Left and right

In politics, left and right are understood as antagonistic views on the proper way to achieve social welfare.

The difference between left and right is that the left advocates an ideal system in which wealth is distributed equitably among the collective. For its part, the right promotes a welfare state achieved through individual rights.

OriginFrance, 1789France, 1789
CurrentsRevolutionary left

  • Marxism-Leninism.
  • Trotskyism.
  • Maoism.
  • Libertarian Marxism.

Reform democratic left

  • Eurocommunism.
  • Social democracy.
  • Political traditionalism.
  • Conservatism.
  • Liberalism.
Most representative political events
  • Russian Revolution 1917
  • German Revolution 1918
  • Guerrilla movements in South America, Africa and Asia.

  • Franco, Spain (1939-1975).
  • Thatchertism, in the United Kingdom (1979, 1990).
Fundamental precepts
  • Welfare of the collective.
  • The State as owner of the means of production.
  • The proletariat assumes the role of the state and it disappears.
  • Equitable distribution of wealth.
  • Well-being of the individual.
  • The private sector with a leading role in the economy.
  • The State does not intervene in the economy, because it operates under the free market.
  • Distribution of wealth based on individual effort.

Differences between political left and right

The left and the right have a series of fundamental doctrines or ideas that are antagonistic. These are some of the most representative differences between both views:

Welfare state

For the left, collective well-being is above individual progress. To achieve this, all social classes have to be abolished. The right, for its part, promotes individual well-being (focused on economic progress), as the central axis of well-being.

Economic system

For the political left, the state must be the owner and administrator of the means of production. Instead, the right advocates the non-intervention of the state in the economic system.

Wealth distribution

The left promotes an equitable distribution of wealth, based on the belief that all individuals are equal. While the right believes in a distribution according to the effort and contribution of each individual.

Political organization

For the left, the State is the only political actor and most of its traditional currents defend the idea of ​​centralized power in a single party. On the right and its multiple currents, different visions can be found, ranging from democratic systems with free elections and the participation of political parties, to a centralized power (right-wing dictatorships).

Origin of the political left and right

What today represents a marked political antagonism, like the left and the right, had its origin in an anecdotal event that was executed without any intention of transcending, although it finally did.

On August 28, 1789, the first National Constituent Assembly was held and the need arose to discuss the political weight that the popular assembly would have as opposed to royal power, represented in the figure of the King of France.

At the time of the vote, the representatives of the aristocracy, the upper bourgeoisie and the clergy, who defended the royal power, organized themselves to the right of the president of the assembly. While the supporters of popular power rallied to the left.

The latter were, for the most part, deputies belonging to the so-called Third Estate: a majority social group made up of peasants and the lower bourgeoisie who had in common an absence of legal and economic rights as opposed to their tax burdens.

After the French Revolution, the left-right dichotomy not only became more evident, but also deepened for a century and then spread to South America in the 19th century, coinciding with the independence processes.

Left politics

The political left is an ideological current that is characterized by defending the collective welfare , having as its central axes the abolition of social classes and the central role of the State as owner and administrator of the means of production.

Although it arose in parallel to the French Revolution in the 18th century, during the following century it played a fundamental role in Europe, being the ideological component of the Russian Revolution (1917) and the German Revolution (1918).

For its part, in Latin America, Asia and Africa, the left was essential in the 20th century for the emergence of multiple social and political movements. Some of them included guerrilla formation and armed struggle as means to weaken or eliminate right-wing political systems.

However, despite the fact that leftist ideological foundations have been maintained over time, there are different views on how the collective welfare should be achieved. Based on this, there are several types of left:

Revolutionary left

The revolutionary left in turn includes multiple visions or ideological positions that can be subdivided into:


It has its origin in the theoretical postulates of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924), and focuses on the proletariat or working class as administrator of the means of production and beneficiary of their profits. Under this paradigm, the state is not necessary because the proletariat assumes power, although until now there is no consensus on how this can be put into practice.


It is a doctrine of León Troskti (1879-1949) that proposes the abolition of classes to establish an egalitarian system that works under a socialist structure; however, he posits this as a gradual process, which he called “permanent revolution.”


It is a version of Marxism created by the dictator Mao Zedong (1893-1976), founder of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China. It is basically an adaptation of Marxist precepts, only that within China it was not called Maoism, but Mao Zedong Thought, although the doctrine was not his own.

Libertarian Marxism

It is not in itself a type of ideology, but a set of currents of thought in which the idea of ​​the workers’ organization as a political protagonist prevails, instead of the party centralism proposed by classical Marxism. Furthermore, they propose deliberative democracy as opposed to political centralism.

Reform democratic left

The democratic left, as its name indicates, promotes forms of political organization based on democracy. Its central axis is free elections and the distancing of radical currents of thought that propose political centralization and dictatorial systems.

This movement, which in turn is in favor of the establishment of gradual political, economic and social reforms, has two fundamental currents:


It promotes democratic socialism as a political system and focuses on solving problems that affect the collective.

Social democracy

It is based on liberal democracy as the basis for achieving social welfare. It defends the elected power in a representative manner and protected by the rule of law.

See also Difference between socialism and communism .

Political right

The political right is understood to be a set of currents or ideologies that are based on the well-being of the individual over the collective to achieve progress.

In this sense, the right promotes equal opportunities, free economic competition and the protection of private property as some of the essential means for progress.

Since its inception during the French Revolution, the political right has been the cornerstone of multiple historical events. Some examples were the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in Spain or Thatchertism, a conservative right-wing doctrine based on the privatization of state services, implemented by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher between 1979 and 1990.

Although there are multiple currents in the political right, in general terms it can be said that right-wing governments tend to conservatism, to the defense of traditions and national identity.

These are some of the currents that coexist within the political right:

political traditionalism

He defends values ​​and customs typical of the past, which is why he rejects any change in the state of things.


Defend a system of traditional values, framed in Christianity. However, she is in favor of incorporating all those technological advances that serve to raise the well-being of the individual and, therefore, bring prosperity.


Although it is an economic doctrine, it is also considered a right-wing current by promoting individual freedoms from the free market and state non-intervention in the economy as guarantors of a welfare state.

See also:

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