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Mar 18, · The concept here is: If one favors liberty, equality, and/or policies that affect the collective equally (like classical liberalism, social liberalism, or communism at the far-left), they are generally said to be taking a “left-wing” stance (they needn’t embrace all these things, just one or more). TIP: Other key left-right positions include a long list of positions common to liberalism.
- The Left-Right Political Spectrum Explained
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With just these factors considered we can expand on that logic to create many different yet all equally accurate models, For example we could create:.
The Left-Right Political Spectrum Explained
There are many different ways to illustrate, explain, and justify the political spectrum, and many different models can be used to illustrate what the terms left-wing and right-wing mean in different contexts. The rest of the page will focus on exploring the complexities of the left-right spectrum. After-all we have to grapple with complexities such as how far-left and far-right positions can end up looking a lot like each other in their authoritative and non-authoritative forms for example, authoritative fascism can look a lot like authoritative communism, and left-wing anarchy can look a lot like right-wing anarchy.
Likewise, we have to grapple with the fact that what we call liberal, conservative, left-wing, and right-wing in common language tends to be a placeholder for a complex mix of left-right ideology found in party platforms.
Likewise, we have to grapple with the fact that social liberalism and social conservatism are complex left-right ideologies which mix classical and social planks from each side of the spectrum. The list goes on. With that noted, before moving on to a more complex political theory that addresses the countless questions and gripes one might have each of which is resolved with even this basic model if understood properly , here is a graphic that summarizes the above section:.
A basic political spectrum, at a glance one can see why we need a more complex left-right political theory. Having an understanding of the semantics we are using will help you to better understand our left-right political theory and its related models. Feel free to ask questions below. Not only can we consider a left-right political spectrum like that with more degrees and multiple paradigms , but we can also plot it on a traditional 4-point left-right spectrum see the example below, it is one of many.
This 4-point spectrum can also be drawn as a 4-point compass like the political compass at the top of the page. IMPORTANT : The basic 4-point political spectrum either presented as a table or as a chart can work as a placeholder for considering any political, social, or economic left-right political issue. Unlike the first 2-point chart, this 4-point chart better distinguishes between the classical and social to be describe what we mean by the terms left-wing and right-wing.
This is because this 4-point can be applied to any issue, including the central left-right issue economics. The 2-point crams too many concepts in just two boxes, the 6-point treats economics as one thing cramming too many concepts in one box , and the multi-paradigm is unnecessarily nuanced. That is my justification for the 4-point spectrum being the most useful. It is the one model that can say everything in one chart.
A basic version of a left-right spectrum chart.
Creating a Proper 4-Point Left-Right Political Spectrum
One of many ways to illustrate the complex range of things a single chart is trying to say. In doing this we could treat economics as one thing to create a 6-point political left-right, social left-right, economic left-right , but I am going to skip right over that because I find it to be misleading. TIP : Above the first paradigm is the classical issues of politics , the second the social social issues , and the last two economic issues of economics in both the classical and social sense.
Thus, this model covers classical and social liberalism and conservatism in the political, social, and economic forms. From there, we only need to consider sub-paradigms of those major left-right spectrums.
TIP : For my money, looking at multiple paradigms on a table like we do above is the best way to consider a left-right theory.
The latter, that is using two 4-point charts side-by-side would be my suggestion. Examples of other left-right paradigms that could fall under the above categories and I therefore call them sub-paradigms look like this:. That would be a formal version of what people generally do when they label things left-wing and right-wing. TIP : In general, populism has a markedly classical left-wing quality to it, but in practice there is a populist left and populist right.
The populist right is generally seen as socially conservative, this helps to show how the social forms are really a left-right mix.
For example, we could consider the ends of social spending to be left-wing, but the means of the authority and taxation needed to ensure that spending as right-wing this being one of many examples. Org uses which considers economics and liberty-authority only. That part is easy to confirm philosophically and historically. Meanwhile, the modernly recognized social versions of these are more complex. To accurately label ideological positions, it helps to understand how we can pair terms like classical, social, and populist left, right, liberal, and conservative to give a more accurate description of specific views.
At the same time, it helps to realize that general descriptors like left-wing and right-wing actually have a range of meanings depending on context. The old class system and the story of the French Revolution help tell the story of what the political left and right mean.
From here it is just about working this basic concept into a complete theory of left-right politics full of paradigms and spectrums so we can properly address nuances and complexities. Above we gave an overview and justification for our left-right theory, from here forward the focus will be walking back through all the steps we took slowly with more justifications, illustrations, and explainers.
This also brings up the general problem with the terms left and right and the terms liberalism and conservatism by the way , that is:.
Because of this complexity, it helps to consider at least two if not more left-right paradigms. Putting everything above together, we can represent the basics of a left-right political theory like this:.
A blank left-right spectrum for those who want one. Consider linking back to the site if you use it. It will also show that while liberty and equality are representative of the fundamental left-right or liberal-conservative positions, they are hardly the only factors we need to consider. In this way, one can reuse the same chart over and over to consider any A…B left-right choices, including all the examples below.
Finally, in the above chart, we can see things like how a left-right position on a single social, economic, or political is very different from being classically or socially left-wing or right-wing in general, and we can see clearly if we assume this model is correct that most real life political stances are mixed.
