Political spectrum

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A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions.

Most long-standing spectra include a right wing and left wing, which originally referred to seating arrangements in the 18th century French parliament. According to the simplest left-right axis, communism and socialism are usually regarded internationally as being on the left, opposite fascism and conservatism on the right. Liberalism can mean different things in different contexts, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right.

However, researchers have frequently noted that a single left-right axis is insufficient in describing the existing variation in political beliefs, and often include other axes. Though the descriptive words at polar opposites may vary, often in popular biaxial spectra the axes are split between cultural issues and economic issues, each scaling from some form of individualism (or government for the freedom of the individual) to some form of communitarianism (or government for the welfare of the community). In this context, the left is often considered individualist (or libertarian) on social/cultural issues and communitarian (or populist) on economic issues, while the right is often considered communitarian (or populist) on social/cultural issues and individualist (or libertarian) on economic issues.


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