Left-wing politics

5 May 1789 opening of the Estates General of 1789 in Versailles
Labour union demonstrators at the 1912 Lawrence textile strike

Left-wing politics describes the range of political ideologies that support and seek to achieve social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy.[1][2][3][4] Left-wing politics typically involve a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.[1] According to emeritus professor of economics Barry Clark, left-wing supporters "claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated."[5]

Within the left–right political spectrum, Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution, referring to the seating arrangement in the French Estates General. Those who sat on the left generally opposed the Ancien Régime and the Bourbon monarchy and supported the French Revolution, the creation of a democratic republic and the secularisation of society[6] while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Ancien Régime. Usage of the term Left became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815, when it was applied to the Independents.[7] The word wing was first appended to Left and Right in the late 19th century, usually with disparaging intent, and left-wing was applied to those who were unorthodox in their religious or political views.

Ideologies considered to be left-wing vary greatly depending on the placement of the Overton window along the political spectrum in a given time and place. At the end of the 18th century, upon the founding of the first liberal democracies, the term Left was used to describe liberalism in the United States and republicanism in France, supporting a lesser degree of hierarchical decision-making than the right-wing politics of the traditional conservatives and Monarchists. In modern politics, the term Left typically applies to ideologies and movements to the left of classical liberalism, supporting some degree of democracy in the economic sphere. Today, ideologies such as social liberalism are considered to be centre-left, while the Left is typically reserved for anti-capitalist movements—namely, socialism,[8] including anarchism, communism, the labour movement, Marxism, social democracy and syndicalism, each of which rose to prominence in the 19th and 20th centuries.[9] In addition, the term left-wing has also been applied to a broad range of culturally liberal social movements,[10] including the civil rights movement, feminist movement, LGBT rights movement, abortion-rights movements, multiculturalism, anti-war movement and environmental movement[11][12] as well as a wide range of political parties.[13][14][15]

  1. ^ a b Smith, T. Alexander; Tatalovich, Raymond (2003). Cultures at War: Moral Conflicts in Western Democracies. Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press. p. 30. ISBN 9781551113340.
  2. ^ Bobbio, Norberto; Cameron, Allan (1997). Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction. University of Chicago Press. p. 37.
  3. ^ Ball, Terence (2005). The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought (Reprint. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 614. ISBN 9780521563543. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  4. ^ Thompson, Willie (1997). The Left In History: Revolution and Reform in Twentieth-Century Politic. London: Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0745308913.
  5. ^ Clark, Barry (1998). Political Economy: A Comparative Approach. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Press. ISBN 9780275958695.
  6. ^ Knapp, Andrew; Wright, Vincent (2006). The government and politics of France (5th ed.). London [u.a.]: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-35732-6. the government and politics of france.
  7. ^ Gauchet, Marcel (1996). "Right and Left". In Nora, Pierre (ed.). Realms of memory: conflicts and divisions. p. 248.
  8. ^ Maass, Alan; Zinn, Howard (2010). The Case for Socialism (Revised ed.). Haymarket Books. p. 164. ISBN 978-1608460731. The International Socialist Review is one of the best left-wing journals around...
  9. ^ Schmidt, Michael; Van der Walt, Lucien (2009). Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. Counter-Power. Vol. 1. AK Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-904859-16-1. [...] anarchism is a coherent intellectual and political current dating back to the 1860s and the First International, and part of the labour and left tradition.
  10. ^ Revel, Jean Francois (2009). Last Exit to Utopia. Encounter Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-1594032646. In the United States, the word liberal is often used to describe the left wing of the Democratic party.
  11. ^ Neumayer, Eric (2004). "The environment, left-wing political orientation, and ecological economics" (PDF). Ecological Economics. 51 (3–4): 167–175. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.06.006.
  12. ^ Barry, John (2002). International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0415202855. All surveys confirm that environmental concern is associated with green voting...[I]n subsequent European elections, green voters have tended to be more left-leaning...the party is capable of motivating its core supporters as well as other environmentally minded voters of predominantly left-wing persuasion...
  13. ^ "Democratic socialism" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2 September 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ Harvey, Fiona (5 September 2014). "Green party to position itself as the real left of UK politics". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Arnold, N. Scott (2009). Imposing values: an essay on liberalism and regulation. Florence: Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-495-50112-1. Modern liberalism occupies the left-of-center in the traditional political spectrum and is represented by the Democratic Party in the United States, the Labor Party in the United Kingdom, and the mainstream Left (including some nominally socialist parties) in other advanced democratic societies.

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