We can also see that left-right positions are at odds even with themselves when it comes to ends and means. After-all how does one ensure individual liberty if not through authoritative collectivism, and will not individual liberty allow for individuals to become authoritative and ensure social hierarchy?
Or likewise, is this same thing not generally true for equality? How does one ensure social equality or robust social welfare if not not through the state? And in fact, we can see this is true for almost every aspect of every paradigm. Ensuring a thesis, often requires its antithesis or in terms of left-right politics, ensuring a left-wing position often requires right-wing positions, and ensuring right-wing positions can have left-wing effects, or vice versa.
It is in these ways in which left-right politics is both necessarily complex and important to understand. In this model the left and right intersect at two points the top and bottom.
Here the vertical denotes authority vs. The left-wing tends to favor equality and liberty, and the right-wing authority, hierarchy, tradition, and order in general terms. This spherical shape, or double horseshoe, shows how similar extremely authoritarian positions can be and it shows how similar non-authoritative position can be.
Social left-right differences aside, there is only a thin line between extreme authoritarian ideologies, and only a thin line between different left-right flavors of stateless governments… Still, the line is there, and these ideologies can be discussed issue-by-issue using the terms left and right.
Each modern American ideology favors a mix of left-right views, this can be understood by understanding classical and social liberalism and conservatism , where generally speaking:. On a left-right chart that uses our liberty and equality paradigms , those identities look like this. TIP : In America we tend to call the Republican party, with all its many ideological factions with differing stances, right-wing and conservative.
Likewise, we call the Democratic Party, with all its ideological factions with differing stances, left-wing and liberal. In America the liberal-left tends to err on the side of collectivism and social equality they tend to be socially liberal , and the conservative right on the side of individualism and social hierarchy they tend to be socially conservative , but the reality is most people, parties, and factions within parties hold beliefs that span the political spectrum.
Bill of Rights. Feel free to skip around the page or quest questions in the comments below.
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Below we discuss some complexities that we have only noted above, but which are central to understanding left-right politics and political spectrums. These sub-paradigms include all of those listed above in the introduction, the following examples, other paradigms listed on the page, and paradigms in the section below.
For example, they include : free-market vs. The vital concept here is that 1. TIP : There is more to say then I can say quickly.
One thing to note is that issues like economics and who has legislative power are realist factors and liberty and equality are idealist virtues. We root our system in idealism, but extend it into realism when we consider the multiple paradigms.
Only unlike Plato, we also draw from Aristotle and root our system in realism too. In fact, as you can see above, we can treat the idealist v. Just consider these extremes, a collective with no authority is bound to dissolve into anarchy, a society of individuals with absolute authority is anarchy, an individual with complete authority is a despot, and a state with absolute authority is a despotic state.
Simply put, pure left, pure right, and even extremes of mixed-left-right are some of the worst ideologies in practice for large groups although some pure forms work in sub-groups in very specific situations; such as in a rule-abiding and elite unit of Marines or a small communal democracy.
Or, 2. On some issues, communism and fascism are polar left-right opposites, but on other issues like their stance on liberty , they often find themselves holding the same authority-right position. In this respect, placing broad ideologies with many different stances on a simple 2-point chart that tries to consider everything at once is always going to miss the mark in some ways. TIP : Another popular choice is to use economy as one paradigm and authority-libertarianism as another.
The problem with this is discussed in a few places on this page, but the basic compliant I have is that economics is complex, and although it is foundational to governments, it is not a single A…B issue that speaks to the heart of what it means to be left or right rather nearly every real life economic position is a complex mix of left and right positions.
It is for this reason that we consider economy to be a very important sub-paradigm, perhaps even the third most important, but it is an awkward replacement for the general sentiment of equality… as the desire for equality is more fundamental to the human condition and is not purely economic. This is the main problem I personally have with the political compass and Nolan chart. I explain this more in the next section. It is a work in progress.
Our theory expands upon and in my humble opinion improves upon these models it adds to, not replaces these excellent and useable models. Meanwhile their models require us to always focus on the realist and empirical sphere of economics for every issue!
However, it does have an equality and a liberty measure. However, when we go issue by issue, we find real left-right differences in terms of social issues between despotic fascism and despotic communism even if both are equally authoritative.
I get that people want to speak in terms of economy, as it is a very central issue regarding politics, but I am being left in terms of idealism here and pointing out that we have to consider the ethical and moral spheres; not just empirical senses right , but idealist sensibility left …. Notes on political identities and left-right politics : An anarchist is for total liberty, but can be left or right on social issues.
To be anarchist, or libertarian for that matter, or classically liberal, or non-authoritative social conservative means to be toward liberty but it does not set all left-right issues in stone… even if it does inform them. Now, generally a social conservative will be toward the right of a social liberal on most social issues, but certainly not on every one. Further, the reality is, in comparative terms, some socially conservative groups are to the left and right of each other issue-by-issue.
We can call fascists right-wing and an anarchists left-wing, but if we dig in issue by issue we can see that this is oversimplifying things. A given ideology will have members and groups that are comparatively to the social, political, or economic left and right of each other with stances that change per issue. If we compare only Communism to Fascism, then generally communism is left and fascism is right, however if we go issue-by-issue and group-by-group, we can see clearly that positions change group-to-group, wing-to-wing, and issue-to-issue.