What on earth does a leftist and rightist mean in English?

Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:18 am GMT
What kind of people are they?
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:23 am GMT
Leftist means a liberal and rightist means a conservative.
Skippy   Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:26 am GMT
You don't hear "rightist" so much (at least not in the US) but the terms refer to what side of the political spectrum one falls on. In English, for one reason or another, the terms "right-wing" and "left-wing" are due to the sides on which the respective parties sat in the French Parliament. I know in German "left" and "right" with regard to politics have the same meaning, but I'm not sure about other languages.

Politics is almost always put on a 2D scale of left to right, with left being Socialist/Communist and the right being Fascist/Nativist. (Although the Nolan Chart is becoming much more popular, at least in the US, as voters become increasingly disillusioned with the two-party system).
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:28 am GMT
In Japanese, it's the same as wekk, 左翼 (sayoku) literally means "left wing" and 右翼 (uyoku) literally means "right wing".
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:49 am GMT
I think the guest above says nothing at all by explaining the terms in a circular way through saying a leftist is the same as left wing and a rightist is a right wing. Is't this ricidulous?
Benny   Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:26 am GMT
The words are relative and aside from describing on what side of the aisle one party sits in the legislature, the terms don't mean very much. Traditionally, if you trying to decide at which extreme end of the continuum you want to be, you have to decide whether you want a facist government to control every aspect of your life and kill you in a concentration camp at the far right end, or do you choose far left, where you have the pleasure of being starved to death in a frozen Tundra Gulag under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Either side in the extreme is not a lot different from the opposite side's extreme. In reality, "left" and "right" are outdated, as the agendas of those who refer to themselves as left and right do not have substantial differences in execution of their agenda and the main differences are in the intellectual origin of the party. The real question is "how much freedom" versus "how much state control"? And you can't fit those questions into a right/left box
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:04 am GMT
Of course, as previous poster stated, it's not that simple in real life.
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:09 pm GMT
liberal used to mean a fond of economic laissez-faire and civil rights, something it still means in Continental Europe, actually I think it is a Spanish word. For example, Emma Bonino is a liberal, probably the epitome of European liberalism.

But liberal is related with liberty, a too much good sounding word as to not be taken by American leftish people. So, in English speaking countries Bonino would be called libertarian, a word that in Continental Europe means anarchist.

Also in Continental Europe the word liberal, often with the prefix 'ultra', means, to many leftish people, just a fascist.

Funnily enough, I've heard that the word liberal is starting to be not very liked by the Amerian left, who prefer progressist nowadays.
Skippy   Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:38 pm GMT
The term "liberal" in the American context has been demonized to the point where even those who are American liberals refer to themselves as progressives.

What does "liberal" mean in the European context? In the US it is typically associated with the Democratic Party, even though, economically speaking, the Republican Party is more "liberal" by the strict definition.

The Nolan Chart actually puts Communism and Fascism in the same corner, "authoritarian" in which both morality and economics are regulated by the government. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nolan_chart
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:07 pm GMT
In Europe that word has also suffered this demonisation process to some degree, mainly from socialists, comunists and social democrats, but also from christian democrats and conservatives. Liberals in Europe are not much more representatives than libertarians in America. In some places they are lucky and become the third party but in most places they don't even exist. Maybe they rule some tiny country, I don't know.

Anyway they keep their name because, well, they don't have any other, very brave of them. Having sad that, we can't forget that classic liberalism is a very well defined doctrine and in that light most people and parties that call themselves liberals in Europe are not so by any means.

I think than nowadays it's very simple to tell them apart, a very easy trick. Many of them can imagine a world where compulsory education and state run social securty are not natural laws, a world without subventions, positive discrimination, war on terror, nationalism, preventives wars, and son. But they might have some trouble fancying a world without a war on drugs. They are not liberals then. The problem with being a liberal is that most likely you're gonna be living in the wrong century.
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:07 pm GMT
left: communism, anti-globalisation, socialism, social democracy, trade unions
right: conservatism, christian democracy, fascism, capitalism, owners, liberalism, liberal democrats

Liberalism don't fit very well in a left-right scheme, maybe because is older than all the others. Anyway it has always had an antagonist along history: absolutism, communism, fascism, nationalism, and nowadays the Welfare State, which is a more leftist than rightist invention, hence its inclusion in the right.

So liberalism is a rightist ideology nowadays guys, that far has got society. Alexis the Tocqueville would turn in his grave, or maybe not, I think they wrote something about the Welfare State :)
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:19 pm GMT
Many people in Europe, especially young people, cant tell the difference between liberalism and fascism, or between Hitler and Bush. It's amazing cause is not that they won't, it's that they can't.
Skippy   Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:19 pm GMT
So to a European, if one were to use the term "liberal" would that best refer to a member of the Libertarian, Republican, or Democrat Party?
Guest   Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:44 pm GMT
People don't know about the Libertarian Party. Liberal would be associated with the Republican Party, except for those into the American politics of course.

For liberals themselves, God knows, I suppose you should ask to each one separately and you can expect whatever thing. These are my favourites, they don't seem to know boredom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Radicals
Skippy   Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:49 pm GMT
The Libertarian Party are typically referred to as "minarchists" (like anarchists, but minimal government instead of no government). I think they're similar to Germany's FDP. They frequently agree with the Republican Party on economic issues (especially taxes) and with the Democrat Party on social issues (like abortion and the War in Iraq).

So to a European, "liberal" means economically liberal? To an American it typically means a social liberal (free love and such).