I have heard many people throw away words like "this party is left" and "this party is right wing" but many people(including me) doesn't know exactly how do we interpret "right" or "left" if it is based on their political reforms(which today is relevant)they are advocating or their ideology they are promoting. The terms "right" and "left" means different from different perspective and to different regional grounds.

We say that people who follow the ideology of Marxism,communism and socialism are left and the nazi(even though they had socialist in their name which misguides some people) are perceived as extreme right of the spectrum.

A European "right" politician may be seen as a centrist in America and A simple "left" leaning politician in let's say china may become extreme left in america.

So what I am essentially conyeing is that

  1. how are we able to throw these "left" and "right" when we don't have a clearer definition what they even mean For someone who hates left he will see everything "left" he doesn't like about his party. So does that means what determine a party "left" are their reforms or their ideology.
  2. I know it might sound philosophical but why are the school of thought of marx and Lenin called left while others are right

I know some people think this question is too trivial and doesn't need an answer but When anyone throws a word "left" and "right" I doesn't mean what they are trying to advocate

With due regards thank you in advance

Edit I know that during french revolution those terms emerged that the left of the kings were called left and at the right were called right but the concept of actual "right" and "left" truly came into political spectrum during 19th century because in the 18th century the "lefts" were moderist not the "left" we perceive today

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    Does this answer your question? What is meant by the "left" and the "right"?
    – Rick Smith
    Commented May 10 at 17:38
  • My question is not just what is left and right. It's rather based on how we perceive a party right is by just their reforms or by their political ideology . It's rather based on the differment of why calling a party right wing is mutually exclusive to a calling a person right
    – alam
    Commented May 10 at 17:46
  • And the thread also does not sort out the question the user has asked
    – alam
    Commented May 10 at 17:47
  • 3
    The question cited as a duplicate does cover this subject. So voting to close. Still, a new contributor wouldn't be expected to know that, or closures for duplicates and this left/right terminology does seem important and clearcut, from all its day to day usage, so asking about their meaning is not unreasonable. +1. Don't you folk have anything better to do than downvoting newcomers? Easy enough to vote to close only. Welcome aboard. Commented May 10 at 19:26
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Downvoting newcomers is a favorite hobby of some. I gave an upvote; this question is not at all unreasonable. And alam, welcome aboard! Commented May 10 at 19:55

7 Answers 7


Words like "left" and "right" are words like "fast" and "slow". They have meanings, but those meanings depend critically on the context, including the wider context in which they are placed.

So if I say "My car is fast" it is understood by reference to the culture and technological status that (you assume) I have. If I took it to the race track, it might be considered "slow".

So words like "left" and "right" only make sense when spoken within a political culture. This can cause surprises, since the collection of beliefs associated with "the right" in the USA may be very different from the set of beliefs associated with "the right" in the UK or Europe. Europe has past history of authoritarian government, so the conservative position tends towards authoritarianism. The US has a history of a restricted federal government, so the "conservative" position tends towards libertarianism.

We are able to use these words because they are understood within a particular culture. We sometimes expect the words to carry the same meaning outside our own culture, but as illustrated above, we can be misunderstood if we use them with speakers from other political cultures.

The tendency in each political culture is to for parties to form that oppose each other. These parties got labeled "left" and "right". Over time the parties evolve and other parties in other cultures form. Other parties get labelled "left" and "right" based on analogies. So the parties of Lenin, which shared similarities with the communist parties in England and Germany, which shared similarities with the radical parties in the French revolution which were labelled as "left". Hence the party of Lenin is also labelled "left", even if the actually policies of his party are quite different from those of revolutionary France.


In the United States, there are a bundle of policy positions routinely understood to be "right" and the opposite positions are routinely understood to be "left". For example, right-wingers are pro-life, anti-gun control, pro-free market, skeptical of environmental regulation, etc. Left-wingers are pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-socialism, enthusiastic about environmental regulation, etc.

Why do these positions go together? In some cases one could identify a common thread, but for the most part, it's pretty hard to say. They just ... tend to go together.

