does not comment on the relationship between being religious and being right-wing. It only draws connections between political orientation and attitudes toward established religion and secularism. Find a source that the Left are more likely to support taxpayer funding of the state church, government appointment of bishops, church control of schools and hospitals, religious tests for public officials, prosecutions of individuals for blasphemy and violation of the Sabbath, and outlawing divorce, homosexuality and birth control. TFD (talk) 18:03, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
There is nothing stating that this section is prohibited from commenting on this relationship. The study is an interesting refutal of this common stereotype and is independent on your source. Your source does not control all the contents of the section.Academica Orientalis (talk) 18:24, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Generally I would be cautious on that type of source. It is a newspaper report based on a press release[9] for a recent study[10] from Demos, a left-wing think-tank. Usually we would want to see how the findings have been received by the academic community. An article in the New Statesman says that the "analysis suffers from some severe methodological problems".[11] Do you have any other sources? TFD (talk) 20:09, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
The study seems to have been widely cited so it may pass the criteria for notability. I would not mind mentioning both it and the criticism. Here is also a study regarding the situation in the US showing that religious people tend to vote and have political views according to racial lines with Black Protestants being more left-leaning than those not having formal religious affiliation.[12] Academica Orientalis (talk) 20:25, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Regarding the situation in Europe have a look at [13]. Analyzing the same study as Demos and finding that religiosity is associated with support for the welfare state. Academica Orientalis (talk) 20:44, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
A query for the report on Google scholar shows zero hits.[14] That its initial press release was picked up on the wire services means nothing. Also, you appear to be misreading the US report. Note too that it is also a recent study and its findings have not been commented upon by other writers yet. While it is cited 4 times according to Google scholar,[15] none of the cites discuss the degree of acceptance of its findings. We are supposed to be using secondary sources anyway. TFD (talk) 21:11, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
Here is a secondary source showing that religious people in the US vote and support political views according to racial lines: [16]. Academica Orientalis (talk) 21:35, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Potential Vandalism?[edit]

Section 4 says "Whether something is to your left or to your right depends on where you stand.", which sounds like it has been put here as a joke. Even if it isn't, it is stating something that is blindingly obvious, and breaks Wikipedia conventions by directly adressing the reader. (talk) 09:57, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

While it may be obvious to some, it goes against the absolutists on both sides, and that, or something to that effect, needs to be said, to explain why the same moderate views are considered right-wing views by some and left-wing views by others. To give just one example, the Tea Party considers President Obama to be on the Left while the Occupy Wall Street movement considers him to be on the Right. If the objection is to the use of "your" and "you", the same thing could be said using "one's" and "one", but that kind of avoidence of personal pronouns seems awkward and unnecessary. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:24, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
The statement the anon highlights is a complete tautology. You say that the tea party considers Obama to be on the left while OWS considers him on the right. Sure, fine. But what the sentence says is that the tea partiers consider Obama to be to their left and OWS considers him to be to their right. That's not the same thing, and while the former is just kind of obvious, the latter actually gives no information at all. john k (talk) 07:10, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

No, it is not really a tautology. If Left and Right were absolutes, then everyone, given complete information, would agree who was on the Left and who on the Right. But the terms are often relative, not absolute. The disputed sentence calls attention to that fact. Rick Norwood (talk) 15:15, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

The terms are both relative and absolute. But the Tea Party and OWS are using them in an absolute sense here. The Tea Party is calling him a socialist, while OWS is calling him a reactionary. The mainstream view is that he is a centrist or liberal. TFD (talk) 15:51, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
Rick, the statement that you are making is not the statement that the sentence in the article is taking. Even if left and right were absolutes, "whether something is to your left or to your right" would still depend "on where you stand." Let's say I'm a socialist and you're a conservative. In that case, we can both view a liberal as a centrist, but I would view him as being to my right, and you would view him as being to your left. The perception of whether someone is to your left or right on the political spectrum by definition depends on your own position on that spectrum. john k (talk) 14:18, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

I see your point. What if, instead of left and right, we called the two views the bunnies and the turtles. Would that solve the problem? Rick Norwood (talk) 18:42, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

