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Far-left politics

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Far-left politics are politics further on the left of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political left.

Definition

Cold War era

Luke March, Senior Lecturer in Soviet and post-Soviet Politics at Politics and International Relations of the University of Edinburgh, defines the far-left as those who position themselves to the left of social democracy which they see as insufficiently left-wing. The two main sub-types are called the radical left which desires fundamental changes in neoliberal capitalism and progressive reform of democracy such as direct democracy and the inclusion of marginalised communities; and the extreme left which denounces liberal democracy as a "compromise with bourgeois political forces" and defines capitalism more strictly. In his later conceptualization, March started to refer to far-left politics as radical left politics which is constituted of radical left parties that reject the socio-economic structures of contemporary society that are based on the principles and values of capitalism.[1]

In Europe, the support for far-left politics comes from three overlapping groups, namely far-left subcultures, disaffected social democrats and protest voters—those who are opposed to their country's European Union membership.[2]

To distinguish the far-left from the moderate left, March and Mudde identify three useful criteria:

  • Firstly, the far-left rejects the underlying socio-economic structure of contemporary capitalism.
  • Secondly, they advocate alternative economic and power structures which involve the redistribution of resources from political elites.
  • Thirdly, they are internationalists, seeing a causality between imperialism and globalism and regional socio-economic issues.[3]

Others classify the far-left under the category of populist socialist parties.[4] Some such as Professor Vít Hloušek and Professor Lubomír Kopeček of the Masaryk University at the International Institute of Political Science suggest secondary characteristics, including anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, opposition to NATO and in some cases a rejection of European integration.[5]

Contemporary

Far-left New Anticapitalist Party during a demonstration against pension reform in October 2010 in Paris

Luke March states that "compared with the international communist movement 30 years ago, the far left has undergone a process of profound de-radicalisation. The extreme left is marginal in most places". March identifies four major subgroups within contemporary European far-left politics, namely communists, democratic socialists, populist socialists and social populists.[6]

In France, extrême-gauche ("extreme left") is a generally accepted term for political groups that position themselves to the left of the Socialist Party such as anarcho-communists, Maoists, New Leftists and Trotskyists. Some such as political scientist Serge Cosseron limit the scope to the left of the French Communist Party.[7]

Far-left terrorism

Aftermath of the bombing on American Ramstein Air Base in 1981 by the left-wing terrorist group RAF

Many far-left militant organizations were formed by members of existing political parties in the 1960s and 1970s[8] such as the Montoneros, the Red Army Faction and the Red Brigades.[9][10][11] These groups generally aim to overthrow capitalism and the wealthy ruling classes.[12]

See also

Further reading

  • Chiocchetti, Paolo (2016). The Radical Left Party Family in Western Europe, 1989–2015 (1st ed.). London: Routledge. p. 244. ISBN 9781138656185.

References

  1. ^ Holzer, Jan; Mareš, Miroslav (2016). Challenges to Democracies in East Central Europe. Oxon: Routledge. p. 57. ISBN 9781138655966.
  2. ^ Smaldone, William (2013). European Socialism: A Concise History with Documents. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 304. ISBN 9781442209077.
  3. ^ Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared. Farnham: Ashgate. p. 46. ISBN 9780754678403.
  4. ^ Katsambekis, Giorgos; Kioupkiolis, Alexandros (2019). The Populist Radical Left in Europe. Oxon: Routledge. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-138-74480-6.
  5. ^ Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared. Farnham: Ashgate. p. 46. ISBN 9780754678403.
  6. ^ March, Luke (2008). Contemporary Far Left Parties in Europe: From Marxism to the Mainstream? (PDF). Berlin: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. p. 3. ISBN 9783868720006. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  7. ^ Cosseron, Serge (2007). Dictionnaire de l'extrême gauche. Paris: Larousse. p. 20. ISBN 2035826209.
  8. ^ Pedahzur, Ami; Perliger, Arie; Weinberg, Leonard (2009). Political Parties and Terrorist Groups (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 9781135973377.
  9. ^ Raufer, Xavier (October–December 1993). "The Red Brigades: A Farewell to Arms". Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. 16 (4): 315–325. doi:10.1080/10576109308435937.
  10. ^ "Red Brigades announce end of their struggle to overthrow German state". The Irish Times. 22 April 1998. Retrieved 1 April 2020. German detectives yesterday confirmed as authentic a declaration by the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist group that its struggle to overthrow the German state is over.
  11. ^ Chaliand, Gérard (2010). The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda. Berkley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520247093.
  12. ^ "Red Brigades". CISAC. Stanford University. May 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2020. The PL [Prima Linea] sought to overthrow the capitalist state in Italy and replace it with a dictatorship of the proletariat.

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