Of course "right" and "left" are relative terms. As you said in your post, what is considered "far left" in the US would probably be considered "moderate" in China, etc. But this is hardly startling. If I said that an animal is "really big", how you interpret that statement depends a lot on what sort of animal we are talking about. A small elephant is bigger than a large hamster. So sure, the meaning of the terms has to be taken in context of time and place.

People sometimes say that liberals favor change while conservatives favor the status quo. But such a definition is not just inaccurate but useless. Suppose it is true at a certain point in time. Then liberals win a few elections and put their policies into place. Now it is liberals who want to keep the status quo and conservatives who want change.

In the US today, conservatives are calling for major changes to social security and medicare, while liberals insist that we dare not meddle with these programs but must keep them essentially as is. Some extreme conservatives have even called for replacing the police with private police forces. Liberals oppose this precisely on the grounds that it is a new and untested idea. That is, on many issues, liberals are defending the status quo and conservatives are calling for change.

Likewise, some have said that conservatives support authoritarianism while liberals support a more free-wheeling system. But in 21st century America one could well argue that the opposite is the case. It is liberals who say that the government should monitor the Internet and block "misinformation", while conservatives are calling for free and open debate.

So I am hard pressed to name some underlying guiding principle that ties together all the positions of left-wingers or all the positions of right-wingers. Other than a circular argument that left-wingers hold these positions because they are all left-wing, and similarly for right-wingers. At least, not without getting into value judgements. (Like, "people on my side advocate positions based on rational thought while our opponents rely on emotion", or "our side values freedom and justice while our opponents defend intolerance and bigotry".)

Just BTW, the Nazi called themselves "socialist" because their policies were socialist. They favored government control of industry, government control of education, government running the pension system, etc. See Hitler's 25 Points speech. If you're a socialist and you don't like Nazis, you can certainly disavow Hitler, but you can't rationally say he wasn't a socialist.

Oh, as to where the terms "left" and "right" came from ... In the parliament of 18th century France, the conservatives sat on the right and the liberals sat on the left. The terminology has carried over from there.

  • "the Nazi called themselves "socialist" because their policies were socialist." Nazi was a derogatory name. They did call themselves Socialists because to the German ear that as moderate left or liberal. That changed in 1934 prior to Hitler coming to power. The night of the long knives. Hitler betrayed the populist wing (SA brown shirts) of his own party as the price to be paid for German military support for his entering government. After the purge what remained was Hitler chancellor for life, his war machine, and his alliance with German elites to avenge WWI and genocide.
    – JMS
    Commented May 13 at 17:01
  • @JMS no idea, how this would respond to question or answer. Commented May 13 at 22:23
  • Hmmm, upvoted, because of some very good points but the Nazi analysis is sketchy. NASDP was chosen early on as a branding change from its predecessor party and it is unclear how "socialist" it was meant to be. Remember that the Nazi party was "sold" to industrialists and the army as a means to oppose Communism. And Hitler purged Strasser for being too socialist. The nazis were control freaks, esp. later, but mostly due to totalitarianism, rationing raw materials and propaganda, less for redistributive reasons. Commented May 16 at 18:50
  • An example of the arbitrariness of bundle of policy positions routinely understood would be anti-vax sentiments. In pre-Covid days, this was related to measles and autism conspiracy theories and those, I believe, were more or less equally distributed along the Rep/Dem - right/left spectrum. Covid brought in big govt vs business, health regulations vs economic activity and... presto: anti-vaccers are now deemed rightwing. Commented May 16 at 19:09
  • In the link below some reasons are listed, why the NSDAP was a socialist party. There are many other reasons not mentioned, f.e. the standard products realized or planned (Volkswagen, Volkskuehlschrank, Volksempfänger, Volksappartment, mass holiday resorts like in Prora -en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prora, etc.) or the many laws that are typical demands/concepts of socialist parties. wie24-com.translate.goog/nazis-links/… (Allow some seconds for translation).
    – xeeka
    Commented May 17 at 15:34

If you want to dive down into the philosophical nuts and bolts, the difference between 'Right' and 'Left' in sociopolitical discussions is that Rightists invariably defend, promote, or advocate hierarchical forms of social order, while Leftists defend, promote, or advocate egalitarian forms of social order. Back in the French revolution this meant that those who still supported the aristocracy and monarchy sat on the right, while those seeking some republican form of government sat on the left.