I have no idea what that means. The problem is the phrasing of the current sentence. If you reword it to say what you've been saying it's supposed to say, I would no longer have any particular problem with it. john k (talk) 19:19, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

What it means is that left and right don't have the same meaning in politics that they do in, say, mapmaking. They're just names. As for the article, the sentence you had a problem with has not been in the article for quite a while. Rick Norwood (talk) 19:44, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Well, there we go. That's what I get for not looking carefully at date stamps. john k (talk) 23:56, 8 May 2013 (UTC)


Someone, I think with the best intentions, keeps removing the fact that right-wing was used to describe the Nazis. He needs to read some history. Yes, Hitler's party was called the National Socialist Party. But he was anti-communist and white-supremicist, and those positions are in fact, rightly or wrongly, identified with the Right. Read the quote given as a reference. Rick Norwood (talk) 11:54, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Agree. TFD (talk) 17:53, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
The notion that the Nazis were somehow "leftists" or "socialists" is a viewpoint found almost exclusively in the United States, and, yes, may be partially due to the appearance of the German word for "socialist" in the original founding name of the party, but is also a viewpoint only held by people with very limited knowledge of politics and 20th century European history, or who are trying to push an extreme point of view. It is also due to the fact that the simplistic linear political spectrum with Communism on the far left and Fascism on the far right is overly simplistic. As a young idealist in college I imagined this straight line bent to form a circle where Communism and Fascism were actually closer together politically and whose followers had more in common with each other than with any more moderate position closer to the centre of the simplistic line. A more relevant model I admire now is found at Should some discussion of other spectrum models perhaps be introduced to this article? I find the whole left-right model lost all relevance after the early nineteenth century, or to describe politics anywhere other than post-revolutionary France for about 50 years or so. Garth of the Forest (talk) 15:35, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Dianeinct's edit[edit]

Dianeinct claims, without offering any evidence, that civil-libertarians are considered to be on the Right. This contradicts what this article says elsewhere. I would rather not get in a revert war, but articles should not contradict themselves, and should be based on evidence. Can Dianeinct offer any evidence for his or her claim? Rick Norwood (talk) 11:47, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

The edit has left the term on both sides, which in a way is even more unhelpful, although possibly more accurate in the sense that both left and right have, in different ways, supported things such as broad individual freedoms and rights, including civil rights. Maybe it's a US thing, and we do after all have a whole page on the concept, but it's also an odd phrase to these eyes in the first place. I'd support either removing it from both sides or restoring the previous wording again pending some justification on from the person who made the change (they also made this edit, so I'm not sure we're dealing with mainstream thinking here). N-HH talk/edits 08:08, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
It certainly is not part of the Right, but I question saying it is part of the Left. It is not an ideology. TFD (talk) 15:53, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

"Civil-libertarian" with a hyphen does not redirect anywhere, but "civil libertarian" without a hypen redirects to civil liberty. The article Libertarian discusses a philosophical split in the Libertarian movement, which certainly seems to be over ideology. For example, here is a quote from that article, "A 2011 Reason-Rupe poll found that among those who self-identified as Tea Party supporters, 41 percent leaned libertarian and 59 percent socially conservative." This seems to be contrasting two ideologies. One ideology considers the free-market the primary freedom, the other considers freedom as outlined in the US Bill of Rights the primary freedom. I take this latter group to be what (if anything) "civil libertarian" means. The former is essentially willing to accept, for example, the right of an employer to forbid his workers from forming a union, in violation of their Bill of Rights freedom of association. The former group seems to be on the Right, because a free market often leads to a powerful upper class, with better schools, better medical care, and better services such as police protection and garbage collection -- all of which the Libertarian Right considers justified by the payment of a larger share of the taxes. The latter group would argue that all children should receive equal education, and that taxpayer supported services should be equally distributed, which puts them on the Left. Sounds like two ideologies to me. Rick Norwood (talk) 20:08, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

I think the term would be "left libertarian". The term civil libertarian to me implies support for civil liberties, for example the ACLU. TFD (talk) 21:08, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

