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Q: Leftist and Rightist; Definition and Origin ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: Leftist and Rightist; Definition and Origin
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: yuen72-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 13 Jan 2005 01:02 PST
Expires: 12 Feb 2005 01:02 PST
Question ID: 456512
What is leftist and what is rightist? One of them is a socialist and
the other nationalist, or something like that?

And how did the terms come about? Heard they originated from a French
parliament and the way they arranged the seating, is that true?
Subject: Re: Leftist and Rightist; Definition and Origin
Answered By: efn-ga on 13 Jan 2005 19:46 PST
Hi yuen72,

"Leftist" means politically liberal and "rightist" means politically
conservative.  However, "liberal" and "conservative" are not very
precisely defined.

Wikipedia has fairly long articles on the meanings of leftism and rightism.

As you have heard, the terms originated from the seating arrangements
of the French National Assembly at the beginning of the French
Revolution in 1789.  The nobles were seated on the right of the
presiding officer and the representatives of the common people were
seated on the left.  Ask Yahoo! has a summary with links to other

Search Strategy

"right wing" "left wing" origin

If you need any more information, please ask for a clarification.

Subject: Re: Leftist and Rightist; Definition and Origin
From: frde-ga on 13 Jan 2005 08:10 PST
Yes, the Right / Left stuff came from France
- a 'horse shoe' seating arrangement
- I was told that well before the Web was invented
  (when studying politics - so at the time it was received wisdom)

About 'Nationalist' and 'Socialist', I (wince) suggest that you be a bit careful.

The full name of the NAZI party was the NSDAP (in Anglish) the
National Socialist German Workers Party - which rather covers most

The name that people choose says little about what they really believe
( if they believe anything apart from pure self interest )
Subject: Re: Leftist and Rightist; Definition and Origin
From: grthumongous-ga on 13 Jan 2005 21:13 PST
also, in the reverse-video of the Soviet Union (S.U) people like
General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev were known as "conservatives".
Subject: Re: Leftist and Rightist; Definition and Origin
From: pinkfreud-ga on 14 Jan 2005 10:42 PST
I've always been fond of this bit, from "Beyond the Fringe," in which
Jonathan Miller explains the American political system to Dudley

JONATHAN: [The Americans] have inherited our two-party system.

DUDLEY: How does that work?

JONATHAN: Well, they have the Republican party, which is the
equivalent of our Conservative party, and they have the Democratic
party, which is the equivalent of our Conservative party.

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