Of course, the nature of hierarchical or egalitarian forms has evolved over time. Rightists in the Western world have largely given up on monarchical or aristocratic hierarchies, and instead reach for hierarchies based on:

  • military or civil police forces (kratocracy)
  • religion (theocracy or ecclesiocracy)
  • wealth (plutocracy or corporatocracy)
  • social standing (timocracy, demagogracy, or ethnocracy)

Modern Leftists, by contrast, generally see the old republican forms as (at best) a compromise with entrenched power groups, and look instead for egalitarian systems based on:

  • wealth leveling (socialism, communism, etc)
  • expansion and universalization of human rights (social liberalism and democratic socialism)
  • strengthening of political institutions (democracy or cultural liberalism)

But all-in-all the distinction between hierarchical and egalitarian forms of government defines the Right/Left distinction.

  • Your example is correct but incomplete. When Britanica calls the Roman Marcus Porcius Cato, died 46 AD a conservative because he tried to preserve the Roman Republic. Yet age of enlightenment thinker Thomas Paine is called liberal for supporting the first French Republic? How do you explain the divide between these two icon's of conservatism and liberalism who both supported Republics, using your egalitarian vs hierarchal proposal?
    – JMS
    Commented May 13 at 20:14
  • @JMS: the conservative/liberal distinction doesn't precisely line up with the Right/Left distinction. For instance, Edmond Burke was a famous British Conservative who would be called a Liberal today because of his advocacy for the environment (against the ravages of industrialism in his time). Conservative means slowing rampant change and preserving elements of the status quo; Rightist means preferring hierarchical social order. If the status quo is egalitarian, it might be conservative to be opposed to a rapid change towards authoritarianism. Commented May 13 at 20:46
  • @JMS: …or we might think about Trumpism, which has abandoned practically all attitudes and elements typical of conservatism in its headlong reactionary rush towards a hybrid krato-ecclesiocratic form of government (strongman rule with serious religious underpinnings): A definite Rightward push for hierarchical governance that places Leftist in a protective (conservative) posture. Commented May 13 at 20:51
  • As your correctly stated, the terms "left" and "right" first appeared during the French Revolution of 1789. To describe those who try to preserve the old, and those who embrace the new with regards to Monarchy or Republic supporters. The Monarcy sat on the Right, and the supporters of the new Republic sat on the left in the legislature. Today the moderate right is conservative and the moderate left is liberal. As for Edmond Burk being somewhat liberal today, that's why we say the linear political spectrum right and left, liberal and conservative is relative to one's time
    – JMS
    Commented May 13 at 21:06
  • I think Trump is a populist rather than a liberal or conservative.
    – JMS
    Commented May 13 at 21:07

Edit I know that during french revolution those terms emerged that the left of the kings were called left and at the right were called right but the concept of actual "right" and "left" truly came into political spectrum during 19th century because in the 18th century the "lefts" were moderist not the "left" we perceive today

Not quite. It's the sitting order in the French National Assembly. Apparently the king could order a meeting of the people called "estates general" where members of the 3 estates (castes: clergy, nobility, peasantry (everyone else)) would meet and discuss. Though despite the 3rd estate being by far the largest, their political power was by far the smallest. So shortly prior to the revolution the 3rd estate said basically fuck that and made their own assembly called the national assembly. Over time more people from the other estates joined that one while the king would have tried to shut it down and instead bring things back to the Estate General or even a Royal Seance (royal meeting), he failed and the gathering of troops and the proposal to hold the national assembly else where in between two armies, outraged them even further and so the revolution commenced: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Assembly_(French_Revolution)

So the sitting order of the national assembly has nothing to do with the king or kings (afaik there was just one), but instead marks the difference from the previous sitting order based on caste to one based on shared opinion. And this ordering led to 2 broad factions gathering in different parts of the room, on the right the royalists and on the left the revolutionaries (which at first weren't even republican but rather in favor of a constitutional monarchy, it was only after a failed coup and the execution of the king that things went republican).