While it is unfortunate, the Right in the US strongly opposes the ACLU, and even though it may not in fact be Leftest, it is considered strongly Leftist. Rick Norwood (talk) 15:33, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

The point is that civil libertarianism is a position not an ideology, although I would agree that it is more typical of the Left. TFD (talk) 17:12, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
The reason for this discussion not going anywhere and the lack of available consensus is that the one dimensional "left/right" linear scale is an overly simplistic and flawed model used to describe an individual's or group's political viewpoints. To borrow from a Ben Hecht quote, it is like trying to see what time it is by only examining the movement of the second hand of a clock. Check out Keep an open mind, and if you plan to take the test to see where you fit personally on the model, I recommend doing so before reading the analysis and the FAQ for best effect. Once a few editors have done this, I would like to discuss introducing either a "criticism" section to this article, or somehow introduce some alternative models that better reflect reality. Think if you only had "black" and "white" and shades of gray in between to describe which colour of the rainbow you are trying to refer to. It's a similar concept. Garth of the Forest (talk) 16:02, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Addition of Glenn Beck's Wacky Fringe Theories[edit]

An editor ("ChrisfromHouston") keeps adding this link to a YouTube video of uneducated Right-Wing talk show host Glenn Beck, wherein he proposes his wacky fringe theories about what the Left-Right spectrum "really" means. The theories are factually incorrect, are opposed by all of the scholarship on this page, and are nothing more than the rantings of a guy who has no freaking clue about this subject. Therefore, it is pretty much a textbook definition of "Any site that misleads the reader by use of factually inaccurate material or unverifiable research, except to a limited extent in articles about the viewpoints that the site is presenting." in WP:LINKSTOAVOID. Furthermore, because it's a YouTube video of a copyrighted television program, it also violates WP:YOUTUBE. ("Many YouTube videos of newscasts, shows or other content of interest to Wikipedia visitors are copyright violations and should not be linked.") But since the editor in question would rather keep re-adding the link, instead of discussing it on the talk page BEFORE adding it, I'm not going to get myself into trouble by Edit-Warring to keep this absurd nonsense off of Wikipedia. --Bryon Morrigan -- Talk 14:25, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

We should not add links to people presenting fringe theories. Did anyone notice that Beck draws the "left" on the right side of the chalkboard? It could be that he just reversed the two terms. TFD (talk) 18:21, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
And his assertion that "Far-Right"=Anarchism would surprise well...every Anarchist on the planet. --Bryon Morrigan -- Talk 18:37, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

Title uses – while article uses -[edit]

The article title uses a – eg left–right politics, but the article uses a - eg left-right politics. Is that correct? Or should we standardize the dashes? (talk) 09:47, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Couldn't hurt. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Hyphens. The dash should be a hyphen, which joins words, rather than a dash, which separates words. Sounds like a lot of work if the title of the article changed, because it would require a change in every page that links here. Rick Norwood (talk) 15:06, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

I started reading the manual of style and found it hard to stop. Fascinating! I think a case could be made of either the hyphen or the dash. On the one hand, left does not modify right. On the other hand, I think almost everybody uses a hyphen, so tradition suggests a hyphen. We should use the same symbol we use for north-south, or for in-out, as it "No time for the old in-out, love, I've just come to read the meter." Which symbol does Anthony Burgess use? Rick Norwood (talk) 15:52, 14 November 2014 (UTC)


Before jumping in adding something to the article without discussing it here, is there any consensus on adding republicanism to the list of left-wing ideologies (i.e., republicanism as the converse of monarchism, not Republicanism)? — D. Wo. 05:34, 28 February 2015 (UTC)

