Left – Right – Center

Left - Right - Center

The distinction between left and right has become a little difficult. Indicatively are shown ideas related to left and right.

Left Right
State centralized economic planning Free market regulator of the economy
State intervention Small state interference
Social / community ownership of means of production Individual ownership of means of production
High tax and government spending, big state Low taxation and government spending, small state
Large redistribution of income - smaller income differences Low income redistribution, bigger income differences
Offer based on capabilities, receipt on needs Reward for effort, ability, courage and luck
Protection of weak social groups and minorities Support only for the very weak social groups
Protection of labor rights Liberalization of the labor market
Hostility or indifference towards religion Friendly attitude towards religion
Multiculturalism and internationalism Preservation of national, cultural heritage
Leniency to some forms of delinquency Patriotism, national security
Social equality and solidarity Law and order
Support for social rights Support for individual rights

Of course, these are not absolute and refer to political ideologies rather than party positions. There are some issues that complicate things a bit, such as freedom. What system has more degrees of freedom, anarchy or liberalism?

Ideology is a set of positions on a variety of topics. The same goes for a party program. It's a package of policies. Many of the ideologies that exist today have emerged as a synthesis of other older ideologies. Examples are Social Democracy, Third Way, Fascism. Modern center-right is also a composition of the older traditional right with other elements from the center and left. Something similar applies to modern center-left.

Right and left in their pure forms include all of the elements listed above. Today, mixed forms are more common. In every subject there is gradation between the two extreme positios.

What is Center? Many definitions can be given. In many countries, the two big parties are centerleft and centerright. In terms of party affiliation, center can be the voters that are in between the parties and vote for both.

In terms of ideology, there is the narrow and broad definition. In a narrow sense, it is the voters who have a moderate political stance on all issues. According to this definition, the percentage of the electorate is very small. In a broad sense which is probably better, center are those who have left, right and moderate views on different issues. According to this definition, the proportion is very large, the majority of the electorate.

The middle space is extremely heterogeneous. Homogeneous is only the pure right and the pure left. As we leave the edges, heterogeneity grows. We mentioned above the concepts that are linked to the left and the right. There are endless combinations of positions in different issues. Nationalism and economic freedom are considered right-wing positions. Nationalism with a socialism belong to the center but so do the opposing positions on these two issues, namely, internationalism with free market.

Nationalism and socialism were at the core of Nazi and fascist ideology. The full name of Nazi Party was National-Socialist German Workers' Party. Of course, it included other elements like racism. Musollini considered that fascism should be placed in the center and Nazis believed that their ideology was syncretic. Syncretism can be good of bad. In the case of Nazism and fascism it was bad. Third way is not bad but not good either. Fifth way is probably better.

Due to the heterogeneity of the center there could be many centrist parties very different from each other. We can use any scale from 0 to 10, from -3 to 3, from -10 to 10. We will use a scale from -5 to 5 that also responds to gradations very little, little, medium, pretty much. Consider the positive signs, right positions because they are placed on the right part of the axis. On the subject of statism, anarchism and anarcho-capitalism would be rated at 5, minarchism at 4, socialism and fascism at -3, and communism at -5. In the issue of ownership of the means of production, anarchism gets -5 while anarchist capitalism gets +5.

If we take the issues mentioned above with all possible combinations of gradations, infinite ideological ideologies are made. There is not a left, a right and a center but an infinity. How far to the left is a party (or an ideology) can be found using Elementary Mathematics ie with addition and division. The method is not absolute, but gives a good approach.

Let's take six parties or ideologies. The positive indicates how right the attitude is and the negative how the left is. By addition and division we can find the Average. We could also use weighted average. In this case it is unweighted. The first four parties are in the center. The first one is center with the narrow definition. It has a moderate position in all issues.

The other three are center with the broader definition. Their average is close to the center. Second and third are a little bit to the right and third a little bit to the left. Although second and left have almost equal averages, they have very different positions in most issues. Fifth is a right party and sixth a left party. No logic was used in assigning positions. There was no effort to represent real parties.


    A B C D
1 Free markets 0 3 -1 0 3 -3
2 Taxation Levels 1 1 -2 1 5 -2
3 Income Inequality 1 0 3 -2 4 -4
4 Social Solidarity 0 -1 2 -1 3 -4
5 Stance on Religion -1 -2 2 0 4 -2
6 Patriotism 0 2 3 -3 4 -1
7 Keeping traditions 1 2 3 1 4 -3
8 Law and order -1 1 3 1 4 -4
9 Individual rights -1 2 -1 -2 3 -5
10 Social Rights 0 1 -1 -1 4 -5
  AVERAGE 0,00 0,90 1,10 -0,60 3,80 -3,30

In the example above the purpose was to explain the various gradations between extreme left and extreme right. In Fifth Way ideologies were depicted on a plane. Three dimensions would be even better. A more accurate way is with the table below. In this case the scale is from 1 to 5. Someone may argue for the correctness of numbers assigned. That is not the point but to show a better way of presenting ideologies at a glance. Still this is somewhat ovesimplified and the more accurate way would be descriptive and this can't be done at glance.

  A B C D E      
Communism 1 5 4 1 1   A Income inequality
Anarchism 1 1 1 1 1   B Statism
Social Democracy 2 4 2 2 2   C Authoritarianism
Third Way 3 3 2 2 2   D Conservatism
Right Libertarianism 5 1 1 1 2   E Religion 
Christian Democracy 4 2 3 4 4      
Fascism 3 3 5 3 3      
Far Right 5 1 4 5 5      


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