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Political spectrum


A political spectrum is a system of classifying different political positions upon one or more geometric axes that symbolize independent political dimensions.

Most long-standing spectra include a right wing and left wing, which originally referred to seating arrangements in the French parliament after the Revolution (1789–99). According to the simplest left–right axis, communism and socialism are usually regarded internationally as being on the left, opposite fascism and capitalism on the right. Liberalism can mean different things in different contexts, sometimes on the left (social liberalism), sometimes on the right (classical liberalism). Those with an intermediate outlook are classified as centrists or moderates. Politics that rejects the conventional left–right spectrum is known as syncretic politics.

Political scientists have frequently noted that a single left–right axis is insufficient for describing the existing variation in political beliefs, and often include other axes. Though the descriptive words at polar opposites may vary, often in popular biaxial spectra the axes are split between sociocultural issues and economic issues, each scaling from some form of individualism (or government for the freedom of the individual) to some form of communitarianism (or government for the welfare of the community).

The terms "Right" and "Left" refer to political affiliations originating early in the French Revolutionary era of 1789–1799, and referred originally to the seating arrangements in the various legislative bodies of France. As seen from the Speaker's seat at the front of the Assembly, the sat on the right (traditionally the seat of honor) and the commoners sat on the left, hence the terms Right-wing politics and Left-wing politics.


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