Left wing

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When people think of leftism, they probably start thinking of this guy.

Left-wing, also known as leftism, is a political position opposed to rightism. The left-wing often encompasses ideologies that differ from the established status quo in one way or another. Left-wing ideologies often seek socialist and anti-capitalist ideals.

To its left is far-leftism and to its right is the center and right-wing.

Oh no, they're talking about
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Far-left and not far left[edit]


The term far left is a label used for political movements, parties, and organizations that champion the immediate, violent or radical abolition of the system. Most of these movements fall under the label of either communist (for which there are an absurd number of "subdivisions"), left-wing anarchist, or (though often indistinguishably from communists) revolutionary socialism. Hard greens may be labeled far-left. If you hear it in American politics, bear in mind that it could be just being used as a snarl word to describe any left-winger or at least any left-winger who doesn't kowtow to mainstream consensus politics in Washington.

Some far-leftists wish to overthrow capitalism through revolution because they believe bourgeois democracy is a sham, designed only to keep the rich in their places of privilege. In contrast, others believe in achieving a socialist society through directly reforming the system in radical ways. There are many different forms of far-leftism, as reflected in such terms as Marxist, Marxist-Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskyite, neo-Trotskyite, Maoist, libertarian socialist, anarchist, De Leonist, communist, guild socialist, communalist, etc. Many of these groups have a fierce rivalry, such as the Leninists with libertarian socialists and the Stalinists and Maoists with just about everybody else.

Common ideas:

  • The (immediate, in theory) abolition of private property (property used to earn capital), but not personal property (property not used to earn capital).
  • The (more immediate than for reformists) abolition of class society, meaning no social classes that have power over others.
  • The (not-so-immediate) abolition of the state. Marxists contend a temporary, transitional state is necessary to protect the revolution, while anarchists believe all states will eventually become corrupt and never willingly give up power.
  • Specifically for anarchists, the abolition of all forms of hierarchy, except those that can be justified (e.g., temporary and democratic/by consensus).
  • For all non-market socialists, the abolition of markets (ideally, goods would be instead distributed based on need).
  • For market socialists, the (immediate) democratization of markets to act like decentral planning.
  • The best way to obtain these goals is often seen as a revolution; or very radical reform, often with the help of expropriations.
  • Automation under capitalism will cause increasing inequality as everyone loses their job. However, it is hoped that automation under anarchism or communism will nearly abolish the need for labor, allowing people the free time to explore their own interests.
  • Juche - This one's actually debatable. Today, many scholars today believe North Korea's ideology is much closer to ethnic fascism than communism. However, North Korea has kept its Stalinist-era command economy mostly the same, with only limited market reforms and slightly reduced state ownership of property. Therefore it could be seen as either a form of state socialism that's heavily nationalistic or as a form of radical ethnonationalism (fascism) that's also socialistic (see Third Position).

Not far-left[edit]

Much like the label far-right, the term is often used inappropriately and pejoratively to movements that are not actually of the far-left, but on the left-wing. Non extremist leftist movements include:

  • Social Democracy - As social democrats accept the presence of a widespread market system, private property, and some degree of class inequality, they are not far-left. This label is even more absurd when applied to "Third Way" social democrats who are essentially centrists.
  • Social Liberalism - As social liberals are even more toned down than old-styled social democrats (as they do not advocate for nationalization of any business), it's tough to see how they are "far-left" in any meaningful sense of the word.
  • Reformist socialism, or the (not immediate) abolition of capitalism, and of other regimes, depending on the person, through gradual development. Reformist socialist movements include:
  • Democratic socialism
  • Liberal socialism
  • Post-marxism
  • Fabianism

Also not far-left[edit]

  • Nazism - Nazism is a form of fascism that is inherently far-right. While the Nazis did enact some policies that could be seen as "left" by the US political sphere, their stance on ultra-nationalism, racial superiority, their promotion of social inequality, etc., made them far-right. One must also remember that while the name NSDAP means "National Socialist German Workers' Party", and "socialist" and "workers" are words usually associated with the left, wingnuts like to ignore that "national" is a far-right "patriotic" term in Germany; further muddying the issue is that German right-wingers in the aftermath of World War I attempted to redefine "socialism" as a right-wing ideology heavily influenced by the writings of theorist Oswald Spengler. It is telling when the only party with "national" in its name is the neo-Nazi NPD. Even the DVU, REP, pro-civil movement, Die Rechte (The Right), and AfD avoid describing themselves as "national", preferring softer terms such as "German", "republican", and "liberal" instead. Economists also rate Nazi Germany as centrist in its economic stance as its main policy was protectionism, made with a return to mercantilism in mind. They hated both communists and capitalists (well, the Jewish ones at least- they generally didn't mind German ones). One should, however, take note that this isn't all that different from the economic desires of the current European far right; political parties such as the Party For Freedom and Front National promote similar economic policies.
Despite what US media might tell you, this man is actually a right-winger -just, much moderate than others.


Liberalism is often mistaken as a left-wing ideology, specially in US politics, which can cause confusion and resentment since there is a vast difference between the two groups. For anyone who studies politics with rigor, the conflation of "leftist" and "liberal" is truly infuriating; the American right-wing talking point machine refers to anyone "left of center-right" (e.g., Hillary Clinton, Al Franken) as a "far-left" politician or pundit, further confusing political discourse. Indeed, the terminology of US politics is so skewed as to be practically unrecognizable to anyone from outside the US.

Criticism of the term[edit]

See also: Political spectrum § Problems with a one-dimensional model

The term "leftism" has been somewhat criticized for agglutinating several ideologies that, despite having several common characteristics, are vastly different in other aspects. The Political Compass has tried to solve this problem by dividing leftists in two: Authoritarian Left and Libertarian Left. However, the reality is that this hasn't solved much of the aforementioned problem.