far-left politics
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Far-left politics are politics further to the left on the
left–right political spectrum The left–right political spectrum is a system of classifying political positions, ideologies An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the wo ...
than the standard
political left Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. ...
. There are different definitions of the far-left. Some scholars define it as representing the left of
social democracy Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between indivi ...
, while others limit it to the left of
communist parties A communist party is a left-wing Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equal ...
. In certain instances, especially in the
news media trucks and photojournalists gathered outside the Prudential Financial Prudential Headquarters, headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, Newark, United States in August 2004 following the announcement of evidence of a terrorist threat to it and to buil ...
, ''far-left'' has been associated with some forms of
authoritarianism Authoritarianism is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislatu ...
,
anarchism Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. Anarchism calls for the abolition of the State (polity), state, which it holds to b ...
and
communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...

communism
, or it characterizes groups that advocate for revolutionary
anti-capitalism Anti-capitalism is a political ideology and movement encompassing a variety of attitudes and ideas that oppose capitalism Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for P ...
and
anti-globalization The anti-globalization movement, or counter-globalization movement, is a social movement Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, a ...
.
Extremist Extremism is "the quality or state of being extreme" or "the advocacy of extreme measures or views". The term is primarily used in a political or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious beha ...
far-left politics can involve violent acts, such as
terrorism Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in the context of war against non-combatants (mostly civilians and neu ...
, and the formation of far-left
militant Militant means vigorously active, combative and/or aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in "militant reformers". It comes from the 15th century Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, It ...

militant
organizations. Far-left terrorism consists of groups that attempt to realize their ideals and bring about change through violence rather than traditional political processes.


Definition

The definition of the far-left varies in the literature and there is not a general agreement on what it entails or consensus on the core characteristics that constitute the far-left, other than being to the left of the
political left Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. ...
. In France, ''extrême-gauche'' ("extreme left") is a generally accepted term for political groups that position themselves to the left of the
Socialist Party Socialist Party is the name of many different political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas abo ...
, although some such as the political scientist Serge Cosseron limit the scope to the left of the
French Communist Party The French Communist Party (french: Parti communiste français, ''PCF'' ; ) is a communist party A communist party is a left-wing political party that seeks to realize the social and economic goals of communism. The term ''communist party'' ...
. Scholars such as Luke March and
Cas Mudde Cas Mudde (born 3 June 1967) is a Dutch political scientist who focuses on political extremism and populism Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the ...
propose that socio-economic rights are at the far-left's core. Moreover, March and Mudde argue that the far-left is to the left of the political left with regard to how parties or groups describe
economic inequality 270px, Global share of wealth by wealth group, Credit Suisse, 2021 There are wide varieties of economic inequality, most notably measured using the distribution of incomeIn economics Economics () is the social science that studies ho ...
on the base of existing social and political arrangements. Luke March, Senior Lecturer in Soviet and post-Soviet Politics at Politics and International Relations of the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals) is a public research university in Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the ...
, defines the far-left as those who position themselves to the left of
social democracy Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between indivi ...
, which is seen as either insufficiently left-wing, or as defending the social democratic tradition that is perceived to have been lost. The two main sub-types of far-left politics are called "the radical left" and "the extreme left"; the first desires fundamental changes in
neoliberal Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is a terminology used to describe the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with economic liberalism and free-market capitalism Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ...
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system of Production (economics), production, allocation of resources, resource allocation and Distribution (economics), distribution of goods and services within ...
and progressive reform of
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...

democracy
such as
direct democracy upright=1.5, A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland">canton_of_Glarus.html" ;"title="Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus">Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 200 ...
and the inclusion of marginalised communities, while the latter denounces
liberal democracy Liberal democracy, also referred to as Western democracy, is the combination of a liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Li ...
as a "compromise with
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguisti ...
political forces" and defines capitalism more strictly. Far-left politics is seen as
radical politics Radical politics denotes the intent to transform or replace the principles of a society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same ...
because it calls for fundamental change to the
capitalist Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system of Production (economics), production, allocation of resources, resource allocation and Distribution (economics), distribution of goods and services within ...
socio-economic structure of society. March and Mudde say that far-left parties are an increasingly stabilized political actor and are challenging mainstream social democratic parties, defining other core characteristics of far-left politics as being internationalism and a focus on networking and
solidarity Solidarity is an awareness of shared interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies creating a psychological sense of unity of groups or classes.''Merriam Webster'', http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/solidarity. It refers to the ties ...

solidarity
as well as opposition to
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), is the process of foreign relations ...

globalization
and
neoliberalism Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is a terminology used to describe the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with economic liberalism and free-market capitalism. It is generally associated with policies of economic liberaliz ...

neoliberalism
. In his later conceptualization, March started to refer to far-left politics as "radical left politics", which is constituted of radical left parties that reject the socio-economic structures of contemporary society that are based on the principles and values of capitalism.