And similar dynamics can be found in many parliamentary democracies. On top of that you had attempts to structure that ideologically, so in terms of what these two factions were for or against.

So you ended up with royalist vs republican, liberal vs authoritarian, order vs freedom, egalitarian vs elitist, progressive vs conservative aso. Essentially left-right marks the two ends of a mutually exclusive spectrum and as such it can be used for a whole bunch of different spectra in different places and eras.

The most common attempt at a universal left-right spectrum is one concerning social hierarchies:


So the rejection of social hierarchies is left and the approval or tolerance of social hierarchies is right. Now the ordering factor for the hierarchies may vary drastically: power, hereditary, religion, income/wealth, means of production, race, sex, sexuality, gender, nationality, culture, education, ...

Which leads to an odd situation where there are countless of "right"-wing ideologies, that often are mutually exclusive and sometimes overlapping sometimes opposed to each other, like a capitalist wouldn't let racism get in the way of a good deal, while a racist doesn't bother with free trade, but might enjoy it if wealth inequality serves as de facto caste system where their race is better off.

But only 1 left wing. As all egalitarian ideas would collapse into one. Though if you don't fully go all the way you could still end up with a plethora of "leftists" (when compared to people even more in favor of social hierarchies), which all disagree on which hierarchy to keep for now. Even worse if they are radically for dismantling one sort of hierarchy but end up ignoring or even enhancing another hierarchy. Then they are technically "radically" "left" but not really "radically left" and depending on what gets the better of them, they might even enhance a hierarchy so far that they should more aptly be placed on the right side of the spectrum.

Like take Stalin or whatnot, if we give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of wanting to implement communism, he'd be hard left, you know egalitarian system, no state authority, common ownership of the communities resources by direct democratic means, sounds pretty anti-hierarchical and thus leftists. While if you look at what he actually did. You see hierarchies of party membership and function in the political, the economic and even the other social domains up to being on par or more authoritarian with the monarchical system that they tried to replace, which would logically render them far right.

Now with the Nazis it's a lot simpler, they just lied or creatively redefined what "socialism" means for them. So the confusion about their choice of words stems from the fact that you have a definition of these words in mind, while they soaked all of these ideas in an exclusionary racism and a theory of social darwinism and a leaders cult, so that the end result has nothing to do with the words that you think you're familiar with. Essentially they just used the buzz words of their time to catch the gullible and hoped nobody would find out that the end result is the polar opposite of what these words indicate. So they are far right and didn't even try to hide that, subjugation of whom they considered inferior was their openly stated goal.

Though stating their goal that openly is kind of an oddity in the Western world after the French Revolution. Because the fact that republicans and democrats managed to reorganize the state without turning the world into a living hellscape, while the far right has managed to do just that, has for a long time pretty much made actual right wing politics pretty unpopular.

So even the parties that are right-wing so in favor of social hierarchies and throwing other social groups under the bus for their own benefit ended up having to utilize leftist lingo of equality and freedom in order to appeal to majorities, as elitists kinda struggle in democracies.

So ironically lots of far right and even neo-fascist parties speak of "liberty" or use "equality of opportunity vs equality of outcome" to present discrimination not as inequality (which would be unpopular) but as the result of a fair competition (even if that competition is never fair to begin with, if the "outcome" is healthcare and education, which for most isn't so much a goal, but a necessity for a fair competition to begin with).

So muddying the water is often a deliberate technique to avoid unpopular labels. Another is to position oneself in the middle. As that gives off vibes of "neutrality" and "best of both worlds", while in reality it mostly serves to not being held accountable when failing leftist goals or not having them in the first place, which is then branded as "realism", "realpolitics", "pragmatism" aso. Also while left and right are identifiable, the center is an entirely different topic as it's impossibly hard to tell where the center is. Also it's technically hard to be deliberately "centrists" as there's no real ideology in which that makes sense. Like either you want more/all people to participate in the decision making process or you want that to be exclusive, but so many and not more is ... weird.

So telling if a foreign party is left or right is difficult but probably still a lot easier than to tell what a local reporter means by "centrist".

