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The problem with conventional approaches to the left-right political spectrum is that they either fail to define the alternatives in question, or proceed to define them in terms of non-essentials. This makes no sense, at least in terms of the right. Capitalism —the social system of individual rights, property rights, and personal liberty—has nothing in common with conservatism or fascism.

Take them in turn. Although conservatism calls for some economic liberties, it simultaneously demands various violations of individual rights in order to support certain aspects of the welfare state e. Thus, conservatism is utterly at odds with capitalism. Another ill-conceived approach to the left-right political spectrum is the attempt by some to define the political alternatives by reference to the size or percentage of government. The size of government is not the essential issue in politics. A large military may be necessary to defend citizens from foreign aggressors, especially if there are many potential aggressors—say, multiple communist or Islamist regimes—who might combine forces against a free country.


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Likewise, a large court system might be necessary to deal with the countless contracts involved in a large free market and with the various disputes that can arise therein. A small government, by contrast, can violate rights in myriad ways—if its proper purpose is not established and maintained.

Observe that governments in the antebellum South were relatively small, yet their laws permitted and enforced the enslavement of men, women, and children. Likewise, the U.

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The proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights by banning the use of physical force from social relationships and by using force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. A properly conceived political spectrum must reflect this fact. Whatever terms are used to identify the positions of political ideologies or systems must be defined with regard to the fundamental political alternative: force vs. This is a historic accident, but a welcome one.

Capitalism—the social system of the political right —is the system of individual rights. Wade overturned to make abortions illegal. Some majority-right states have enacted legislation recently that would make it harder for women to attain abortions while not outlawing it entirely. The right wing believes that a fetus is a living person and that abortion is, therefore, murder. Some people make an exception for cases involving rape and incest, but some do not. Left-wingers believe that women should have control over their bodies and that outlawing abortion infringes on women's reproductive rights.

Some also claim that making abortions illegal will only force them underground, resulting in untrained, non-physicians performing botched abortions and risking women's lives. Some other arguments by the pro-life and pro-choice factions are described here. Many on the left believe that the death penalty is barbaric and does not deter crime.

Meanwhile, the right generally believes that certain crimes deserve death as a punishment, somewhat akin to the "an eye for an eye" doctrine.

left and right

A debate over the fairness of the criminal justice system has emerged, with the left asserting that many on death row may be innocent. Almost without exception, those on the left support gay marriage , and other gay rights issues like adoption rights and non-discrimination at work or in business. Most on the right believe marriage is strictly an institution based on the union of a man and a woman, and see gay unions as an aberration from the norm. People on the right also advocate for the right of employers especially religious institutions, including Catholic hospitals to choose not to employ gay individuals.

Another issue of divergence on gay rights is businesses choosing their customers. For example, a florist in Washington state refused to do the flower arrangement for a gay wedding. She was sued for discrimination. In a situation like this, people on the right generally support the business owner while those on the left support the customers.

Some people on the political right believe that religious doctrine, such as the 10 Commandments, should play a role in government. Some on the right have sought to have such Christian documents enshrined near government buildings, as according to them, the government should abide by the Bible when it comes to social issues like abortion and gay marriage. A significant portion on the left identify themselves as atheist or agnostic. Regardless of their religious beliefs, people on the left strongly believe in a secular government and the separation of church and state.

At a Glance

While some on the right are moving from strongly and wholly supporting the Second Amendment to accepting a ban on assault weapons , many still stand firmly in support of the right to bear arms. Their argument is that guns don't kill people; people kill people, and every citizen should retain the right to defend himself.

The right to bear arms is enshrined in the U. The left is in favor of restricting gun ownership altogether, or at least banning automatic or assault weapons. This video with its black humor is the left's take on the issue of gun control. University of Virginia psychology professor Jonathan Haidt has studied moral values of people on different parts of the political spectrum. It used to be that the right wing had a very strong talk- radio presence, while the left had a strong presence in print media. In recent years, media outlets have formed to appease either the left or right wings.

While many on the left will vote exclusively for Democrats and those on the right will vote for Republicans, many do so only because there are no other choices. Many on the far-right or far-left would prefer politicians who represent the most extreme respective political philosophy , i.

Scientific insights into the annoying everyday problem of left-right confusion.

In general, the right wing outnumbers the left in the U. Even so, 23 percent is the highest number self-identifying as being on the left at any time since Those who would typically identify as being on the right tend to live in rural areas and suburbs, especially in the south, Midwest, and extreme rural west.

Meanwhile, those on the left tend to inhabit medium and large cities , and live along either the east or west coast. Those on the left also tend to be young, and many tend to be of a minority population, including women. Those who identify as being on the right tend to be older, most often Caucasian , and mostly male. Share this comparison:. If you read this far, you should follow us:. Diffen LLC, n. Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!


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  • Comparison chart Left Wing versus Right Wing comparison chart Left Wing Right Wing Political Philosophy Liberal Conservative Economic Policy Income equality; higher tax rates on the wealthy; government spending on social programs and infrastructure; stronger regulations on business.

    I have many aptitudes he does not have, but he has me totally licked with spatial awareness. The most frequent correction I heard in martial arts classes was, "Your other left! I do get lost, and my phone is often the only way I can get to the right destination. I did a lot of driving around asking for directions before Google maps.

    I wonder if the ability to tell left and right on another person has anything to do with theory of mind.

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    Go Play! Scientific insights into the annoying everyday problem of left-right confusion. References Dyer O. Doctors suspended for removing wrong kidney. BMJ, , Submitted by Hal Herzog Ph. Telling right from left has always been a problem for me. Thanks for the terrific post. Thank you for this article Submitted by Ana on March 10, - am.