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Political Spectrum: An Overview From ‘Left’ To ‘Right’

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What Is Political Spectrum?

A political spectrum is a framework or system of distinguishing different political positions by placing them on the geometric axes. This geometric axes usually ranges from left to right.


Let us understand each of these terms and relate it with other new and old terminologies that are prevalent:

1. Left:

These people or parties belonging to the extreme left side of the spectrum are those who believe in social equality and modernity. They are the ones who do not stick to old traditions and keep on moving ahead with time. They believe in ensuring that the society should be governed by the Government and not by individuals, overcoming the barriers created by traditional authorities such as religious institutions, supporting better standard of living for all (such as equal rights for all genders in the society including LGBT), and finally promoting social and economic growth. Its only negative aspect is that they do not support the free flow of capital and growth of businesses – which is restricted with too much of bureaucracy leading to corruption.

2. Right:

The people or parties belonging to the extreme right of the spectrum are the opposite of the ones who are left. They support and preserve traditional cultures, believe that society should be governed by the people and not the government. They consider the role of government to be minimal. However, they promote free capital market, lesser regulation on people – which means more freedom to progress. However, it might have policies that would favour one group and work against another.

Ideologies Ranging From Left To Right On The Spectrum:

1. Communism

The most prominent example of Communism is China – wherein it is the government who takes all decisions and is responsible for the social and economic growth of the country. However, there is a twist in Chinese communism – as per the spectrum it should be left but in reality, it is the combination of both left and right lopsided towards the left wing.

Chinese communism is left wing in terms of political agendas, whereas it’s right wing in terms of free flow capital – as it supports the growth of business and trade at the international level. However, all the business and factories are under the control of the government. So, in brief, it can be said that communism aims to create a society which is classless and hence, supports Marxism.

Marxism is based on the philosophy that the society is divided into classes, and there is always a conflict going on between these classes. Karl Marx was against the principle of capitalism as it further leads to widening this gap between the classes. Hence, he considered the role of government to be important in resolving this dispute by taking the power in its own hands and creating an equal society. This makes Marxism and Communism both fall under the left side of the spectrum.

2. Socialism

This is based on the concept that the conflict in the society as pointed out in Marxism – can be reduced by distributing the wealth among all the people equally, thereby creating equality. People having socialist ideology believe that people are born unequal and to they should be given equal opportunity, the ones who belong to a lower class should be given priority and the cost must be covered by the elites ones in the same society.

Thus, socialism is different from communism in the sense that the government plays a major role in distributing wealth and ensuring equality – rather than focusing more on having ownership on industries and factories. It sounds good but there are negatives associated with it as well. Socialism curbs the freedom of an individual in making choices.

The government tries to build a welfare state which leads to more spending and expenditure – whose cost is borne on the well-off people. Due to high taxes, people do not go for innovation, as the financial incentive is very less, which demotivates them. Thus, socialism is also left and in Indian context, Nehru’s ideology (known as Nehruvism) is based on socialism adopted from a foreign country. This also shows that Nehru as an individual – had a left-wing ideology.

3. Liberalism

Liberalism is more close to moderate; which means they can have both left and right wing ideology. The ones who are left liberals will support people’s freedom, having rule of law, limited interference from government, and democratic setup. It supports minorities and encourages them to foster their growth. However, they do not support much freedom on the economy – thereby restricting the economic growth of the nation.

The people are much more depended on government to work for them and provide them with a job – which makes them lazy. On the other hand, there are right liberals which support both social and economic freedom. The left liberals are more popular in the USA, whereas right liberals are dominant in Europe – where there is much more freedom on markets, freedom to invest and minimum taxes.

There is another concept which is lately recognised in the 20th century as Neo-liberalism. This concept supports the free flow of economy and works against the welfare state. Neo-liberals are often referred to as anti-liberals as they support laissez-faire economic liberalism, and focus more on the growth of the private sector. Thus, right liberals are similar to Neo-liberals.

4. Moderate

This group of people is called the centrists who have the combination of both left and right ideology. There are hardly any individual or parties having the centrist ideology.

5. Conservatism

This group of people supports traditional cultures, beliefs, and customs. They are against rapid modernisation and change. They support the limited role of government, free markets, and value individual choice – making them belong to right wing. However, conservatism is divided into two parts, namely, fiscal and social. Fiscal conservatism involves conserving the money, and social conservatism involves conserving the traditional culture. However, social conservatism has a narrow mindset.

6. Libertarianism

Libertarianism support all forms of liberty, i.e. people should have maximum say on what is good and bad for them. It is termed as pro-free market and pro-civil liberty. So, positives of this ideology are freedom to do anything unless and until there is no harm to others’ freedom. Whereas negative aspect of this ideology is that there won’t be much support from the government – in case there is a violation of your rights. The elite people will be favoured more than the ones who are poor.

7. Fascist/Racist

This ideology is not considered to be effective as there is more harm then good it brings to people. Fascism is basically dictatorship – where an individual has full power and control over other people. He or she has the ability to suppress or oppress anyone. Many times governments follow the philosophy of fascism. These people do not believe in the democratic setup and give priority to totalitarianism and military growth. It is known to have come from the Italian word “fascismo”. In Indian context – Indira Gandhi, used the fascist philosophy and declared emergency wherein she played a role similar to a dictator.

Finally, it is all of us – the citizens of the country, who have to decide and trade-off to support a particular ideology.

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