Posted by Bruce Kahl on May 11, 2007
In Reply to: Left of center posted by RRC on May 10, 2007
: : : What does 'bit left of center' mean?
: : It refers to political orientation. If you are on the left, you are leftist (at least in the eyes of those on the right), which is characterized by one degree another of liberalism and beyond. If you are a liberal you probably favor such things as a woman's right to choose; the separation of church and state; the elimination of discrimination on the basis of sex or race or the like; the use of government to benefit all levels of society; the adoption of deficit spending, possibly on the Keynesian model, to help the economy recover from a deep recession or a depression; and in general the active use of government for utopian ends. Farther to the left, you may favor an outright socialist model of government. Farther to the left than that you can favor Communism, Marxism, or some even more incomprehensible model of government. Being a bit left of center is barely disinguishable from being a centrist, or mugwump. And where the center is nobody knows.
: : What it means to be to the right of center someone else should respond, if a response is necessary.
: : The origin of "left" and "right" lies in the seating arrangements of Parliament, in which the Tories are seated on the right, the others (Socialists, Labor, Liberal, anything not Tory) on the left. Since nobody sits in the center aisle, there are no English MPs in the center. But left and right are used more figuratively than literally when it comes to political orientation.
: : SS
: The French National Assembly was using left and right (in French of course) in this manner in the 1790's. The nobles sat to the right of the President and the commoners on the left.
Those on the left view themselves as "progressive", on the side of social progress and openness to change.
The term originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president's chair, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right. It is still the tradition in the French Assemblée Nationale for the representatives to be seated left-to-right (relative to the Assemblée president) according to their political alignment.
The left has traditionally been concerned with the lower classes and with combatting oppression.
As civil and human rights gained more attention during the twentieth century, the left has allied itself with advocates of racial and gender equality and cultural tolerance. Most of the left has been opposed to imperialism, colonialism and war. The left has historically supported movements for national self-determination.
Advocacy of government or social intervention in the market puts those on the left at odds with advocates of the free market as well as corporations (who oppose government control of the markets) when they see their interests threatened.
Here in the US the separation of church and state is neither a right or left concept as it has been codified into our Consitution via the Bill of Rights:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."