What is the difference between the classic left and right cleavage in politics?
Explanation from Alloprof
This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.
In politics, the classic left / right cleavage represents two poles of opposing currents of thought.
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The origin of the expression comes from the French Revolution. The people sitting to the left of the king wanted real change (they were progressive and reformist) while those sitting to his right wanted to maintain the already established order (they were conservatives).
Therefore, the left side in politics is generally associated with equality, movements for change and social reforms, while the right side is more associated with the preservation of traditions, order and the defense of individual freedom.
The left / right axis can also be economic and it follows the same logic as the political axis. A left economy is more interventionist (welfare state), while a right economy is leaning more to free market and absence of state intervention (state-police).
For all these reasons, it is generally said that communism is a far-left political and economic ideology (where social and economic gaps are abolished), while fascism or Nazism are far-right ideologies (but where the individual freedoms only apply to a very specific part of the members of the population).
I invite you to consult our concept sheet on politics to learn more on the subject.
Do not hesitate to write to us again if you have any other questions! :)