Political spectrum

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A political spectrum is a system of classifying different political positions upon one or more geometric axes that symbolize independent political dimensions. Most long-standing spectra include a right wing and left wing, which originally referred to seating arrangements in the French parliament after the Revolution (1789–99). The French parliament had the progressives and radicals seated on the Left and on the Right conservatives and reactionaries were seated.


Tim Cornelis' interpretation of the political spectrum intertwined with historical development. This spectrum is not universally accepted in Marxism.

Traditional linear spectrum

The traditional left-right linear spectrum can indicate various factors, or a combination of these. For instance, one common factor is social equality. The more social equality is pursued, the more to the left the political idea in question is said to be under this classification. Thus, anarchism and communism are placed on the far-left of the political spectrum while fascism, given its extreme social stratification, is placed on the far-right.

Horseshoe Spectrum

The horseshoe theory in political science asserts that rather than the far left and the far right being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, they in fact closely resemble one another, much like the ends of a horseshoe. The theory is attributed to French writer Jean-Pierre Faye.

Under this classification, communism and fascism are put closer to each other than centrist political tendencies. This analysis, however, seems to ignore the basic qualities of both these political ideas. Communism is based on class struggle and proletarian internationalism and seeks to establish a classless, stateless society based on common ownership. In direct opposition, fascism is based on class collaboration and ultra-nationalism and seeks to establish a highly stratified society, totalitarian state, based on state and individual private ownership (although Jean-Pierre Faye was more concerned with where he considered the ideologies to be put in practice than in theory).

The One True Spectrum

The 'One True Spectrum' is a spectrum originating on the Internet from minarchist circles. It has no academic or theoretical underpinnings and is based on grave misconceptions about the nature of politics. The spectrum is biased in favour of minarchism and limited government construing it in such a way to make it appear the most sensible.

On the far-left there's autocracy or monarchy, which includes monarchism, Fascism, Communism, Socialism, and Nationalism. On the moderate left we find Corporatism (a misuse of the word corporatism, implying it is associated with Big Business). In the centre, the spectrum places democracy, which supposedly inherently leads to larger government. On the centre- or moderate right it places 'Republic' (based on a misuse of republic) based on rule of law and constitutionalism and limited government.

According to this spectrum, communism (being stateless) ought to be placed on the far-right and Fascism on the far-left.

Radicalism and Reaction

Radicalism is currently employed to signify extremism. Historically, radicalism was inherently left-wing and the right-wing equivalent of radical was reactionary. This particular spectrum went 'radical - progressive - conservative - reactionary'.