Left-wing politics

Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition of social hierarchy.[1][2][3][4] Left-wing politics typically involve a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.[1] According to emeritus professor of economics Barry Clark, left-wing supporters "claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated."[5]

5 May 1789 opening of the Estates General of 1789 in Versailles
Labour union demonstrators at the 1912 Lawrence textile strike

Within the left–right political spectrum, Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution, referring to the seating arrangement in the French Estates General. Those who sat on the left generally opposed the Ancien Régime and the Bourbon monarchy and supported the French Revolution, the creation of a democratic republic and the secularisation of society[6] while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Usage of the term Left became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815, when it was applied to the Independents.[7] The word wing was first appended to Left and Right in the late 19th century, usually with disparaging intent, and left-wing was applied to those who were unorthodox in their religious or political views.

The term Left was later applied to a number of movements, especially republicanism in France during the 18th century, followed by socialism,[8] including anarchism, communism, the labour movement, Marxism, social democracy and syndicalism in the 19th and 20th centuries.[9] Since then, the term left-wing has been applied to a broad range of movements,[10] including the civil rights movement, feminist movement, LGBT rights movement, anti-war movement and environmental movement[11][12] as well as a wide range of political parties.[13][14][15]


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