Far left

Far left

Far left and extreme left are terms used to discuss the position a group or person occupies within a political spectrum. The terms "far left" and "far right" are often used to imply that someone is an extremist. Some groups considered to be far left do not wish to govern within the current institutional framework, and this may be what distinguishes them from other left-leaning groups. However, these terms are controversial because the labels are considered by some to be subjective based upon the perspective of those who consider themselves "centrists" or slightly left or right of center with an underlying assumption that anything more radical than those views is 'extreme' or wrong.

In several countries, the term "far left" has been associated with ideologies such as communism, socialism, anarchism, social anarchism, anarchist communism, left communism, anarcho-syndicalism, Marxist-Leninism, Trotskyism, Maoism, and some branches of feminism and green politics/environmentalism.

The terms "far left" and "far right" are based on the assumption that political views can be coherently divided according to a left-right spectrum. Therefore, the terms have been criticized by groups that believe politics is not one-dimensional, and that there are more than two kinds of political extremes.

History and usage

The origin of "left" as a political term is the seating arrangements in the French National Assembly during the French Revolution. The most radical of the Jacobins were seated on the far left of the chamber. The term "Jacobin" was used to describe far left people throughout much of the 19th century. Since then, the term "far left" has been used to describe persons or groups who hold radical egalitarian views and support radical social and political change.

imilar terms

During the 19th century, the term "radical" was used by progressive liberals to distance themselves from classical liberals, which explains why some centre-left political parties today have "radical" in their names, such as Denmark's Det Radikale Venstre (which literally translates into English as "the radical left"), and France's Left Radical Party. In the 20th century, the definition of "radical" was revised in response to the models of communism and the Soviet Union. At that time, the political term "radical" often implied Marxism of some kind. Since the early 20th century, "radical left" has been used as an umbrella term to describe those on the political left who adhere explicitly and openly to revolutionary socialism, communism, or anarchism. In this context, it generally does not include democratic socialists, social democrats, liberals, nor others working in electoral politics, since the "radical" qualifier tends to denote a revolutionary fervor.

The term "ultra-leftism", which originated in the 1920s, is sometimes used in the same way as "far left", but also has a more specific meaning within the context of Marxism. The term "hard left" is sometimes used in the same way, but also has a specific meaning within the British Labour Party; a meaning that was used in particular in the 1980s.

Varying usage in different national contexts

English-speaking countries

In the 2000s, in nations where communist or socialist parties are not part of the political mainstream, such as the United States, the term "far left" can simply mean to the left of the most left-wing member of the legislature. For much of the English-speaking world - especially Australia and the United States - "far left" is sometimes a pejorative term to indicate that a person is extreme or on the fringe in their left-wing views. Commentators like Bill O'Reilly refer to politicans like John Edwards and sites like Media Matters for America and MoveOn.org as "far-left".


In France, the term "extrême-gauche" is the accepted term for Trotskyists, anarchists, Maoists and New Leftists, for example in reporting election results. The French Communist Party is not considered far left. "Dictionnaire de l'extrême gauche" ('Dictionary of the Far Left') by Serge Cosseron defines 'far left' as "all movements situated to the left of the Communist Party". [Cosseron, Serge (ed.). "Le dictionnaire de l'extrême gauche". Paris: Larousse, 2007. p. 20]


The The Left - The Rainbow coalition has described itself as "radical left".


ee also

* Anarchism
* Extremism
* Communism
* Far right
* Glossary of the French Revolution
* Ideology
* Left-Right politics
* Left-wing politics
* Left-wing political parties
* Nolan Chart
* Political compass
* Political spectrum
* Right-wing politics
* Socialism
* Ultra leftism
* World's Smallest Political Quiz

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • far left — noun The most liberal or radical part of a political or religious grouping. See Also: far left, far right, far right …   Wiktionary

  • far left — adjective radical or extremely liberal • Similar to: ↑left …   Useful english dictionary

  • far left — group of people holding extremely liberal political views …   English contemporary dictionary

  • the far left — the group of people whose political views are the most liberal His nomination is opposed by members of the far left. • • • Main Entry: ↑far …   Useful english dictionary

  • (the) far left — the far right/left/ phrase people whose political views are either extremely right wing or left wing Thesaurus: right wing politics and conservatismhyponym left wing politics and leftismhyponym Main entry …   Useful english dictionary

  • Far right — Far right, extreme right, ultra right, or radical right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within a political spectrum. The terms far right and far left are often used to imply that… …   Wikipedia

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  • far — [ far ] (comparative far|ther [ farðər ] or fur|ther [ fɜrðər ] ; superlative far|thest [ farðəst ] or fur|thest [ fɜrðəst ] ) adjective, adverb *** Far can be used in the following ways: as an adverb: Have you traveled far today? after the verb… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Left Struggle — (also Fighting Left ) ( el. Μαχόμενη Αριστερά) was a Greek far left political coalition. It was formed in 1993 by the following parties: * New Left Current, * Revolutionary Communist Movement of Greece (EKKE), * Communist Party of Greece (Marxist …   Wikipedia

  • far — [[t]fɑ͟ː(r)[/t]] ♦ (Far has two comparatives, farther and further, and two superlatives, farthest and furthest. Farther and farthest are used mainly in sense 1, and are dealt with here. Further and furthest are dealt with in separate entries …   English dictionary

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