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Many times I hear terms like left-wing politician and right-wing politician. Yesterday this was the headline on BBC world: ''Nine policemen are killed on an anti-narcotics mission in Colombia, victims of left-wing rebels, say the authorities.'' What does left-wing and right-wing mean?
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Interesting and lengthy thread Jackson started here.
I think, anyone with the patience to read all of the comments will come away with a good basic understanding of the terms right and left.

At the same time, we must bear in mind that politics can become quite complex in its workings. Politics is a multi-facted, multi-level, field. Tempting as it may be to boil everything down to simple, black and white, terms, the realities may be something else entirely. Still, human nature appears attracted to the idea of a line in the sand. The fact that Americans are divided almost exactly 50-50, politically, is another testimony to this idea.

I learned something. In China, people who want to open up the markets are called "conservatives."
This indicates they are aligned with American Republicans, often businessmen, who embrace the notion of a "free market" economy. At the same time,
"conservatives" in America have traditionally been identified with those "in opposition to change.
These are those people who are doing fine and want things to remain as they are. (An example might be a factory owner who really doesn't want to build a new factory to stay up with change.) In China, I might have thought those wanting to keep the status quo would be called "conservative." But, that's not the way it is, apparently.
As the old saying goes."Politics makes for strange bed mates." As I say, I learned something.
Thank you for an informative answer. Right on the money.
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Long story short, "left-wing" and "right-wing" are terms relative to each government. Left-wing is typically referring to a group that supports change (social or otherwise) while right-wing supports maintaining what is currently in place. So, if you and i lived under a communist government, capitalists would be left-wing (because they want to change what is currently in place). As it is, the U.S. is capitalist. So someone supporting socialist type reforms (welfare, national healthcare, etc.) is considered left-wing.

Nowadays, not many people know what these terms actually mean. So we typically assume that "left-wing" = whatever party is being discussed. That's not entirely true. "left-wing" refers to those who are seeking change. "right-wing" refers to those who want to maintain what is already in place. Therefore "left" could mean Socialist in one country while it could mean Capitalist in another.

Also, (sorry, CJ), the U.S. is capitalistic. So in the U.S., Republicans (who are capitalist) are right-wing. Democrats (who are anti-capitalist and seeking change) are left-wing. However, in the future, if Democratic ways become the new norm, the terms may flip-flop. One day, Republicans may find themselves on the left.
Hi,

Let me just comment that, ftom a Canadian perspective, both the US Republicans and Democrats are right-wing.

Clive
I disagree with the answer you were given. The terms left wing, right wing have little meaning in the US today. More accurate terms would be collectivism or individualism. In general it is the Democrats or so-called liberals who believe in powerful, intrusive governments while Republicans who want more freedom for indivifduals and less government intrusion in their lives. Of course many, if not most politicians have no real philosophy and simply belong to the party they think can get and keep them in office.

Conservative, Liberal, Facist, Socialist ---- these old terms have little meaning today and are thrown around by people who have no understanding of their true meaning. For just one example: The characterists of facism in Italy, where the term was coined, included heavy government involvement and control of industry. Companies were allowed to operate but under strict control of the government. Much like the direction we are moving in today in the USA. An of course the name "Nazi" refers to the National Socialist party in Germany. So how does that differ so much from Communism?
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Right wing is right. Left wing is wrong.
Hi,

Are you offering us you opinion about grammar, or about politics?Emotion: smile

Clive
BokehThe terms left and right or left-wing and right-wing are used in a ridiculous attempt to arrange every political concept along a single axis.
I doubt the aptness of Bokeh's metaphor, 'a single axis'. Do you consider it the right choice? How? Is there a better metaphorical term you can think of?

Please help.
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Jackson6612Many times I hear terms like left-wing politician and right-wing politician. Yesterday this was the headline on BBC world: ''Nine policemen are killed on an anti-narcotics mission in Colombia, victims of left-wing rebels, say the authorities.'' What does left-wing and right-wing mean?
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