Radical left parties

In Europe, the support for far-left politics comes from three overlapping groups, namely far-left subcultures, disaffected social democrats, and protest voters—those who are opposed to their country's
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...

European Union
membership. To distinguish the far-left from the
moderate left Centre-left politics (British English) or center-left politics (American English), also referred to as moderate-left politics, are political views that lean to the Left-wing politics, left-wing on the left–right political spectrum, but closer ...
, Luke March and
Cas Mudde Cas Mudde (born 3 June 1967) is a Dutch political scientist who focuses on political extremism and populism Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the ...
identify three useful criteria: * Firstly, the far-left rejects the underlying socio-economic structure of contemporary capitalism. * Secondly, they advocate alternative economic and power structures that involve the
redistribution of income and wealth Redistribution of income and wealth is the transfer of income Income is the consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expressed in monetary terms.Smith's financial dictionary. Smith, ...
from political elites. * Thirdly, they are internationalists, seeing a causality between
imperialism Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending rule over peoples and other countries, for extending political and economic access, power and control, often through employing hard power Hard power is the use of military and economics, economic ...

imperialism
and
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), is the process of foreign relations ...

globalization
, and regional socio-economic issues. Other scholars classify the far-left under the category of populist socialist parties. Vít Hloušek and Lubomír Kopeček of the
Masaryk University Masaryk University (MU) ( cs, Masarykova univerzita; la, Universitas Masarykiana Brunensis) is the second largest university in the Czech Republic, a member of the Compostela Group and the Utrecht Network. Founded in 1919 in Brno as the second ...
at the International Institute of Political Science suggest secondary characteristics, including
anti-Americanism The September 11 attacks were orchestrated by Saudi national Osama bin Laden, whose motives included opposition to American foreign policy. Anti-Americanism (also called anti-American sentiment and Americanophobia) is prejudice, fear or hatr ...
,
anti-globalization The anti-globalization movement, or counter-globalization movement, is a social movement Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, a ...
, opposition to
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
, and in some cases a rejection of
European integration European integration is the process of industrial, economic integration, economic, political, legal, social and cultural Regional integration, integration of states wholly or partially in Europe or nearby. European integration has primarily ...
. March states that "compared with the international communist movement 30 years ago, the far left has undergone a process of profound de-radicalization. The extreme left is marginal in most places." March identifies four major subgroups within contemporary European far-left politics, namely
communists Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
,
democratic socialists Democratic socialism is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. ...
,
populist Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite". The term developed in the 19th century and has been applied to various politicians, parties, and moveme ...
socialists Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, s ...
, and social populists. In a later conception of far-left politics, March writes: "I prefer the term 'radical left' to alternatives such as 'hard left' and 'far left', which can appear pejorative and imply that the left is necessarily marginal." According to March, the most successful far-left parties are pragmatic and non-ideological. According to political scientist Paolo Chiocchetti, radical left parties have failed to concretise an alternative to
neoliberalism Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is a terminology used to describe the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with economic liberalism and free-market capitalism. It is generally associated with policies of economic liberaliz ...

neoliberalism
and lead a paradigm shift towards a different path of development model, despite electoral gains in the 2010s; when they were in government, such parties were forced to put aside their strong
anti-neoliberalismPost-neoliberalism is a set of ideals characterized by its rejection of neoliberalism and the economic policies embodied by the Washington Consensus. While there is scholarly debate about the defining features of post-neoliberalism, it is often assoc ...
and accept neoliberal policies, either proposed by their larger allies or imposed due to the international context. This view is also shared by Mudde and political scientist Yiannos Katsourides in regards to SYRIZA.


Far-left militants

Many far-left
militant Militant means vigorously active, combative and/or aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in "militant reformers". It comes from the 15th century Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, It ...

militant
organizations were formed by members of existing political parties in the 1960s and 1970s, among them Montoneros, Prima Linea, the Red Army Faction, and the Red Brigades. These groups generally aimed to overthrow capitalism and the wealthy ruling classes.


See also

* Autonomism * Hard left * List of anti-capitalist and communist parties with national parliamentary representation * Moonbat * Ultra-leftism


References


Bibliography

; Literature * * * * * * * ; Further reading * * * * * * ; Radical left parties case studies * * * * ; Terrorism * * * * * * * *


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Far Left Far-left politics, Political spectrum Political terminology