The Left, and other Social, Political & Philosophical Terms

Given that we at The Blind Spot view ourselves as part of The Left, it’s about time we define what it means. The closest we’ve come to doing that so far is in Yasmin’s interview with Raj Gill on Activism, where Raj talked about The Left as an ideological identity. He put socialism at its heart, pitting it against capitalism.

I thought it might be useful to put together a short list of definitions for those interested in, or new to, these concepts. It is by no means an exhaustive list – and the definitions are simplistic – but hopefully it can be helpful.

Definitions

Left-wing – a political stance that supports egalitarianism, and that values the welfare of all citizens over a hierarchy. Associated with liberals and progressives.

Liberal – a political and social philosophy of equality, diversity, tolerance and the freedom of the individual. 

Progressive – a political and social philosophy that asserts that progress, change and reform are necessary, and that through advancements in science, technology, economics, art and social behaviours, society will flourish.

Neo-liberal – an altered form of liberalism promoting free-market capitalism.

Right-wing – a political stance that advocates traditional values, the right of the individual above the collective, and competitive market economies. Hierarchy is a natural order that encourages aspiration. Associated with conservatives.

Conservative – a political and social philosophy promoting tradition values and stability.

Neo-conservative – a (American) political philosophy with a focus on foreign interventionism, national security and free-market capitalism.

Centrist – a political stance attempting to balance social equality and social hierarchy, while resisting significant changes to the current system.

Radical – political principles focused on changing the system and fighting the establishment, possibly through revolutionary means.

The Establishment – the controlling groups and people within society who wield their power, influence and authority for their own ends. Includes the political elite, ruling class, powerful corporations, and mainstream media.

Capitalism – an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.

Socialism – linked to but different in parts to Communism, it’s a social and economic system created in response to capitalism, whereby the means of production is controlled by the state for the benefit of all in society. Definitions and usage of the word can be broad: Once expressed as “from each according to ability, to each according to needs”, today it’s often used to talk about government run systems or services that help or serve people regardless of their economic situation. It is also an ideological term for a society that, to quote Bernie Sanders, “… works for all and not just the few.”

The Left – a group or party comprising left-wing, liberal, progressive, radical, socialist, and progressive views, while also being anti-establishment.

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