In that domain you're likely referring to relative differences and relative differences with regards to specific topics. Like apparently comedians in the U.S. already joke that the people that newscasters call "moderate republicans" are only moderate compared to Trumpists who don't even accept election results or challenge them before they even happened or regardless of evidence just for the sake of taking power by any means possible.

Meaning the "moderate" and "centrist" refers not to the absolute spectrum (where it's already hard enough to be located), but to the center of the overton window of acceptable ideas in the public discourse and where that position can be changed and repositioned by the most extreme positions that get media coverage and are thus within the accepted political ideas.



Interpretation of "right" and "left", many people(including me) doesn't know exactly how do we interpret "right" or "left" if it is based on their political reforms.

Short Answer:

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Conservative the moderate right leaning philosophy wants to preserve the status queue as they see it. They want to return to the good old days. When that was varies. When faced with a problems they want to either go back to what has worked before or tweak the existing to work. Their solutions are generally safe, well understood.

Liberals, socialists the moderate left leaning philosophy generally entertain new untried solutions hoping for a home run. Their solutions can be great, but are inherently more dangerous as they are untried.

You need both to have a functioning government with any sort of longevity. Conservatives keep the lights on and make things run. Liberals introduce new ideas as society changes. Both have their roles to play, which is in the ascendency is generally a factor of when their antisepsis was in the ascendency for some length of time.


Simply Put, it is a relative political spectrum which uses where people find inspiration for their solutions to their problems. When faced with a problem, a right or conservative leaning person will tend to fall back to solutions which have worked in the past. A known solution. Conservative solutions tend to be safe, well understood, but also compromises as there was likely a reason the solution was abandoned in the first place. Still safe, well understood solutions are often the best solution.

A left leaning or liberal when faced with a problem tend to seek new solutions. These solutions are inherently less understood and therefore more dangerous than conservative solutions because they are new.

Most people are moderates and employ both methods. The strength of conservative approach is it's reliability; the weakness is for systemic problems like civil rights, slavery, climate change or the healthcare crisis where there are no traditional solutions, conservatives have no contribution but to maintain the current path. The strength of the liberal approach is sometimes new approaches can provide a real and significant benefit especially for systemic problems; the weakness is often new solutions fail outright or make things worse.

Really to have a functioning government or organization you need both types of thinkers.

I say "relative" political position because over history the issues change it's where the decision makers find their inspiration which remains constant. The Roman Senator Cato was said to be a conservative because at the dawn of the Roman Empire he advocated for the republic. Stick with what's worked, conservative. Thomas Paine is said to be a liberal because during the French Revolution he advocated for a Republic when historically the French had been governed under Monarchy. Both advocated for Republic but relative to their place in history one was looking back the other was advocating for something new.

A lot of folks will argue that the left and right political system which was first coined in the early 1800's during the French Republic should not be used rather they advocate for a two or even three-dimensional grid system. However, the left and right, liberal and conservative political spectrum is the most widely used political system in use today; so it's important to know what it means.

From Comments.

from: Jay It's not my point here to debate who is right and who is wrong, or which policy is better. Just to say that the idea that conservatives want to keep the status quo and liberals want change is too simplistic to be useful. In many cases, conservatives want change and liberals want to keep the status quo.

  1. As I have consistently said neither philosophy is devoid of really bad ideas, and to have a functioning government with any sort of longevity you need both types of thinkers. Moderate, conservative ideas are often the better ideas due to being better understood, there are huge notable exceptions to that generality.

  2. As for being "too simplistic to be useful". It is a categorization, and a way to understand the meaning behind various decisions and labels. As I've said it is the most used political spectrum today understanding what it means thus has value just on that basis alone.

From: Jay ... thousands of years. Like privatizing police forces. Liberals have replied that this is a dangerous idea precisely because it is untested and untried. ( meaning it's a new idea conservatives are for and liberals are against? )

Untested and untried in the 21st century perhaps. There is a long history of private police forces in the United States and historically. Not too long ago that the Pinkertons, a private police force; had more men and arms than the US army, and big business used them to break unions, suppress workers and kill folks.

  • 1892 Homestead Strike 3000 Pinkerton's traveled by barge and openned fire on striking steel mill workers.

