In my country (Belgium) there are quite some discussions between left- and right-wing political parties, but do those terms mean?

I've developed my own definition, and I'd like to verify it here on the site:

  • Left : the intention is to set up a society where everybody takes care of everybody.
  • Right : the intention is to set up a society where everybody takes care of him- or herself.

Is this a right point of view or are there any points which completely contradict it?

As for the duplicate flag: I've visited the mentioned post, but my question is not answered there:

Is my point of view correct?

By which I mean : in case my point of view is incorrect, can somebody give me an example of right politic measures which don't aim for people to be self-sustaining? Or an example of a left politic measure that does aim for it?

  • It could be perhaps for Belgium, as I am unfamiliar with the politics of Belgium... I honestly thought for most of my life it was a Republic to be honest. Left vs. Right is mostly influenced by an individual nation's political divides as opposed to a universal truth. For example, many of my non-American friends have told me that the American Left is pretty right wing when compared to the European Left.
    – hszmv
    Jun 18, 2019 at 19:50
  • Your definition of left doesn't really fit the Left as I have experienced it in the US. (Not familiar with Belgian politics.) It seems more like they think those who are able and willing to work should support those who are not, combined with a good dose of the crab bucket mentality en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_mentality that makes them want to pull down anyone who does better than average.
    – jamesqf
    Jun 19, 2019 at 4:26
  • Semantics point: "everybody takes care of everybody" sounds more like charity. The left believes the Government should take care of everybody. Feb 12, 2020 at 15:25
  • @SurpriseDog: this is more or less my point: there's nothing the government can do if she's not enabled by the population to do anything. As far as the charity part is concerned, I more or less follow your point: in my country (Belgium) every person has an income: either you work for one, either you get one from the government, be it child support, retirement or unemployment fee.
    – Dominique
    Feb 12, 2020 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


I think what you've identified is the contrast between collectivism and individualism. The left-right dichotomy is a little more complicated as it is a highly location and history specific differentiation. Various questions deal with issues of what makes up right and left.

I can think of a few examples where your definition might fall apart. I'm American, so my examples may not be perfect for Belgium.

Consider an insular religious community. They all go to church together and have a strong emphasis on caring for their community and consider individual focus to be selfish gluttony or pride. They might vote for right-wing parties as they want freedom to run their local freely-associated community as they wish. They don't want to participate in regulated government services like schools that push different cultural values on their children. They prefer the local church based initiatives that comply with their faith. They still feel strongly compelled to care for others, but prefer the leadership of their church community to the leadership of the broader culture.

Consider a transgender person in a society that doesn't accept the idea of transgender people. That person actually doesn't like the idea of everyone taking care of everyone, as the majority's idea of "taking care of everyone" probably involves persuading or coercing him to adopt a different identity than the one he feels is right. Taking care of someone can mean doing what you think is best for that person despite their protests. Most left wing groups abhor the idea of suppressing people's identities, so their "everyone caring for everyone" is actually tempered by a strong desire for everyone being able to decide what is best for him or herself, an idea pretty close to "everyone caring for him or herself."

  • 3
    Another one that better illustrates the divide as it's flipped over time is "Does the Central Government have too much power or not enough?" and comes from a history of being a nation born in revolution against a strong central government removing more and more self-governance.
    – hszmv
    Jun 18, 2019 at 20:06

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