What kind of political philosophy or ideology doesn't easily fit into the right-left spectrum commonly used to characterize American politics?

I have looked every where and the only ones I can find are Islam and Fascism.

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    Libertarianism. Anarchism. – user1873 Jun 12 '14 at 0:36
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    Islam is a religion, not a political philosophy. If you're thinking "extremist Islam", that would be something like "fanatical social conservatism". – Bobson Jun 12 '14 at 15:23
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    @Bobson : Islam & Judaism, I might add, are two religions unlike Christianity, incorporate politics as an inseparable component. You do surely see Muslims, faith-practicing, living their lives with a set of defined guidelines of do and don'ts. A totalitarian state would surely preserve their lifestyle. While "Extremism", as you say, exists around the Arab and Muslim world, it is very wrong to correlate between Islam and Christianity. You simply have to read about the Caliphate of Abasside which ruled in Xth century and see that it wasn't a fundamental state by the Standard of that time. – Jelly Jun 12 '14 at 17:39
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    @Amejel - While it's true that both Islam and Judaism provide guidelines for their adherents to follow, they aren't political, in the sense that just because a Muslim (or Jew) won't eat pork doesn't automatically mean that they feel pork should be abolished for everyone. (Apply to an actual political question - the logic is the same.) A Muslim/Jew who wants the entire population to follow their religious dictates is an extremist, which is where it crosses into politics. – Bobson Jun 12 '14 at 17:43
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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Jelly Jun 12 '14 at 18:18

There are actually a lot of other axis on which individuals or political powers can position themselves independently:

Egalitarianism vs. Elitism

Should the state try to create a society where everyone is equal? Or promote a society with a clear class hierarchy? Different elitists will disagree on which members of society should be the elite. A couple examples of criteria different elitist movements promote are heredity (monarchism), personal accomplishments (meritocracy), personal wealth (capitalism), ethnicity (racism) or any other criteria one could use to legitimate a preferred position in society.

(Note that it is very rare for anyone to self-describe as an elitist. The term is mostly used to discredit political opponents who claim to be egalitarian. The accusation is usually that they use egalitarian arguments as a cover to promote one class of society over others. Actual elitists usually self-describe with a more specific terminology)

Authoritarianism vs. Libertarianism

Should the state maintain control over the actions of their citizens for the benefit of everyone or let them do as they please as long as they do not violate the rights of others?

If one wants to enforce any of the political ideas listed here to a high degree, then a certain amount of state authority is almost always required. Which is the base of the horseshoe theory which says that any form of political extremism does also require a pinch of authoritarianism.

Nationalism vs. Internationalism

Should the state see other states and their citizens as rivals and oppose them, or as partners and cooperate with them?

Pacifism vs. Militarism

How much should the state invest into maintaining its armed forces? Should the state use its military only for defending its own borders, or is it an acceptable tool for protecting other interests? Militarism does not necessarily imply nationalism, because a state can send its army to aid other states against external or internal threats (Interventionism).

Fundamentalism vs. Secularism

Should the state promote and support one specific religion and incorporate its ideals into its decision-making or should religion be irrelevant for political decisions? (Different fundamentalists can additionally disagree on which religion to support. Some religious doctrines mandate a specific positioning on one of the other axis)

Conservatism vs. Progressivism

Should society oppose changes to their value system (regardless of what this system is right now) or should it be flexible in its values and be able to adapt to how external circumstances affect them? Conservativism often seems similar to Fundamentalism in many modern societies, but that's because many societies are traditionally fundamentalist. The Christian missionaries during the age of colonialism, for example, would be considered progressive by the locals, because they promoted fundamental values to societies which used to be traditionally secular.

Your example of Fascism would be elitist (of the racism flavor), authoritarian, nationalistic and militaristic. Fascists can be either fundamental or secular, depending on whether or not they base their position on a religion or not. They can be either progressive or conservative, depending on if the society used to be traditionally fascist before or if they want to turn a non-fascist society into a fascist one.

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    Just a few nitpicks. Should it be theocratic vs secular? A state could potentially be theocratic without being orthodox. Also I see progressivism as more of pushing people and society to change based on values rather than "adapting to external circumstances." Perhaps that is just because it is traditionally associated with what you describe as authoritarianism. – lazarusL Jun 23 '14 at 14:01
  • Or maybe even just religious vs secular, theocratic doesn't really work either. – lazarusL Jun 23 '14 at 14:09
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    These descriptions are rather simplistic and ignore the reality in favor of the theoretical. Internationalism is not just about cooperating it is about deferring power to govern to other nations rather than a policy self governance. Left and Right is more about What is best for the group vs what is best for the individuals. – SoylentGray Jun 23 '14 at 19:23
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    @Chad - That's why there's links to the wikipedia pages for all of them. Books have been written about all of this - any answer is going to have to be simplistic in some way or another. That said, I think Collectivism vs Individualism captures what you're saying better. Do those terms directly correlate to Left vs Right, or would that be yet another axis? – Bobson Jun 23 '14 at 20:28
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    I would say that they are a seperate axis but they pretty much map 1 to 1 with left and right. Wikipedia is not really the best reference for this. However even it does not say that the right is for clearly defined hierarchy just that what one develops it is natural. – SoylentGray Jun 24 '14 at 2:44

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