Far left: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Far left, extreme left, revolutionary left and radical left are terms which refer to the extreme left positions in a political spectrum. The far left promotes complete egalitarianism.[1] The far left involves complete opposition and aggression towards stratified economic, political and social establishments.[2] The far left is hostile to people associated with a stratified establishment as being complict with supporting that establishment.[3] The terms are often used to imply that someone is an extremist, or has extreme or very Left-wing political views.


Distinguishing far-leftist groups from centre-left and very left-wing groups

Distinguishing Far-leftist groups from centre-left and very left-wing groups can be hard as the general meaning of far left is confusing. Some groups considered to be far left do not wish to govern within the current institutional framework of a state, though this is not always so as some extreme or very left-wing groups govern within the constitutional framework and take part in the democratic process to either achieve their goals and further their aims or because they see it as beneficial that the will of the people.[citation needed] What distinguishes these groups from other centre-left and very left-wing groups such as democratic socialists, social democrats, liberals and mainstream Green parties is that the latter are officially unwilling to be unconstitutional and tend to respect the authority of the state; only some of their members may be willing to be seen as participating in violence (such as riots or armed revolution) or in peaceful illegal activity (through forms of protest and civil disobedience).[citation needed] Far left groups, in contrast, are willing and prepared to officially disobey the laws of the state and go against its constitutional authority and be seen as subversive by rebelling either violently through riots and/or armed revolution or peacefully through civil disobedience.[citation needed]

Ideologies of the far-left

Some political spectrums (e.g. the Political Compass), consider there to be a distinction between an economic far left (communism) and a social far left (anarchism).[4] The ideologies usually associated with the social and economic far left are forms of anarchism particularly forms of left anarchism such as anarcho-Communism, libertarian socialism and social anarchism, collectivist anarchism, and anarcho-syndicalism.[citation needed] Groups associated with the economic far left include Leninism, Trotskyism, Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, and Hoxhaism, and some branches of socialism such as revolutionary socialism and Titoism.[citation needed] Groups associated with the social far left include feminism, particularly anarcha-feminism, and some branches of green politics such as green anarchism, anarcho-primitivism, and veganarchism and some forms of pacifism such as anarcho-pacifism.[citation needed]

History and usage

The origin of left as a political term is the seating arrangements in the French National Assembly during the French Revolution. The most radical of the Jacobins were seated on the far left of the chamber. The term Jacobin was used to describe far left people throughout much of the 19th century. Since then, the term far left has been used to describe persons or groups who hold extreme egalitarian views and support radical social and political change and the term varies from country to country across the world.

In the 2000s, in countries where communist or socialist parties may or may not be part of the political mainstream (such as the United States), the term far left can simply mean to the left of the most left-wing member of the legislature or its most left-wing member. The US Department of Homeland Security defines left-wing extremism as groups who want "to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes."[5]

French far left groups marching on May 1, 2007; including members of Lutte Ouvrière, Confédération nationale du travail and flags of Cuba

In France, the term extrême-gauche is an accepted term for Trotskyists, anarchists, Maoists and New Leftists (altermondialistes). The French Communist Party is not considered far left. Dictionary of the Far Left by Serge Cosseron defines 'far left' as "all movements situated to the left of the Communist Party".[6] In Italy, The Left - The Rainbow coalition has described itself as "radical left".[7]

Similar terms

During the 19th century, the term radical was used by progressive liberals to distance themselves from classical liberals, which explains why some centre-left political parties today have radical in their names, such as Denmark's Det Radikale Venstre (which literally translates into English as "the radical left"), and France's Left Radical Party.

In the 20th century, the definition of radical was revised in response to the models of communism and the Soviet Union. At that time, the political term radical often implied Marxism of some kind. Since the early 20th century, radical left has been used as an umbrella term to describe those on the political left who support revolutionary socialism, communism, or anarchism.

In this context, it generally does not include democratic socialists, social democrats, liberals, nor others working in electoral politics, since the radical qualifier tends to denote a revolutionary fervor. The term ultra-leftism, which originated in the 1920s, is sometimes used in the same way as far left, but also has a more specific meaning within the context of Marxism. The term hard left is sometimes used in the same way, but also had a specific meaning in the 1980s within the British Labour Party.

See also


  1. ^ Left and right: the significance of a political distinction, Norberto Bobbio and Allan Cameron, pg. 37, University of Chicago Press, 1997.Pp. xvii.
  2. ^ Altemeyer, Bob. The authoritarian specter. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1996. Pp. 219
  3. ^ Altemeyer, Bob. Personality and democratic politics. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1996. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, USA; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1975. Pp. 203.
  4. ^ http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2
  5. ^ Left-wing extremists likely to increase use of cyber attacks over the next coming decade
  6. ^ Cosseron, Serge (ed.). Le dictionnaire de l'extrême gauche. Paris: Larousse, 2007. p. 20
  7. ^ Bertinotti, beato oppositore; Corriere della Sera: "sinistra radicale" can be translated into English as both "far left" and "radical left"

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