Left versus Right, Comparison and Contrast

With all the recent partisan politics in the news, it occurred to me one day when I was talking to one of my friends from the UK, that he did not understand American Politics. I politely informed him that there was nothing wrong with him not understanding American politics because most of the people who were born here did not understand it either and that he was in good company. So I began an impromptu survey of all of the people I knew, and all of the people I worked with and I even took an unscientific survey on the street to see if I made a word association list using the values from the table at the end of this document, could people identify which party it was associated with. But I did not use the common buzzwords of each party. This ended up not mattering as most people could tell their party (or the other party’s) rhetoric without serious prompting. The thing that was most interesting was that most people did not understand the depth of either party and they found the infographic to be very revealing of a summary of the parties of the Left or the Right.

Wikipedia lists conservative and liberal with very stiff and unimpressive summary statements, which I will include here as a comparison to the awesome brevity of the informationisbeautiful.com Left vs Right graphic. I am certain the descriptions and their summaries in Wikipedia are likely to be considered the purest forms and not subject to the changes that the parties are subject to in regional comparisons, so your mileage may very. Sometimes that picture truly is worth a thousand words. I have left the links from the Wikipedia active, just in case you are curious as to the sources or for extending your knowledge regarding the topics. The title links lead back to the primary Wikipedia entries.


(Latinconservare, “to conserve”) is a political and social philosophy that says that traditional institutions work best and society should avoid radical change. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were.[1][2] The first established use of the term in a political context was by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1819, following the French Revolution.[3] The term has since been used to describe a wide range of views. R. J. White wrote: “To put conservatism in a bottle with a label is like trying to liquify the atmosphere… The difficulty arises from the nature of the thing. For conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living.”[4] Political science often credits British politician Edmund Burke with many of the ideas that we now call conservative.[5]

Conservative political parties include the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, the Republican Party in the United States, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, the Liberal Party of Australia, the Kuomintang of the ROC, the Conservative Party of CanadaPakistan Muslim League (Q) in Pakistan, and the Bharatiya Janata Party in India.


(from the Latin liberalis, “of freedom”[1]) is the belief in the importance of liberty and equality.[2][3] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas asconstitutionsliberal democracyfree and fair electionshuman rightsfree tradesecularism, and the market economy. These ideas are often accepted even among political groups that do not openly profess a liberal ideological orientation. Liberalism encompasses several intellectual trends and traditions, but the dominant variants are classical liberalism, which became popular in the 18th century, and social liberalism, which became popular in the 20th century.

Liberalism first became a powerful force in the Age of Enlightenment, rejecting several foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as hereditary statusestablished religionabsolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The early liberal thinker John Locke, who is often credited for the creation of liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition, employed the concept of natural rights and the social contract to argue that the rule of law should replace absolutism in government, that rulers were subject to the consent of the governed, and that private individuals had a fundamental right to life, liberty, and property.

The revolutionaries in the American Revolution and the French Revolution used liberal philosophy to justify the violent overthrow of tyrannical rule, paving the way for the development of modern history in tandem with liberal history. The 19th century saw liberal governments established in nations across EuropeLatin America, and North America. Liberal power increased even further in the 20th century, when liberal democracies triumphed in two world wars and survived major ideological challenges from fascism andcommunismConservatism and fundamentalism, however, remain powerful opponents of liberalism. Today, liberals are organized politically on all major continents. They have played a decisive role in the growth of republics, the spread of civil rights and civil liberties, the establishment of the modern welfare state, the institution of religious toleration and religious freedom, and the development of globalization. To highlight the importance of liberalism in modern life, political scientist Alan Wolfe claimed that “liberalism is the answer for which modernity is the question”.[4]

Left vs Right – Information is Beautiful

I found this graphic on a website called Informationisbeautiful.com and it was created by David McCandless and Stefanie Posavec. It compares what is considered the political Left and Right and what they, in general, hold dear to their political hearts. To fit the graphic into this window, I have compressed it so that it cannot be read. To read the graphic, click on it and when you see the magnifying glass, click again. You will then see the graphic in its fullest magnification. Since it is one of those that speaks for itself, I will simply say that this graphic is one of the finest infographics of its type I have ever seen. If you know of one better, please let me know and I will include it here for a side by side comparison. If you see something in this graphic you do not agree with, please comment and we can discuss it.

Remember I did not make this chart, I simply believe it is a great way to see and compare the two ideologies side by side. The graphic, if you really love it, comes in a poster format for $45 American (32 Euro, or 30 Pounds UK). The poster is 23 inches x 33 inches (approx 59cm x 84cm) and printed in three colors. The page that you can order the graphic from is included in this link. Disclaimer: For the record, I have no affiliation with the Information Is Beautiful.com site or its owners, nor do I make any money on any of these poster that you may purchase for your friends, family or clueless political party members who may not remember what their party stands for.

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