What are the main ideological differences between the “Left” and the “Right”?* Here is a handy chart detailing the primary differences. Please note that I am focusing on ideological differences as opposed to how those ideological differences translate into specific policy differences such as taxes or abortion.

Left

Right

1. Rights come from government

1. Rights come from God

2. Focuses on rights

2. Focuses on responsibilities

3. Believes in positive rights

3. Believes in negative rights

4. Progress beyond traditions

4. Conserve traditions

5. Views social outcomes in terms of power dynamics

5. Views social outcomes in terms of personal decisions

6. Sees people as groups

6. Sees people as individuals

7. Society is the source of evil

7. Individuals are the source of evil

8. Values equality of outcome

8. Values equality of opportunity

9. Values equality over liberty

9. Values liberty over equality

10. Believes life’s problems are best solved by bigger government

10. Believes life’s problems are best solved by the ingenuity of private citizens

11. Government’s role is to achieve and protect equality

11. Government’s role is to protect liberty

12. Idealist – Policy decisions based on what feels morally right

12. Pragmatic – Policy decisions based on what will result in the most good

13. Prefers a regulated market

13. Prefers a free market

14. The meaning of the law is malleable, and should be interpreted in light of the evolving needs of society

14. The meaning of the law is fixed, as determined by the words and the intent of those who wrote the law

15. Individualistic

15. Nationalistic

If you can think of any additional ideological differences, please share in the comments.

 

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* I realize that these categories are not exhaustive, and that people do not always fall neatly into one side or the other. As such, take this as a generalized, if not idealized categorization.