Political Spectrum


A complex political spectrum or matrix is a visualisation system used for classifying political ideologies. The spectrum is essentially a graph with a horizontal and vertical axis that cross in the middle, creating four opposing fields.

The horizontal axis represents the economic freedom scale. Collectivist views are generally considered left-wing ideas and are therefore listed on the left-hand side of the spectrum; economically libertarian views are generally considered right-wing ideas and are therefore listed on the right-hand side of the spectrum.

The vertical axis represents the socio-political scale. Progressive (generally less authoritarian) views are listed on the top half of the spectrum; conservative (generally more authoritarian) views are listed on the bottom half of the spectrum.

The purpose of the spectrum is to show how radical one ideology is compared to the next. The further away from the centre of the graph, the more extreme the views of the respective ideology.

The absolute top left and right corners of the spectrum are the extreme branches of communism and fascism respectively. The absolute bottom left and right corners of the spectrum are the extreme branches of anarchy and conservative liberalism respectively. Those with an intermediate outlook are classified as centrists or moderates.

The spectrum proves that no progressive government is necessarily left-wing, and no conservative government is necessarily right-wing. The matrix also makes clear that, despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (i.e. liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism (i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy).

Finally, there are several ideologies which are hard to place in the conventional left-right/progressive-conservative matrix; these ideologies are called syncretic, but are more commonly known as third way politics.

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