What is left and right in politics

Right-left scheme

Political attitudes are often crudely referred to as right or left. The distinction is said to be based on the seating arrangement in the French Chamber of Deputies from 1814. There - as seen by the President - on the right-hand side sat those parties that advocated the preservation of the current political and social conditions. On the left sat those parties that wanted to change the political and social conditions.

The use of the terms today is sometimes confusing. In its program, the SPD describes itself as a left-wing people's party, but press articles also speak of right-wing social democrats. Among the liberals, left-wing liberals are distinguished from (right-wing) national liberals. Fascism is generally regarded as a collective term for right-wing extremist movements, but the German philosopher Habermas also denounced left-wing fascism many years ago.
The pollster Noelle-Neumann has described what people understand by right and what they mean by left values. According to this, left values ​​are: equality, justice, closeness, warmth, formlessness, the "you", spontaneity, the international and cosmopolitan. Opposite them are the right values: emphasis on differences, authority, distance, regulated manners, the "you", discipline, the national.
In the economy, left values ​​are: state planning, public control, right values: private sector and competition.
Left understand freedom first as freedom from want. The state should take care of social security and security. Conversely, rights understand freedom first and foremost as freedom from state control and state coercion. You value effort, willingness to take risks, personal activity. The central left concern is solidarity with the weaker.

Source: Thurich, Eckart: pocket politik. Democracy in Germany. revised New edition Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education 2011.