That boy, who sits beside you on the train and rambles on about US politics. That girl in the library, who starts chanting about left wing politics. And can we forget the guy in Roost on a Thursday night who doesn’t see why people don’t like Trump. If you have spoken to anyone remotely interested politics it doesn’t take long for them to chatter about the left and right wing policies governments are making. You nod along pretending that you get it but do you really? Right wing and left wing, the terms are thrown around without any kind of an indication on what they actually mean. I am here to help you at least partly understand.
Let’s start at the beginning, the terms left and right were initially used in an ideological context back in the 18th century during the French revolution. The left supported the revolution and the right supported the monarchy. In other words the left support change and the right support the status quo. This idea is a simple way of viewing the terms.
The fundamental way in which these terms are examined whittle down to the balance between individual liberty and government power. The left aim for an equal society and believe that the government should play a significant role in people’s lives. This translates to higher taxes on the rich and increased regulation on business. The left also tend to be more progressive on their views on social issues. It typically supports women’s right to abortion and same sex marriage. The left generally have more lenient views on immigration and are usually the driving force behind any separation of religion and the state. They take the, take the Kenseingh approach when looking at economics. This system wants the government to intervene to avoid an economic rescission. Hence, this means taxing highly during boom times and spending this money when the states need it. The amount of government interference various by how far left it is. For example, communist would complete control of all aspects of the economy where as the centre left wants only moderate control.
The right believe that the level of social inequality is inevitable. They believe that the government should have a limited role in people’s lives which in a contrast to the left. The right tend to have more traditional views when it comes to social issues which are tied to religious views. The right view government through a laissez-faire approach. Hence, they want to deregulate in order to increase innovation and lower taxes to increase growth. The right, believe that too much government interference in business is a bad thing and that the market does best when left alone.
There are a variety of political spectrums where the terms used in different ways. For example the labour party in the UK is referred to as the left; however most of their policies would place them on the centre right. Hence, when hearing left and right in relation to parties it is important to remember where their policies and beliefs would accurately place them.
Overall the best way to determine where the party falls is looking at their policies and making that decision. Now when you hear the girl talk about politics in the library maybe you can join in.