Talk:Political spectrum/definitions

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Definitions

The left-right political spectrum is a way of classifying some political positions as "leftist" or "rightist". Obviously, it is not intended to classify every possible political belief as one or the other, and there is controversy about which criterion should used for the classification. Some of the main theories used to classify positions along the left-right spectrum are the following:

  • Traditionally political scientists have defined the left-right political spectrum by saying that politics on the 'right' usually supports the traditional institutions and values of a society, while politics on the 'left' usually favors challenging traditional institutions and values.[1],[2],[3]
  • An alternative definition which some political scientists say better describes current political differences states that those on the 'left' tend to favor bigger government, egalitarianism, and collectivism while those on the 'right' favored smaller government, free markets, and individualism.[4]
  • Yet another definition describes current political differences by saying that the 'left' tends to favor personal freedoms, while the 'right' tends to favor economic freedoms.[5]

REBUTTING objections by RobS:

About Def. 1: Stop right here. Is al-Qeade left or right under this definition?
I would say neither. There is no reason to suppose every political movement falls on the left/right spectrum. --Redblue 07:10, 11 April 2007 (EDT)
Good answer. When proven that this theory is not doctrinal then, will you join us is stating it is only a theory?
About Def. 2: egalitarianism, and collectivism. This is unacceptable. to equate "egalitarianism" to "collectivism" is ludicrous.
Nothing in Def. 2 states or implies that egalitarianism is the same thing as collectivism. If they were the same, one word would suffice.--Redblue 07:16, 11 April 2007 (EDT)
Then you can't use the both words in this regard.
About Def. 3: Bogus arguement. economic freedom is personal freedom.
Sorry, your objection is bogus. Many people say economic freedom helps promote personal freedom, and vice versa. But they are not the same thing. --Redblue 07:16, 11 April 2007 (EDT)
Let's adopt your view for a moment; since economic freedom and personal freedom are not intertwined, I assume you have no objection to slavery then, since enjoying the economic freedom of a paycheck isn't necessary as long as you are still afforded the personal freedom to enjoy a hot meal once in awhile or using the bathroom.



  1. H. Winter and T. Bellows (1997), Conflict and Compromise: An Introduction to Political Science, 8th ed., Ch. 3. Longman, Inc.
  2. S. Tansey (2000), Politics: the Basics, 2nd ed., Ch. 4. Routledge, Inc.
  3. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, def. 2.8 of 'right' and def. 2.3 of 'left'
  4. Ed Poor's high-school teacher
  5. Somebody named Nolan?

Criticisms of a one-dimensional view

Many people reject a one-dimensional view of the political spectrum.

"The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left', established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape." [1]

For example, libertarians say that their point of view - advocating personal freedom in all its forms, as long as it does not conflict with the freedom of others, is not a left-wing or right-wing position. Advocating freedom sometimes leads them to take positions that are usually considered right-wing (for example, defending a worker's right not to join a labor union) but at other times leads them to take positions that are usually considered left-wing (for example, defending gay rights). --Redblue 08:03, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

This is bogus double-talk; Liberal#Original meaning: "Classical liberalism" states right here,
Liberal in its secular meaning, describes someone who favors personal freedom in all its forms[1], as long as it does not conflict with the freedom of others
You cannot have it both ways. A Liberal and a Libertarian are not the same thing, and you cannot use the same definition for different things on two different pages. But thanks for trying to ameliorate dissenters by "throwing 'em bone" anyways. RobS 13:47, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

The 'political spectrum' is obviously worthless. The only meaningful divisions are between us (whoa re obviosuly correct about EVERYTHING) and them (who are EVIL INCARNATE and want to see us all DESTROYED). --BDobbs 21:41, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

In general, yes, that is how it is taught in American public schools, and repeated in American mainstream media. RobS 21:44, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found
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