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Left-wing politics are political positions or activities that accept or support social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. They typically involve concern for those in society who are perceived as disadvantaged relative to others and a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.
The political terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799), referring to the seating arrangement in the Estates General: those who sat on the left generally opposed the monarchy and supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Use of the term "Left" became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the "Independents".
The term was later applied to a number of movements, especially republicanism during the French Revolution in the 18th century, followed by socialism, communism, and anarchism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Beginning in the last half of the Twentieth Century, the phrase left-wing has been used to describe an ever widening family of movements, including the civil rights movement, anti-war movements, and environmental movements, and finally being extended to entire parties, including the Democratic Party in the United States and the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.
- Smith, T. Alexander; Tatalovich, Raymond (2003). Cultures at War: Moral Conflicts in Western Democracies. Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press. p. 30.
- Bobbio, Norberto; Cameron, Allan (1997). Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction. University of Chicago Press. p. 37.
- Lukes, Steven. 'Epilogue: The Grand Dichotomy of the Twentieth Century': concluding chapter to T. Ball and R. Bellamy (eds.), The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought.
- Thompson, Willie (1997). The left in history: revolution and reform in twentieth-century politics. Pluto Press.
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- Realms of memory: conflicts and divisions (1996), ed. Pierre Nora, "Right and Left" by Marcel Gauchet, p. 248
- Maass, Alan; Zinn, Howard (2010). The Case for Socialism (Revised ed.). Haymarket Books. p. 164. ISBN 978-1608460731.
The International Socialist Review is one of the best left-wing journals around...
- Schmidt, Michael; Van der Walt, Lucien (2009). Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. Counter-Power 1. AK Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-904859-16-1.
anarchism is a coherent intellectual and political current dating back to the 1860s and the First International, and part of the labour and left tradition
- Revel, Jean Francois (2009). Last Exit to Utopia. Encounter Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-1594032646.
In the United States, the word liberal is often used to describe the left wing of the Democratic party.
- Neumayer, Eric (2004). "The environment, left-wing political orientation, and ecological economics". Ecological Economics 51 (3–4): 167–175. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.06.006.
- Barry, John (2002). International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0415202855.
All surveys confirm that environmental concern is associated with green voting...[I]n subsequent European elections, green voters have tended to be more left-leaning...the party is capable of motivating its core supporters as well as other environmentally minded voters of predominantly left-wing persuasion...
- Van Gosse (2005). The Movements of the New Left, 1950–1975: A Brief History with Documents. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-6804-3.
- Arnold, N. Scott (2009). Imposing values: an essay on liberalism and regulation. Florence: Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-495-50112-3.
Modern liberalism occupies the left-of-center in the traditional political spectrum and is represented by the Democratic Party in the United States, the Labor Party in the United Kingdom, and the mainstream Left (including some nominally socialist parties) in other advanced democratic societies.
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