  • 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain, - the largest labor uprising in United States history and is the largest armed uprising since the American Civil War. 10,000 coal miner's vs 3,000 private security.

  • 1932 Ford Massacre, Planned as a peaceful march from Detroit into Dearborn by Union organizers, ending at the Rouge Plant employment office. The march was brutally suppressed by Henry Ford's private security, with five marchers killed and dozens injured by machine gun fire.

So privatizing the police isn't a new idea in the United States, these are a few of the more disastrous results.

from: prosfilaes "a right or conservative leaning person will tend to fall back to solutions which have worked in the past." It sounds good, but it doesn't correspond well to how the words are used in the real world. For example, the US Right is creating laws about abortion that have little relation to anything historical, which never (to my knowledge) worried about women crossing state lines to get an abortion. Likewise, unions are left in the US, despite the fact that they're a long-time solution that was big in the "Good Old Days" (1940s-1960s). –

When you are talking conservatism, it has everything to do with history. Historically in the U.S abortion law was left up to the states until 1973. In 1910 every state in the country had outlawed abortion. That is exactly the conservative agenda now in 2024. In Arizona they even reinstituted the anti abortion law from the 1800's. So we are literally going back to the way the law worked prior to Roe vs Wade, and we are literally reinstituting the problems associated with that historic ban, using the same state driven strategy. Nothing more conservative than that.

unions are left in the US, despite the fact that they're a long-time solution that was big in the "Good Old Days" (1940s-1960s).

No conservative would call the 40's - 60's the "good old days". The 30's, 40's were dominated by Liberals. FDR, Truman forever changed the way things worked in the US. Typically conservatives see the good old days as the 1880's - 1900's when we had unregulated capitalism before T Roosevelt. Or 20's 30's prior to Franklin Roosevelt.

Prior to the 40's - 60's "good old days" there were the days 1880's - 1920's when employers killed workers trying to unionize. Carnigies Homestead strike mascre, blair mountain massacre, and when Henry Ford's union busters machine gunned their striking workers. The years when wealth was consolidated among a few, and Carnigies steal works lost 9% of their workforce annually related to on the job related deaths. Very profitable for the businesses, and change was forced upon them by unions and sympathetic politicians. Going back to those "good old days", by weakening government regulation, weakening unions is exactly going back to the past.

This is not to suggest that conservatism is not super valuable or always wrong. It is just as likely that liberals go to far. You need both, and after a long period of one being in the ascendency, shifting to the alternative provides a valuable correction be it liberal or conservative.

From: BlackJack I have a problem with your right = conservative and left = liberal approach because that's exactly what confuses people who are used to political systems where the right is more liberal and the left more authoritarian.

I don't know what you mean. Perhaps communist china? Where liberal and conservatism both work under a the overarching communist header because no other system of government nor political phylosophy are legally permitted to exist. Liberal communists in china embraced free market, something new. More conservative communists are now trying to roll back some of those free market reforms? Is that what you mean? Personally the definitions are from the Oxford dictionary and they work across political systems.

Also conservative solutions that worked in the past may not have been safe in the first place or are not safe or even useful in the present. The way we've always done things, may very well mess up the environment, oppress whole demographics, and so on. –

As I said conservative solutions are well understood but compromises. The way we've always done things can sometimes have significant draw backs; however even those draw back are well understood. That said, it is true conservative approaches tend to be safer but compromise solutions. They can reliably be counted on to improve problems. As you say though, all social progress are attributed to liberal thinkers. Anti-Slavery, civil rights, workers' rights, anti trust, public education, social security, medicare and unions. Here in the U.S. just about every founding father was a liberal, perhaps with the exception of Alexander Hamilton. Of the 5 greatest presidents all were liberals. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, and F.D. Roosevelt.