In the sense you define it, it is not really an ideology, just a position on a specific issue, which cuts across the left-right spectrum. TFD (talk) 07:59, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
You could easily say that for any of the items on either list. — D. Wo.
No, you cannot. Socialism for example is an ideology on the left, it is not a position on a specific issue. TFD (talk) 01:07, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
Sure you can! Socialism is certainly a position on a specific issue. What about feminism? Is that an ideology or a position on a specific issue… or perhaps both? Secularism: ideology or position on a specific issue… or both? Monarchism: ideology or position on an issue (the same issue that republicanism touches on)… or both? Saying that republicanism is just a position on an issue instead of on ideology is a false dichotomy. Also, the items on the list can all cut across the spectrum. There are feminist capitalists, socialist monarchists and conservative secularists. Sorry, but your arguments are not persuasive. — D. Wo. 16:36, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
What is left-wing about republicanism? If it is left-wing, would that not make the U.S. a left-wing country, while socialists in Scandinavia, the Low Countries and the Commonwealth Realms, most of whom are monarchists, would be right-wingers? TFD (talk) 21:45, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
Seeing as how the article is listing monarchism as a right-wing ideology, yes… or it could be possible that you could both support socialism and monarchism at the same time. (There's that false dichotomy again.) — D. Wo. 21:57, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
When the left and right split, during the French Revolution, the republicans (in the old sense) certainly sat on the left. But today very few people would understand what you were talking about if you listed republicanism as left-wing. That subject is covered, and best covered, in the section on history. Rick Norwood (talk) 22:01, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, I'd argue that, in certain monarchies, republicanism, while in the minority, certainly still exists. Consider Republicanism in the United Kingdom to start with. Is the concern more relating to whether or not republicanism is truly a left-wing ideology or is republicanism notable enough to warrant including on the list? — D. Wo. 22:14, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

My concern is that republicanism is essentially a given today. Like capitalism, is embraced by both the Left and the Right. It lost its historical meaning when the divine right of kings went out the window. The difference between the Left and the Right has always been a class difference, but now the Right must strive to convince the working class to vote against their own interests, by appeals to nationalism and religion -- the same appeals that, essentially, were used to support monarchy in the days when monarchy still had a prayer of being influential. It doesn't any more, even in countries that still have kings and queens, and so the distinction now belongs in the history section rather than in the lead.Rick Norwood (talk) 23:00, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps the article should list royalism rather than monarchism as right-wing. Also, while it is true that in the 19th century, legitimist, bonapartist and orleanist, as well as moderate republican, deputies sat on the right and republicans (called "radicals") sat on the left, the terminology of left-wing and right-wing only came into usage in the 20th century, by which time radicals sat on the right, as they still do. TFD (talk) 23:16, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

A note to[edit]

You have your personal ideas of what left-wing and right-wing mean, but these do not agree with the ways the words are actually used. Wikipedia has to use the dictionary meaning of words, not special meanings that individuals believe in. If everyone uses words to mean anything they want them to mean, communication becomes impossible. I suggest you read some standard reference works, such as the Oxford English Dictionary or the Encyclopedia Britannica. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:23, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

"left-wing" and "right-wing" really only have a consensus meaning if we are talking about hockey. If you are talking about politics, the terms are best left out all together. Hence why there is so much lack of consensus happening in the talk pages and editing of this article. Garth of the Forest (talk) 16:08, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
While the dividing line between left and right may be disputed, the ordering of groups from left to right is generally agreed, including by the groups themselves. Hence communists are to the left of liberals, who are to the left of (for want of a better term) right-wing groups such as the Tea Party and UKIP. And Communists, liberals and UKIP/Tea Party supporters all agree with that. Do you have any sources that dispute that? TFD (talk) 18:24, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Fascists in the Right?[edit]

Fascism is/was an Antireligious political movement. It's no way right wing. If a movement is antireligious, then there is no basis for calling it Right wing.-- (talk) 04:28, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Some fascists were anit-religious, others Roman Catholic, others had their own brand of Christianity. In any case, fascists have been called right-wing ever since Mussolini, and we can't rewrite history. Rick Norwood (talk) 11:32, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

We are supposed to follow what sources say, not come up with our own analyses, per no original research. Having said that, clericalism was central to ultraconservatism, but that is only one element of the Right. Ultraconservatism was only prominent in France and Spain and their former colonies. Fascists in those countries were mostly clericalist. TFD (talk) 16:19, 25 April 2015 (UTC)