These days, I am listening too much of the word "Leftist" in the sites like Twitter and Reddit. What is meant by the term "Leftist"? Is this a philosophically improved political system?

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    According to Google. A leftist = a person with left-wing political views. left wing (politics) = the section of a political party or system that advocates greater social and economic equality, and typically favors socially liberal ideas; the socialist or progressive group or section. This sounds more related to English.SE, unless more context is provided.
    – Alexei
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 19:50
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    Please present your research on the topic. If "Leftist" is such an often used term, maybe somebody also wrote about what it may mean (even though there are quite some fuzzy terms existing and this may be one such). Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 20:05
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    Do observe that the meaning of left/right is relative. The running joke is that in the eyes of EU nationals there are no leftists in the US. The American usage has a different point of reference at the "center". It may be safe to assume that you are primarily interested in the meaning of the term in the US political discourse, but it may be better to clarify. Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 13:22
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    I have encountered "leftist" mostly as a slur, i.e. when somebody wanted to ascribe radical left positions to people who are more likely social democrats (case in point, the Oxford dictionary suggests in the US this is used for people with "liberal or radical" opinions, as if radical and liberal were the same thing). I do not know any people with left leaning views who refer to themselves as "leftist" (but since I do not live in an English speaking country, my sample is basically limited to expats, maybe they use the word differently than people at home). Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 15:43
  • Does this answer your question: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-wing_politics ? Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


Historically, those who supported the French King in parliament sat to the right, those who wanted some sort of democracy sat to the left. That's because the right side of the king was ceremonially seen as the place of honor, and the aristocrats among the royalists demanded that place.

Since then, much has happened, and most of those who declare themselves "right" would not admit to being royalists.

  • Political convictions are a complicated thing. For ease of thinking about them, a multi-dimensional structure is often projected onto just one dimension, which is then called right-to-left or progressive-to-conservative. It is generally understood that using just one dimension is a gross oversimplification, but on average people who are for a right to own guns are also more likely to be against a right to abortion, even if there are some who support both rights or neither.
  • Then there are attempts to project a multi-dimensional structure onto two dimensions, which can bring interesting insights, but also less clarity in the us-vs-them debate culture.

So the one-dimensional projection remains, especially in a two-party system. In a multi-party system, you get things like a coaltion of Greens and Conservatives against social democrats and classic libertarians, which should not be possible on a one-dimensional political axis, but which is working rather smoothly.

  • All very interesting, but except for "who wanted some sort of democracy" there is no definition of Leftist in this answer. Which of the many, many political directions are pointing to the left in this projection you speak of and which to the right. For example why is owning guns rightish but advocating for abortion leftish? Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 6:36
  • @Trilarion, that is the before-the-french-revolution definition. The current definition of leftist is IMHO "the outcome of the projection of the political opinion space onto an arbitrary axis." A climate change activist and a workers rights' activist might come from completely different viewpoints and support completely different policies, but they are both labeled leftist.
    – o.m.
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 6:57
  • It's not good or bad per se that multiple dimensions that may be completely different are projected onto the same axis. If Leftist and Rightist are just arbitrary sets than that's what they are. If there is no rule behind them, we can still just list all the possible political issues and categorize them into left/right according to what people would rather attribute to them. The problem may rather be that different people may have different ideas what left/right is in each case, and of course people can be a mixture of left/right. I often think that most people should be center naturally. Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 8:36
  • @Trilarion, consider the support of fossil fuels by big business and some trade unions. Or the fight against wind power by biodiversity activists. One dimension just isn't enough, unless the political system enforces a two-party division.
    – o.m.
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 18:57
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    @BobaFit, now you are projecting on a single axis, that of authoritarianism. Franco and Hitler would fit into the lineup you propose, despite not normally being called leftist (See Horseshoe Theory).
    – o.m.
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 5:25

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