The general consensus among political scientists is that "left wing" includes liberals, progressives, socialists and communists, and the "right wing" includes conservatives, traditionalists, reactionaries and fascists. Political parties can be described as moderate, center-right, center-left, far-right and far-left to more accurately express nuances on the left-right spectrum.Continue Reading
The left-right political spectrum was born during the French Revolution of 1789. In the French National Assembly, supporters of the king sat on the president's right while supporters of the revolution sat on his left. In 1791, the National Assembly was replaced by the Legislative Assembly, and the seating arrangement continued — this time with moderates occupying the center seats. By the early 20th century, the terms left and right were associated with specific political ideologies.
In the United States, the Democratic Party is generally identified as being on the left, and the Republican Party is generally identified as being on the right. The left-right spectrum has been criticized for being too narrow, as it is possible for a member of a political party to hold positions on the opposite side of the spectrum. For example, the pro-life and pro-choice causes are identified with the right and left respectively, but there are pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans.Learn more about Political Parties
Progressives were reformers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who believed in creating a "new" America, a new order to replace the old order that didn't have to deal with the economic, political and cultural changes borne from the shift from an agrarian society to an urban society. The Industrial Revolution and modern capitalism brought social ills that the Progressive movement sought to ease, believing that the democratic ideals and social justice espoused by ideals of the Founding Fathers could co-exist in this new world.Full Answer >
The central belief of Progressivism was that concerted effort was necessary to cure the social, political and economic ills affecting Americans society around the turn of the 20th century. These ills had largely been brought on by the rapid, abrupt developments of industrialization and unchecked capitalism.Full Answer >
Classical liberalism focuses on individual freedom; contemporary liberalism focuses more on social infrastructure and an expanded definition of human rights. Liberalism is considered the standard left-wing position in the United States. However, it is considered more right-wing in some nations.Full Answer >
While most conservative, elected politicians in the United States are members of the Republican Party, not all conservatives are Republicans. There are several smaller conservative parties and a handful of conservative politicians in traditionally nonconservative parties.Full Answer >