  • 3
    I have a problem with your right = conservative and left = liberal approach because that's exactly what confuses people who are used to political systems where the right is more liberal and the left more authoritarian. Also conservative solutions that worked in the past may not have been safe in the first place or are not safe or even useful in the present. The way we've always done things, may very well mess up the environment, oppress whole demographics, and so on.
    – BlackJack
    Commented May 11 at 11:51
  • 1
    @jms It's not my point here to debate who is right and who is wrong, or which policy is better. Just to say that the idea that conservatives want to keep the status quo and liberals want change is too simplistic to be useful. In many cases, conservatives want change and liberals want to keep the status quo.
    – Jay
    Commented May 12 at 18:11
  • 1
    This is more of a demonstration of the problem than the answer to the question. Linking "conservative" with "right" and "liberal" with "left" or even "progressive" is purely American thinking. In different parts of the world, different ideologies and political parties played different roles. In many Eastern European countries, you could as well switch the "left" and "right" with right being progressive liberal, while left regressive and conservative. The fact almost all examples rely on descriptions of US political spectrum only adds to this.
    – Colombo
    Commented May 13 at 0:09
  • 1
    @JMS Dunno what you are saying, it is in dictionary, but it is objectively false since you agree that in Eastern and Central Europe the positions are different? Also, you hear correctly then. Communism and Socialism were often used as synonyms, sometimes one as a stage preceding another, and sometimes slightly different forms of each other. It is in the dictionary after all. Socialism is miles away from social democracy.
    – Colombo
    Commented May 13 at 2:24
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    @JMS Yes they are, read a book or just Wikipedia if that's too much. Said dictionary you mention so often (but never link) literally calls socialism a regime where government owns the main industries oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/socialism and as an example contains "Marx claimed that his was the first scientific socialism.".
    – Colombo
    Commented May 13 at 4:36

They have no real meanings, more clearly their meaning is strongly context dependent without a clear objective version.

What is objective in politics, that is not right and left, but up and down.

A relative objective feature of dividing the political views into "left" and "right", that they might make the look and feel for inexperienced views, that these are equaly valuable. Thus, they try to disappear the objective moral values.

While the case is mostly not this. For example:

  • being a patriot is better as being a treacher
  • being good for everyone is better as being good only for a narrow group
  • doing things peacefully is better as doing things by force.

These are general, objective moral values, and dividing the actual views into "left" and "right" works only as a disguise for the worse side to play equal.

Better to not use the "left" and "right" words, instead use their correct name, even if it is not very trivial.


As you rightly pointed out, the specific policies and ideologies associated with the right and left labels can vary greatly across different regions and historical periods. What is considered "left-wing" in one country may be perceived as centrist or even "right-wing" in another. For example, democrats in East Asia would often be labelled as being right-wing in the West.

  • Yes the Right(conservative) and Left(liberal) is a relative political spectrum. One not based on the issues but rather where the inspiration for solutions come from. The past or something entirely new. This is why it can still be used globally 200 years after it was first categorized even though most of the issues in the modern world have changed dramatically from the days of the French Revolution and Reign of Terror. It's not based on issues, it's based on where inspiration is found for solutions relative to ones own country, province and personal understanding of history.
    – JMS
    Commented May 13 at 16:48
  • @JMS Somewhere I have heard, there was a time as the USA Democrat and Republican parties have nearly exchanged their views in a 30 year long time interval. I do not know USA political history very well, but I think that would be an example as the left-right division was not even a relative concept, but only a replaceable label.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Jun 6 at 3:47
  • @GraySheep, Yes the Republican party was born on the extreme left. Formed out of frustration with it's predecessor, the Whig party's inability to make progress ending slavery. The conservative position being pro slavery because national laws against slavery had never been tried before at that time. It's also True that at that time the party of the South, the conservative Democratic party was pro slavery at least in the South were it was the majority.
    – Earl
    Commented 2 days ago
  • @GreySheep, As for 30 years, it's more like 60 years. Social Conservatives ceased calling the Democrat party home in 1968 election after Democratic President Johnson (from Texas), a life long segregationist, championed the civil rights bill. He had taken office in 1963 after President Kennedy was assassinated. He was told he could not win re-election in a national election because he was too closely associated with segregation. So he pragmatically championed the most ambitious civil rights bill in the nation's history and alienated conservative southern voters.
    – Earl
    Commented 2 days ago
  • @GreySheep. In 1968, The Democrats lost conservative southern white voters, but they gained the African American vote which up to that time was a loyal Republican voting block prior to 68.
    – Earl
    Commented 2 days ago

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