Politics in Minutes (2016)

Political ideologies: left and right

The Age of Enlightenment brought with it a renewed interest in political philosophy, as increasingly nations rejected monarchical models and sought to establish new forms of government. Inevitably, there was a wide range of opinions of how this was to be best achieved, and a number of distinct political ideologies developed. Some thinkers advocated radical changes, while others advised retaining tried and tested models. During the French Revolution, members of the parliament who supported the monarchy of the Ancien Régime sat to the right of the president, and those who sought a democratic republic on the left. This arrangement gave rise to the terms right-wing and left-wing to describe the conservative and progressive political movements respectively. Broadly speaking, the right wing favours policies based on protection of the freedoms of the individual, private ownership and minimal taxes and intervention. In contrast, the left wing is generally in favour of collectivity, equality, public ownership and the provision of social welfare through taxation.